Video: Keep a Milestone Journal. (Or a Milestone Book.)

2011 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2011 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2011 a happier year — and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge — welcome! This month’s theme is Memories. Last week’s resolution was to Keep a one-sentence journal. Did you try that resolution? Did it boost your happiness?

This week’s resolution is to Keep a milestone journal.

You’ll notice that I accidentally switch back and forth in terminology — calling it a “milestone journal” and a “milestone book.” Which phrase has a better ring? Or can you think of a better term, altogether?

I’m now offering the videos in podcast form now (well, at least I’m trying.) I hope to figure out a more attractive way to include this podcast code, necessary for loading into iTunes, but bear with me for now — also, soon I’ll provide the information on where to find the podcasts on iTunes.


If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
A new, quick, easy way to keep a non-journal.
6 tips for using mementos to keep happy memories vivid.
8 tips for sparking your creativity.

Have you found any manageable, satisfying ways to keep happy memories vivid? Do you keep anything like a milestone journal yourself?

If you’re new, here’s information on the 2011 Happiness Challenge. It’s never too late to start! You’re not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For the Challenge, each week I’ll post a video suggesting a resolution for you to consider. For more ideas for resolutions to try, check out the archives of videos here.

* I’m so happy for my friend, the brilliant, hilarious Debbie Stier. Her fabulous new site, Perfect Score Project, has just launched — “a site dedicated to achieving the perfect SAT scores (or at least to having fun trying). If I’m lucky, I’ll learn something by walking a mile in my teenage son’s shoes.” Thankfully, my life is for the moment SAT-free, but I visit this site just because it’s so fun.

* Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel. To get the weekly video by email, right in your email in-box, you can:
— On the GretchenRubin channel page, after you subscribe, click “Edit Subscription” and check the box, “Email me for new uploads.” Or…
— Go to your main drop-down box, click “Subscriptions,” find the GretchenRubin channel, click “Edit Subscriptions,” and check “Email me for new uploads” there.

  • Gretchen, I really like this idea. I have trouble celebrating accomplishments – and maybe it is because I never write any of them down! So I would have to think back, which, as a new mother, is not something I can do well. So, I think this is a great idea to capture AND celebrate those milestones. Something I sometimes do is make a mini scrapbook. Rather than something big and 12×12 that seems daunting, I will make something 4×6 and just a couple pages and pictures to illustrate something important.

  • Gretchen, I just wanted to say thanks for providing such great blog recommendations. I always check them out and have subscribed to quite a few that I originally heard about here. Perfect Score Project is exactly the kind of blog I love, and I’m looking forward to reading more.

    By the way, I originally found your blog when I was working for Christina Baker Kline, because you’d guest-blogged on her site. I love recommendations!

  • Peninith1

    Great idea! I am a very busy journal keeper, what with my ordinary journal, a weekly newsletter to friends, one sentence journals, a sometimes forgotten garden diary . . . but a milestone book sounds interesting. I do already make a habit of sitting down on 31 Dec or 1 Jan of any given year to record all the biggest things that happened during the year, and the major things I accomplished, as well as what I hope to undertake in the year to come. This reflection often helps me to feel better about the year that has slipped through my fingers, since usually I realize that it was better than I thought! Still, this would be another good way to record because it would attach dates to events! I think I might add yet one more journal!

  • The Red Angel

    So this article is right up my alley! I absolutely love journal writing and keeping records of significant events in my life. I think I’m going to start a milestone journal, it sounds like a lot of fun and it will definitely help me keep a written archive of all the important things that have happened to me or to people I care about.


  • Catseye

    I’ve used a weekly pocket calendar for years to keep up with appointments, birthdays and important dates. It finally occurred to me that it could also be used as a mini-diary, so that’s it’s main purpose now.
    I usually buy a new one on new year’s day and keep it in my purse throughout the year. At year’s end, I put the old one in a box with the other pocket calendars. Of course, I always note milestones in it. I like reading through my old pocket calendars and reliving memories.

  • Thanks for your post,

    First of all I like to write on for example my Writing Blog and to get a hold on my thoughts (before you know it I will have a whole bunch of words :)) I also frequently jot down notes in my ‘Gratitude Journal’ or ‘Success Journal’.

    The Gratitute Journal is more about developing ‘Good Thoughts’ in General, and my Success Journal is more specifically aimed at the things I do and achieve with my — Happy Home Business Lifestyle – Blog. (where I write about how you can set up an Affiliate Business (pre)selling well known brand name products online for developing extra incomestreams) What I basically do with that one is a little like a Blog actually, first – in a simple notebook (on paper) writing down a date than write a home business objective or someting that I achieved.

    Than after a Month of note taking I compile a Top 5 of most successful events or – milestones – that I achieved.
    For example recently I created a few improvements for my Blog to make it easier to read for the visitors, instead of splashing all kinds of content all on one page, I now created for example a seperate Welcome Page, and also a seperate page for people that aren’t yet familiar with the basics of Affiliate Marketing and also a seperate page for people that want to do Guest Posting etc. etc.

    So instead of bombarding people with all this info all at once if they want it or not, I give my readers a choice, the same with the Blogposts themselves, for them I use ‘Jumpbreaks’ just offering them a Title with a little lead text and a Read More link making it easy to give the readers the choice what they like to read.

    Now I only need some readers,
    so there I have my new Milestone! 🙂

    All the Best,
    To your Happy Inspiration,

  • This is a good idea. When I do journal, it is usually me writing down my frustrations. I have been struggling for a while to find effective ways to journal and keep track of things, like dreams or what I ate that day. I have several journals that are about 1/4 filled. I’d like something more all inclusive so I’m not carrying a bunch of little notebooks around all the time.

  • Powershoe

    I’ve been enjoying your weekly videos – but am missing the music clip that comes before your video. Is that gone forever?

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks for noticing! I decided to take it out. I was finding that some
      people were watching the videos back to back, and thought that it might be
      tiresome to have that little delay built in, if you were watching a bunch at
      once. But I miss it too, really liked that.

  • I guess I wrote this in the wrong place – I suggest the term “Hapeaks or Happeaks ( Happiness + Peaks) Book”.

  • Jenswrens

    Why not also post a transcript of the video? I would love to have access to the information about the milestone journal, but much prefer to read rather than watch a video (I guess I’m old-school that way). (Also reveals my opinion that people are trending to more passive learning these days – watching rather than actively reading – but that’s another topic altogether.) I can read a transcript much quicker and easier than watching and listening to a video, and in some instances (a spare moment at work, on the train with other people, etc) it’s just not possible to do audio/video. Please consider adding the written transcript along with the video.

  • Rob

    I use Evernote & Twitter to do this. I can text a 140 character message to Evernote via twitter (@myen) from my phone, very handy as I would never carry a notebook or even remember to carry one.

  • Sally

    What a fantastic idea! It really extends the idea of a birthday or anniversary book by not only capturing birthdays, wedding anniversaries etc but also by capturing those moments in life we ought to celebrate. With a newborn baby girl everyweek is a new milestone, but imagine having first teeth, first words, first day of school, captured with all those other important family days.

  • carynpayzant

    I have been a daily journal writer for 36 years but this idea totally struck a chord with me. I got out an old, leather bound journal and calligraphied each day of the year at the top of each page. Next, I did the easy stuff: birthdays, wedding dates, baptism dates. I’ve got 30 years of milestones to record and I am going to stick with it until I have it all jotted down. It is the perfect activity to fill an hour or two on a Sunday afternoon. When I get mine done, I am going to prepare books for my married children for them to start their own family’s milestone book. Thanks, Gretchen. Another totally meaningful idea to enrich our life experiences.

  • Laura

    What a lovely idea. I”m going to try that. I also love Becky Higgin’s Project Life scrapbook for keeping memories. It involves taking a photo every day and adding a journalling card. It has definitely brought be happiness through reminding myself to look for the little things that make up life for my photos each day and for having a record of my life to look at.

  • Jannine

    I have been a babysitter for about 12 years now, and one of the things I do when I start a job is to have a blank book so I write down good memories , such as first walk, or things a child said that are funny, a concert that we went to, or that amazing story time and so on.
    I personalize it making it their book. After the years past, I have found that children love reading these blank books filled out with milestones and funny, special memories… like the day we run into big bird as Sesame Street was working on an episode at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, or the sunflower that grew enormously, or pictures of potato head with all its possible faces, or the “three Bear Statue” at Central Park. I am currently taking care of a child who loves it!
    I think this is one of my best present to them.