The 5 Year Diary

five year diary

Five years used to seem like forever.

I remember thinking as a kid that I’d never come to reach milestone ages fast enough. Though I wasn’t necessarily in a rush to grow up (after all, my Barbie car was the shit), driving a real car at 16 seemed like eons away. Growing up to be a 23-year-old (who, as it turns out, obsessively researches which cars have the best fuel economy)? Unfathomable.

Now, it’s just the opposite. I look back five years and am amazed at what a blink it all was. Of course, as quickly as time has gone by, things are vastly different now than they were then. Not only have I begun a career and published my work, but I also drink good beer now. Life-changing. If 2007 through 2012 could feel so short, the next five years—sure to be full of even more drastic changes—will fly by even faster.

This is what I was thinking when I happened upon the 5 Year Diary in a museum gift shop. Intrigued by the simple idea and design, I treated myself to a little Christmas present. With the swipe of a debit card, I had suddenly made a long-term commitment to a journal.

five year diary

The 5 Year Diary is just what it sounds like—a journal for chronicling the span of five years. You can begin writing on any day of the year, and the coolest part about it is there’s just one page per date, with a few lines apiece for each year. (Each entry is slightly longer than a tweet.) That means once you’ve written in the diary for an entire year, you’re back to the same page you started on, and you can see what you wrote the year prior. And so on for the next four.

For anyone who’s obsessed with journals like I am, this is right up your alley. I have another journal I carry around all the time for ideas and notes (and dozens more before it), but this one forces me to sum up my day or thoughts in a few succinct words. I also kind of like that I began in the back of the book—December 22nd. I didn’t intentionally start it the day after the winter solstice, but I’m just naturally symbolic like that.

The key for me with this journal—which I’ll be lugging around for the next five years—is to remain honest. To be vulnerable and willing to admit when things are mundane or unsatisfactory. I also plan to ask my future self questions. And I’d like to think that the entries depicting my goals and dreams will serve as foreshadowing for the good things to come. I already look forward to when I reach the point that I see my entries from years past. Hopefully, I’ll be able to laugh at my own naïveté, assure my past self that some worry will work itself out, or gawk at how scarily accurate my predictions came to be.

Here are hints at just a few of my predictions for the next five years: California. Grad school. New friends. Anniversaries. Epic journeys. Lots of writing. Thousands of photos. Plenty of doubts. And a hell of a lot of fun.

I think I just had a vision: It’s 4 years and 356 days from now. I’ve got a sudden chill as I close the book on my final entry. It’s the good kind of chill.

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  1. That’s a cool idea.

    Going to be fun to compare the days later.

  2. This idea sounds just perfect! I may have to do this. I think I WILL do this.

  3. That sounds really neat Cassie. Such a cool concept that you’ll easily be able to see what you wrote on any given date for the past years. I regularly go back through my journals and it’s always interesting. With this book, you’ll always have it right there at your fingertips. One favourite part of my journals is writing the names of any new person I meet. Yes, you might never see them again, but it’s really neat to read that, if/when you’ve subsequently become best friends, or spouses!

    • That’s a really good idea, Loulou! I’ll have to do that too. It also sounds like a great way to remember names… which I often struggle with haha.

  4. This sounds amazing! I’m so tempted to get one. This would be an especially good time in my life for it since I’m just starting with the whole university/adult life thing. I’m going to ponder this (I need to stop with the impulsive purchases!), but it sounds great.

  5. i have this journal! i, too, picked it up on sort of a whim. i wasn’t sure if i’d stick with it consistently, but i have. i passed the one year mark in the fall, and it’s been really cool to say, “one year ago today i was thinking/doing this.” it’s fun to see if there are any patterns to my seasons, and it’s also been a nice bedtime ritual. it’s different from a “long form” journal, since it’s so short, so it tends to be a brief capture of what happened that day and my general mood–but even though so short I can usually picture the day in my mind a year later.

    i started it just before moving to Shanghai, and similar to you, I thought to myself, I don’t even know *where* I’ll be at the end of this. it really is great in so many ways. i love how you frame it here. enjoy!

    and @loulou– i love the idea of writing down when you meet people–that would be really fun to watch over the years. hmm….

    • I’ve been writing in mine at bedtime, too, and it’s the perfect time for reflection. It seems like a very healthy, meditative way to get anything that’s been bugging you out on paper and out of your mind before going to sleep. (It’s usually thoughts that keep me up hours after I’ve turned out the lights.)

  6. That’s so interesting! I might have to get that eventually. I would love to go ahead and grab it now, but I’m saving my money to buy a cork board and two marker boards. I know it sounds weird, but it’s all part of this “get-my-life-organized” project I have going on. But I’m definitely going to have to come back for that journal.

  7. Love it. I’m a total journal fiend as well. My problem is that I start several of them so nothing is in one long stream of consciousness. Heh. But my blog is so journalistic and, ironically I’m in my fifth year of it, and looking back on what I was doing back in 2008 and how far I’ve come? Pretty cool. (I started my blog a couple of weeks before my father’s impending death, and boy has it evolved into so much more than just documenting life’s struggles!).

  8. Love this idea. Perhaps five years from now, you can turn it all into a book? 😉

  9. That is such a lovely project! I love it. I expect that when you finish this, you will definitely get that chill!

  10. I love it! What a good idea to just have enough room to write down a teeny little blurb each day. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with the blank pages of a regular diary. I’ll look forward to reading all about what you learned from this undertaking in five years!

  11. I’ve seen versions of this around and always had that lingering “that is a LONG TIME” doubt. But you are right. The last five sped by. Time seems to be speeding away from us the older we get.

    I committed to 365 posts this year. Good luck to us both!


  12. Dudeski, this looks so cool…I love how they’re short entries, so it’s way easier to actually maintain the habit of doing it. I might have to look into getting one myself…

  13. Love it! I gave one to my best friend on her wedding day and she’s told me how much she loves having those first few years with her husband documented.

    • That’s such a perfect wedding gift. I definitely would’ve gifted this if I hadn’t already finished my Christmas shopping, but I have a feeling someone will be getting one of these from me down the road. 🙂

  14. I love this! What a great idea, I will most likely be stopping by the MoMA store to pick it up (I love the unique things they have there).

    I have an important question, though: is there a page for Feb 29th? Is it shorter, longer? There should only be two spaces, max!

    Also, found your blog via 20SB, it is lovely! Am certainly following now!

    • There IS a page for February 29th, and you’re exactly right—there are just two spaces for it, and they split the page in half. So there are a few more lines to fill. It’s a special day. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Cindie!

  15. Such a cool idea! Good luck, and Happy New Year!

  16. Very cool! I like that all the same days are the same page, so you’ll really be able to compare the changes over the years. Jeez, thinking about how much has changed since 2007 is crazy. Good luck for your next 5 years!

  17. Love that diary! Especially since you can see what you’ve written the last 1-5 years, it shows such growth I bet! So exciting 🙂

  18. I kept a journal once. For the entire year of 2005. It was the year I turned 18. Looking back on it now is both fascinating and incredibly cringe inducing. I haven’t kept a regular journal since then but I like the idea of the Five Year Journal. I have various notebooks and pads that I jot things down in: thoughts, ideas, poems, rants etc. but I see my blog as form of digital journal. It’s where I write all my best stuff! 🙂

  19. Oooh! I absolutely just caught your chill over here! I like that while it’s a long-ish term commitment it’s only a few words a day. I like my long-term commitments in baby steps!

  20. Wow, the timing of this post is uncanny! Last night, my last night of a 2 week stay at my parents house, I took out my old journals from middle school and early high school. Just as you describe- it was funny to see the naivete, predictions that came true, and how I am still very much the same but also very different. Good luck making it through 5 years in one journal! My grandmother did the same kind of journal for decades, but most of her entries are very clinical, factual. We read them now and long for more. Vulnerable and honest- much more interesting and an admirable goal.

  21. That is fantastically intriguing. I especially like the idea of having each day of each of the years on the same page to compare now to then. When I think of where I was a year ago exactly this day, it’s mindboggling.

    My issue would probably be keeping up with it every day… I tend to write daily, then randomly skip a month, then write once a week, then skip three weeks… but you will manage it and it will be fantastic. I’m jealous.

  22. AHHHHHHHHHHH I love journals!!!!!! I’ve seen this one at Target, I think, and Barnes and Noble… I’ve been intrigued by it… I have about, oh, hmm… 4 or 5 journals going right now?? (if you include the blog). So, maybe when one of those are done… I may want to add a dream journal, too! (I write them down occasionally). I have so many journals that I don’t have time to live because I’m JOURNALING. Haha.


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