Journaling…it’s not my thing. I don’t do it now and I don’t have any intentions of starting anytime soon. I don’t have time.
Does that sound like you? If it does, give me a few minutes of your time and see if I can offer a fresh perspective on why journaling can be an effective discipline.
Setting aside some dedicated time to meditate and write about your life not only helps you keep a record of your day and keep track of things you want to remember, it can help you deal with tough situations and think about the future.
Many have the pre-conceived notion that to journal effectively you have to sit down and write pages and pages about your feelings. It really means setting aside some quiet time to sit down and think about your life. It can be writing down what you did that day; venting about something you can’t get out of your mind; or noting something that inspired you. Some days it might be pages and pages and others only a few words. Just take a moment to stop and think about how things are going.
Here are five reasons you need journaling in your life.
It’s a tool for personal growth. Whenever you work through your thought processes, you can’t help but get helpful insights into how you think. This is a chance to analyze and understand any of those patterns or negative beliefs that consistently show up in your mind. When you can look back and see how you overcame a challenge in your life or business, you’re reminded that you’re capable of overcoming whatever new challenge you’re presented with.
It provides a healthy outlet. Journaling is mainly an outlet for your thoughts and feelings, positive and negative. It allows you to take those thoughts from your head and put them down on paper. Re-reading those entries allows you to see progress and areas where you still may be stuck.
It enhances your problem-solving Typically, we identify the problem and then brainstorm possible solutions. The same can be true for journaling. You can write out the problem, re-read it, make additions or corrections and then write out potential solutions.
It organizes your thoughts and ideas. No matter what lead you to journal, having a place to write down your ideas and put together a well thought out, articulated plan is beneficial.
It helps provide perspective. Journaling can help us understand the value of gratitude and positive thinking. Writing down the things we’re grateful for is a powerful thing. We can revisit those entries and be reminded of all the good in our lives.
When Should You Journal?
There’s not really a set time to journal. It’s more a matter of personal preference and whatever works best for you. Whatever time you choose, be sure to write at the same time every day.
I prefer to do it first thing in the morning. I follow Julia Cameron’s suggestion in her book, The Artist’s Way. Cameron encourages people who are trying to connect with themselves to write three pages every morning of whatever comes to mind.
Writing morning pages is like boot camp for your muse. When you write at the same time every day, you train her to show up when you say it’s time to work. The key is to let the words flow.
It’s a form of stream of consciousness or free-form writing. That’s when you allow a thought into your head and transfer it into the pen. You may not even finish a sentence before the next thought comes up. You should write continuously because there are always thoughts in your mind. Write them down no matter what they are. Even if they’re, “Gee, I don’t know why I’m doing this” or “What should I write next?”
It’s important to write in longhand. When you right with your pen, you write from your heart. Something happens to your brain when you put pen to paper. The pace of writing will slow you down and give your thoughts a chance to come in
Even if you don’t stick to a schedule, it’s important to write regularly to get the most out of the benefits of journaling. This helps keep ideas and language flowing and helps you get in the habit of journaling. Maybe you can only journal on weekends or certain days of the week. That’s okay. The most important thing is that you commit to keeping a journal.
How Journaling Helps to Expand Your Self-Awareness
Writing down your feelings and what’s going on in your head is not only cathartic. It also lets you get a grip on your emotions.
Journaling helps to expand your self-awareness in several ways.
- It increases your insight into a situation. Writing about a situation puts it into perspective after the event has taken place. This allows you to process the emotions you experienced because of the event and notice details you might have overlooked when it was taking place.
- It allows you to reflect on your feelings. You don’t have time to analyze every situation that’s taking place. When you’re journaling, you’ll have time to go back and identify feelings about an occurrence and reflect on why you felt that way.
- It helps to shed light on why you feel a certain way. When you write about your feelings and discover the reasoning behind why you felt a certain way, it can help you to change them in the future. Becoming more self-aware provides an opportunity for you to change how you react in future situations.
- Regularly reviewing previous entries helps you see results in an emotional response. Journaling helps document those patterns and bring them to light. The good news is when you see an unhealthy pattern in your responses, you can make a change to more healthy and positive reactions.
I also keep a journal that’s labeled “Intentions.” An intention is simply an aim or plan. But when we take a moment to “set” the intention and mindfully focus on that goal it becomes so much more. The intention doesn’t have to be something big. It can be something as small as, “I’ll be conscious of my breath today” or “I’ll drink more water.” Though it can be simple, it’s best to set a specific intention—something transformative.
I write my intention for the day in a notebook and then say it several times out loud. Creating that intention is more about being the self I envision. I tell myself what I want from myself. I envision my day in my mind. I see where I will waver and make the right choice keeping my intention in mind. When the day’s over and I’ve manifested my goal, I feel I’ve accomplished something.
My daily affirmations are recorded in another journal. Affirmations are short, powerful statements. When you say, think or hear them, they turn into the thoughts that create your reality. Some of my favorites are “I am enough,” “I have the power to change myself” and “I choose happiness, success and abundance in my life.”
A third journal is for recording what I’m grateful for. It can be anything from my wavy hair to my health, my family or being able to run every day.
Last but not least is my “Evidence” journal. That’s where I record things I see or hear or experience that let me know I’m on the right path. It could be finding a penny while out running or someone paying me a compliment or a coincidence that is too strong to ignore.
So have fun. Journaling is its own reward. Once you start, your journal will become a good friend—one who’s always around, has time to listen attentively and remembers what you said.
To get a list of 100 Journal Prompts, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.