Whether you are a journaling aficionado or just starting out on your journaling journey, my aim is to give you clarity on the benefits of the wonderful practice of daily journal writing along with some tips on how to write in a journal to get the maximum impact. First things first, though, let’s take a look at:
What are the benefits of writing in a journal?
There are many great personal development habits but for me, journaling is right up at the top. The simple reason being that it creates awareness. Awareness of what brings you joy, awareness of your creativity along with clarity of thought, decreased stress and increased work performance.
By taking the thoughts out of your head and putting them on paper, you can examine them and look on almost as a third party. By doing this you will come up with solutions that you could never have found while the problem was racing around in your head. Journaling makes you conscious of what you are doing on a day to day basis and helps you to live your life with purpose instead of bumbling through the days that turn into weeks that turn into years with no personal growth and no movement on your goals and dreams.
I especially like looking back at ideas that I have had, whether I acted on them or not, what the outcome was, what was the catalyst for action and many other insights. It is so interesting to see who you were then. When we take the time to detail what we are doing, we are paying serious attention to our lives and as a consequence, we grow and become a different version of ourselves which surely is a fabulous reason for making the time to write in a journal.
What should you write in your journal?
My own practice is a mixture of gratitude, quotes or perhaps something I read in a book which I thought was really important to remember, and new ideas I’ve had and what I plan to do about them.
Many of the more creative ideas here came from the wonderful Chip Franks. I discovered Chip through the Miracle Morning Podcast and all I will say for now is that if you need more joy in your life, Chip is your man. I have never come across anyone more joyful and grateful, despite having faced massive adversity. Here are a selection of ideas for you to choose from:
1. List what you are grateful for. I wrote about this recently in What Is The Importance Of Gratitude? The process alerts your brain to look out for other things you are grateful for. You can take this a step further by actively looking for things to appreciate. Often we don’t notice things that are very important to us until we don’t have them, but you will find plenty if you actively look for them.
For example, do you appreciate hot water coming out of the tap, or how quickly your car warms up in winter (or cools down in summer!) or that instead of having to go to a library to find out some information in something you are studying you now just have to type it into Google! We live (largely) comfortable lives nowadays and being aware just makes you feel happier.
2. Set your intention for the day. What if, instead of just heading off to work (or wherever), you took a moment to think how you want to come across? Instead of thinking what you have to do, what if you thought about who you want to be? I love Brendan Buchard’s saying ‘Bring the joy’. Often, I ask myself what difference I can make in my workplace and ‘bringing the joy’ is usually high on my list!
Setting your intention in your journal is very likely to inspire you to show up how you would like to or if you don’t at least you will be aware of it.
3. Write a ‘Dear Diary’ type of journal There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing a regular diary documenting what you learned, how you felt, what you could do better next time etc. It would be good practice to highlight anything that went especially well or that you would do differently.
4. Write a ‘want list‘ Brian Tracy apparently writes his goals out every day – everything he wants in his life, but he never looks at the day before which is quite clever. With each passing day as his goals evolve, they change and so will what he has to do to reach them.
5. Problem Solver If something is weighing heavily on your heart, writing it down in detail. Depending on the nature of the problem you could be suffering from fear, anxiety and / or that uneasy sense of foreboding. Writing it down will not only make you feel lighter but you are much more likely to look at it and realize it’s not as bad as you thought or feel enabled to come up with some creative solutions.
6. Idea List Take a subject that you have an interest in. It could be that you want to make your wife or husband more appreciated. Write down as many ideas as you can – at least 10 but don’t stop at 10 is you can come up with more. Chip’s idea to make his wife feel more appreciated was to do 20 minutes of housework every day. It absolutely worked!
Choose your journal
So, I always write in a journal with a cover that makes me smile! You want something that will encourage your to write – maybe get some fun colored pens too – whatever will lift your spirits as you go to write.
Of course there are many different types including those with lots of pages for goals and action etc and naturally there is now the most massive selection of mobile apps that you can use. Jim Rohn said you had to carry your journal absolutely everywhere because you never know when a life-changing idea could occur. I don’t carry mine round but I will download one of those apps to record anything and pop it in my journal at home. Zapier.com have a review of the top journaling apps here. You will also find a selection of hard copy journals over on my Rescources Page.
And there are now the bullet journals which are apparently fabulous. I did start to research them but there is enough information there for an entire article (and then some!) so I will leave that for another day as I couldn’t do it justice here.
When to write in your journal
This is really up to you, however, my recommendation would be first thing in the morning. If you follow my Blog you will know that I am a massive fan of The Miracle Morning and it really sets you up for a day lived with intention. Last thing at night can also be great though, especially is you are doing a review of your day, and, of course, it would be great to capture any ah-ha moments that happen day or night.
Making journaling a daily habit in your life will change you and your results in ways you could not have imagined. You can start with just 5 minutes a day. You have nothing to lose and potentially, life-changing wisdom and insights to gain. To hear Chip going over his journaling practices in detail on The Miracle Morning Podcast, just click here. It is fab.
Are you a fan of journaling? What has it done for your happiness and productivity?