On a scale from 1 to hipster meditation guru, how open minded would you say you are about keeping a journal?
You know, taking a few minutes each day to write down your thoughts, what you might be grateful for, and what you want to accomplish before the day closes up shop.
If you’re anything like me–or, the me that I used to be–journaling might feel like the metaphorical boundary line between your normal, people-won’t-judge-me routine and a life of depth that might scare you.
I thought that there was something feminine about journaling–what grown man keeps a diary?
I thought that if I committed to journaling, I was committing to a life of introspection that I wasn’t sure I was ready for.
If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t really see the value in spending time writing down what I was thinking. The arrogant thought that came up often was, “If I’m thinking it, what’s the point in writing it down? My memory isn’t shot. I’ll remember.”
But, as I’m sure you’ve experienced, thinking something will turn out a certain way without actually trying it out is a sure fire way to miss out on some amazing stuff.
Assume nothing. Experience everything.
Journaling, as it turns out, was a pleasant surprise once I gave it a go.
If you already keep a journal of some sort, awesome. The following will just reinforce what you already know.
If you don’t take the time to write down what’s rattling around in your brain on a consistent basis, then indulge me for a minute.
Consider this my Amazon review of Journaling. I hope you find it to be helpful.
Record Keeping for the Soul
Your bank account has a running record of your income.
Your accountant keeps a running record of your expenses.
Your wife keeps a running record of how many times she has to remind you to cut the grass.
There is value in keeping records. They allow you to keep tabs on where you currently are, look back and see how you’ve progressed, and plan for the future based on what you want to adjust.
Journaling allows you to keep a running record of how you think, feel, and act as you go through your everyday life.
50,000+ thoughts fly through your skull on a daily basis. It’s impossible to track down every last one of them, but if you take the time to journal the big ones, you’ll be able to monitor how life is going from a bird’s eye view.
You’ll no longer say to yourself, “What was that thing I was thinking about yesterday? I remember it being important, but I have no idea what it was.”
Journaling allows you to gather the droppings of your mind into a collection of pages. Some thoughts will still escape you, but if you pin down the big ones, you’ll be able to reflect and adjust your patterns more readily.
Evidence Staring Back at You
If you spare a few minutes and genuinely write down your thoughts and emotions about your life every day, you will create a great gift for your future self:
At least as you’re perceiving it.
Let’s say that you’ve had a goal of losing 20 pounds for the last year.
When you look back at some of your journal entries, you will see the writing on the wall. You’ll notice that you indulged on that weekend getaway, then needed an ice cream sundae to suffocate the negative mojo from a bad day at work. You’ll see that you had one too many drinks at your cousins wedding which led to one too many pieces of pizza as a late night snack.
You won’t need to do any soul searching or investigating as to why you haven’t made any progress. You can simply use your own words to make adjustments that will create the change you’re looking for.
This can be applied across all areas of your life since your journal isn’t just a place to log your food and drink consumption.
If you’re willing to see your journals reflections for their truth, you’ll notice:
- What you’re doing to sabotage any chance of creating that magical relationship you wish for.
- What patterns of behavior are keeping you stuck at a job you hate.
- How your goals and actions aren’t aligned.
These insights will give you the chance to see yourself and your thoughts from an objective point of view. You’ll be able to read through your patterns and be like,
“Well, it’s no wonder she broke up with me. I was kind of a dick.”
All from just letting your souls words become chicken scratch on paper.
The evidence that will pile up will allow you to make the adjustments necessary to create whatever you want.
A Quick How-To
Alright, alright. I’ll stop pestering you with why journaling is an important practice to incorporate if you’re looking to make something of yourself.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of it all. How to journal is just as important as why you should.
- Create a space that has little to no distractions. I don’t care if you tuck yourself in the corner of your favorite coffee shop or sit on the couch with earbuds in to block out the noise around you–just make sure that your environment allows you to focus on the task at hand. If you try to reflect on your day or plan your week while the kids are crying or Netflix is rolling from episode to episode, you’re not going to get much done.
- Journal at the start of your day or at the end of it. Or both. Morning journaling makes for a powerful way to set the tone for the day. Journaling at night can be an excellent way to reflect on the events that have come to pass. Bookending the day with a quick journal session can give you the best of both worlds.
- Have an intention going into it. Whether it be writing about what you’re grateful for, creating a vision of your future, or thinking back on what you’ve done well during the day, it’s a good idea to know where you want your mind to take you once you begin.
- But sometimes throw that intention out the window. Some call it “stream of consciousness writing”. Sounds pretty out there, right? Sometimes it’s best to just let your mind take you where it needs to go. Let it vomit all over the page and don’t judge its direction. Chances are good that whatever came out needed to.
Journaling, like many other things in the areas of personal growth and development, is just a tool. It’s going to work in direct proportion to how much you put it in action.
Whether it’s making your thoughts more concrete on paper, planning your day, or reflecting on the days and weeks that have passed, it’s an excellent way to get snap shots of yourself over time.
You can look back to who you were on any given day, and see your growth in black and white. That alone is worthy of the practice.
To get access to the daily journal I use for myself and all my coaching clients, sign up for my newsletter and get my the journal along with an inspiring message sent your way every Monday morning to start your week off right.