If I had to make one recommendation on how to grow and make positive change in someone’s life, I would tell them to begin a daily journaling practice. I began mine several years ago and I truly believe most of the progress I’ve made since then can be attributed to journaling daily. I don’t know of a more simple or practical way to objectively analyze your own thoughts.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ― Aristotle
Journal to help to clarify your thoughts
I believe the single most important reason to journal is to help you clarify your thoughts. It’s an amazing aide when you are seeking clarity on a particular issue. If I were to ask you who the best football player of all time is, you might have an answer but most likely not a thoughtful argument as to why. Now write 1,000 words about the best football player and you will easily have a cogent argument.
I think that happens because journaling helps give us a different perspective. By separating yourself from your thoughts you can begin to think objectively about them.
Journal to help make a big decision
Most of us have used the ever popular pro and con list to make big decisions, and it’s popular for a reason –It works. However, I believe it only scratches the surface of your thoughts and feelings. When I write in long form I’m able to dig down beneath that surface and poke around at what feelings and thoughts are really driving my choices. Only then can you make a truly informed decision.
Journal to detach from your emotions – Making decisions when you are anxious or angry
Everyone knows that it’s not a good idea to make decisions when you’re angry but what about when you feel anxious? In both situations you’re not able to think clearly because of your impaired mental state. This is where journaling can really help. You can begin to detach from your emotions which allows you to make a decision in the right mindset.
Journal to get out of your own head – Stop ruminating about the past or worrying about the future
I think worry and rumination are two of the most common mental blocks we face that stop us from accessing our full potential.
I found that by taking the time to journal about my worries or ruminations I am able to limit the impact they have on me. Putting them down on paper allows me to get out of my own head which means I can focus on what’s actually important.
This doesn’t necessarily need to be part of the daily journaling but can done at any time ruminations or worries arise. The next time you start to worry write it down and see if it helps you get your mind right.
Journal a list of reminders or a to-do list
Not all journaling needs to be introspective. There are times you simply need a place to write your to-do list or a reminder to pick up a birthday card for your mom. It’s a very practical application but doing it daily allows you to stay focused on what is actually important.
Journal to be more creative – List three to five new ideas each day
This idea was borrowed from James Altucher a best-selling author and entrepreneur. He has a daily practice of writing down ten ideas to help him strengthen his “idea muscle”.
I wanted to incorporate this into my journaling so I decided to begin with listing three to five ideas and work my way up to ten. The ideas can be about anything – I come up with new article ideas, business ideas, ideas for trips, ideas for personal experiments, ways to challenge myself, etc. The more absurd the ideas are the better.
Consistently generating ideas was difficult when I began. Nevertheless, continued practice has helped me cultivate my creativity and made coming up with ideas a bit easier. Who knows, I might even come up with a good idea one of these days.
Journal to live a more satisfied life – Daily gratitude List
Research has shown that a daily gratitude practice can have a meaningful positive impact on the satisfaction of a person’s life. I’ve seen this recommended and used by many successful people so I thought I would give it a try.
I list out several things that I am grateful for every day. It’s usually a list of simple joys such as a good cup of coffee, the sunshine, or a Cubs win. This is one part of my journaling that I never skip because of the remarkable impact it has had on me within a very short time.
“Gratitude is the antidote to the two things that stop us – fear and anger.” – Tony Robbins
I hope you find at least one of these strategies helpful and consider beginning a journaling practice of your own. As always, thank you for taking the time to read the article – If you enjoyed it please comment, share, or like.