How Journaling Can Have Life-Changing Effects
Okay, I know that journaling can seem like a very boring topic if it's not something you are into. Before I started journaling, I imagined it as something only done by writers or by teenage girls writing in their diary about their crushes. However, it is MUCH more than this and can be extremely helpful for anyone! I can honestly say that keeping a journal has changed my life. It has given me a way to get clarity on my thoughts, track my goals, reduce stress, and much more!
I would strongly recommend everyone to give journaling a try. It doesn't have to be much! Start small! Start with journaling one sentence every evening about your day and let the habit grow from there!
Here are 9 reasons everyone should keep a journal:
1. Clarity of your thoughts
Have you ever heard the concept of "thinking on paper"? This is very much how I think of journaling. Putting your thoughts on paper can help you get clarity. By writing your thoughts out, it forces you to break down concepts, ideas, or decisions into a simple form that you can visually see on paper. I know we all know the concept of a pros and cons list... and it sounds like a very unexciting, lame strategy... but it is a great example of how journaling can give you clarity. Often times when I have a large decision, if I physically go through the process of making a pros and cons list, it makes it SO much easier to see what the right decision is.
2. Boost your memory
I typically do my journaling in the evening. This process of reflecting over my day helps me think back to so many small events that I might typically not remember. I mean, do you even remember what you had for lunch yesterday? Obviously, details like that aren't the most important thing in the world... but by reflecting over my day every night in my journal it helps me remember much better what happened!
Also, when you write something down it gets stored in your brain differently. We naturally accosiate something we write down as important. For me, when I write something down, I can think back to it months later and remember where I wrote it! For example, if I write down a password of mine, months later I will remember that I wrote it on the bottom of the page, underlined it, and that I was sitting at my kitchen table when I wrote it. Putting it on paper makes it a much stronger memory!
3. A way to "vent"
Sometimes when frustrated or stressed about an issue, all we really need to do is a vent. I oftentimes get upset about events, outcomes, or decisions I had made, and taking out my journal and journaling about it helps to relieve the stress and frustration. It puts my thoughts and frustrations in front of me on paper where I can look at them from a new perspective. For example, a small incident may happen during the workday that stays on my mind and bugs me... but once I write it out on paper, I all the sudden realize how petty or small the issue really is! It helps me to move on and stop letting these small incidents affecting my attitude or mood.
4. Helps you achieve your goals
We have probably all heard how writing your goals out on paper increases the chances of you achieving them. However, I believe journaling even takes it a step further! By keeping a journal, it has given me a way to track my progress daily and hold myself accountable to keep taking action. Just that small behavior of writing down what I did each day to move me closer in the direction of my goals helps build my confidence to keep taking larger actions! Even though no one else reads my journal, I do not want to write in it at the end of the day that I took NO action towards my goals that day. This gives me a level of accountability because I want to be able to write down every day how I took the actions that I needed to.
5. Helps reduce stress
As discussed above, keeping a journal gives you a way to "vent" and helps to reduce tension. Also, for me, I easily get overwhelmed when I have several things I need to get done. By writing out what I am stressed about, and putting theses various tasks on paper, it helps me to feel less stressed about them. Once I visually see the list, it gives me confidence that I will be able to one at a time accomplish each task.
Another way, journaling has helped me reduce stress, is by helping me realize where most of my stress comes from. If I start to realize that I am consistently writing about the same person of event that stresses me out, it makes me then ask the questions, how can I fix this? For example, when I was working at a car dealership, I would regularly feel stressed. I started to realize that most of my stress and frustration at work came from one particular co-worker. I then simply wrote out one day in my journal, "how can I reduce the amount of stress I get from this person?" (Oftentimes, by just writing questions like this out, it helps your mind to start finding creative ideas.) I realized that, first of all, I could talk to the person about some of the issues, and I realized there was another desk open that would move me further from this person. Just by talking with the person about the issue, and moving to a desk further away, I was not only able to reduce the stress I had, but also able to improve the relationship I had with the coworker.
6. Builds your confidence
One of my favorite parts of journaling is being able to look back on my previous journal entries. It is amazing how quickly you forget all that happened in your life! And, it is extremely rewarding to look back at all the difficult situations and challenges you have made it through. We oftentimes forget how stressed or worried we were about events in our lives. To be able to look back and remind myself how I felt in those tough times and see how I overcame them has become extremely rewarding. It helps me to build my confidence to take on larger and larger challenges!
7. Reminds you of the small things
Keeping a journal also gives you a way to look back and remind yourself of all the little events that took place and made you happy. Whether it is a random compliment you get from a stranger, an unexpected phone call you got from a friend or a really good meal you had, journaling gives you a way to looking back on these small events that could easily get forgotten.
8. Track ideas and lessons
I truly believe that we learn something new every day. And, I think we get new, GREAT ideas everyday. Often times these ideas may not be currently relevant to what is happening in our life that day, but if we write them down, we can look back on them and remind our selves of them at a later date.
9. Inspire creativity
Keeping a journal can help spark creativity. Writing things out on paper uses a different part of our brain that we don't typically use (unless of course, you write for a living, you probably use that creative part a lot ;)) Or, as I talked about earlier, I oftentimes write out a question, such as, "what can I start doing everyday for 10 minutes that will improve my life?" Writing out a questions like this and letting my mind come up with solutions helps me to get ideas that I would not have normally thought of.
Start small and start today!
In conclusion, there are many ways keeping a journal can benefit your life. And, to get started, it doesn't have to take much time! Take 3 minutes a day to write out one sentence about your day. Start with a small, quick behavior you can commit to and let the habit grow from there. If you need help giving yourself a structure to follow in your journal, check out the GoalCrazy 90 Day Guided Journal and Planner. It will give a structure to follow that will make it easy to get started and begin getting the benefits from it. You can check it out below.