Since I can remember I’ve kept a journal. It’s a practice that is second nature to me, and one that I know helps keep me grounded and focused. It also helps me gain clarity, and for that reason, I recommend that everyone should keep a journal.
But sometimes I’m met with resistance, and I think this stems from the fear of getting it wrong, so I thought I’d share with you the essentials you need to know about journaling so you can get started.
What is journaling?
Journaling is the practice of keeping regular records of your life or events.
By detailing events and feelings you are able to process thoughts, emotions and ideas, whilst also cataloguing your life.
The benefits of journaling
Journaling helps you to process emotions and promotes mindfulness
The act of dedicating time to reflect and write forces you to articulate your thoughts and emotion. This means you are able to not only recognise your emotions, but are also able to make a conscious choice about how we respond and react. This practice creates increased self-awareness and mindfulness.
Clarifies your thoughts and improves your critical thinking and memory
The act of journaling allows you to identify thought patterns, which allows us to think critically about challenges in our life. It also improves your memory and provides a location for you to gather, organise and process your thoughts, goals and ideas in a private and safe setting.
Regular practice develops self-discipline
Keeping a journal develops a powerful habit that strengthens your self-discipline over time.
Improves your likelihood of achieving your goals
By writing goals down they are 42% more likely to be achieved. So use your journal as a place to explore your dreams and formulate goals, as well as track your process. Review your goals often and refine or change your goals whenever you need to.
How to get started
Start with a notebook and pen. And know that there is no right or wrong way to journal. Instead, this is an opportunity to allow ideas and thoughts to come to you through the act of reflection and writing.
I recommend you start with free-form journalling, where you write freely with no set format or expectations. You might wish you set a timer or commit to writing 3 pages a day, for example.
What you write can cover any area of your life, and allow yourself to focus on whatever is top-of-mind for you that day. Don’t worry if your thoughts are not in a logical order or that what you’ve written doesn’t make sense. After all, this is an exercise in personal reflection and your journal is never intended for others to read.
Aim to make this a daily practice for the first month to establish a routine and then tweak it as you need to, remembering there is no one right way to journal.
How to Journal FAQs
What type of journal should I use?
I love getting a beautiful, good quality journal because I am pretty hard on my journals and having something nice makes the writing experience more enjoyable. My favourites are Leuchtturm1917 or a Moleskin but I recommend finding something that resonates with you.
Do I have to use a physical journal or can I use my phone or laptop instead?
I recommend physically writing, as the process encourages critical thinking, deepens conceptual understanding and improves memory retention.
However, if you’re really put off by the idea of using pen & paper, then go for the digital option if it means you’ll do it regularly.
I don’t know what to write. Any tips?
There is no right or wrong when it comes to journaling, so go with whatever is on your mind.
Here are some prompts if you need them:
- My intention for today is…
- I am happy that…
- I want to…
- Today I am grateful for…
Get your pen and paper and start right now. Have fun with the process and establish a journaling practice that works for you.
Do journal or are you just starting out? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.