I recommend journaling to every human being I know. Old or young, male or female, whether they like writing or hate it, journaling is vital to personal growth. All the historical leaders we look up to kept a personal journal. Getting our thoughts out of our head, onto paper, through handwriting (not typing) is important. Why?
There is what is known as a neuro-muscular connection that takes place when you physically write out your thoughts onto paper. In essence, when you hand write your intentions, goals, wants, etc you are making a promise or signing a contract of intent to achieve.
If goal achievement isn’t your thing, then a daily thought journal is for you. Just write out what’s in your head, what’s on your mind, what you’re thinking about at the moment, and/or simply write out what you did that day. What purpose does this serve? It is like taking out the garbage or opening the window in a smoke filled room.
When garbage piles up and smoke fills a room, it makes it harder to see and move around, if not impossible. Writing out one’s thoughts, no matter how boring or mundane will help create space in your mind. So even if you aren’t writing about epiphanies, goals, desires, hopes, and dreams right out of the gate; eventually the space you create by writing out the basic stuff will foster the deep stuff to come up the surface.
Journaling is a way to cultivate the space between stimulus and response.
Remember, you are journaling for yourself, no one else. If you want to share your journal or if you want to have both private and public journals, that’s cool, but not necessary. When journaling you don’t have to worry about the quality of your handwriting, spelling, punctuation, grammar, or any of that. A private thought journal is as casual as it gets, the poetic license you give yourself won’t ever be any greater than it is there. Write what you want, how you want, when you want (though once a day is best).
Reviewing past journals is an important piece of the puzzle that many forget, including myself. I have gone long stretches without reviewing past journal entries. When I do, each time I see that by not reviewing I have been repeating mistakes, lapses in judgement, failures of character, and just flat out not progressing as much as I want to be or feel I should be. We must see where we have been in order to get a better idea of where we are and where we are going.
Journaling is beneficial for the heart, mind, and soul. It can also be beneficial for the body. You can use a journal to track what you eat, drink, and how often you exercise to hold yourself accountable to yourself during a diet and exercise program or better yet, a new healthier lifestyle.
I like to journal at the end of the day. It is like putting a period on and bringing closure to that date on the calendar of life. It lets me know that this day is now over;
- What have I accomplished?
- What have I failed to do?
- What do I want to do tomorrow?
- What do I need to do this week?
- What can I do this month to be closer to where I want to be this time next year?
- What must I improve upon?
- What progress have I made up to this point?
- What did I do today?
- What am I grateful for?
It can be a few sentences, a few paragraphs, a few pages, or a few notebooks worth. Let it flow. Force yourself to start, but then just let your brain tell the pen what to write and when to stop. We can all be better. We can all improve. A journal is how we sign a contract of change with the most important entity in our life, our reflection.