Journaling is a fantastic way to supercharge your self-development efforts. When your thoughts are still in your mind, they can be challenging to analyze objectively, and if your life is anything like mine, if you don’t write down your thoughts, something else will pop in to take their place, and then it’s hard to get them back in the same exact way you “heard” them before.
Getting things out of your head and down on paper provides a totally different perspective.
Thinking tends to be very sequential; one thought leading to the next, which leads to the next. You get caught in a linear track and miss out on the bird’s-eye view of the whole thought process. With journaling, you gain the ability to see things from a third-person view versus a first-person view.
Three Great Benefits of Journaling
- Solve complex challenges. When you write the issue at hand down on paper, the solution for a complex challenge often suddenly becomes obvious. The ability to re-examine the issue from a third-person perspective can make all the difference.
Often for me, its the very act of writing down the challenge on paper that opens up pathways in my mind and thinking, and I can “see” solutions more easily. Choosing what words to write down as you describe the challenge also helps to activate new (or different) neural pathways, giving room for innovative solutions.
- Increase clarity of thought. One of the best times to lean on your journal is when you’re filled with uncertainty about what action to take. Multiple solutions can arise in your mind, or from suggestions given by loved ones or friends.
Having too many options can be as challenging as NOT having an option. Many things become clearer when you can get them down in writing. Writing your options out can increase your focus and direct your energy toward steps to make a solution viable versus trying to keep all your options in the forefront of your mind.
- Validate your progress. Sometimes we feel like we’re spinning our wheels and not making genuine progress. You’ve heard me say many times that baby steps forward are still steps forward, but on a day-to-day basis, those baby steps can seem like not much changes in a positive way.
When you’re feeling this way, go back and review your old journal entries. You’ll be amazed at how much progress and how much stronger you’ve become since those early days. And you’ll also realize that you’re taking huge strides right now, too! The person you WERE has grown and changed, and the person you ARE may just need a reminder of how far you’ve come on your journey.
How to Start an Electronic Journal
You might envision creating a journal in one of those blank books you can pick up in the bookstore or office supply store, and while writing in a physical journal certainly is my preferred choice, you may find more resonance and ease if you consider keeping an electronic journal.
- Electronic journals can be essentially free; you could start a blog on a free website or simply use your word processing program, Notes app on your phone, or a specific journaling program on your computer.
- The big advantage of electronic journals is the ability to search for things. Imagine going back through 10 years of written records, trying to find a specific entry – an electronic journal can accomplish that search in seconds.
- Additionally, if you type faster than you write, an electronic journal can be beneficial when you’re trying to get complex thoughts out in a short period of time. A couple of clicks and you can have a new journal entry open and ready for your thoughts.
- Also, there are several software programs available specifically developed for journaling. If you already have a tablet or laptop and are willing to invest some funds and time to learn the program, they’re worth checking out, and provide a different feel and flexibility than the traditional pen and paper approach. That’s not to say that pen and paper is wrong, but journaling can be accessible to anyone, in any form that works for YOU.
Habit-forming: Make Journaling a Daily Activity
Even if you think that there aren’t enough interesting things happening in your life on a daily basis to bother recording them, don’t let that deter you from starting this new, positive habit.
New habits are much easier to implement if the activity is performed consistently – on a daily basis is best. Even getting down a couple of sentences every night is a great idea. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll write much more.
Your journaling practice can help make your life more exciting and fulfilling. Just knowing that you’ve committed to writing in your journal each night may compel you to make your life a little more adventurous, just so you have something interesting to write. Try it!
During the day, you’ll notice that little thought in the back of your mind wondering what you can write about tonight, and your vision will change as you begin to notice things you’d like to include in your journal throughout the day.
Get started with your journaling practice today. It’s an activity that has a low cost compared to the priceless benefits. You’ll see your clarity increase and have a much better sense of just how much progress you really are making in your life. Start journaling today and watch your self-development take on a new perspective.