stack of jigsaw puzzle pieces

Not sure what to do with your perfectly imperfect life? Unhappy in your job or business? Trying to figure out why you are so unsettled lately? All of these are problems we often face in life, and all could be solved using a similar strategy.

Journaling is a useful tool that can help you figure out any problem in your life.

How Journaling Helps You Solve Problems

Solving any problem, no matter the size or purpose, follows a logical process. This approach has been studied widely and yields the best results, and even when you do not realize it, it’s probably the approach you use when making your most important choices.

The steps are structured like this:
1. Understand clearly what the problem is.
2. Figure out potential solutions.
3. Weigh your options and choose the best one.
4. Implement that choice and evaluate its success.

Sounds simple enough, yes? When you do all these things in your head, though, you can miss a step, neglect to think completely through each step, or not take enough time to consider all your possible choices. Journaling can help you improve the effectiveness of all parts of this approach.

Step 1: Identify the Problem

Journaling is perfect to begin your process because, when you write in your journal every day, it becomes an authentic, written record of your thoughts, moods, and emotions. You can gain incredible insight into figuring out exactly what problem you’re facing.

Often, we may know (or feel) that SOMETHING is not right but not have a complete understanding of what that is, exactly. Writing in your journal every day gives you the chance to write about your problems, decisions, and relationships, which helps you analyze themes and patterns that point to genuine issues.

Step 2: Identifying and Choosing Solutions

You can use your journal to create detailed lists of all the possible outcomes of your choices. You can write about the pros and cons of each option. Writing gives you time to consider possibilities, brainstorm lots of ideas, and look back to previous entries to see how you’ve solved similar problems in the past.

Step 3: Evaluating Your Decision

A journal is a terrific way to perform an ongoing evaluation of your past choices. Once you have made a choice and implemented it, your journal can help you document the results, including any lessons you have learned from the outcomes.

Your journal then becomes a useful record for the “future you” who faces a similar problem or who is grappling with the aftermath of a tough choice.

Other Approaches to Journaling

There are an infinite number of ways you can use a journal to help you solve problems in your life. When you write on a daily (or near-daily) basis, you may notice specific issues cropping up that you did not even know were problems until you started to write about them.

You can explore relationships and the influences other people have over you, which may be the source of certain feelings or outcomes.

You can get to know yourself better through journaling, which may reveal hidden hurts or emotional struggles from your past.

The real power of journaling is not just in the act of writing, though that in itself is therapeutic in nature. It is also in the reflective reading and reviewing you do from time to time. You can start to understand the emotional influence you have over yourself as well as others and identify ways you can avoid future problems or hardships, as well.

Final Thoughts

Exploring problems on paper helps you think more clearly, avoid circular logic, and identify gaps in your reasoning. Journaling can help at every stage of problem-solving, including identifying the problem, finding, and choosing solutions, then evaluating the outcomes.

Journaling Prompts for Problem-Solving

  1. How will taking a break from thinking about a problem help me to find a solution?
  2. Can the problem be broken down into smaller steps or tasks? What’s the smallest positive step you can take to gain momentum and encourage your pursuit of a solution?
  3. Brainstorm 3 – 5 solutions to the problem you’ve never considered before – a different method, asking a friend or family member for a new perspective, or implementing a technology-based course of action.
About the Author Dianne Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels' mission is to empower women 50+ to Amplify their Self-Confidence, Deepen their Self-Knowledge, Inspire Creativity, and Glide into the next phase of their lives with the Power of Journaling, Affirmations, and Assessments.

You can learn how to use these time-tested proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family) and has been journaling since the age of 9.

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