A journal can serve as a wonderful tool for not only recording your life but also for helping to find solutions to life’s challenges.

Many people view a journal as the same thing as a diary, but there is a fundamental difference.

A diary is used to record external events in your life, but a journal is to record your thoughts, feelings, and ideas. The difference can be profound.

Consider the following:

  1. A journal creates focus. Few of us really take the time to examine our lives. We commonly feel that we either don’t have the time, it won’t be beneficial, or it’s simply too uncomfortable.

    By regularly making an appointment with yourself to work with your journal, you can create the necessary focus to make positive changes in your life.
  2. A journal forces you to see the truth. We beautiful, perfectly imperfect human beings are all amazing at fooling and distracting ourselves, but when the truth is right before our eyes in black and white, there’s no place to hide.
  3. A journal releases stress. There’s something cathartic about getting your thoughts on paper. Releasing and reducing your stress also creates a more effective state of mind for solving challenges.
  4. A journal provides a means of measuring progress and growth. Have you ever seen a friend’s child after being away from them for a period of time and noticed how much they’ve grown? You wouldn’t notice the growth as easily if you saw that child every day.

    Our own personal growth is similar, and journaling can help us to see the growth over time.

    Small changes aren’t always noticed when you’re exposed to them daily. A journal provides a way of looking back and seeing just how far you’ve come.

Use your journal to solve challenges – these 7 suggestions will help to get you started:

  1. Record your thoughts about the challenges you’re facing. Find a quiet place. What is the fundamental issue? How does it make you feel? How would your life improve if you were able to get this challenge fully under control?
  2. Keep a list of possible solutions. Over the course of several days, your mind can provide dozens of possible solutions. To get the most out of those solutions, record them in your journal. Avoid being judgmental. Simply record the ideas that pop into your head.
  3. Develop an action plan. Eventually, one idea will stand above the rest. If you find yourself torn between multiple options, do u whatever it takes to make a decision. Even flipping a coin is better than remaining indecisive.

    Start your action plan with small steps that are simple and easy to accomplish.
    A little momentum can be invaluable.
  4. Record your progress. Record the actions that you took each day to overcome the obstacle(s) in your life. Also record your thoughts and feelings about your progress. If you can make yourself feel good about the process, success is much more likely.

    Acknowledge every improvement, no matter how small.
  5. Look for dissonance. Everyone is subject to self-sabotaging thoughts and actions to varying degrees. Record the thoughts and behaviors that create resistance to your progress.

    For example, if you need to lose 25 pounds but you’re eating ice cream every day, that’s a behavior that’s not supporting your goal.

    Create a list of solutions for dealing with your counterproductive habits, and keep your focus and intentions on improvement.
  6. Make journaling a consistent and intentional daily habit. It’s easy to let things slip through the cracks and create even bigger challenges if you don’t write in your journal each day.

    Take advantage of this easy way to keep your life moving forward in a way that pleases you.

A journal can be an effective way to create positive change in your life.

Even if you’re skeptical, give journaling a try for a few months and measure the improvement in your life. With regular effort, you’ll start to see and recognize many positive rewards, encouraging you to keep going.

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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 with 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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