„Writing is only boring to the people who are boring themselves.“ ~ Anonymous
I’m doing journal writing for over 3 years now. It is a simple Word-document. Well, at least it started out as simple. I have to say that I am very happy that I started it and I am constantly amazed what a powerful tool it is. I remember when I wrote the first entry saying something like „I wanted to start this some time now, but somehow I always felt a bit childish going for it.“ Strangely enough I had the limiting belief that writing a journal is something weak. Boy, what a stupid idea :)
Finally I went for it …
The following list describes the greatest benefits to start journal writing. I call it a success-journal. And the number one reason to do it is …
1. Self-Reflection: You attain clarity and keep your inner space clear
Writing can be so powerful. It forces you to crystallize your thoughts into written content, which simultaneously forces you to think deeper into the topic that is important to you. I had several powerful realizations that were the perfect solution to my challenges back then. It is incredible what you can achieve if you get your issues out on paper and expect to find a solution. Of course we do this in our head constantly, but writing it down makes it much more easy to think trough complex issues. Sometimes it is really the only way to dig deeper and find the underlying principle or cause of your „problem“.
The most important fact to succeed reflecting is to get to the core and to stay honest with yourself. If you are truthful with yourself (and what is the use of lying in your own journal anyway? ;)) you will get to the point where you see the next level of thought that you avoided so far, leading towards a solution. Self-Awareness is always to key to advance.
And it always feels so great to get the inner space clear again. Do you go to you gym and to your doctor to keep your body in shape and clear of problems? Why not do same to your mind and spirit by getting rid of the mental ballast you accumulated over time? Self-Reflection is the method to do this and writing a journal is the key, at least for me.
2. Write down your goals
In a personal journal you also have a fantastic place to write down your goals. I wrote my goals, divided into personal and professional goals, at the top of my personal journal. They are then further divided into the areas of importance and written down. I also put down a link to these goals so I can jump directly to them from anywhere in my journal. For instance if I write something like „Today I achieved the important step of … for my goal …“, I can jump from there right to the goal by linking to it.
3. Review your goals
Think about it, you see your daily journal every day. What could be a better tool to develop the habit of reviewing your goals regularly, if not daily? As said, I always can jump to my list of goals and focus myself on it, right before I start into my day.
You can review and set your goals new every quarter just by creating a new goal-page in your journal. I prefer this over editing your list of goals, because you can see the old goals that you achieved later and it also prevents you from changing your goals too often.
4. It gives you something to hold yourself responsible
If you write something down it is a different level of commitment to yourself. You can use this fact to your advantage. Let’s face it, sometimes we all could use a small kick in the butt to get us going into the right direction. By using your journal in this way, you will become your own coach. You can really say something to yourself and by writing it into your journal you can put a commitment on yourself. In this way you can literally lead yourself. This kind of self-leadership is a great way to push yourself to where you want to go. Someone really cares, and that someone is you ;) I personally love this, it is just important to balance it fitting your own needs.
5. You write a book about yourself
This is the typical idea of a diary: you write what happens to you, you reflect a bit about it and add your feelings and thoughts. I also add pictures I made of the locations or of the achievements that were important to me. It is really great to review your personal development over the time. I remember Tony Robbins saying a life worth living is worth recording. Now I sometimes go back to the first journal and check my goals, thoughts and ideas that I had back then. It may also be a great document for our relatives or even be inspiring for other people, who knows who you will reach in your life from now on?
It will give you a sense of your own personal growth and by that it will also motivate you to grow.
6. A great place to plan
I use my personal journal to do my weekly planning. Every Sunday I sit down and plan the next week ahead with the big tasks connected to my goals. These tasks are divided into personal and professional tasks, put into the areas of importance and then prioritized. It includes a list of the tasks I want to accomplish over the week and it follows the pattern „Priority [Area] Task“. I then put these tasks into my daily tool, which is iCal and execute them over the week.
7. Idea-Journal: You can jot down your ideas
I also collect great ideas in my personal journal. These ideas may appear out of thoughts, of intuition, of talks with other people or out of something I read, heard or saw anywhere. You could also use an idea-journal for this and I use one for my profession, but you can also keep these ideas right in one place.
8. You exercise your writing skills
This is obvious but I think it is worth noticing. By writing a personal journal you get into the habit of writing. I think without my personal journal I would not write this blog today. It is not necessary to write the greatest poetry of the world into your personal journal, neither is it the point unless you are a poet. But simply by writing a personal journal writing will become a much more natural expression of yourself.
Here are some final practical tips:
- Use one journal for a year, or depending on your output change the journal every 6 or 3 month. My word-document is usually about 6 MB and about 400 pages by the end of one year, including some pictures.
- Use links inside the document to point to important areas and times
- Use a table of content where you link your most important entries for quick reference
- Use different colors and styles for different content: i.e. red = important, italic = quotes from any sources etc.
- Use a templates for repeating content, such as the weekly planning process or your written goals
Finally I hope I could encourage you to start a personal journal and show you some benefits of doing so. If you already write a personal journal, hopefully this was inspiring anyway. I’d like to hear about your experiences, just write them into the comments below!