You know what you want in life. Or at least know what you need to do in life.
Yet, you can’t seem to get to a place in your life where you’re genuinely content with it.
There are always more things on that list that you’d like to have.
And so you promise yourself that you’re going to write that book, you’re gonna learn Italian because you’re gonna go to Italy and talk to the natives, you’re gonna get out of debt, you’re gonna be a better partner, you’re gonna be more organised, you’re gonna be more patient, you’re gonna get rid of all your bad habits. One day. Soon. For sure.
When you first make yourself that promise, it’s easy to believe that you’ll follow through on it.
But as the days, weeks and months pass, keeping those promises gets harder and harder.
And one day, it’s more realistic to just give up and not even try. Because taking one step forward and two steps back is getting really old.
You’ve got important, urgent things that need your attention every day.
But as long as there’s a gap between who you are and who you wish you were, you’re going to be unhappy.
And just thinking about bridging that gap is mentally exhausting, and when you keep promising yourself that one day you’ll finally start, you kind of feel like a fraud.
And if you get frustrated with yourself to the point “now or never”, you’ll try to tackle everything all at once, burn out and rage quit in tears.
I’ve done this countless times. And it’s always equally dispiriting.
Life has this irritating way of getting in the way. It gets busy. And you can’t be in a thousand different places at once.
Microscopically analysing your sabotaging behaviours doesn’t help either.
Better is to introduce a small change or habit that will unintentionally affect other aspects of your life.
For instance, if you start exercising once a week, you’ll probably start eating better without even thinking about it. That, in turn, will give you more energy and you might end up being more productive at work. This will make you feel less stressed and have more motivation to achieve your goals.
The patterns you previously trained your brain to follow shift and change. Eventually, you’ll be an entirely different person.
And all because you started exercising once a week.
By acquiring that one pivotal habit, your whole life changes because it sparked a chain reaction of other good habits which, in turn, altered every aspect of your life.
Start journaling, change your life.
Journaling is the most powerful daily habit you can pick up.
When you do it consistently, it’ll become the reason you do things well in life.
The struggle that I see people having with journaling, over and over again, is taking that initial excitement and turning it into a sustainable habit.
“The life of every woman is a diary in which she means to write one story, and writes another;– altered quote from J.M. Barrie
and her humblest hour is when she compares the volume as it is with what she vowed to make it.”
1) Journaling clears your thoughts and emotions.
When you’re caught up in feelings, it can feel like you’re carrying an angry hornet’s nest inside yourself.
It’s exhausting and depleting to have thoughts and feelings flying around without knowing where they come from, what triggered them or what you should make of them.
That kind of emotional turbulence will also hide the truth from you and make you reactive, stripping you of calm and centred decision-making.
When you vent into the pages of your journal, it’s like releasing the pressure or draining a festering abscess. The stormy clouds inside of you will begin to clear and objectivity will return to you.
Without writing about it, an intense emotional experience can be crippling. And it can hold you in its grip for hours, days, weeks or even years.
But an honest journaling session in which you don’t censor yourself can be the best form of therapy. It’ll allow you to come back to yourself, make sense of how you feel, and be able to move forward with more clarity.
Research has found that writing in your journal reduces stress, the benefits include:
- reducing scatter in your life,
- increased focus,
- greater emotional stability,
- a deeper level of learning, order, action and release,
- holding thoughts still so they can be changed and integrated,
- releasing pent-up thoughts and emotions,
- feeling empowered,
- bridging inner thinking with outer events,
- detaching and letting go of the past,
- allowing you to re-experience the past with a more mature perspective.
2) Journaling creates a space for daily recovery.
More than ever, we’re struggling to live life in the present.
Our loved ones are lucky to experience even a small percentage of our attention when they’re with us. Many of us are desperately struggling to detach ourselves from work at the end of the day and leaving work issues at work.
Journaling will fix that.
A journaling session at the end of your day is your post-work reflection time. It allows you to account to yourself what you’ve done that day and what you need to do tomorrow, freeing up critical space in your brain.
Write down the things that you learned and experienced. The things that went well and the things that require more attention.
It also allows you to direct your subconscious to focus on tomorrow. By planning ahead, you’re better able to let go of today’s events and any things that are still on your mind. Your brain will continue to process today’s input to prepare for tomorrow, but it’ll run in the background and not disturb you.
Your end-of-day session doesn’t need to be long at all. Writing a few sentences or paragraphs is more than enough – and this helps you avoid burnout.
The primary aim is to turn off work mode.
Because, just as with physical exertion, you need time to rest and recover between workdays if you want to have your full capacity at your disposal during working hours.
Get this free worksheet
Once you’ve put in a whole day of work, you want to leave that cognitive load behind.
To help you leave work at work, do this simple exercise to close your day.
Review everything you’ve accomplished, and take a moment to reflect on what you’re happy with and what could have gone better.
I designed this sheet on the principles of critical thinking to help jog your brain into a productive mode with as little cognitive effort as possible.
Working with gratitude in a strategic way will also leave you feeling at peace with your day and have you looking forward to a productive tomorrow.
3) Journaling gives you clarity.
When you have a regular journaling practice, you’ll see what in your life is actually aligned with what you truly want out of life.
Journaling will allow you to gain an overview of what needs to be removed or included in your life.
It will also improve your ability to make decisions, big or small.
And journaling gives you agency over your own life because, as you transcribe the events of your life, you also become the author of your story. If the story starts taking a turn you don’t like, journaling makes that visible and makes it possible for you to correct your course.
Through journaling, you’ll form your own sense of identity as well as forge your path through life.
And as the designer and architect of your life, you can create whatever kind of life you want.
4) Journaling speeds up your ability to manifest your goals.
As you list your dreams and achievements and progress towards them, you’ll review and hone the vision you have for your life.
By refining and rewriting your goals down on paper, you’re charting a path to reaching your big-picture goals and forging them into your subconscious mind.
Eventually, your dreams will consume your inner world and become your physical reality.
After all, matter is just an illusion.
And harnessing the most powerful reality-generating machine – your brain – is the path of least resistance when you want to create sustainable change.
5) Journaling increases your gratitude.
Even (and especially) when you start a journaling session in a bad mood, the release of being able to pour your thoughts and feelings out before the vessel (you) cracks is a huge relief.
You’ll also gain invaluable insight that will allow you to see the things that you can be grateful for.
When you write about the things you’re grateful for, new chambers of thought open up in the palace of your mind.
Soon you’ll be captivated by the amazing things, not only in your life but in the world. And your life will fill with gratitude for both the big and small things, increasing your overall happiness and satisfaction.
Gratitude will quickly change the programming in your brain from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset.
Gratitude journaling is a scientifically proven way to overcome several psychological challenges.
The benefits are seemingly endless.
- makes you happier,
- makes other people like you more,
- makes you physically healthier,
- boosts your success at work,
- strengthens your emotions,
- develops your personality,
- makes you sustainably more optimistic,
- increases spirituality in you,
- makes you less focused on what you lack,
- makes you more generous,
- helps you bounce back from challenges faster,
- improves your sleep,
- reduces feelings of envy,
- deepens your relationships and social connections,
- makes you a more effective manager,
- makes you more empathetic,
- helps you achieve your goals faster,
- increases your productivity, and
- gives you a boost in reaching your goals.
Are you looking for a way to be more positive in your life?
Check out Thankful, my free journaling course. With it, you’ll learn how to develop a gratitude practise by tapping into your brain’s natural power to form new habits. You’ll be able to see the good in every situation and learn how to appreciate the little things in life.
So, what are you waiting for? Start transforming your mindset right now!
6) Journaling deepens your learning.
We human are notoriously bad at remembering things. We forget most of what we read, see and hear. We interpret things from our specific point of view and are helplessly subject to our biases.
Just ask the police about how unreliable eyewitnesses are!
Your brain loves to create cognitive shortcuts to lessen the energy it consumes.
So, rather than wasting your brain’s potential as a storage device, start writing things down instead.
When you write things down, you actually learn them better.
Even if you never go back and read what you wrote, the simple act of writing it down increases your memory retention by 13%, triples your focus and quadruples your idea generation.
Neurologically speaking, listening activates a different part of the brain than writing. And memories recorded by listening doesn’t discriminate important information from unimportant information.
Writing creates spatial regions between important and unimportant pieces of information, and allows your memory to target and ingrain the important information that you wish to remember.
Not only that, but writing allows your subconscious mind to work out problems which intensifies your learning process and gives you access to unique insight.
7) Journaling allows you to record your life’s history.
Your story matters.
Whether it’s remembered moments from your childhood, feelings you’ve felt or thoughts you’ve thought on your journey so far, or plans that you’ve made for the future, recording your history is important.
Because reflecting on the life you’ve lived so far, and thinking about which dreams you’d like to pursue, anchors you in the present moment. It gives you confidence in your own experience and makes tangible the wisdom you’ve garnered along the way.
In addition, it creates a legacy for those who come after you and provides them with a glimpse into your life and thoughts.
You’re creating a written family record of details that are a practical source of information, such as when people retired or how somebody’s first birthday went.
That kind of record is not only beneficial to you, but can help your children and grandchildren find everyday wisdom in your experience and support their understanding of their own identity and place in the world.
Rereading your journals allows you to recall the emotions that you felt at events or in everyday life, and will bring a flood of memories as you review the moments of your past.
You will have a richer, clearer memory of the past.
8) Journaling brings out and develops the writer within you.
If you’ve ever dreamed of writing a book one day, start with journaling.
A regular journaling practice will ingrain the habit of writing in you – and that’s the most important habit you can have if you wish to write.
If you want to specifically develop your skills as a writer through journaling, you don’t have to content yourself with writing about your personal experience or the thing’s you’re feeling today.
By using creative writing prompts, you can polish your fictional writing skills as well.
Journaling will help you to:
- discover your own unique voice,
- form a regular practice,
- clarify your thoughts and feelings,
- clear your mind and crystalise your ideas,
- discover and tell the stories of your life.
All of these are essential for writing.
And they’re essential for thinking.
It doesn’t matter what you want to do; become a writer or write a book, have more clarity into your own inner workings or be a better person, journaling helps with all of that.
Because the better you use your thinking tool – your mind – the more easily you will achieve your goals in life.
Journaling makes space for you to heal your past wounds and work with your shadow self without being hurt or triggered in the moment. Journaling is a safe space you create for yourself where you can be honest and trusting because there is no judgement.
Through journaling, you strengthen your sense of self.
It’s a process for creating the person you most want to be because it balances and harmonises your tumultuous feelings, allows you to work on your self-expression, directs your intention and focus in life.
By having a regular journaling practice, no matter how small, you’ll design the life you want to live because it aligns every part of you.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.”– Gandhi