Six (more) Reasons to keep a Journal
A few months ago I outlined three reasons why you should keep a journal. That wasn’t the whole story as there are several more reasons to keep a journal day after day and year after year. I’m going to mention six more reasons now but let me know if you have other points I might have missed.
If you are like me you may have kept a ‘diary-style’ journal for different periods of your life. A journalling practise will help you to move beyond the typical diary entries such as; ‘I slept late and feel lousy today’, to more gritty entries. You want your journal to be full of journal entries that put a fire in your belly because you say it like it really is – to the extent that you dare! The more real you become (with yourself) the more useful your journal is as a tool to help you with many important things.
It is when you start to say what really matters to you in your journal that it’s true value grows.
People have observed that they gain more self-awareness and clarity from keeping a journal. Others say that it helps them to be more creative. Can you believe that journalling has even become a therapeutic practise to help people handle traumatic events!
1. Record key moments in your life journey
Your journal can be a daily record of your life events, thoughts and travels. When something eventful happens you write a few sentences about what happened. When you go overseas for the first time you diligently record the places you saw at the end of each day. Keeping a record of the key events in your life can give you wonderful memories as well as amazing insight about how you have changed.
You can easily overlook just how much you have grown over the years because you don’t pay attention and you don’t have the evidence. A journal can be a great way to validate the growth and change that’s happened in your life, so keep a daily or weekly record and you’ll be able to see your progress!
2. More self-awareness
Your journal helps you to know yourself better! It becomes a mirror to your thoughts and a reflector of your feelings. You may not want to read what you wrote in your journal until months later, but when you do revisit your thoughts, I bet you will be amazed at how smart you were when you wrote those words!!
Your honest, expressive scribblings have deep wisdom within them – wisdom that you sometimes wouldn’t understand unless you took the time to reflect in your journal.
3. Clarity on difficult decisions
When you are stumped by a difficult decision and not sure what you should do next, I recommend that you turn to your journal. The answer is often hidden in your conscious mind, so let the stream of thoughts take over and write what you think in your journal.
Title your journal page with the exact question you’re asking yourself. Explore all the good and bad points related to the decision. More often than not, by the end of 20 or 30 minutes of writing an answer will be taking shape and you will have clarity on the next steps for you to take. If not immediately, usually you wake the next day with an answer in mind.
I believe the combination of a therapeutic blast of words into my journal and a good night’s sleep work wonders for my decision-making!
4. Therapy for the Blues
There are times when you will be unable to find words to describe your mood to other people – as if they would even ask. Your diary however can be your friend and listening ear during any ‘attack of the blues’.
My journal has always listened and recorded my moods, when I feel great and when I feel less than great. My journal is emotionless and takes me as I am. It may be painful to read those periods when I’m in the midst of them, and yet I got through to the happier times with the help of my journal. (I have a stack of diaries sealed up under lock and key because I can”t bear to be reminded of those sad days).
There are many psychiatrists who recommend a series of journal exercises as a way to manage depression, emotional swings, or overcome trauma.
5. Get in touch with your creative side
You probably already keep a calendar with key events noted, in order to survive the busy schedule you follow and the noisy households you live in. The order of the calendar helps you to stay sane and not miss your appointments! This can help you with your logical, process focussed brain.
Keeping a hand-written journal gives you the opportunity to be in touch with the other side of your brain – the creative and free spirited side of your personality. Everyone has a creative side within. Don’t try to deny it! When you use colours, doodle, or scribble to let your thoughts flow freely, you are more playful and innovative. You can use your journal to play with your creative spirit and let your creative side express itself for a while.
Sometimes even serious, professional writers get stuck. In fact many writers unlock from ‘writers block’ by writing personal expressive pieces in their journalling practise. When they couldn’t write their novel or focus on the assignment, they still kept faithful to their journaling practise. Eventually that enabled their creative juices to flow again and they could return with new inspiration to their project.
6. Keep a record of your journey
The African heroes you may know of such as Nelson Mandela, Wangari Muta Maathai, Kofi Annan and others often kept a journal on their life journey. Similarly, we know a lot about people through the letters they wrote to someone special. Without their records and notes, important details and perspectives would be lost.
Your journey may not be of the same scale, but your thoughts and perspectives matter! Imagine when you accomplish your goal and someone contacts you to write about your success story. Wouldn’t it be great to turn to your journal to refresh your memory, to share photos, to help you recall key moments along your pathway? These days you can use Facebook and Instagram to share with your friends, but (wise people take care!) there is still a lot that you don’t or can’t share in a public forum. You can, however, think of a journal as a conversation with yourself.
While you may wish to forget the misery of those old days, looking back at your journals can also show you how far you have come! The fact that you no longer think that way or feel those yucky feelings, is proof that you have grown up and moved on.
It is powerful to have the evidence documented by your hand and expressed in your own words, whether you are using a pen and paper or a mobile app on your device!
Start your journal today
As entrepreneurs who live with a purpose or are discovering their purpose, we believe that everyone (young and old) needs to have a consistent journal practise. Not only does it help you to learn, it also gives you a place to capture and record our personal thoughts, fears and concerns. Your journal is a safe place to record your Big, Bold Business Dreams and a friendly space to celebrate your victories. Read more here.
Journal YOUR Journey!
Start or keep up your journalling practise so that you can ‘Journal the Journey’.
You are unique and your journey is unique.
Your story matters and you are the only person who can write it day by day as you live it.
Start today. Your journal is the best tool in your toolkit!
I’d love to hear from you. What sort of journal do you keep and how does it help you?