From Benjamin Franklin to Tim Ferriss, so many of the world’s most amazingly productive and successful people in the past and present have advocated for using a journal. Coincidence? I think not. There are research-proven benefits to journaling as well as countless personal tales of how using a journal has helped to increase productivity, happiness, and creativity. I’m sure this isn’t news to you. Most people understand that journaling is beneficial, so why haven’t you started? In this article, I want to give you my view on why you should journal and a simple printable to get you started journaling today.
Journaling is like self-administered psychotherapy. It is seriously SO useful. It can look many different ways. Not all of them start out with “dear diary,” either. I definitely practice what I preach on this one and journal every single morning while I’m drinking my coffee. At the bottom of this post, I will give you a free printable page that you can use if you would like to follow the same structure that I use in my journal. First, I want to share with you my top 5 reasons why you should journal.
1. Self monitoring
Sometimes we don’t really need to understand how we change in order to make change occur. I find that the process of paying attention and taking note of your experiences can already get that ball rolling. For many of my patients, the first task that I will give them is to start journaling. After a week or two of writing nearly anything in their journal, they will come back to me and claim that positive changes have already started to occur. Why is this? Hell if I know. But it DOES work. There is something special about just noticing and keeping track of your positive and negative life events that helps you understand them from a different perspective and automatically start to handle things in a way that is more helpful.
ARE YOU READY TO KICK ANXIETY'S ASS?
Subscribe below to get instant access to your FREE quick start guide!
2. Leave it on the paper
Another benefit of writing down the things that may be troubling you is that you can give yourself permission to let them go. Your thoughts, worries, joys, fears etc. will be there whether or not you write them down, but there is something to be said for externalizing the words. It’s as if you can leave the weight of them on the paper itself. By doing this, you free up some of your internal resources to face the few most important tasks that you will face during your day (more on this later).
3. It gets you in the zone
I’m not a morning person. Seriously. I hate mornings and fughettaboutit if you catch me before I get my coffee. HOWEVER… I always find time to journal in the morning, because I have seen a huge payout over the course of my day when I do. Transitions are tough for some of us. We get stuck in “home mode” and feel blindsided when we get to work or school. Using a journal gives you a chance gain some mental clarity and switch into beast mode to kick the day in the face.
4. It keeps you in check
Let’s be real. We all have things that we want to do in order to better ourselves, but it’s sometimes difficult to follow through. A wonderful source of motivation is to ask other people to keep you accountable, but you don’t necessarily want to be using other people to provide external motivation for every single little task and goal, right? Well by using a journal, you can become your own motivation. When you open up your journal and write about the changes that you want to make, you are also holding your future self accountable. Now, I don’t want you to take this too far and be a jerkface to yourself. I talk about ways to avoid that in the post linked here. However, a little kick in the pants from the yesterday version of yourself can be extremely helpful in keeping that ball moving forward.
5. You can look back
Perhaps the best part about journaling is that you are documenting your experiences as they happen. Since you are an amazing human who is inclined to change and grow over time, the things that you write in your journal now are different from the things that you will write three months or a year from now. Every once in a while, crack open your journal and look at some transmissions from past-you and marvel at how freakin’ awesome you are. Feels good, man.
How To Start Journaling Right Now
Download your FREE journaling page here!
I’m a huge advocate for journaling in the morning, but do whatever works for you. If you do it at night or on the bus after work, that’s totally alright too. In the printable journaling sheet, you will see the three elements of my morning journal. I start off with unstructured writing. This is basically word vomit straight from my brain to the paper. I write what I’m happy about, what I’m sad about, business ideas that I have, feelings that are popping up in my heart… basically anything that comes up. Sometimes I use it as brainstorming space. Sometimes I even just write stupid stories or poems. When I say unstructured, I mean it. That gets the gears turning and helps me wake up a little bit.
Next, I write down three things that I am proud of from the previous day/week/hour etc. This part can sometimes be the hardest aspect of my journaling technique, but I would encourage you to push yourself to always write down three things… even if one of them is “I took the time to journal today.” You can always find things to be proud of, but recognizing them is definitely something that we need to practice sometimes.
Finally, I write down my main goals for the day. Many of us fall into the trap of writing these ginormous to do lists consisting of every single thing that we need to do in our lives. Most of the time, that approach just sets you up to fail. All of those little tasks will still be there if you don’t write them down, I promise. There is no use freaking yourself out by being unrealistic, though. Which 1, 2, or 3 things are the most important goals or tasks for your day? This helps you be even more intentional and focused as you go into your day.
That’s it, my friends. Try this out and see how it works for you. Also, tell me how it goes! If it works, then great. If not, maybe you could try out one of these awesome journals that provide prompts and direction for each day.