5 Reasons To Keep A Journal

by | Nov 23, 2018 | Lifestyle, Personal Development

If you are truly serious about building a better lifestyle for you and your loved ones, then learning and practising the discipline of keeping a journal is the biggest change you can make.  For as long as I can remember I have kept a journal.  Of all the personal development I have done over the years, this is by far the most powerful discipline I have learnt!

Years ago I studied philosophy, and one of the core practises was to ‘become the observer’.  The concept was that we all become so caught up in our lives, often re-living issues from the past and stressing about the future that we are completely disconnected from the present.  So by becoming the observer allowed you to step outside yourself, to witness your own thoughts from a more objective point of view.
 
This is what journalling is to me.  It’s taking the time to get the ‘crap’ and craziness out of my head and down on paper.
 
The physical act of journalling is also key.  If you have ever done any form of yoga or meditation, where you ‘release’ your thoughts and become more aware of them, you will notice how cluttered they really are.  We are constantly jumping from one idea or thought to the next, and back again.  
 
But you can’t put that jumbled mess on paper.  Writing out your thoughts forces them into some sense of order.  It slows down your thinking, as you simply cannot type or write that fast.  It gives you one thread to concentrate on rather dealing with the jumble of issues that pound away in your mind.

For me writing in a journal has become second nature. But if you’re looking for inspiration as to why you should start, here are my top 5 reasons to keep journal.

Of all the personal development I have done over the years, keeping a journal is by far the most powerful discipline I have learnt!

Capture Everything
 
Someone once said “A short pencil is better than a long memory”, and if you’re like me, my memory is often not that long!  How many wonderful ideas, concepts and amazing bits of information do you come across each day?  Do you have a way to capture them?
 
A mentor of mine said “You are going to become the Story, better make sure it’s a good one”.  If you are busy creating the life you want, then make sure you capture it.  Make your story worth writing down – your experiences, your ideas, your achievements.  Use it as a way to celebrate the person you are becoming.
 
Reflecting on things is a way of sorting out the past – what worked, what didn’t and what do you want to do differently in the future?  But you can only do this if you capture as much as possible.

 

Check Your Progress
 
The funny thing about life is how it simply marches on.  No matter what we do or think, time simply comes and goes.  So it is really easy to lose sight of the progress (or lack of)  that you make on your goals.  Whether that’s a goal to grow your business, live a more healthy lifestyle, or spend more time with loved ones, how do you really know if you are moving towards achieving your goals, or simply standing still?
 
Unfortunately we do tend to form patterns of behaviour.  The older we become, the more ingrained these patterns are.  But the tricky thing is they are often really hard to spot, particularly if you’re the one repeating them.  How often do you have a loved one say “you always do that!”, but you can’t see it?
 
Writing down your thoughts and achievements in a journal allows you to easily reflect on your progress over a reasonable time.  Are you making progress or instead treading water?  Are the life-changes really occurring or have you slipped into the same patterns and excuses.  Your journal in many ways becomes your mirror of what is truly happening in your life.
Kick-Start Your Creativity
 
Every week, I take time to write in my journal about my business (among other things!).  I review what I have achieved that week, and what I need to do for the week coming.  But because I write it in my journal I find it a far more creative process.  It becomes more than simply checking my todo list (I do this naturally each day, ticking things off and adding new tasks as they come up).  What I am talking about here is setting aside a time to allow your creative side to really kick in – to get deeper into your business and truely understand if you are doing the things that make the most difference each week.
 
How often do you have a task on your ’to-do’ list that drags on.  The deadline comes and goes, and you simply reset it saying “I really must complete that”.  So why aren’t you?  If the task is really that important, what is the reason you won’t do it?  This is where I find writing helps most.  I can drill into my feelings to understand what the blockage really is.  I then find that often the issue is effecting my business in a number of other ways, that I didn’t see at first.
 
Obviously this doesn’t just work in business, but in all areas of your life.  I find in really exploring what is going on, by putting my thoughts and feelings down on paper, the answers also start to flow.  Inspiration starts to kick in as the creative process is allowed to unfold.
Dig Deep into the Why
 
Learning the skill to capture your thoughts and lay them out clearly allows you to dig much deeper into the real meaning behind them.  If you are feeling stressed or anxious, taking the time to write down how you are feeling, will allow you to explore the why.  Only then can you begin to work on the solution.  
 
In many ways you get to be your own therapist!  You get to ask yourself questions and explore all levels of thinking that you may not be ready to expose to anyone else.  But you will not be able to do this clearly if you don’t write it down.  Your thoughts will stay a jumble mess of built up emotion if you don’t take time to write them down.
 
Have you ever had a good chat with a friend about an issue you have, and notice how much better you feel?  “Thank for letting me get that off my chest” we say.  Writing down your thoughts gives the same result, allowing you to destress, feel better about the issue, and start to work on the path forward.  And it allows you to do it with issues or feelings that you aren’t quite ready to share with anyone else yet.
Ok, so now we have discussed the why, here’s a brief word on how.
 
Find a method that works for you.  I used to really like writing in a physical journal – you know the nice leather bound ones.  There was always something nice and almost romantic about sitting down with a beautiful physical journal and a nice pen, and simply write.
 
A while ago I made the decision to go paperless, and so took the punt to shift my journalling on-line too.  If you’re interested I use the application Evernote, as it gives me the advantage of having my journal available anywhere, on any device that I may be carrying at the time.
 
Test out a couple of options and find out what works for you.   A mentor of mine, Jim Rohn, was a huge proponent to keeping a journal, providing some interesting insights here.
 
Make it consistent.  This is key to most things really – if you make it consistent, then you are far more likely to do it.  For example I pick a day each week where I sit down and write in my journal about my business.  I feel lost if I miss a session.
 
Make it enjoyable.  If you don’t enjoy it you won’t do it.  Where is a place that makes you feel good, somewhere where you can sit quietly for an hour and simply write?  For me, I love my coffee, and I have a couple of favourite coffee shops down by the beach.  To sit quietly (with some good tunes playing), drinking a nice coffee and over-looking the ocean, allows my thoughts to flow easily.
 
You need to find your place, and make the experience of writing your journal one that you really look forward too.
 
 

Cheers

2 Comments

  1. Kai

    This is really useful and insightful! You’ve basically explained why my head was a mess for so long in my early 20s..I don’t keep a journal, however a few years ago I started writing down my thoughts or filming a video of me thinking out loud. Yes it did help and I’ve been doing it ever since. Journaling is definitely something I want to start!

    Reply
    • Steve

      Thanks Kai! Getting the noise out of your head, no matter what the method, is such a good practise!

      Reply

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