My Top 5 Tips for Reaping the Benefits of Journaling

Sometimes I have to write to think. This isn’t always true. I do my very best thinking on my bike. But, I do my second-best thinking when I write. My most consistent writing is my daily journaling practice.

There are several practices I use to keep myself on track toward my vision. Journaling is one of these. Without it, my day would be incomplete, and I would feel disorganized and rattled. As Benjamin P. Hardy says, “Daily, you need to ensure you’re going the direction you want to. If you’re truly committed to those changes, you’ll need to prime yourself daily to be and act from the position of the new reality you’re striving to create.” Journaling is a key component of my daily priming.

There are many benefits of journaling. The biggest one for me is its centering effect. Journaling helps me organize my thoughts into a coherent whole, so they make sense. Doing so brings me a sense of peace, returning me to a feeling that all is right with the world, if my day has left me frazzled or scattered. As I shared in this post, I use a fairly structured approach to the journaling I do each night. That may or may not be the best tactic for you.

Journaling is a very personal practice, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. There are some techniques that can make your journaling more rewarding, however. Most people think of journaling as writing in a blank book or diary. This is what I generally mean when I talk about journaling. For people who better express themselves with drawing or other graphics, journaling doesn’t have to be restricted to the written word.

Here are my top five tips for getting the most out of a journaling practice.

One of my previous journals.
  1. Choose tools you love. As I get close to filling up one blank book, I look forward to selecting my next one. Personally, I don’t use anything fancy, but there are features that I prefer. I usually look for a spiral-bound book because I like to keep my pen there when it is not in use. Beyond that, I want a book that has lines, rather than plain, white pages. Those who incorporate drawing may want unlined pages. Finally, I consider how it makes me feel. Is it peaceful or inviting? Does it have a meaningful quote and/or picture on the front? I want a journal that feels like a treat to use. Some people may prefer to journal electronically, either typing or speaking into a device. This is valid, too. Utilize whatever means of capturing your thoughts, ideas, dreams and musings feels the best. If you are writing or drawing, use a pen that is pleasant and flows smoothly over the page.
  2. Develop a habit. I do most of my journaling right before going to bed. The potential downside to that is that I sometimes doze off while writing. It does help to put everything in place before I go to bed, though. Whether you choose to write at night or some other time, I recommend choosing a consistent time and making it a non-negotiable habit—simply what you do before bedtime, upon awakening or after meditating, for instance.
  3. Include questions. I love questions, both for myself and for my coaching clients. Provocative questions open doors to ideas that might not otherwise present themselves. There are some that I use consistently. Two that I currently find very beneficial are: “What is the boldest leap I took today? And, “What bold leap will I take tomorrow?” The possibilities for your questions are endless. Questions help me reflect on my day and position me to set a powerful intention for the next day before I go to sleep.
  4. Free write when you are so moved. Although there are certain components I include every night, I also free write when I feel like doing so. This is a terrific way to explore and understand my emotions. Sometimes, I do this when I am upset or angry. Sometimes, I do it when I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my many blessings. I simply write from my stream of consciousness. It can be tremendously cathartic, and I recommend trying it.
  5. Record your inspirations, vision, dreams, goals. All of these and more go into my journal. Lately, I have had several bursts of inspiration in the middle of the night. I sleep with my journal, and book light right next to me, so it is easy to reach for them and record the inspiration before I lose it. Similarly, I will write down ideas that come to me on my bike. I try to get them on paper as soon as I can after returning home from a ride. Make your journal your place to express your deepest desires for the future and to spell out your commitment to bringing them to life.

There are so many ways to benefit from journaling. In my experience the most important thing is that your practice is authentic to you. Try my ideas if you are new to journaling or if you want to give journaling a more prominent presence in your life, but, ultimately, your practice should serve you. It should help you grow and increase your ability to live with no regrets because writing your aspirations and sorting out your feelings on paper add clarity to your life. When you are clear, you can take the steps you need to take to turn aspirations to facts in your life.

Catch up with the previous posts in this “Top 5” series:

  1. My energy tips here
  2. My mindset tips here
  3. My well-being tips here
  4. My plant-based nourishment tips here
  5. My meditation tips here

Connect with me at sheri@justwindcoach.com. To connect with others who are interested in living as well as possible and get regular doses of inspiration, become part of our JustWind Producers of Power & Purpose Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1958072857557272/.

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