For 6 months now, I am journaling. I would lie to you if I’d say I do it on a daily basis, but I do it regularly and many times the urge, to write thoughts down, comes on its own. So no matter whether you are Journaling on a daily basis or from time to time, writing down your thoughts will help you to clear your mind.
When preparing this post, I found this quote from Barack Obama in 2012 and I think it expresses the whole magic of writing very exactly:
"In my life, writing has been an important exercise to clarify what I believe, what I see, what I care about, what my deepest values are."
Writing has a lot of advantages and it is easier than you might think. In this blog post, I want to explain, why journaling is good for you, what kind of journal do exist and how to start with journaling. I will also give you 30 journal prompts, which will help you to get ideas what to write about and which will give a perfect start for 30 days of writing.
Why is Journaling good for you?
- Clear your mind: Writing things down is like getting rid of too many data. Picture your head as a hard drive with limited storage. Some days are so packed with information, we need to process, that it can feel overwhelming. After a long week or even after a busy day, it feels like we have no storage left and there is just no room left for any more information. Writing things down, can help to prevent those situation as journaling can feel like getting things out of your head and make space for new ideas. To write a journal can feel like cleaning up your head or compress your data.
- Personal Reflection: To write in your journal helps also with self-reflection. For example, when you write about the things that happened today, you are telling your version of a story about you. When writing about a certain event that happened to you, you reframe the story and you also recapture things in a more objective way. This is very helpful to see things more clear and to understand certain situations and your way of dealing with it. And often you can conclude all for yourself, whether you would do things again this way or whether you might change your behavior the next time.
- Strengthen your values: As mentioned above, journaling has a lot to do with self-reflection. Within your writing routines you will notice, that your values become more transparent and obvious to yourself. I experienced, that writing about situations is often connected with a kind of assessment whether your behavior (or behavior of others around you) was in line with your values and personal goals. From those recognitions you can learn to act even more in accordance with your values and beliefs.
How does Journaling looks like?
Well, let me start at the beginning. Journaling to me is taking time for yourself, to sit down with a pen and a notebook, and write about whatever you feel to write about. There are no strict rules that needs to be followed to succeed, but there are some helpful guidelines, which will help to focus on a certain topic you want to deal with. To give you an idea of how Journaling can look like, I would like to introduce you to three common Journal approaches:
This approach is very common and easy to start with. Basically, you sit down once a week and write down 1-5 things you are grateful for. Doing so, it is more efficient to focus deeply on a few things than writing down a lot of things superficially. So, as often in life: Quality over Quantity. It is also helpful to rather refer to people in your life you are grateful for than for material things.
This kind of Journal means to write down whatever you have in your mind. Literally anything in your head. You can write down some pages after waking up or in the evening to reflect the day. Reflective Writing aims to work through thoughts and issues you are facing in your daily life. Writing down all your thoughts, helps to feel calmer and make space for more productivity.
With a Goal Journal, you focus on goals in your life. And while you might start by writing down longterm-goals, this kind of journaling wants you to break down your longterm goals into short-term goals and even daily goals, that will help to reach your longterm goals. So it is not done by writing down some goals for the future. Indeed you should track your goals on a daily/weekly basis and write down progress reports. Doing so, you might ask yourself, what you accomplished to realize your goals and what was the reason in case of a setback. In this case, refocus on your goals, value every little step you reached so far and continue to work towards your targets.
Create your very own Journal
I think, Journaling is about reflection and spending time with your thoughts. Therefore I’d say, there is no wrong or right when it comes to an approach to chose from. Personally, I like a little mix of all the Journal approaches I’ve mentioned above. As I aim to journal on a daily basis, I don’t feel like writing about the same things every day, but at least once a week. So what I do is to focus on my goals and my progresses once a week. All the other days I write about things I have in mind and I want to get out of my had. I also have a list with “Questions to myself”. At days, where I have a hard time to write about anything, I’m answering one of those questions within my journal routine. I believe this might also be a good way when you are new to this topic.
How to Start Journaling
- Get a Notebook – take an old one you have or buy a new one. I prefer blank ones, because I also like to draw some stuff once in a while. Make this notebook to your happy place. Leave it clean, draw some colorful paintings, add some pictures. Do what you like and create this book the way it makes you feel good.
- Plan about 10-15 min every day for Journaling. Some people like to journal in the morning to start their day with some nice words and by setting intentions for the day. Some prefer to journal in the evening to reflect on the day. Try both and figure out, what do you like most. No matter which time you gonna choose, the important thing is to do it on a regular basis.
- I think a good way to fill your first page of your Journal, is to write down 5-10 uplifting and motivating affirmations, which you will read every morning to yourself. This is a great way to focus on your strenghts and also on the points you wanna achieve for yourself.
- As mentioned above, I work with “Questions to myself” for days, where I’m not sure what to write about. My way to journal is to write down 20-30 questions to myself, which I will answer according to the order. I will write down 30 questions below, that are great to start your journal routine. Pinterest is also a great source to find Journal Questions. By answering some given questions, you are inspired to think about topics, you might haven’t think about by yourself. So it brings your thoughts to positive places.