Have you ever been curious about journaling but haven't found a way to stick to it? That has been my story for the past few years. I would buy a new journal to start fresh, and I'd think to myself that this time would be different. But no matter how many YouTube videos I watched about journaling for self-development or bullet journaling for productivity, nothing would stick!
In this blog post, you won't find the exact answers to getting yourself to stick to a full-proof journaling habit. Instead, I'll share five tips that I have found to make journaling less stressful and more enjoyable. I hope you'll find value in at least one of these tips so you can progress on your development journey.
If you'd like to learn more about living mindfully and how journaling can help your growth journey, check out Living in the Moment - Ep. 24 on the podcast!
Tip #1 - Take the pressure off yourself to create the perfect journal
If you head to any social media platform, you'll find the most picture-perfect bullet journals that appear to be pieces of art. I have so much respect for people with such talent, and I'm honestly jealous that I can't replicate their spreads. But I realized the more I tried to imitate these artists instead of just embracing my own style, the more I dreaded journalling.
So one day, I decided to stop journaling for perfectionism. Instead, I journal for mental health, mental clarity and mindfulness. It doesn't matter if my handwriting is messy or my lines are perfectly straight. What matters is that I am using journaling as a healthy tool to drive my personal growth.
Tip #2 - Write down your thoughts and feelings
Mindful journaling is about being present in your experiences, where the goal is to become more self-aware. To achieve this, you must reflect on your experiences past, present, and future. Take the time to sit down and write down the thoughts and feelings that you experience daily. I focus on recording whatever is on my mind at the moment. There are no rules!
When I am stressed, I will attempt to identify the root cause of my stress to determine where I can make a positive change. On the other hand, when I feel happy and excited, I'll record those thoughts and feelings to see how I can incorporate more of those elements into my life.
Tip #3 - Read over your journal
The benefits of mindful journaling do not end after writing; there is also value added by reading over what you've written. This process may seem daunting at first because your most vulnerable and authentic self lies within those pages, but take it from my experience when I say that reading over your own words brings those thoughts to life.
In my experience, I began using my journal as a trashcan where I'd take everything that lived in my head and throw it in the trash to never be seen again. The problem with this approach is that there was a missing component of reflection which allowed me to repeat negative thoughts and lose my positive ones. However, through reading my own words, I have connected the dots between my experiences, enabling me to take action and progress in my growth journey.
Tip #4 - Record your dreams, ideas, and goals
Mindful journaling is not simply about reflection and brain-dumping of your experiences. It is also a canvas for new ideas, dreams, and personal goals. On your path of self-discovery, open up your journal and ask yourself what you want to achieve and experience. Where do you see yourself? What is the one thing you have always wanted to do that scares you?
Using your journal as a creative tool provides you with a repository of inspiration, whether you are looking for a new path to pursue or finding your way back to one. I use my journal to determine my S.M.A.R.T. goals, define my purpose, and figure out what I value in life. It is a great way to provide direction as you develop.
Tip #5 - Express yourself in a judgement-free zone
Use your journal to express yourself without any filter. Let everything out: the good, the bad, the ugly, all of it! Clear your mind and let your thoughts live on the pages. It's important to give your thoughts this escape hatch because the longer you hold them in, the more likely you are to project negative feelings onto others. And at that point, you'll only find yourself falling further into a negative mental space.
I make sure that my journal always gets the most honest version of me with my "anything-goes" rule for writing. This rule allows me to write for no one except myself, meaning it only has to make sense to me. I have found comfort in this rule over time as it has enabled me to be more open and honest with myself and others.
With these five tips you are now equipped with my top learnings of mindful journaling. For more self-improvement content, check out our catalogue on the podcast and on the blog.