Like most successful people, you’ve probably set goals for yourself. And like most successful people, you’ve probably also struggled to achieve some of those goals. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Research shows fewer than 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions.
But there is a way to increase your chances of success with journaling. Let’s look at all the benefits of journaling to achieve your goals.
Benefits of Journaling
Journaling Helps You Clarify Your Goals
A primary step to achieving any goal is ensuring that you have a clear and specific goal. Unfortunately, most people set either too vague or too ambitious goals. For example, a goal like “lose weight” is too ambiguous. How much weight do you want to lose? By when? Using what method?
On the other hand, a goal like “run a marathon” is vague and too ambitious, especially if you’ve never even run a mile before.
Journaling can help you clarify your goals by forcing you to think about them more concretely. So, when you sit down to write in your journal, take some time to think about what you want to achieve. Then, write down your goals in a specific and measurable way.
Journaling Holds You Accountable
Once you’ve clarified your goals, holding yourself accountable to those goals is essential. This is where journaling comes in.
When you write down your goals in your journal, you create a written record of what you want to achieve. It’s much harder to ignore or forget about your goals when you have to look at them constantly.
In addition, journaling can help you track your progress towards your goals. Every time you write in your journal, reflect on how you’ve been doing for a few minutes. Are you making progress? Are you struggling in any areas?
This reflection can be a valuable tool for keeping yourself on track. If you’re not making the progress you want, you can adjust your approach and try something new.
Journaling Helps You Overcome Obstacles
No matter how well you plan, obstacles will always be in your way. Unfortunately, this is just an unpleasant fact. The key to achieving your goals is not letting these obstacles stop you. And journaling can help you do just that.
When you encounter an obstacle, take some time to write about it in your journal. What is the obstacle? What roadblocks are in your way? Then, brainstorm some possible solutions. Finally, what precisely can you do to overcome this obstacle?
Writing about your obstacles in your journal can help you develop creative solutions that you might not have thought of otherwise.
Journaling Helps You Stay Motivated
A significant challenge in achieving any goal is maintaining your motivation. It’s easy to start strong, but it’s often hard to keep up that same enthusiasm over the long haul.
This is where journaling can help. When you’re struggling to stay motivated, take some time to write about why you’re pursuing your goal in the first place. What are the benefits of achieving your goal? How will your life be better?
Answering these questions in your journal can help you remember your reasons for pursuing your goal, even when things get tough.
Journaling Helps You Celebrate Your Successes
Succeeding is a big deal, and you should celebrate your successes. But unfortunately, many people are quick to forget their accomplishments and move on to the next goal.
When you achieve a milestone, take some time to write about it in your journal. What did you accomplish? How did you feel? What did you learn? Answering these questions can help you remember and feel proud of your accomplishments.
10 Ways to Use Journaling to Achieve Your Goals
Now let’s go over ten steps for journaling your way to achieving your goals. It’s easier than you may realize and more potent than you may know.
STEP 1: PICK A JOURNAL THAT SPEAKS TO YOU
It could be a pretty journal with inspiring quotes or a plainer notebook.
First, you must decide what type of journal you want to keep. This can be a personal journal, in which you write about your thoughts and feelings; a gratitude journal, where you list things that make you grateful; a daily journal, in which you record events that took place during the day; or a dream journal, in which you write down your dreams.
Once you pick the type of journal you want to keep, you must choose a format. You can choose a traditional bound notebook, a blank book, or a computer document. If you plan on journaling regularly, you may want to select a format that is easy to write in and that you can take with you wherever you go.
Next, you need to choose a journaling style. This can be free writing, in which you write whatever comes to mind; prompts, in which you answer questions or respond to prompts; or bullet points, in which you list important events or thoughts.
Finally, decide how often you will journal. This can be daily, weekly, or monthly. If you are new, you may want to journal once weekly or monthly. Once you get into journaling, you can increase the frequency.
STEP 2: MAKE A LIST OF OBJECTIVES FOR WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE
Perhaps you’d like to work through an issue or get to know yourself better.
Many people find that setting goals is a helpful way to improve their journaling practice. By thinking about what you want to achieve through journaling, you can ensure that your journaling sessions are more focused and productive.
- Decide what you want to achieve. Do you want to improve your memory? Work through a personal issue? Track your progress on a goal? Get your thoughts down on paper?
- Make your goals specific. Once you know what you want to achieve, you must clarify your goals. This will help you focus your journaling sessions better and see whether you’re progressing. For example, instead of “write more,” you could set a goal to “write five hundred words every day.”
- Set a deadline. If you want to make sure you stick to your journaling goals, set a deadline for yourself. Deadlines keep you accountable and on track.
- Write down your goals. Once you’ve decided on your goals, write them down somewhere. This could be in a notebook that you use specifically for journaling or in the front of your journal. Having your recorded goals will help to keep you motivated and focused.
- Review your goals regularly. It’s a good idea to review your journaling goals regularly to ensure that you’re still on track. This could be monthly or even weekly. Checking in with your goals will help to keep you motivated.
By taking the time to consider your actions, you can make sure that you set specific, achievable, and measurable goals for your journaling practice. This will help you get the most out of your journaling sessions and achieve the results you’re looking for.
STEP 3: START SMALL
Don’t try to journal for hours every day. Instead, start with 5-10 minutes daily (or even weekly) and work your way up.
If you’re looking to start journaling, one of the most important things to keep in mind is to avoid making the process too complicated or time-consuming. After all, the whole point of journaling is to provide a space for you to express yourself freely and without judgment – so if you’re spending hours agonizing over what to write or how to format your entries, you’re defeating the purpose.
That said, you can follow a few simple tips to ensure your journaling practice is as effective and enjoyable as possible. First, set aside a specific time each day (or week if daily journaling is too daunting) to write in your journal. This doesn’t have to take up your entire morning or day. Even 10-15 minutes will do.
Next, decide the format you want to use for your journaling. For example, some people prefer to write stream-of-consciousness style, while others like to set prompt questions or topics to write about – it’s all about what works for you.
Get creative with your journal. If you’re feeling stuck, try using different mediums like drawing or collage-making. Or, if you’re struggling to get started, there are plenty of journaling prompts online to help jumpstart your practice.
The bottom line is that journaling should be a fun and relaxing activity, so don’t overthink it.
STEP 4: FIND A COMFORTABLE PLACE TO JOURNAL
It could be at your kitchen table, in your bed, or outside in nature.
The act of journaling is a very personal one. It is a way to express your thoughts and feelings in a safe and private space. An important factor in your success when starting a journaling practice is to find a comfortable place to journal. This can be anywhere that you feel relaxed and safe. It may be a spot in your home, a park, or a coffee shop.
Finding a comfortable place to make entries to your journal is crucial because it will help you feel more relaxed so you can open up more easily. When you feel comfortable, you are more likely to write freely and express your genuine thoughts and feelings. Also, journaling in a comfortable place can help reduce stress and anxiety.
STEP 5: SET A TIMER AND START WRITING
Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation. Just write whatever comes to mind.
Some people like to write stream-of-consciousness style, while others prefer to plan their entries ahead of time. But no matter what your style is, there are a few things that all journaling sessions have in common: setting a timer and not worrying about grammar or punctuation.
The reason for setting a timer is two-fold. First, it helps to keep you focused on the task at hand. If you know you only have a certain amount of writing time, you’re less likely to get sidetracked. Second, it forces you to be concise. This isn’t always a bad thing— sometimes, the best journal entries are the ones that get straight to the point.
As for grammar and punctuation, don’t sweat it. This is your journal, after all. The whole point is to get your thoughts down on paper, not to worry about whether or not they’re perfectly constructed sentences. So go ahead and let your thoughts flow freely— you can always go back and edit later if you want.
Journaling can be hugely beneficial, providing a space to process your thoughts and feelings. So set a timer and let the words flow.
STEP 6: KEEP GOING
Sometimes, your motivation will be gone. But push through, do it anyway, and do it by rote at the time you set for journaling.
Set a regular time to write in your journal daily (or weekly). This will help to make it a habit, and eventually, you won’t even have to think about it – it will just become a part of your daily routine.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different journaling techniques. If you get bored with one method, try something else. There are many ways to journal, so find the one that works best.
Write about whatever you want – there are no rules for journaling. This is your space to write about whatever is on your mind, so let your thoughts and feelings flow freely.
Track your progress and accomplishments. Then, reflect on your achievements since your last entry every time you write. Reflection allows you to keep motivated and reminds you of how far you’ve come.
Be patient with yourself. If you have a day (or week) where you don’t feel like journaling, that’s okay. Just pick up where you left off, and don’t beat yourself up.
Journaling helps you release your thoughts and feelings, which benefits your mental health. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Eventually, you will discover a journaling method that works best for you.
STEP 7: BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF
This is a safe space to express whatever you’re feeling, so don’t hold back.
The point of journaling is to document your thoughts and feelings to understand them better. But sometimes, being completely honest with yourself can be incredibly challenging. Here are a few reasons why it’s essential, to be frank in your journaling and some tips on how to do it.
First and foremost, journaling is a way to get to know yourself better. To do that, you need to be honest about your thoughts and feelings. If you’re not, you’re only cheating yourself out of the opportunity to grow and learn.
Secondly, being honest in journaling can help you work through difficult emotions. If you’re holding back, you’re not giving yourself the chance to process those feelings fully. But if you can be honest about what you’re going through, it can help you healthily work through them.
Finally, journaling is a form of self-care. And just like with any other form of self-care, it’s essential, to be honest with yourself to experience the full benefit of journaling.
So how can you be more honest in your journaling? Start by setting the intention, to be honest with yourself. Then, when you sit down to write, allow yourself to write whatever comes to mind without censoring yourself. It might be difficult at first, but the more you practice journaling, the easier it will become.
Also, try to be specific about your intention. The more details you can include, the more helpful it will be. And don’t be afraid to write about the negative and the positive. It’s all part of being honest with yourself.
If you can commit to being honest in your journaling, you’ll likely find it a much more beneficial practice.
STEP 8: DON’T JUDGE YOURSELF
This is not a time for self-criticism but self-exploration and understanding.
One of the worst things you can do is judge yourself. Whether it’s the quality of your writing, the depth of your thoughts, or the amount of time you spend journaling, self-judgment will only hold you back from reaping the benefits of this therapeutic activity.
- Journaling is for you, not anyone else — Your journal is where you express your thoughts without fear of judgment from others. It’s a place to be honest with yourself, which means accepting your thoughts and feelings, even if they’re negative.
- There are no rules — Journaling is an activity you can do in any way that feels comfortable. While consistency makes everything work better, at first, don’t worry about how often you should write, how long your entries should be, or what you should write about. Instead, listen to your heart, and let your journal reflect that.
- You don’t have to be perfect — Your journal allows you to be yourself without worrying about being perfect. The advantage of journaling is that it can help you to accept your imperfections and work through them.
- Your journal is a place of healing — Journaling is an effective tool for recovery if you’re dealing with a problematic situation or painful emotions. But you must be vulnerable and honest in your journal, without judgment.
If you’re new to journaling, or if you’ve been struggling to stick with it, commit yourself to let go of judgment. Your journal allows you to explore your thoughts and feelings without judgment. And that is a very freeing experience.
STEP 9: BE PATIENT
Don’t expect miracles overnight. The process of journaling can be slow and gradual, but it’s worth it.
As discussed earlier, journaling has many benefits and can be a helpful tool in managing stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also help you to process and make sense of difficult life experiences.
Journaling can be a way to connect with your inner thoughts and feelings and to express yourself in a safe and creative outlet. However, the process of journaling can be slow and gradual. It may take some time to get used to writing down your thoughts and feelings and to find a style and format that works for you.
The process of journaling is a journey, and it’s essential to trust the process and be gentle with yourself.
STEP 10: REWARD YOURSELF
When you achieve something, give yourself a special memento or moment. This could be something minor, like a new journal, a gold star, or a cup of coffee.
Sticking to a new journaling practice can be difficult, but the rewards are worth it. By journaling regularly, you can reach all your life goals.
Journaling can help you clarify goals, track progress, and stay motivated. It can also help you work through challenges and setbacks. When you journal, you can identify your negative thought patterns and work to change them.
Journaling works to help you achieve your dreams. But it’s important to remember to reward yourself for sticking to your journaling practice.
- Give yourself a prize each day that you journal.
- Set aside time to reflect on your journaling progress.
- Treat yourself to a new journal or a nice pen when you reach a journaling milestone.
- Celebrate your success with a special activity, like walking in nature or taking yourself out to dinner.
- Share your journaling journey with a friend or family member.
- Share your journal entries on social media to inspire others.
Journaling improves your life. But it’s essential to find ways to celebrate your progress. By rewarding yourself for sticking to your journaling practice, you’ll be more likely to achieve your long-term goals.
Ultimately, there are many reasons and ways to journal your goals. First, it will help you better understand and articulate your goals and provide a written record that you can refer to and measure your progress against.
Additionally, it gives a space to reflect on your successes and challenges. Finally, and most importantly, journaling about your goals helps you to achieve them by providing proof of success due to your records which is highly motivating.