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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can add value to your life. I know the internet is a busy place and I appreciate when you make time to read this blog, so I want to make sure the content I create is as useful as possible! The last thing I would ever want is to waste your valuable time.
With this in mind, I asked myself what’s the best advice I’d give to someone seeking to live a more intentional life and my mind instantly went to the topic of this post: starting a journaling habit.
Journaling is a life-changing habit that:
- empowers you to live true to yourself
- teaches you to make more intentional choices
- grounds you when you feel overwhelmed or out of control
… and so much more! Without a doubt, creating a journaling habit is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself and it’s a powerful tool for simple and intentional living. Keep reading to find out more about why you should start journaling, as well as some tips to help you begin your own life-changing habit.
THE NUMBER ONE REASON YOU SHOULD START A JOURNALING HABIT
Journaling has changed my life in many powerful ways but before I go into all the details, I think it’s important to clarify what it’s really all about. Yes, depending on the person, it might involve colourful pens and washi tape, and yes, for others it might include recording your daily activities (“Dear Diary” style)—but ultimately, journaling is about self-awareness.
As the saying goes, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. When we’re busy, we’re consumed by our daily tasks and it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. Journaling helps combat this short-sightedness by encouraging us to step back and consider the big picture.
Think of it like starting a research project about yourself; you’re observing your actions and your feelings so you can get to know yourself better. Ultimately, this self-awareness is the key to getting off the treadmill and living an intentional, meaningful life.
Here are a few more specific ways journaling has helped me.
DEFINE WHAT MATTERS
Before I started journaling, I didn’t have a strong sense of who I was or what I wanted out of life. Vaguely, I knew I wanted to be “successful” and this drove me to work harder and spend more, but I didn’t have a clear picture of what I was trying to achieve. I’d never questioned what success meant to me and it was this lack of clarity that got me into trouble.
Because I couldn’t define success, I could never achieve it, so nothing I did was ever enough—it was like a race without a finish line.
Journaling helped me change this. I started writing regularly, reflecting on my feelings and asking questions about how I wanted my life to look and feel. As I gained clarity about what matters most, I was able to better align my actions with my values and began making more intentional decisions with my time, money and energy.
UNRAVEL OUR FEELINGS
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised I’m a highly emotional person and if I’m not careful, I can let my emotions rule my life.
To be clear—I don’t think we should ignore our emotions. We should absolutely listen and learn from then BUT I’ve learned this doesn’t mean we should react to every emotion. (This might be common sense to some of you but it was a huge “ah-ha” moment for me!)
This is where my journal comes into play. When I’m feeling a strong emotion, I can use my journal to understand what it’s telling me by exploring these feelings.
For example, I’ve learned that if I’m feeling angry or frustrated, it’s often my body’s way of letting me know I’m in desperate need of self-care (and not because I’ve been wronged in some way!). This is often hard for me to realise but when I write things down, it becomes so much clearer!
Related Post: 5 Ways to be Kinder to Yourself
EXPLORE + EXPERIMENT
Finally, journaling is a wonderful way to explore and experiment with new ideas. For example, when I found out I was pregnant, I started thinking about what my working life would be like once my daughter was born.
Would I go back to my old job full-time? Or part-time? Would I find a new job? Or could I work for myself?
Of course, the future is always unknown, but journaling can help us explore different scenarios. I considered the best and worst possible outcomes, how I’d feel in each situation, and asked myself what I could or couldn’t live with.
I realised there were some risks I was willing to take, and also some sacrifices I wasn’t willing to compromise on. Journaling helped me understand my options so I could make an intentional and informed decision.
And for those of you who are wondering, I decided to experiment with working for myself. It was a tough decision and at first, I felt a lot of internal resistance, but after filling quite a few pages in my journal I realised it was a calculated risk worth taking. The jury is still out on if I can make it work long-term but for now, I’m glad I took the leap.
HOW TO START A JOURNALING HABIT
To be honest, these are just a few of the many reasons why I believe journaling is a life-changing habit. I could keep going but I figure by now, I’ve already convinced you and you’re ready for some tips on how to get started! 😉
So on that note, here are my top tips for staring a journaling habit:
- First and foremost, relax. Don’t worry about doing it “right” because there is no such thing as right or wrong. Your journal is a personal space for you to use however you see fit.
- If you don’t know what to write about, I recommend you start by asking questions. My favourites include: How do you feel right now? Why do you feel that way? How do you want to feel? What can you do to feel that way? Or imagine you were having a conversation with a close and trusted friend—what would you want to talk about?
- If you’re still not sure what to write about, try using journal prompts. There are a ton of lists online and this is one of my favourites.
- Alternatively, try using a guided journal. I love Today I Affirm by Alexandra Elle or any of the journals by Breathe Magazine (I personally have the list one and a summer one that isn’t listed online.)Note the above are affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no expense to you.
- Speaking of lists, they are an excellent way of journaling! If you don’t feel comfortable writing long, in-depth entries in your journal then find something that works for you. Again, there are no right or wrong ways to journal as long as you’re exploring your thoughts and feelings.
- Make journaling a special ritual. Try and do it at the same time every day and treat it as a special event, not a chore! Light a candle, make a hot drink, burn incense—whatever makes the experience special for you.
- Finally, be honest with yourself. In order to get the full benefits of journaling, you must be willing to open up. Be vulnerable and remember that you’re writing for yourself and no one else (unless you want to share what you write).
Are you a fan of journaling? If so, let us know your top tips and resources in the comments! Alternatively, if you’re new to journaling, feel free to leave any questions down below. Thanks for reading!