Let’s talk about how you can start a journal.
You probably remember the time when you were young and had a “Dear Diary”- style Journal in which you would write about your dreams, your crush and your biggest secrets.
16 years forward I found back to journaling and I never knew that it would be this AMAZING and POWERFUL. There is so much more to journaling than the typical “dear diary” style and I wish more people knew about it. That’s why I’m going to share with you how to start a journal + make it your favorite personal growth tool.
Step Number 1: Find Your WHY
In order to make the most out of journaling, it’s super important to find your personal WHY. When we have a strong reason for doing something, we are much more likely to actually stick to it. So step 1 of starting a journal is figuring out your “why”.
- Why do you want to start a journal?
- What do you want to achieve with it?
- How is it going to help you on your journey?
Journaling can help you in so many areas of your life and I want to share some of the perks with you:
- It propels you towards your goals, helping you bring your vision to life
- It helps you become more emotionally balanced, giving you a chance to get all your emotions out on paper
- It helps you identify subconscious thoughts that often go unnoticed in daily life. By reflecting yourself and your behavior, you identify thought patterns and limiting beliefs more easily
- It helps you get creative and come up with inspiring ideas/ thoughts that you can then bring to life
How To Journal?
The good news is that there are no specific rules to follow when you start a journal. However, I recommend trying out different techniques and then see what works best for you. It also depends on what you want to achieve with your journaling practice. Do you want to focus on gratitude, productivity, goal setting or mental health? There are so many different ways you can journal.
Here are some journaling styles to try out:
1. Gratitude Journaling
Gratitude Journaling works like this: Every morning and evening, you write down things you are grateful for. I usually write down three things but feel free to write down as many as you can. It’s the ultimate happiness boost!
If you are struggling to come up with things to be grateful for in the beginning, you can check out this list that I have created for you : 100 Amazing Things To Be Grateful For
2. Mental Health Journaling
Your mental health is SO important, so why not make it a priority with daily mental health journaling? Journaling can help you alleviate mental health issues like anxiety and stress, improve your cognitive and emotional power.
This is how it works: You write down all your thoughts and feelings to understand them more clearly. Always remember: You are not your thoughts. So putting them out on paper (the good, the bad and the ugly), helps you gain distance from them and see things from a more productive, neutral perspective. See it as a therapy session with yourself where YOU are the one asking the questions.Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is there a fear that’s holding me back right now?
- Is there an anxiety that keeps on showing up for me?
- Is there a part of my body that I tend to fixate on?
- Is there a part of my relationship with my partner, friends, or family that needs healing?
Let your journal be a safe space for you to bring up, express, and process emotions.
3. Self-Empowerment Journaling
I LOVE using journaling for self-empowerment. Instead of waiting for other people to empower and believe in you, you can start empowering yourself right now. It works like this: Every day, you write down things you are proud of about yourself.
You can also choose positive affirmations about yourself (this is the ultimate confidence boost). So you could write down:
- I am creative and use my skills to create my dream life
- I am kind to all beings and spread love everywhere
- I matter and I am making a positive difference in the world
- I love myself and I’m my own best friend and support
- I am committed to making my dreams a reality
- I am a great ___________ (singer/dancer/content creator/coach/ human being/ friend/…you decide how you want to fill the gap)
Using these positive affirmations and allowing yourself to be kind to yourself, is so powerful.
For more specific questions and journaling prompts that I personally use to empower myself, I highly recommend downloading this pdf that I have created for you:
4. “Stream of Consciouness” Journaling
This journaling style serves as a brain dump and is best done in the morning. This is the gist of it: You get all of the questions, thoughts, worries and feelings out of your head onto paper, so I can move on with the rest of your day.
When I do stream of consciousness journaling, I just sit down with a piece of paper. I use the same Moleskin Journal everyday. Then I set a timer and simply write everything down that is currently on my mind.
The key to this technique is not to second guess anything and just start writing and letting the words flow out of you. I recommend not paying attention to grammar or sentence structure (and yes, I’m saying this as a Linguistics graduate). Just let your writing be as natural, raw and imperfect as possible. There is one rule: Don’t correct yourself!
So let’s resume this technique in three main steps:
- Take out your journal
- Set a timer for 5 minutes
- Write down everything that’s on your mind
After your brain dump, you usually feel much more at ease because the things you were stressing about are now on paper, not in your head anymore. As with everything, the more you practice, the easier it will get.
5. Journaling for Goal Setting
Writing down your goals will help you achieve them and it’s so important that you clarify what you actually want.
Define what you really want. No clarity, no change. No goals, no growth. – Brendon Burchard, Life’s Golden Ticket
For most people it seems obvious to break their goal down into a to-do list.
Sure, that can be helpful as well but if you’re not careful, a to-do list can spark the belief that the more you do, the more success you will have.
However, that’s not how success works and more often than not, long to-do lists make you feel even more stuck and overwhelmed.
Ever had a really busy day but by the end of it asked yourself what you actually achieved? Then you know what I mean.
So this is how it works: You write your goals down every single day. Also make sure to describe your goals as vividly as possible. Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success.
6. Question-led Journaling
This journaling style is great for beginners because it’s very easy to put into action when starting a journal. You simply write down the same questions every day and answer them for yourself. Here is an example of how you can do question-led journaling:
Questions for the Morning:
- What are my three most important things that I want to get done today?
- What am I excited about today?
- What is my intention for the day?
Questions for the Evening:
- List 3 things you are grateful for today
- List 5 things that went well today
- What could I have done better today?
Try it out and let me know what you think. I would love to hear your experience!
How To Stay Consistent with Journaling
If you have always wanted to keep a journal but struggled with making it a consistent habit, these tips are for you:
- Implement journaling into routine and try to journal around the same time (for me, it’s in the morning and in the evening). Put it in your calendar and set yourself a timer for 3 weeks. After sticking to it for three weeks, it will become a habit.
- Pick your journaling format: Decide on what kind of journaling style you want to do and stick to it for a while. After having established one technique, you can still add more.
Important Resources You Will Need
Here are some resources that you will need to successfully start a journal.
1) A pretty journal
2. Pens to design your journal
I don’t know about you but I LOVE designing things and making them look beautiful. That’s an additional fun factor about journaling.
Congratulations! Now you’re all ready and set to start a journal!
The Best Guided Journals
Another great way of journaling is using guided journaling. It’s less customizable but this way, you don’t have to write the prompts down yourself. It’s great for beginners and when you start a journal. My first journal was “The Five Minute Journal” and I still love it. I’ll link you my favorites below:
1) THE BEST JOURNAL EVER
2) THE FIVE MINUTE JOURNAL
Personally, I use a combination of both. I have one dotted journal that I use for different journaling styles and techniques and one guided journal with pre-written questions.
I hope this guide on how to start a journal inspired you and I am very excited for you to embark on this journey. Let me know how it goes. I always love hearing from you on social media or via email.
You are amazing!
Lots of love and until next time,