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Do a search for “journal” on Amazon and you’ll get more than 100,000 results. That proves people use (or at least buy) journals. Studies show the efficacy of journaling. I was a little ho-hum about journaling until I found myself in the COVID lockdown. Fraught with uncertainty, isolation, fear of illness or death, and more, my — and probably your — usual routines were interrupted, altered, truncated, or completely wiped out. With all of that swirling around me, I revisited my inconsistently used journal. Since then, I’ve become consistent in my journaling, and posit that I am living proof of what the scientific studies say: Journaling keeps you in touch with yourself and helps you focus on your goals. Let me tell you why I journal, and why I think you should too!
Reveals what’s already in my brain
I love this quote by the great American novelist, Flannery O’Connor.
“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
Long ago, I realized that the only time I really understood a disease, a patient situation, a treatment, or anything else was when I wrote about it. I wrote in the patient’s chart, or in my journal later that day, or in a case scenario submitted to a professional nursing journal.
I don’t deal with a professional topic every day. Some days, I just want to know what Marie is thinking today. But I write every day, and it shows me things about my own mind that I wouldn’t know otherwise.
Enhances my creativity
The scientific world agrees that repetition is the mother of habit. And, in my estimation, habit is the mother of creativity.
I started blogging regularly every Tuesday and Friday about 5 years ago. (Blogging — the very word means “web log” — is just a public way of journaling!) When we repetitively do a creative thing like writing, we don’t spend many calories figuring out the mechanics of the act. Hence, we’re more creative.
Even on the days when we don’t feel like it, we benefit from journaling. And one reason why I journal regularly is that creativity springs eternally when I stay in the creative groove.
Gives me a safe space
Sometimes, I want to growl at everything and everyone.
In his book Think Like a Monk, Jay Shetty said that journaling is a great substitute for “venting” to others. At least in my case, it prevents me from adding to the negative junk the media or other people are already mired in.
Gives insight into thoughts, feelings, and actions
I’m knee-deep into learning about and coaching others on the Enneagram.
In The Road Back to You, Enneagram expert Ian Morgan Cron emphasizes, over and over, the need to be aware of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Honestly, there’s lots of stuff floating around in my psyche. I wouldn’t be aware of such things if I didn’t write them down, so that’s another reason why I journal almost every day.
While journaling, I ask myself, “What am I learning?” And I answer that question that in writing.
I’m learning why I do what I do. I’m learning why I don’t do what I should do. I’m seeing patterns of behaviors over a period of time, and recognizing what’s moving me towards goal achievement and what’s keeping me stuck in my current circumstances.
Builds a bank of ideas
I write down lots of ideas that come to my head. I know full well that they may bite the dust.
That’s okay. Most of those ideas are bunts or pop fouls. A few are an “out” at first base. But one will be my next home run. That’s why I journal — to make sure there’s always a “next” idea!
Keeps me focused on being grateful
There’s a whole body of literature to support the “attitude of gratitude.” And someone told me once that it’s impossible to be grateful and hateful at the same time.
In each journal entry I answer the question: “What am I grateful for today?” What were my wins?
Sometimes, I have some big wins to be grateful for: I signed a new client, I found the perfect candidate for an open position on my team, or I solved a thorny problem that had been plaguing me for a while.
Other times, I list smaller wins: I got three organic squashes for free. I received a gift card for $10 at my favorite coffee shop. I got the only available appointment with the chiropractor that day.
Keeps me focused on my goals
A primarily reason why I journal is because it connects me to my goals.
Whether it’s basketball, hockey, or golf, athletes are focused on a clearly visible goal. If it’s swimming, there’s a record to beat. If it’s the Indy 500, there’s a finish line to cross. Even if we’re not athletes, why wouldn’t we want to keep our eyes on the goal in life?
Without a goal, we’re drifting. We’re like a ship without a rudder.
Facilitates my goal achievement
Again, I must go back to the effect of COVID, because that’s when I really hunkered down with journaling.
Strangely enough, the COVID lockdown was a time of achievement for me. I achieved more goals that year than ever before. For starters, I earned recognition as a Certified Online Training Professional.
I kept my business open, and I kept my team employed during a year when over 100,000 businesses closed forever.
That’s goal achievement.
More reasons why I journal
Journaling makes me think, prompts me to learn, and gives me a chance to hear from people like you (A-HEM! You can feel free to leave me a comment below!) And much more.
Do you journal? Do you agree with the reasons I journal, or do you have additional reasons? Share your tips below!
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