Most of us have probably owned a diary or a journal at some in our life. I remember my first diary. It was a Harry Potter-themed diary, and I had the intention of writing in it every day. I started out strong and wrote in it for three consecutive days. Then I stopped. I have been struggling with the concept of writing down my thoughts and feelings – until very recently.
Why I Have Failed In The Past
I have wanted to journal for a very long time. The reason why I failed to do so is that I was afraid. I was scared of two things;
If I wrote down my worries, they would become true
What would someone think of me if they read it?
My anxiety kicked in every time I was sitting down to write in a journal. I left out the thoughts that were worrying me, just in case someone accidentally read it. I was afraid that it would make me defenceless and vulnerable.
If you are too scared to write down what you really want to write, then having a journal is pointless…
A month ago I gave journaling one more try.
What I Found Out After Journaling Every Day For A Month
I was talking with my girlfriend about journaling and that I wanted to get my thoughts and feelings on paper, and that I was a little bit scared of trying. She encouraged me to give it a try.
This past month I journaled almost every day, and my personal gains have been tremendous.
The only rule I had was that I would not try to edit and structure my thoughts.
This is what I found out:
1. Is this was I was afraid of?
My fear that my anxious thought would become real was proven wrong the first day. When I write down my worries, I started laughing.
When I get them on paper, I often see how ridiculous it is to worry about it.
2. I do not trust my brain
If a problem, worry or a negative thought dominates my mind, I immediately write it down – to see if there is any validity to it. The mind is spinning, and our thoughts are looping. I have noticed that small problems can feel really big – until I get it on paper.
3. Finding solutions
Writing down a problem or a challenge I have, and then starting to brainstorm solutions on paper has been really helpful. When I am writing in my journal, my mind gets so much clearer, and I am far better at finding solutions. When I get it on paper, I am able to see it from a different perspective, and potential solutions seem to fly into my mind.
4. Stimulating creativity
By writing daily, I find that my creativity is flowing easier than ever.
5. Capturing ideas and insights
Have you ever experienced taking a shower and a brilliant idea just pop out of nowhere? You are thinking that you will remember this idea… and then you forget it?
Many of my ideas and insights are coming to me when I am doing something else. Before I would kind of hoping that my memory would take care of it.
Whenever I get an idea or an insight now, I get really excited about writing it down in my journal.
I capture ideas and insights into raw-format in my journal. If I want to structure the ideas, I do that later in a Google Doc or in a note-taking app on my iPad.
Other Great Benefits Of Writing In A Journal Daily
A keystone habit
Benjamin P. Hardy has written a great article on journaling daily (and this was one of my inspirations to give it a try). He points out that journaling is a keystone habit. (Hardy 2017)
Journaling is one habit that can help with many aspects of your life. It can help you with manifesting your goals, accelerate your career, tracking your progress in fitness, improve your emotional balance and many many more.
In the book, The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, he says this about keystone habits:
“Small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.”
The author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, say this about journaling:
“Keeping a personal journal a daily in-depth analysis and evaluation of your experiences is a high-leverage activity that increases self-awareness and enhances all the endowments and the synergy among them.”
Improve your relationship with food
If you want to have better control over what you eat, I highly recommend writing about your experiences with food. You will become more aware of why you eat what you eat, and this can help you to change it.
We encourage all of our clients that are taking The WildFit 90-day Challenge to journal about their thoughts and feelings.
“Diet does not mean temporary alteration of your life for short-term gain, it means way of life.”
– Eric Edmeades
Tips for getting started
I know that starting to write in a journal can seem intimidating. Here are some tips that can make the experience better:
Don’t try to structure your thoughts. You are not writing an essay. Write what you are thinking about.
The habit of writing is in many cases more important than what you are writing. You do not have to write pages to journal successfully. Sometimes I only write 3 sentences. If I don’t know what to write, I start with writing about what I did yesterday, a dream I had or ask myself questions.
Here are great questions you can ask yourself:
What are three things I am grateful for right now?
Why has this been a great day?
What is one thing I could do now to make this a great day?
If you have a problem or a challenge: What would I do if this was easy?
THE 10-DAY JOURNALING CHALLENGE
I challenge you to write in a journal for the next 10 days. It can be one of the most transformational things you do.