There’s a popular quote by Benjamin Franklin doing the rounds on social media platforms: “Many people die at 25 and aren’t buried until they are 75.”
Lots of people have dreams and goals they pursue early in their life, but generally by their mid-twenties, they settle in a rut.
People move through their life passively, with no focus on their goals, dreams, or self-improvement. In this article, you will learn how to journal for self improvement
Living your life with intent brings so many benefits, but it starts with self-growth. Self-improvement leads to resilience, motivation, improved focus, and a sense of direction and purpose.
Journaling is one powerful step you can take toward self-improvement, but how do you get started?
7 Steps to Learn How to Journal for Self Improvement
Follow these steps to start journaling to improve yourself and reap all the benefits:
1. Choose Your Journal
There are a variety of self improvement journals to choose from for your journey toward self-discovery and self-growth, which are keys to living your best life.
The most popular self improvement journals are:
- A goals journal: Write down 5 goals you want to achieve today, tomorrow, in a week, a year, or 5 years. After listing your goals every day for 30 days, reflect on which of them you have achieved, which you haven’t, and why.
- A gratitude journal: List 5 things you are grateful for every day with a short explanation if you want.
- A problem-solving journal: Rant and rave about a problem, but also come up with solutions to the problem. These solutions can be realistic, creative, or even “a bit out there.”
- A stress, pain, fear, and anxiety journal: Fear, pain, or anxiety makes a person stressed, which leads to negative thoughts, bad days, and poor judgment. Journal about what makes you stressed, afraid, and anxious, or what causes you emotional or physical pain.
- A daily journal: Log each day’s events in detail and focus on what was good about the day too.
You can choose one type of journal or two, or even get an A4 leather-bound journal and decide what you want to write about on that day. You may want to opt for a digital journal, too.
2. Be Realistic and/or Creative
How you use your journal and what you write in it can be as realistic or creative as you’d like.
For example, you can factually detail the day’s occurrences in your daily journal, or you can write about your fears by writing in the third person and creating a story.
You can also doodle in your journal, note down random thoughts or personal observations, cut out images from magazines and paste them in, make lists, or write stories and your interpretation of feelings and events.
Write affirmations and mantras to help you think positively.
Write in pen, pencil, or colored markers. Use highlighters if you want to focus on words or phrases. The self-improvement journal is yours, so let who you are shine on the pages of the journal.
3. Decide When to Journal
You can use your self-improvement journal whenever you want. It can be early in the morning when you have your first cup of coffee or tea, before bed as part of your nighttime routine, or during your lunch hour.
You don’t have to use your journal just once daily either; if inspiration or need strikes, journal.
A few tips on when you journal:
- Self-improvement journal time is “me time.”
- Turn off your phone or switch off notifications, close the door to your bedroom, and ask your family to keep themselves busy.
- Choose a time when it is quiet. You don’t want to be interrupted during your journaling hour or half-hour.
- Decide on a place that is yours where you can journal. This can be a writing desk in the corner of your room that’s just yours, under a tree at your favorite park, or on your patio or balcony.
4. Put Judgment Away
People love to judge, but we are often our own worst critics. When you journal to improve yourself, leave judgment outside the cover of the journal.
Your journal and the pages therein can’t judge you. No one besides you needs to read the journal, unless you choose to share it with a mentor, life coach, psychologist, or trusted loved one.
Let your emotions, thoughts, and experiences pour onto the pages as you journal. Just be your authentic self during this time. It’s just you, your pen, and the journal. Nothing and no one else.
5. Think of Where to Put Your Journal
You most likely want to keep your self-improvement journal private, that is, for your eyes only. That’s perfectly natural. You should only share if you want to and if you feel ready. If you never feel ready to share, that’s okay too.
Think where you can keep your journal so nobody in your household will find it and (accidentally) invade your privacy.
Keep your journal in a locked drawer in your home office or ensure you password protect (and don’t use an easy-to-guess password) for a digital journal. Or invest in a book safe.
Chat with your partner that you are keeping a journal and that if you want to share, you will. Your partner will respect your privacy if they love you.
6. Overcome the Fear of a Blank Page
The blank page of a journal is scary. What can you write? What should you write?
There is nothing you “should” write, and you can write about anything.
Write your favorite quote and think about what that means. Recount your day, lessons learned, and/or things you are grateful for.
Or use self-improvement journal writing prompts to get you started:
- Describe your perfect day.
- Are you living intentionally? What does it mean to live with intent?
- What do you need to accomplish today?
- What holds you back from achieving your goals?
- What do you need to let go of? What does letting go mean to you?
- How have you grown/changed over the past 5 years?
- What do you need to work on to improve yourself?
7. Commit to Journaling Daily
We all live busy lives so it may feel like you don’t have time to journal every day. But the secret is that you don’t have to journal for an hour every day.
It can be 5 minutes to make a goal or gratitude list, or 15 minutes to recap your day. Writing every day is beneficial to your mental health, and it becomes a great habit.
Make journaling work for you and commit to putting your thoughts on paper every day. This helps you focus, grow, and see the progress you’ve made.
Final Thoughts on Journaling for Self Improvement
Your self-improvement journey lets you discover yourself, gain new insights and perspectives on you as a person, your life, and those around you.
By journaling, you learn what’s important to you and how to achieve your dreams and goals. You reflect on your life, heal from mistakes and past trauma, forgive yourself, and love yourself.