life

How to Journal: A Beginner’s Guide to Getting to Know Yourself

There’s a long list of ways to go about “knowing thyself” but journaling just might be at the top. 

Few people take advantage of the clarity that journaling can bring. It helps you cope with stress and anxiety. It’s also a beautiful way to record the life-changing moments you experience and messages you learn along the way. 

Journaling offers an opportunity to track your personal growth and when you find yourself stuck or in need of redirection, you can read through old entries to become an observer of your life and course correct. 

I like to start every new year with a new journal but you can start whenever you are ready. Writing the first words on a fresh sheet of paper feels like a new beginning at any time.

Step one is finding a notebook that you like.

My personal preference is a single subject spiral notebook (like the ones you probably used in high school). They’re not too fancy and take all the pressure away from being too precious. But depending on your taste and interest there are a variety of options.

In this article, I’ll share with you reasons to journal, different methods of journaling, and useful tips on making journaling a lifelong habit.


3 Reasons to Keep a Journal



01. Journaling helps you clarify your feelings 

Think of your journal as a paper (or electronic) therapist. When you’re in a bit of a funk and not sure how to move forward, sometimes writing it all down will clear mental space.

Translating your emotions into written word helps you process and take action. But more than that, it builds the ritual of reflection and healing. This ultimately leads to increased self-awareness.



02.  Journaling amplifies your creativity

The best way to become a good writer is to do it regularly. Journaling gives you a safe space to learn how to express yourself creatively. It unleashes your imagination and helps you tap into new ideas.

Your journal can be a space to brainstorm new concepts or an opportunity to reflect on your creative influences.

You can write lists or capture mantras and quotes from your biggest influences. The combination of these elements helps you refine your taste and establish your creative point of view.



03. Journaling helps you document your place in history 

One of the most magical parts of keeping a journal for many years is to look back and see who you were. Journaling helps you see your patterns--both over the course of many years and seasonally.

It also serves as a great way to document the meaningful accomplishments that you might normally forget. Beyond that, journaling cultivates gratitude and helps you notice the small victories of daily life.



6 Ways to Journal


When you think of keeping a journal, I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind is the traditional “Dear Diary” format--basically a letter that recaps your day.  But there are so many ways to keep a journal. You can write full sentences or fragments of ideas. You can draw illustrations or collage your favorite photos. Your journal can be time bound or ongoing.

Here’s 6 popular ways to journal:


01. Book of Lists

One of the easiest ways to journal is to make a series of lists. It allows you to keep track of goals, but also is an interesting way to get to know yourself. You can make lists like:

 

Things I need to buy for my apartment

Top 10 Favorite Movies of All Time

The Soundtrack of Summer 2020

Books I want to Read this Year

Places I’ve traveled to

People I’ve dated and the things I learned



02. Scrapbook / Art Journal

For visual focused creatives (and enthusiasts) the easiest way to journal is to use photos and drawing to tell your story. The Scrapbook method is a fun way to keep track of your memories. You can document the day to day with photos you’ve taken. Or you can print and compile your favorite bits of inspiration for later consumption.

The simple act of collage helps you clear your mind and come up with new connections between disparate ideas. For people who enjoy drawing, you can draw a highlight from your day or illustrate the things you bought during a shopping trip.


03. Bullet Journal

Bullet Journaling is a way to rapidly log your tasks, events, and notes. Find focus and be productive while keeping track of your day to day. Founded by Ryder Carroll, this is a wildly popular way to organize your personal information.


04. Gratitude Journal

Increase your positivity and focus on the good in your life by starting a gratitude journal. In the morning and the night, you focus on something small or big to be thankful for. With daily practice, you will begin to see the love, joy, and grace that you experience every single day.


05. Wellness Tracker 

One of the most common goals is to live a healthier lifestyle. One of the easiest ways to build healthier habits is to track your progress. In your wellness tracker, you can plan your meals, document your workouts, and reflect on your fitness journey. It’s a useful tool to set goals but also helps you see how your willpower can ebb and flow over the course of the month.


06. Today in 3 Sentences

This is my go to method of journaling during the week. The goal is to think about everything that happened in your day and distill it into three sentences.

It can be dry, like: Woke up late. Work was hectic. Incredible dinner with friends.

But it can also be a small opportunity to be poetic. For example: A weary boy sings the blues. He’s wearing blue jeans. And his favorite blue shirt. (This example was written as a reminder of a live show that I saw one night in New Orleans. Anyone else reading it might not understand, but for me, it conjures a memory.)




Useful Tips to Maintain a Journaling Habit


It’s hard to stick to habits that support your growth as an individual. It takes the average person 66 days to seriously adopt a new behavior. So don’t beat yourself up if you’ve already tried to start a journal, but it didn’t quite go as expected.

Here are a few ways to set yourself up for success with your new journaling practice:


01. Find a time that works for you. 

Not everyone is a morning person, so waking early to journal everyday might not be in your nature. Try different times to see what works for you. Maybe you try journaling at night before bed. Or maybe you fit it in during your lunch as a way to break up the day.


02. Use journaling prompts. 

Sometimes it's hard trying to figure out what you want to add to your journal. Journaling prompts are a great way to take off some of the pressure. Whether it’s a list of questions for you to answer to get to know yourself better or a list of things for you to illustrate.

Pinterest is your friend here for quickly finding new ideas.


03. Find a space that works for you. 

For me, I love writing in my journal at my kitchen bar. I need a clean surface and a fresh cup of coffee to start my morning. But there are a lot of different options for you. You could journal in bed before you close your eyes. Or you could prefer to sit on your porch and journal with the smell of fresh air.


04. Don’t be too precious 

You can’t get journaling wrong. It’s not meant to be seen by the world. It’s a personal practice just for you to look back on. It’s okay to scribble, to make mistakes, to spill coffee, or to write with your worst handwriting.


05. Keep your journal with you. 

Whether you’re heading out for a coffee or going on a vacation, try to keep your journal handy. You never know when you’ll have a free minute to capture your ideas.

 

Take your time and experience clarity. Slow down, reflect and take note of the things that work for you and those that don’t work.

Every day you have the chance to write out your vision, likes/dislikes, or even small things that delighted you in a moment. Either way, doing this helps you make bold steps towards building the life you were designed to live.



Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

How to Journal: A Beginner’s Guide to Getting to Know Yourself

December 22, 2020

There’s a long list of ways to go about “knowing thyself” but journaling just might be at the top. 

Few people take advantage of the clarity that journaling can bring. It helps you cope with stress and anxiety. It’s also a beautiful way to record the life-changing moments you experience and messages you learn along the way. 

Journaling offers an opportunity to track your personal growth and when you find yourself stuck or in need of redirection, you can read through old entries to become an observer of your life and course correct. 

I like to start every new year with a new journal but you can start whenever you are ready. Writing the first words on a fresh sheet of paper feels like a new beginning at any time.

Step one is finding a notebook that you like.

My personal preference is a single subject spiral notebook (like the ones you probably used in high school). They’re not too fancy and take all the pressure away from being too precious. But depending on your taste and interest there are a variety of options.

In this article, I’ll share with you reasons to journal, different methods of journaling, and useful tips on making journaling a lifelong habit.


3 Reasons to Keep a Journal



01. Journaling helps you clarify your feelings 

Think of your journal as a paper (or electronic) therapist. When you’re in a bit of a funk and not sure how to move forward, sometimes writing it all down will clear mental space.

Translating your emotions into written word helps you process and take action. But more than that, it builds the ritual of reflection and healing. This ultimately leads to increased self-awareness.



02.  Journaling amplifies your creativity

The best way to become a good writer is to do it regularly. Journaling gives you a safe space to learn how to express yourself creatively. It unleashes your imagination and helps you tap into new ideas.

Your journal can be a space to brainstorm new concepts or an opportunity to reflect on your creative influences.

You can write lists or capture mantras and quotes from your biggest influences. The combination of these elements helps you refine your taste and establish your creative point of view.



03. Journaling helps you document your place in history 

One of the most magical parts of keeping a journal for many years is to look back and see who you were. Journaling helps you see your patterns--both over the course of many years and seasonally.

It also serves as a great way to document the meaningful accomplishments that you might normally forget. Beyond that, journaling cultivates gratitude and helps you notice the small victories of daily life.



6 Ways to Journal


When you think of keeping a journal, I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind is the traditional “Dear Diary” format--basically a letter that recaps your day.  But there are so many ways to keep a journal. You can write full sentences or fragments of ideas. You can draw illustrations or collage your favorite photos. Your journal can be time bound or ongoing.

Here’s 6 popular ways to journal:


01. Book of Lists

One of the easiest ways to journal is to make a series of lists. It allows you to keep track of goals, but also is an interesting way to get to know yourself. You can make lists like:

 

Things I need to buy for my apartment

Top 10 Favorite Movies of All Time

The Soundtrack of Summer 2020

Books I want to Read this Year

Places I’ve traveled to

People I’ve dated and the things I learned



02. Scrapbook / Art Journal

For visual focused creatives (and enthusiasts) the easiest way to journal is to use photos and drawing to tell your story. The Scrapbook method is a fun way to keep track of your memories. You can document the day to day with photos you’ve taken. Or you can print and compile your favorite bits of inspiration for later consumption.

The simple act of collage helps you clear your mind and come up with new connections between disparate ideas. For people who enjoy drawing, you can draw a highlight from your day or illustrate the things you bought during a shopping trip.


03. Bullet Journal

Bullet Journaling is a way to rapidly log your tasks, events, and notes. Find focus and be productive while keeping track of your day to day. Founded by Ryder Carroll, this is a wildly popular way to organize your personal information.


04. Gratitude Journal

Increase your positivity and focus on the good in your life by starting a gratitude journal. In the morning and the night, you focus on something small or big to be thankful for. With daily practice, you will begin to see the love, joy, and grace that you experience every single day.


05. Wellness Tracker 

One of the most common goals is to live a healthier lifestyle. One of the easiest ways to build healthier habits is to track your progress. In your wellness tracker, you can plan your meals, document your workouts, and reflect on your fitness journey. It’s a useful tool to set goals but also helps you see how your willpower can ebb and flow over the course of the month.


06. Today in 3 Sentences

This is my go to method of journaling during the week. The goal is to think about everything that happened in your day and distill it into three sentences.

It can be dry, like: Woke up late. Work was hectic. Incredible dinner with friends.

But it can also be a small opportunity to be poetic. For example: A weary boy sings the blues. He’s wearing blue jeans. And his favorite blue shirt. (This example was written as a reminder of a live show that I saw one night in New Orleans. Anyone else reading it might not understand, but for me, it conjures a memory.)




Useful Tips to Maintain a Journaling Habit


It’s hard to stick to habits that support your growth as an individual. It takes the average person 66 days to seriously adopt a new behavior. So don’t beat yourself up if you’ve already tried to start a journal, but it didn’t quite go as expected.

Here are a few ways to set yourself up for success with your new journaling practice:


01. Find a time that works for you. 

Not everyone is a morning person, so waking early to journal everyday might not be in your nature. Try different times to see what works for you. Maybe you try journaling at night before bed. Or maybe you fit it in during your lunch as a way to break up the day.


02. Use journaling prompts. 

Sometimes it's hard trying to figure out what you want to add to your journal. Journaling prompts are a great way to take off some of the pressure. Whether it’s a list of questions for you to answer to get to know yourself better or a list of things for you to illustrate.

Pinterest is your friend here for quickly finding new ideas.


03. Find a space that works for you. 

For me, I love writing in my journal at my kitchen bar. I need a clean surface and a fresh cup of coffee to start my morning. But there are a lot of different options for you. You could journal in bed before you close your eyes. Or you could prefer to sit on your porch and journal with the smell of fresh air.


04. Don’t be too precious 

You can’t get journaling wrong. It’s not meant to be seen by the world. It’s a personal practice just for you to look back on. It’s okay to scribble, to make mistakes, to spill coffee, or to write with your worst handwriting.


05. Keep your journal with you. 

Whether you’re heading out for a coffee or going on a vacation, try to keep your journal handy. You never know when you’ll have a free minute to capture your ideas.

 

Take your time and experience clarity. Slow down, reflect and take note of the things that work for you and those that don’t work.

Every day you have the chance to write out your vision, likes/dislikes, or even small things that delighted you in a moment. Either way, doing this helps you make bold steps towards building the life you were designed to live.



Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

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