Journaling, or Gournaling if you’re a Wet Hot American Summer fan, is an amazing practice with immense benefits. I first started my journal back in October, 2014.
Through all of the articles self improvement I had read, several of them instructed their readers to pop open a notepad and document thoughts and feelings.
It was kind of weird at first. There’s a bit of a leap of faith in becoming more vulnerable as you are directly confronting your thoughts and channeling them externally. It’s great first step towards embracing vulnerability.
I was fresh off of a breakup, still getting over my ex with tons of thoughts flying around a mile a minute. I felt like I couldn’t really productively move in a new direction.
Writing those thoughts down helped me to process, organize, and prioritize these emotions so that I could come up with a new game plan to move forward.
It accelerated my progress exponentially. It can do the same for you. Here are a few ways that the ancient practice of journaling can impact your life in a positive way.
Therapeutic – When you go to therapy, you pay a professional lots of money to listen proactively to your thoughts, help you organize them, and come to conclusions on what they mean and what you should do.
Now, I’m not saying ditch the shrink(I think everyone should have a professional they can hash things out with), but a journal can get you a lot of the same benefits.
Getting your thoughts out of your head and channeled externally will naturally lighten your anxiety levels and you’ll be more free to think objectively.
Provides perspective – Perspective is the art of breaking free from the confines of your daily routine and viewing your life from a higher, more objective level.
I’ve extolled the benefits of a Brolo trip as one way get additional perspective on your life. Journaling is another great tool for the proverbial perspective toolbox.
It helps you get outside of your own body and mind and view things from a higher level. Similar to the way that meditation disassociates you from your thoughts, journaling will provide a distinction from your mind and thoughts allowing you to view them from an outside perspective.
Instills accountability towards goals – One thing I journal often about is what my goals are and my progress towards achieving them.
There’s something pretty powerful when you write down a goal that you have. It makes you psychologically more inclined towards making it happen.
With each entry, you can document the small, measurable gains you are making which helps establish your progress and keep you on track.
It could be a new business venture, fitness gains, picking up a new skill, or crossing items off of your bucket list. It doesn’t matter. Writing about your goal will help you achieve it much faster.
Captures life’s amazing moments – The brain is a powerful, albeit at times, fleeting organ. Sometimes your mind will distort the way you look back at memories and you almost don’t know exactly how some events transpired.
If you capture life’s amazing moments in your journal, it provides a brilliant retrospective to look back on these memories fondly.
It could be logging the way you feel when traveling. For me, it’s moments like walking up the steps of the Coloseo metro stop in Rome, being blown away by seeing the Coliseum for the first time.
It could also be amazing little moments that you experience on a daily basis. A quiet walk through the park, the stillness of the ocean at sunrise, or the moon rising over a mountain range on the horizon.
Life has a ton of amazing moments to soak in. First you have to be aware and immerse yourself in “the moment,” but after it has passed, writing about it helps store it in your memory forever.
Journaling could lead to much bigger things as well. For me, it was the catalyst that sparked the creation of the Breakup Bro.
As I cataloged what I was learning along the way, it naturally evolved into a solid playbook for anyone else going through a tough time post separation.
Now, I post an entry at least once a week that tracks
· How I’m feeling
· Goals and ambitions
· Amazing moments that had an impact on me
· A retrospective on travel
· My relationships with friends and family
· Missteps and pitfalls to avoid repeating in the future
· Practicing gratitude
About once a month I go back and read through my old entries and cherish that process greatly. It’s like hopping in the Delorean, gunning it to 88, heading back in time and experiencing the past like it was now.
It’s an incredible walk down memory lane and helps give you perspective on how far you’ve come and what an awesome human you are.
Don’t wait another day before starting up your own. It’s such a critical practice that if I had to pick one thing to do right now and focus on, it would be to start a journal.
It doesn’t matter how you do it. Buy a nice notebook, pop open a word doc, cave drawings, Sanskrit, smoke signals…doesn’t matter. Just find a way that works for you and stick to it.
Just make sure you have a way to back it up, save it, scan it, take pictures. I would be devastated if I lost my journal, so make sure you have a way to safe keep this priceless content.
In the epic words of Van Wilder, “Write that down!” Your future self will thank you.