If you cleaned out your closet, would you find a stack of unused journals? If so, you would not be alone. Admit it, you’re not very good at keeping a journal. Well, the truth is most of us are terrible at it. They are routinely given as gifts and backed with good intention. I can clearly think of at least 3 or 4 journals I was given that currently sit very empty. I wrote on a couple of pages before the habit was lost and then it was forgotten about. Why is that? It was because I didn’t see the importance and hadn’t yet experienced the benefits.
As a kid, I remember thinking journaling was merely writing about the events of my day. Many days weren't deemed “exciting” enough to write about. I was afraid to commit to putting my thoughts and feelings onto paper. I didn’t know what to write, and at that young age. I hadn't learned how to be vulnerable and trust that writing down my thoughts could be something I would take personal pride in.
Years later, I find myself wishing that I’d written more. Athletes I looked up to, trips my family took, the "high school" experience, and girlfriends I thought I had, were all things I once wrote down.
I now write every day. Writing helps me live in the present moment and pause during what can be a busy day. The things I write about vary, but I’ve tried to commit to a habit of writing daily while knowing that the contents of my journals might be a bit “random.” I’ve grown to realize that I’m keeping a journal because I indeed have a story to tell and each day I'm writing a new chapter.
Below are 5 important reasons I found that journaling is important.
Writing Facilitates Personal Growth - As you write daily, it’s important to also periodically read over your goals as a way to motivate and inspire yourself. Write even the little things and reward yourself when you achieve a goal. You can see how far you’ve come as you write in your journal and will see how much more you’re capable of. I write about values that are important to me and emotions I have previously struggled to connect with.
Record Your Dreams and Aspirations - A dream is just that until you write it down and work at it. Take charge of those “wish list” items you want to accomplish and begin by writing them down. If you are like me, you enjoy making lists then writing down the trips you plan to take, the books you plan to read, etc... Journaling will also serve to reinforce your learning. You’re more likely to remember something that you’ve put down on the pages of your journal.
Practice Your Writing - Go Analog! Take pride in your penmanship and continue to work at it. Writing in your journal provides you with the ability to fine-tune your writing whatever your style. You’re also able to unleash your creativity and put any and every idea in your head onto a blank page where they won’t be forgotten. Many times we wake up and immediately get on our phone. We’re addicted to input and find ourselves guided by the digital “agendas” of others. Be confident in your ideas and set your plans of your own.
Increases Your Gratitude - Show appreciation. Tell yourself “I’m lucky to have….” As you write down things in your life you’re grateful for, you’ll be more confident towards new challenges as you realized how blessed you are. Get specific with the people, places, and things in your life that you’re grateful for. I try to include something I’m grateful for each day at the end of my writing.
Leave a Legacy - More than anything, keeping a journal is about leaving your legacy for others. Your personal history is worth archiving. There’s no telling how important the memories of an ancestor will be years after they’ve gone. Each day we create our own legacy and journaling allows you to share it with future generations. My journals have already become precious mementos that I know will rekindle the memories family and friends have of me.
Here are a few other things journaling can do:
- Strengthen and Heal Relationships
- Offer New Perspective
- Improve Self-Trust
- Reveal and Track Lifestyle Patterns
I can't go to bed now without having written in my journal for the day. It has helped me be happier, healthier, and more productive. If done regularly and effectively, I’m positive you'll notice a change too - so start today!
- Ryan Smith
Read next: Journaling as Part of Your Morning Routine