I've heard friends and colleagues talk a lot about daily journaling and I used to ask people why it is important. Journaling helps with work life integration, or work life balance as the mainstream likes to call it. Most of my blogs are on work life integration, but focus on either work or life. This blog is in the "life" category. I have been talking about journaling daily for a couple years now, but finally got started at the end of 2019. When I mean the end of 2019, it was literally December 31, 2019. I was working with a friend and we had just had another friend who started a journaling system, which I use for daily journaling (or as close to daily as possible). It took me a while to get started, but I used the old "New Years Resolution" as a catalyst to start journaling. In this quick blog I will give you some tips on why journaling is important, what is effective journaling, journaling gratitude, what to write about in your journal, how do you start journaling, and first journal entry ideas.
Why Journaling Is Important
Just google Journaling Daily or even Why Journaling is important and you will find a ton of articles. Positivepsychology.com put together a list of over 80 different benefits of journaling daily, especially for depression, anxiety, and stress. There is a benefit to journaling - correction - there are many benefits to journaling. But, the benefit of daily journaling depends on the person who is journaling. What do you want to use it for? Is the benefit of daily journaling to help with stress? Is the benefit of daily journaling to cultivate gratitude? It is also a key competent of my work life integration strategy. I have some of my best ideas while I'm journaling because journaling promotes creativity. Actually, I had the idea to write this post while I was journaling this morning on my patio looking over Lake Mendota here in Madison, WI with a shot of espresso. One benefit of journaling that I found surprising was journaling can actually help boost your immune system. Every few months I like to look back to see what I was writing about. It helps me figure out how I'm doing with my goals and identify new challenges that I would like to work through. It can be an interesting exercise to even look back a year and see what you were doing on this date last year. You may get a good laugh or it will help you buckle down and work towards your goals.
What is Effective Journaling
Journaling daily is the most effective form of journaling. It gets you into a habit. You also never know in the moment what may or may not be important. What if you have a meeting with someone and it was an average meeting - nothing super special about it in the moment. Maybe it turns into a friendship because you both have a lot of similarities and hit it off. But then you fast forward three years into the future and you are now co-founders of a company that is providing you with meaningful and fulfilling work? That meeting for me turned out to be a game-changer and I'm glad I wrote it down. Effective journaling can help connect thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It's not just documenting all that life has to offer. Journaling daily is effective for many reasons, but it can help you reach many different goals.
Journaling gratitude is just one way to cultivate gratitude, but there are many ways to be grateful. Cultivating gratitude is a very effective tool for improving your quality of life, reaching your goals, increase health and happiness, and even reduce physical pain and symptoms. Gratitude journaling is a key component for me. To help with gratitude journaling gratitude I write down in each entry three things I am grateful for.
What to Write About in Your Journal
Gratitude journaling is one of five key components in my journal. Journaling daily for me includes:
Victories - record the wins, big or small, personal or professional
Kindness - write down acts of kindness throughout the day when journaling daily
Gratitude - journaling gratitude is my favorite component
Goals - don't forget to track how you're doing on your journaling goals
These are just a few ideas to help you get started with your daily journal, but you can choose what matters most to you.
How Do You Start a Journal?
Before you start writing you need to think about WHY you are journaling. What worked for me was setting goals. Things I wanted to either be better at or achieve. For example most of my journaling goals are value based. Things like: assertive, connected, creative, innovative, challenged, curious, growth, love. Journaling your goals helps keep you accountable. I have a few pages at the start of my journal actually called journaling your goals so that I can check in on my progress. I got my journal from GrowLoop, but you can pick up even something as simple as a blank notebook.
First Journal Entry Ideas
First, you need to unplug. I like to leave my cellphone and all electronics in another room so I can focus and be present. Take a deep breath or even a quick meditation session to reset and refresh. The first thing I do is look around me and use all of my senses. For example, this morning I sat out on my patio. I felt the wind. I saw the beautiful Lake Mendota. I felt a slight breeze. I heard birds chirping. I heard someone doing yard work across the street. Although these might be random thoughts, I jotted them all down. This actually helped me get started with my entry in my daily journal this morning. I then went through and wrote down different actions, victories, kindness, and how I'm tracking with my goals. I then did my gratitude journaling to finish things off.
Do what works best for you. Don't let the first journal entry hold you up. Hopefully this short paragraph on first journal entry ideas will help you get started. Most importantly don't wait. Just get that pen on the paper and GO! Set a goal to wake up and journal every day for a week, then flip to the front and record how that went on your "Journaling Your Goals" page. After that, try journaling daily for a full month, then record how that went in your "Journaling Your Goals" page. You'll see that it gets easier over time and you start to build the habit. This habit of keeping a daily journal will definitely help you with work life integration.
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