Getting started with journaling for self discovery

For the last few years of my life, journaling has become a key tool for me in self-discovery, getting organized and manifesting my dream life. It is a tool that is so powerful, yet so personal and fluid, that many get overwhelmed with how to get started and how to use it for optimum results.

I’ve put together research and years of personal experience below to help you with journaling, no matter which stage you are at. So let’s get started.

What is journaling?

Journaling generally is the practice of keeping a written record of your thoughts, observations and feelings. It’s a way to express ourselves and in the process get to know ourselves better. There are no set rules to journaling, it is personal to everyone.

What are the benefits of journaling?

Journaling is an excellent tool for self-discovery. Through reflecting and writing about our feelings and thoughts, we can get to know our own patterns, judgments and behaviours. It also can be a great way to relieve stress, anger or frustration at situations in our life. Journaling is also a great tool to track and maintain goals and objectives in our life.

Getting Started

You will need – 

  • A notebook of your preference. Here are a few types 
  • A pen
  • Ambient music (This is optional. I like to journal with some soft music playing, here’s a link to my favorite track – 

Things to remember – 

  • Try to stay consistent – journaling is effective if done consistently 
  • Don’t worry about outcomes – don’t set high expectations and stop when they are not immediately fulfilled. As with everything, it will take time
  • Don’t worry about aesthetics – your journal is only for you. It does not need to be Pinterest-worthy. Your handwriting, formatting, none of it is as important as the content of your journaling
  • There are no rules to journaling – do it the way it comes naturally to you for best results

Below is a list of my recommended exercises to get started with journaling – 

Gratitude 

This is how I personally started and practice this everyday even now. Every night before sleeping, I write a list of ten things I’m grateful for. This may, at first, seem like quite a basic exercise, but it’s actually quite hard to think of ten things to be grateful for. Also, it makes us reflect back on the day, and most often, we realize how much of it we live in autopilot. It also has the power to change our perspective about events that transpired during the day once you start looking for things to be grateful for within those circumstances.

Scripting

This is for me the one journaling exercise everyone should practice. For me, it has brought about the biggest changes and even, dare I say, miracles. In this method, you write about your current life, but you write about it in a way that you want your life to be in this moment rather than what it actually is. 

For example, while I build this community and it’s still in its nascent stages, I would write – 

I am a successful spiritual entrepreneur with a thriving business which helps over thousands of people daily. My content and my life story resonates with everyone who reads it and they in turn make their lives better. I am deeply fulfilled by this business, I love writing and I look forward to each day. 

If you notice, I focused on what I wished as the outcome but also strongly on the emotion. It is our emotions at the end of the day that shape our reality. Make sure you write about the emotions and feelings of what these outcomes will bring for you. And while you write, let yourself dream big. There’s no need to hold yourself back.
 

Goal Setting

This is probably the most common way that people incorporate journaling in their daily lives. Here are some ways I like to do this – 

  • Daily Goal Setting – Every night, I like to plan my entire next day with time stamps. This could include my daily workouts, my meals, work activities planned by time, etc. More often than not, when I do this planning the night before, I end up procrastinating much lesser than usual and end up achieving a big portion of my planned activities.
  • Life Goals – I really like setting up goals for different areas of my life for six months at a time. This includes fitness, work, income, relationships and travel usually. My recommendation for this would be to include as much detail as possible. For instance, for my fitness goals, I would usually write down my ideal weight, body fat, muscle tone as well as what I would do to get there. Things like eating habits, workouts. How I would want to feel once I’m at this goal fitness level. The more detailed you get, the more you think and feel it, the more the universe is ready to start manifesting it for you.
  • Daily Goal Tracker – It’s also useful to use your journal to track your progress daily. This will help you establish your patterns and find out more about your own habits and patterns. For example, for your fitness goal, track your eating habits daily, your workouts and note down when you cheated or when you felt great after a workout. Possibly even include photos where possible. 

Free Writing 

I don’t do this journaling exercise daily but when I have done it, it has led to the biggest emotional releases and sometimes even revelations. My way of doing this is to put on some music that emotionally charges me up a little, pick an area of my life which has led to anger or frustration or any negative emotion and just start writing about it. Just write whatever comes to you. You’ll be surprised at what flows through. And more often than not, many emotions might come to surface. Don’t fight them, let them out. I’ve overcome loneliness, stress and even past traumas through this journaling method. 

Letter Writing

I particularly like this method to heal the inner child or get closure from a situation or a person who may have left our lives or passed on. Just write a letter to them. You don’t have to send it, you don’t have to share it with anyone, just pour out your feelings into the letter and you’ll be surprised at the emotions that flow out of you and the lightness you feel after.

There are many other journaling methods but these are my favorites. I will share more resources over time. For now, put on some music and start writing. 

Do share in the comments if this was helpful for you and what else you would like to see. And here are some other articles on personal growth.

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