The Benefits of Journaling & How to Get Started

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by Dana on June 26, 2012


I often encourage my clients to journal. It’s a great tool to help you uncover issues that have been lurking and it also provides you with a way to look back and identify recurring themes in your life. Here are some additional benefits:


  • Provides an outlet for pent-up emotions
  • Helps you organize your thoughts
  • Helps you solve problems
  • Helps you make decisions
  • Helps you focus
  • Helps you get clarity around what matters most to you
  • Helps you track your progress toward your goals
  • Serves as a treasured keepsake

So why don’t more people journal? I see two main issues get in the way—perfectionism and lack of time. Here are my top tips for addressing both.

  • Challenge yourself to make it as imperfect as possible—you don’t need to always use the same color pen, write with perfect penmanship or make an entry every single day. Let yourself cross things out, scribble, doodle, draw pictures, add photos, or even create collages.
  • Don’t let yourself think too much. Write using stream of consciousness. Let the words pour out of you and don’t censor or edit yourself.
  • Don’t try to do marathon journaling sessions—just 5-10 minutes will do.
  • Create some sort of ritual around it. Journal first thing in the morning (as Julia Cameron suggests in The Artist’s Way) or last thing at night. Do it with a cup of coffee by your side or a glass of wine.
  • Create a journal that is focused on a specific theme so you don’t have to think too hard about what to write about. Here are some ideas:
    • Gratitude journal – Record everything you’re grateful for at the end of the day.
    • Success journal – Capture your big wins for the day. They can be big or small—so choosing the salad with grilled chicken for lunch instead of the burger and fries would count.
    • Dream journal – Keep your journal by your bed and write down your dreams as soon as you wake up. You’d be surprised how much this can reveal about your feelings toward your current circumstances.
  • When you’re stuck about what to write, try one of these ideas:
    • Start by writing down one of your favorite quotes. Let it inspire you and write about what it means to you.
    • Write about the vision you have for your life. If you could be, do or have absolutely anything you desire, what would your life look like?
    • Ask questions around topics you’re struggling with? See what answers come to you.
  • And my last tip is to bring your journal with you wherever you go—you never know when inspiration will strike.

Do you journal regularly? If so, please share your tips for addressing the obstacles that can get in the way.