A Beginners Guide On How To Start A Journaling Practice
If you have an interest in personal development you have likely already heard people spouting about the power of journaling. But if you are yet to get to grips with this tool, or you just don’t know where to get started, then this article is designed to help you get going with a journaling practice as a beginner.
Journaling, diarising, recording of thoughts is nothing new, it’s been around for centuries many of the greats of the world testify to keeping a journal from Albert Einstein, Mother Terresa, Thomas Eddison, Gandhi to today’s business leaders, Oprah and Richard Branson. Tim Ferris described keeping a journal as
‘The simplest most effective way to be happier”Tim Ferris
I can remember keeping a dear diary as a teenage girl attempting to navigate my feelings during adolescence. Whilst I don’t quite remember what I used to write in that thing back then, or why I started it though a vague memory of it bringing me comfort. Especially as being someone who is naturally quite introvert and didn’t always feel comfortable talking to others about the way in which I was feeling.
Though journaling isn’t just some dear diary formula that I have come to use today. I was told by a coach of mine some years ago to get a notebook and start a journaling practice. With not much more information or guidance to go on, so I began.
Having developed a pretty consistent practice over the last 7 years, it really has become the transformational tool that my coach back then promised me it would be. It has helped me to coach myself and to become a better coach for others. I now feel more confident, happier, less stressed, less likely to lose my sh*t, be more productive, to overcome self-doubt or when negative thoughts try and take over, to know who I am, what I want for my life and feel empowered in knowing how I can create that for myself.
I started out being very flexible with it, and I think that’s an important element is not to force it. Don’t journal every day just because someone told you that you should.
I developed it over time because it was becoming more and more impactful on my life, which became the driving force behind me doing it regularly. I did it more because I could see/feel it working. I now journal pretty much every day, because of how good it helps me to feel, it helps bring clarity, focus, motivation and allows me to work through thoughts or emotions that are challenging me, it allows me to feel grounded, its’ the way in which I am able to make sense of life. If I don’t feel like doing it then I don’t, there are no rules, it gets to be fun, it gets to be a joyful practice, something that is just for you and no one else.
“Keeping a journal will change your life in a way that you had never imagined” – Oprah Winfrey
With all that has happened over the last 12 months and having to deal with a global pandemic. Journaling has been the number one thing that has allowed me to remain balanced and to ultimately keep functioning the best that I can. I believe that is a result of allowing myself to express all emotions in my journaling practice. The people I see that are struggling the most is because they simply haven’t been able to process or accept all that is going on. And this is becoming backed by research too. Expressive writing can help you to deal with your emotions it slows down the emotional response to situations and allows you to evaluate them.
Journaling really is about your own exploration and to figure what is the style that you connect with the most. So these are some really simple formats that you can use to get started.
There are many different styles such as art journaling or bullet journaling. These always look amazing to me, so beautiful and for those that like to express in being creative, these maybe roots for you to explore. However, I am not arty and have no interest in doing that.
If something is going to become a habit in my life it has to be easy, effective and quick!
I tend to spend anywhere between 5-20 minutes doing this depending on what I want to write about, and I tend to do it as part of my morning routine first thing to check in with myself first before I go out and check in with the rest of the world. Sometimes its a few lines, or if I’m having challenges showing up or things I want to work on it can be 3 pages. Each day is different, I take from it what I need in the moment and also with the time I have available, and that is the beauty of it.
I simply use the written word in a plain lined notebook and a simple Bic biro. Simple yet effective!!
Here are some of the methods I have used to get started.
Reflect on the day that has just passed. What wins did you experience, what’s working, what progress was made, what shifts are you noticing? We tend to be very negatively biased and so it’s important to train your brain to look for what’s good in your life. This will help to feed into your self belief, confidence and increase your motivation to want to go in search and take the actions that will help you to create more of those wins.
Identify the challenges you faced, what didn’t go to plan. Create an understanding which are the habits and behaviours that are supporting you, and those which are holding you back, sabotaging your success or leading you to feel dissatisfied or unhappy.
Reflective work will help you to make sense of what’s happening with your life and also deal with any emotions that are showing up, to let you express and face them rather than continually packing them down. It’s also going to let you interpret the facts and what’s reality of what’s going on. The mind has a tendency to fabricate stories based on our emotional responses rather than actual facts. Writing it down will help you to, process, summarise and create a deeper understanding of the things that you are writing out
This is where you get to clarify what it is that you are working towards as you go forward, setting the intentions for the day ahead. I like to have a moment to create the vision of how I would be showing up in my ideal life. If today was going to be the day when everything went with perfect flow and you ended the day feeling like a complete boss who is living her best life, how would you be showing up?
Write it out in as much detail and really feel into what your ideal day would look like.
After this section that I like to integrate the use of a life planner. I will write out the key points as the action steps I want to complete for the day and I transfer them over to the Daily Action sheet in the Get It Together planner.
We have heard many times the benefit of practising gratitude. It brings you into the present moment and allows you to have a deeper appreciation for the life you already have. If you want to attract more success and happiness into your life, it’s important to be able to realise all that you already have
“ I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to achieve happiness – it’s right in front of me if I am paying attention and practising gratitude” – Brene Brown
Pick one thing each day that you are grateful for, and then write down 5 reasons you are grateful for that one thing. Gratitude x 5 helps you to deepen the emotional connection with the things that you are choosing to be grateful for. The bigger the emotion the greater the impact.
A big part of journaling is going within yourself to answer the questions that you have for life. Simply writing out the answers to profound and meaningful questions.
If you are not sure what the right questions are that you want to be answering a great way to get started is to use journaling prompts. Pinterest is personally my favourite way to go in search of journaling prompts. You can literally use it as a search tool for whatever area of your life you are looking to improve. CLICK HERE and check out my board for storing journaling questions and get inspiration for creating and saving for your own pins
Just type in ‘journaling prompts for …’
The list could go on, but you get the idea right? What is the area you want to work on the most, then go and find or ask yourself the questions that you need answering in your own life. The answers are already within you, you are your own best coach. Journaling, the pen and that pad of paper will help you pull out the answers and find the solutions you are searching for.
These would be my most basic get started templates. But this really is just the beginning of exploring this powerful tool. It’s an ongoing practice that I am constantly learning more about and evolving as I go and I encourage you to do the same. It’s an element that is entwined into every coaching module I create within the Shine Squad to help you continually go deeper with this and be coached through the process. If you want faster transformation then the Shine Squad is the place with which you can come and do that with the support from me as your coach and an amazing community of #goalgetters CLICK HERE to find out more.
Most of all though, I really want you to just get started!! Ask questions along the way. The FREE community group is a great place to come and do that when you are just beginning to explore this work.
I really hope that you found this article helpful. If you did please consider sharing it using the sharing links below, your support means the world to me and simply sharing this really goes a long way in supporting me to keep on creating more of the content that you want to see more of.