page title icon 7 Ways to Use Journaling For Your Personal Development

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Do you journal? Do you struggle sometimes with figuring our what you want to write in your journal? I’m not really talking about the “Dear Diary” type of journaling. But, more in relation to journaling for personal development. The basic idea behind this is to get all your thoughts out with pen and paper. 

Journal writing can take many different forms that I’ll talk about in this article. I personally like to use pen and paper for the journaling I do because there’s something therapeutic about doing this. Your brain thinks faster than you can write, so using a pen and paper makes you slow down your thoughts. And there’s the added benefit of using a pen versus your phone because it reduces your screen time. 

Here are 7 ways that you can use journal writing as part of your personal development. 

1. Gratitude Practice

During my morning routine, I journal my gratitude practice. Right now, I’m using the 3×5 Life Cards to jot down three things I’m thankful for. This only takes me a few minutes and has been key in rewiring my brain to look for the good around me.

Another great thing about the cards I use is that it lets me look back and keep a record of the things I’m thankful for.  

2. Brain Dump

To clear my head, I do a brain dump first thing in the morning. Whatever I’m thinking, whether good or bad, I get it out. Sometimes my journal writing is negative because I’m in a bad headspace. On other days, I’m in a good mood and my thoughts are more positive.

This kind of journal prompt is a small part of my morning routine. But you could spend a lot more time doing this. It’s a great way to clear your head and allow yourself to really get ready for the day. 

As I said, I think it’s important for you to use a pen and paper for this type of journaling. It’ll make you slow down and really process your thoughts. 

3. Top Priorities

The other thing I do during my morning routine is to jot down my top 3 priorities for the day. Some people like to journal out everything they have going on for that day to help them be prepared. With a daily journal, I usually just stick with the top priorities for the day to keep me from being overwhelmed. 

You could also do a nighttime routine where you’re planning for the next day. This can help you go to sleep with a clear head. 

4. Problem-Solving

Another great use of a daily journal is to problem-solve issues in your life or business. If I’m dealing with an issue, I write out the pros and cons of it and it’s very helpful. For this type of journaling, I just use a basic notepad and put my phone away. It helps me focus on the issue in front of me and lets my mind wander. 

It’s important to get your thoughts out and do this for problems you’re dealing with in your business or decisions you need to make. Writing down your thoughts will help you just get it all out and process the situation. 

5. Stream of Consciousness 

I think the real old-school way of journal writing is to just write down anything and everything on your mind. You just start writing about life events, your day, your emotions…let your mind run a stream of consciousness. It could even help with your mental health.

When you let your mind be creative and just think with pen and paper, you will be amazed at what you come up with. So if you’re looking for journal ideas, one idea is to literally write down whatever is on your mind at the moment.

6. Brainstorming

When I started the Morning Upgrade, I journaled everything I could do to get it going. I wrote down everything from starting a podcast to doing SEO on the site and more. Writing down all of these ideas that I had, helped me get clear on what I wanted to do for helping spread the word about this website and my mission. 

7. See Your Progress

One of the benefits of journaling is that you are keeping a record of your journey. It might not feel like you’ve made a lot of progress, but when you look back, you can see how far you’ve come. You will want to keep your journal, notebook…or whatever you use so you can look back. 

I like to look back at my wins and be reminded of what I’ve accomplished. It’s a cool exercise to look back. You can see the evolution of your personal development and your life. 

A journaling habit is a great creative expression and exercise for yourself. It’s important to get off your phone and have a place to be creative where you’re not tied to a screen. 

Journals For Personal Development

While I don’t personally prefer apps for journaling, there are a lot of apps on the market that can help you with each of these areas. There is one benefit to the apps and that is you’ll get push notifications to remind you to write in your journal. This can be helpful when you are first starting out and want to create a habit. 

Also, there are a lot of physical journals on the market that can spur your creativity. The Monk Manual or The Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt are two solid choices. 

Journal writing can take many forms…you just have to figure out what works for you. To make it a habit to add more journaling to your daily life, schedule it as part of your morning routine. Then you can build on it from there. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Use journaling as part of your personal development. 
  • Summarize what you’re thankful for so you can look back to update, write, or remember why you wrote what you did for that journal entry.
  • Write down your to-do list to stay focused. 
  • Set goals and review them. 
  • Brainstorm and problem-solve on paper.

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