Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out. Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you do achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows? But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past. But you do make them… know why? Because you aren’t getting to the hidden lessons that life teaches you, and you can only get them through journal writing.

Stop missing out

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines.

Journal writing is the answer

What can best provide us with a means to understand our past, present, and future? What can document our struggles, wins, relationships, and lives; clear our minds and serve as a canvas to which we can spill our thoughts into. What can do all of this and more? The answer is journal writing.

Does that sound good to you? Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Why do you think they work?

Let me ask you a question: how can journal writing help you improve your life? Will it help you clarify your thoughts when you’re upset? Will it help you better assess whether or not you’re working towards your goals? Maybe it will help you determine whether or not you’re on the proper career path? I don’t know, you tell me…

Now, do you have your answer? Good, because you’re answer is correct. Do you know how I know this? Because there is no wrong answer. No matter what you’ve decided, a journal can help you with it. That’s how flexible and useful a tool a journal is: it can help shed light on achieving any possible goal out there.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals help you have a better connection with your values, emotions, and goals

By journal writing about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you better understand your relationships to those things. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this; perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining so why should you, right? But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like its robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and a future there doesn’t look any better. The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you both know and care enough to do something about it, and the only reason you’re capable of fixing this problem is because your journal writing allowed you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve mental clarity/help solve problems/improve overall focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter. How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

For example, lets say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand. Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; E-mails I can do now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc. You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

3. Journals improve insight and understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would’ve missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt? All of these questions can be answered by simply looking for the answers, but you can only look for them if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals track your overall development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows us to see how we’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell. The great thing about journals is that you’ll know where that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing you to learn from your mistakes.

5. Journals facilitate personal growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what we end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. We can’t just look at a past entry in which we acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!” That’s the truth!

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes a journal such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Now it’s your turn

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Nobody knows more tricks and hacks to keep themselves working towards their goals than writers: Stay on Track with a Treadmill Journal

Featured photo credit: Young woman sitting in a park and reading a book via Shutterstock

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