Last Updated on December 22, 2020

Practical Journaling Tips For Beginners To Kickstart

Practical Journaling Tips For Beginners To Kickstart

Journaling is a practice as old as time. People have been recording their thoughts and feelings ever since forever. It is something that every culture has in common, and it has been used for different purposes—expressing yourself, coming up with new ideas, reflecting on a social issue, or just following your curiosity and wonder.

Journaling helps you reflect on your day and your life. When you journal, you are meeting your own needs. You tend to yourself in new ways, you listen to your inner voice, and you learn to follow your intuition. You also start to look at yourself with self-compassion. You start to become your own best friend and treat yourself kinder. You see your flaws and call yourself “flawsome.”

Journaling is not about being perfect. It’s not something you have to sell—you are not selling yourself to anyone. The mask is off. Vulnerability is a path to true perfection—you love yourself for who you are.

Benefits of Journaling

My first tip on journaling is to know its benefits. Journaling may help with stress relief, depression, anxiety, and emotional dysregulation. It’s a great tool for your mental health. [1]

Many people use it for simply recording events in their day and impacting their working memory. By analyzing your thoughts, you are also practicing mindfulness! This aids in overthinking and helps soothes you. Your communication and writing skills will also start to improve. Creativity will soar, problem-solving will be perfected, and you will find yourself functioning better overall.

You’ll also sleep soundly! After you get out all of your thoughts before you go to sleep, you feel relieved and relaxed. This helps you to calm racing thoughts and aids in insomnia reduction.

You just feel better. You may not always notice how journaling has helped you but over time, it opens you up more and more to its benefits. You find yourself living in the moment because you put all your thoughts somewhere, and they remain organized. When you journal, you put the weight of the world down and give your soul some rest.

Journaling does not replace therapy or medication for mental health. But it can serve alongside any treatment you may be partaking in.


Why You Might Seek Journaling?

After a long hard day, you can either continue in defeat or find some meaning and purpose in it all. Journaling is a tool that can help you clear your mind and focus on what matters most. You don’t let emotions rule you anymore. You find some reprieve from negative thinking patterns. In other words, you take back control.

Whether you write out your goals, gratitude lists or free write your journal entries, it’s a gift you give yourself. It’s a type of self-care that anyone can use as well as a coping method. You don’t have to be a writer to put words down. You don’t have to know what you’re using it for to even get started! Journaling is a way of keeping your progress recorded somewhere, for any area of life.

You can look back on journals from the past and see how far you’ve come or just revel in the memories listed there. You can open it up anytime and read what you’ve done or overcome, or if there’s something you don’t like, you can throw it away! It’s completely up to you what you do with a journal.

It’s also up to you who sees your journal. You don’t have to give anyone your pages or passwords unless you want to. Taylor Swift recently took pages out of her past diaries to complement her special edition album version of “Lover.” This showcased her own take on life events, such as winning awards or even controversies like public fallouts. She used her diary to shed light on her side of the story.

While you don’t need to put out your diary with an album anytime soon, it goes to show that writing in a journal is a cathartic experience that can connect you to yourself and even to others if you share insights from it. If you want to share it with a therapist, that is something you can choose to do. Or you can choose to let a friend know the highlights of how you are doing.

Journaling may just help you organize what you want to say. It’s for prepping and practicing communication as well as a place to let your thoughts run free. You don’t owe anyone your inner thoughts. Remember—sharing is your choice.

What You Need to Get Started

Start journaling now to reap the rewards. Just follow journaling tips to help you kickstart. If you can fit into your busy schedule, you will find yourself achieving more rather than less. Even if you just write your mood for the day and one or two highlights, that’s better than nothing.

It’s up to you how often and how much to write—there is no one way to do it!


5 Simple Steps

  1. Find your journal whether it be an app or a physical one.
  2. Set up your space—decide if you should journal in private, at school, morning, night, etc.
  3. Remove distractions.
  4. Just write. It doesn’t matter if you have a prompt or you do free writing or how much you write. Just get the words down.
  5. Stay consistent—write the same time every day or the same amount every day. If you write each day in some routine, you are more likely to do it. In his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King discusses how he sets aside a certain time each day to write to train his brain to be productive at those times.

Different Types of Journaling

Another tip for journaling is to know the different types. Here are the different types of journaling. Choose one that best suits you.

  • Wreck Journals—These journals give you a task such as coloring, writing something specific, or even tearing out a page and throwing it away to get out your stress.[2]
  • Goal Checklist Journals—Track the progress of your goals and create deadlines for any area of your life.
  • Gratitude List Journals—These journals track what you are grateful for each day.
  • Bullet Journals—This is a way to organize your thoughts that uses a beginning index, page numbers, and structured pages of planning for different time periods that aid in time management. You don’t need to stick to one type of journaling for this.
  • Freewriting—This can be prompted or unprompted writing. It’s basically a stream of consciousness writing where you write anything you want, and you don’t edit your thoughts. You simply let it flow.
  • Planner Journal—It’s exactly as it sounds, a planner journal is a mix of planning and journaling. This may look like a regular planner but has sections of notes for you to write and reflect in.
  • Vision Journal—Much like a vision board, you write a vision of what you want to be doing and who you want to be in the entries. For them to work though, you can only “have one goal a day.”[3]
  • Morning Pages—This is a journaling stream of thought right when you wake up! It can be thoughts to guide your day like setting an intention, creating goals, or just freewriting. The key is to do it right away and see how it progresses!
  • 5- Year Journal—Where will you be in five years? How will you get there? What will you take with you? What will you let go of? Come up with prompts or find some online. It keeps you goal-oriented and focused.
  • Food Journal—Keep track of your food and calorie intake for personal fitness goals.
  • Workout Journal—Keep track of your fitness routines for personal fitness goals.
  • Reading Journal—This is great when you want to read a book and write some reflections alongside it.

Journaling Products and Apps

You don’t have to do anything fancy. All you need is paper and a pen to get started. Or you can try an online journal or an app.

There are apps everywhere, but here are a few just to get started:

These journals are filled with prompts or are done for a specific purpose:

There are plenty more to start with! It all depends on what you are searching for. Try one of these, all of these, or create your own! Journaling helps you create your own independent thoughts. It helps you take initiative with those thoughts. So, make sure your journal is as unique as you are! Find something that really speaks to you.


Another journaling tip is to begin with writing prompts. Don’t know what to write about? That’s okay! There are many prompts to start with. You can write reflection-based writing where you express your thoughts and opinions about a subject.

You can use it for introspection where you analyze your inner life and learn more about yourself. You can write gratitude lists, unsent letters, worries, daily, weekly and monthly goals, memories made, challenges for problem-solving, and more.

Here are some starters:


  • Dear past me…
  • Dear future me…
  • Dear __ (unsent letter)
  • I feel __ (labeling emotions and expressing them)
  • I worry about __ (worry journaling)
  • Today, I did/will do…
  • Week reflection
  • Capturing moments—what happened that you want to record and reflect on
  • What are my challenges?
  • Brainstorm solutions to any challenge
  • I am grateful for __.
  • Morning Pages—first thoughts in the morning
  • What are some things I like about myself?
  • Writing Sprint: For five minutes, write anything that comes to mind.
  • Bucket List
  • Life Inventory Assessment: Reflect on areas of life needing improvement.

Come up with your own or search the internet for more. Read more journal prompts. The possibilities are endless![4]

Use a Feelings Wheel

If you want something simpler for a prompt, find a feelings wheel,[5] and start by simply labeling what you feel. This is how you “Name it to Tame It,” a method used by therapists to help clients identify what they feel so they can heal. It helps to self-soothe through emotional distress if you can pinpoint what exactly you feel.

This is an easy exercise you can do in a journal at both the beginning or at the end of the day. Note how your emotions fluctuate. Note the patterns, and realize that you have something to say.

If you don’t know which prompt to use or if freewriting doesn’t come naturally, start by selecting an emotion and go from there. Why do you feel that way? When do you feel that way? Ask yourself questions. After all, this journaling experience is how you can get to know yourself.

Processing Pain

Journaling leads you to express emotions and also “acknowledge traumatic events.”[6] It’s natural for difficult emotions and events to come up. In fact, you should expect it. The best thing you can do is use your journal as a place you talk about it without judgment. This may also help you to tell others about it, too.

If you work through your feelings and hardships through journaling, you build resilience. Writing therapy is a real thing. You will find yourself doing the work to heal the moment you put your pen down. You can identify triggers for trauma to come up. You can express your needs somewhere, and give yourself support.[7]

Journaling may not always be light and easy. Sometimes, the hard stuff comes up. What you should do is to welcome it so you can recover.

Famous People Who Have Kept a Journal

Last but not the least, another journaling tip is to know the famous people who did journaling. Many famous people have kept journals, and they used it to reach greatness. Some of them include:


  • Marco Polo
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Frida Kahlo
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Thomas Edison
  • Mark Twain
  • Albert Einstein
  • Marie Curie

And then there’s one of the most famous journals of all by Anne Frank, inspiring social change and efforts in human rights causes when it came to light after injustice. However, you don’t have to have any type of agenda when starting your own journal. You just have to look within and see what you want to say.

You may not want yours to ever become public, but it can also inspire thoughts that can change the world. Plenty of people (famous or not famous) keep journals. It’s simple and easy. So, why not you?

Final Thoughts

There are no real rules for journaling. Make it up as you go. You don’t have to know what you’re doing! It’s okay if you start and stop again, sometimes letting journaling go for a while, as long as you return to it.

It’s human to not always be on top of things. You don’t always have to be on top of your journaling. You don’t have to have it all together to get started. You just have to let yourself be free to say what you want in a safe space. Many do not always have a safe space, but in any situation, a journal can be that safe space for you. You can use it for peace of mind.

No matter how you do it or what you do it for, journaling is something worthwhile. You can discover yourself and create a dialogue with yourself that can change your life. You may find out you have more to give and more to be grateful for than you know.

Journaling can challenge you and also shape you into the person you want to be. You can become stronger and better each day just by putting words down. The good news is that you don’t need much to get started. You can start with these simple journaling tips!

More Journaling Tips

Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via


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Sarah Browne

Sarah is a speaker, writer and activist

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

30 Essential Core Values for Living the Life You Want

30 Essential Core Values for Living the Life You Want

The weather will always change. Technology will always change. Trends will always change. We will always change.

In a world that is constantly evolving and taking new forms, it can be somewhat overwhelming trying to make sense of this thing called life.

One of the things that rarely changes in this world though and what can provide a guiding light for you throughout your life is your core values. This article will provide you with a core values list of 30 incredible values to adopt and use when all else seems to be changing.

What Are Core Values?

Core values are principles or beliefs that you hold most dear and that are of central importance in your life. When everything around you is changing, when the world is difficult to understand, and when you are riding up and down the emotion rollercoaster, your core values will always be there for you.

Why Are Core Values Important?

Core values are important because they act like a compass to help you lead the amazing life that you want, no matter where you find yourself in this world.

Not only that, having the right core values can improve your decision-making, your productivity, your achievements and perhaps most importantly, your ability to love and be loved. They’re kind of a big deal. And it isn’t just us saying this, studies[1] have shown core values to have a whole host of other benefits.

30 Best Core Values to Live by

You might already have a few core values in mind or in your heart which is great. If you need some more ideas or haven’t really thought about your core values until now, here are our 30 favourite core values that you can adopt right now.

1. Acceptance

The ability to accept what you can control and what you can’t control. Being able to understand that on some days you are the hammer, and other days you are the nail. With acceptance as a core value, you can build either way and be happy while doing it.

2. Adaptability

Life is going to throw you curve ball after curve ball and if you aren’t ready for them, you are going to strikeout. Your life and the life of those you surround yourself with are far too complex to confine yourself to one mould.

Be adaptable and ready and willing to change when you need to.

3. Awareness

Awareness is one of the best core values that you can adopt. Period. Awareness means paying attention to yourself, to others, to the world around you, to emotions, to situations. It means being able to see everyone and everything clearly – most importantly yourself.

4. Balance

There are going to be times when you need to sprint in life, and other times when you are going to need to slow down. The yin and the yang.

Balance is one of the most important core values in many ancient cultures because it reflects nature for what it truly is: perfectly balanced and able to bend, rather than break.

5. Calmness

As well as being a sublime state of mind, many people forget that calm is a simple decision to make.


You can be calm in any situation should you allow yourself to be. No amount of angry drivers, long queues or frustrating technology can penetrate you when you adopt calmness as a core value.

6. Community

Every one of us is a social creature, whether we believe it or not, and community has been a key core value for us as a species for thousands of years.

We are hard-wired to socialize; to eat, drink, gossip, laugh, tell stories, share ideas, give and receive amongst ourselves. Community also enhances the effect of other core values on this list, such as creativity.[2]

7. Compassion

Compassion is taking the time to understand the suffering of others and hopefully, being able to do something about it. There is a lot of struggle and suffering that can be alleviated in the world; with a core value like compassion you might be able to do help your fellow humans in some meaningful way.

8. Creativity

With technology taking most of the administrative jobs, creative people are going to be leading us into the future.

Someone who cherishes creativity is able to think up new and big ideas, see things that other people can’t and see the world around them through their own lens, not somebody else’s.

9. Discipline

Discipline will lead you to the life that you want, should you adopt it as a core value.

“Discipline Equals Freedom” is a term popularised by ex-Navy Seal Jocko Willink, and what it means is that if you can be disciplined in the right things, you will be free in the right things too.

Discipline to workout means more freedom in your body as you age. Discipline to save means more freedom with your time and money in the long-term. And so it goes…

10. Empathy

There is perhaps no greater value on this list that will connect you deeper to not just the closest people in your life but to complete strangers too.

Practising empathy requires the understanding that other people have a nagging voice in their own head, just like you do. That they have a worldview different to yours based on their experiences. And that’s ok. It’s not easy to adopt empathy as a core value, but it is certainly worth it.

11. Freedom

Freedom comes in many forms and that is why it is one of the ultimate core values to have. The freedom to choose, freedom to speak, freedom to live on your own terms, freedom to love and be loved.

If freedom becomes a core value of yours, watch how your life changes for the better.

12. Gratitude

Gratitude provides a powerful perspective shift whenever you feel yourself get into a rut.


You can become grateful for the big things like having shelter, food and great people in your life. You can also become grateful for the small things like the cup of coffee that you just drank or the soft sheets on your bed.

13. Happiness

Happiness is a powerful core value and is not just restricted to your own happiness but also friends and family.

When happiness guides your decision-making rather than superficial things like money and status, you will find yourself in a much more satisfying position than if you chase other people’s idea of happiness.

14. Health

They say that a healthy man has a lot of dreams and wishes whereas a sick man only has one – to be able to get out of bed.

Health is the precursor to every other core value on this list; if you don’t have your health, you can’t do much else until you do. Because of this, health has to be a core value in your life.

15. Humility


is the antidote to arrogance and selfishness and is a value to adopt if you want to keep your feet firmly on the ground. It is said that you are never as good or as bad as people say you are.

Humility recognizes this and keeps you moving towards your goal, no matter what anyone else says.

16. Innovation

The act of innovation involves taking one existing thing and making it better. Although images of whacky car designs and complicated technology can spring to mind when thinking about innovation, it doesn’t have to be that grandiose.

Simply seeing something small and making it better in your own life is enough to make a world of difference.

17. Knowledge

Knowledge is power. Not power in the 14th-century medieval banker-sense but in the power to change your own life-sense.

Knowledge about yourself, others and the world allows you to understand everything that you see a bit better. When you see things for what they are, you can act accordingly and get to where you want to be.

18. Leadership

It take guts, determination, confidence and humility to lead. All of these qualities are both rare and admirable and are the reason why leadership is such an excellent core value.

The future is dark and unknown but also full of hidden treasures. We need someone to lead us, will it be you?


19. Love

It can be argued that all of the core values on this list can be tied together by the one, all-encompassing value of Love.

When you value love deeply and try to show it in everything that you do, you make your world and the world of others a much better place.

20. Moderation

Forget this diet, that diet, eating there, eating then, working out before coffee or always in the afternoon. It’s all noise that works for some people some of the time – moderation is the key.

Not acting in moderation can also have some damaging consequences, especially for your health.[3] What works well for all people is everything in moderation.

Of course, life should be fun too so even ‘everything in moderation’, should be in moderation.

21. Peace

Peace is another core value that takes years of practice to perfect. However, its rewards are boundless with both the journey and destination full of rewards.

Peace enables clear decision-making, freedom in thoughts and actions as well as providing a deep understanding of the special life that you live.

22. Purpose

Purpose can be doubled up with ‘meaning’ as these are two values that provide the drive in any endeavour that you might pursue.

Purpose is what gets you out of bed every morning, it is why you sacrifice what you sacrifice and often entails something bigger than yourself. If you don’t have a purpose, it is unlikely that you will find much meaning in your life.

23. Responsibility

Nobody likes having to take the dog on a walk, having to clean the dishes or do things that they are reluctantly responsible for. However, responsibility can actually be an awesome way to add meaning and value to your life.

When other people depend on you and you fulfil your role as provider, not only are they better off but you get the satisfaction that comes along with it too.

24. Service

Similar to the responsibility point above, when you adopt service as a core value, you will have very little time to wallow in any self-pity, anxiety or existential angst because you will be busy making the world a better place.

Funnily enough, by serving others, many people find that they themselves are internally served with feelings of satisfaction and contentment.

25. Spirituality

Of course, there is the importance of physical health, mental health and emotional health, but spiritual health is just as important.


Spirituality has nothing to do with religion, it simply means taking the time to listen to your body, to watch your thoughts, to connect with and appreciate the world and the universe that you find yourself in.

26. Trust

Trust is a core value on this list because it requires many other difficult skills that also help to develop you as a person.

To be able to trust and be trusted, you need strong relationships, an ounce of risk, a healthy dose of vulnerability and a smidge of humility. All of this creates a recipe for a very positive life with trust at the centre.

27. Understanding

Understanding comes from a place of acceptance of what is, not what should be or could be. It is the ability to recognise someone else’s viewpoint without trying to change it. It is learning that it is useless to fight against the way the world is and other people are, and to learn to dance with them instead.

28. Wealth

Not in the monetary sense but in the ‘having everything that you need sense’. Someone who is truly wealthy possesses great relationships, plenty of freedom, a life filled with joy as well as many of the other values on this list.

Adopt wealth as a core value and it will act as a magnet to other incredible things.

29. Wisdom

Contrary to popular belief, wisdom does not come with age but rather, experience. There are many young people with more wisdom than the oldest people that you know. What makes someone wise is their ability to see broadly and clearly, to use good judgement and to be decisive when necessary.

Wisdom is something that we all should seek.

30. Wonder

The final value on this list is wonder and it is the ideal place to finish.

Wonder is thinking about the possibility of what comes next, dreaming about how you and things could be better, pushing your own boundaries and what you think you are capable of each day.

Wonder is practical dreaming, and you should start right away.

Final Thoughts

Now you have a good idea of some of the core values that you can adopt, it’s time to not only decide which ones you like the best but also integrate and use them in your daily life.

Core values are designed to guide your decisions in your most difficult moments. Now you have everything you need to go and live the life that you want to live!

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