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Published on January 6, 2021

How to Start Journaling for Self- Development (6 Simple Ways)

How to Start Journaling for Self- Development (6 Simple Ways)

Self-development is something we all strive for, but we often don’t know where to start. Have you been looking for a way to finally reach your goals or improve areas in your life? Journaling can be an outlet that helps you pinpoint where you’re struggling and how you’ve grown. It’s also a great way to purge the mind of negative thoughts and document positive feelings and accomplishments.

When you journal, you’re putting aspirations and frustrations into words. Once you begin writing these moments down, you will find yourself on the road to achieving your dreams. Here are 6 tips to help you get started with journaling for self-development.

1. Set Your Intentions

The first step for starting a journal is to decide why you want to begin writing and what you hope to get out of it. Maybe you would like to have a memoir-style diary where you document your feelings, tasks, or daily activities. Keeping a daily log is a quick way to jot down thoughts and get things off your chest. Or perhaps, you are beginning a new chapter in life and want to keep a record of how things started and progressed, like a fresh relationship, new job, or health journey. Journaling with the intention of recording your growth can be extremely eye-opening.

Finally, you might consider starting a journal to give to someone else. If you’re a new mom or dad, consider keeping a diary of what it’s like to be a parent and family life, then gift it to your child when they’re grown. Whatever your intentions for journaling may be, it’s important you begin the writing process with a clear purpose. This ensures you will stay motivated to journal and work on self-development.

2. Choose Your Medium

When you document your thoughts, it does not always have to be in a traditional lined notebook. You might find it easier to express your feelings when you speak out loud, so using a recording device as your diary may be more beneficial. Or perhaps, you’re the type of person who has long trains of thought and would rather quickly document them on your phone or computer.

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If do you stick to a classic notebook, finding one that you’re excited to write in will push you to journal more consistently. You might also consider starting a video journal, where you record messages and document significant life memories. Talking to a camera can be a great outlet for expressing your feelings, and it creates a project you can always look back on.

After you are confident in your purpose for journaling and what medium you plan to use, you can then begin documenting your feelings in ways that will allow you to work on self-development.

3. Find a Schedule That Works for You

If you’re trying to journal for self-development, then you want to avoid it feeling like a chore or a burden. This can happen if you don’t set aside the ideal time of day to write or record. The best journaling session time will be different for everyone.

Maybe you’re the type of person who is most focused early in the morning with a cup of coffee, and this is the time when you can really put your thoughts into words. Or perhaps, you’re someone who is always on the go and rarely has a moment to yourself. If so, you might find using a recorder and talking things through on the drive home from work is effective. It’s all about finding the right time to journal that fits with your lifestyle.

If you try to force yourself to write every single day but find you’re too busy with meetings or taking care of kids or a pet, then aim for journaling once a week. It’s perfectly fine to just write a recap of your week or touch base every few days. Even journaling once a month can still provide measurable results.

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No matter how often you journal, you will instantly feel lighter after every session. You do not have to write for an hour as you may have thought when considering journaling. It can be a quick check-in that is as short as 5 minutes just to jot down your emotions. Discover how much time you can truly commit to journaling, form the habit, and you will feel more relaxed from the process.

4. Categorize Your Goals

Another aspect of journaling for self-development is writing down your aspirations. When you put your goals into words, you are more likely to achieve them. The key is to categorize your dreams into different areas of life so that they become more tangible. If you’re journaling in a notebook, you can divide it into separate sections for career, health, relationships, and life adventures.

In your career category, you might document achievements you’re proud of, or list out frustrations while brainstorming ideas to overcome them. If you want to lose weight, you might use the health section to keep track of your progress. It’s an opportunity to write down inspiring words that will encourage you to keep going.

For the relationships category, you can journal about your dating life and the excitement and nerves that come with a first date. You might vent about your parents always fighting, or how friends are getting on your nerves. Writing down aspects that do or do not work well will help you learn what is really important to you in life.

Finally, personal growth isn’t just about your career or relationships; it’s also about devoting time to your passions. That is why the life adventures category is so important. This is where you can journal about places you want to see or talents you want to develop. It’s your chance to openly write about dreams and put a plan of action together.

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In no time, you will be able to look back and see how much you have achieved. Dividing your aspirations into sections will allow you to concretely devote time to each area of your life.

5. Write About What Inspires You in the Moment

A journal does not have to fit a concrete outline. Although sometimes in life, we need to check a box or have firm expectations, in a journal, you can creatively let your feelings flow. In fact, the most effective journaling sessions will be ones where you write freely about topics that excite you at the moment.

You can write about your day and list things that happened, the activities you did, or tasks you accomplished. Or you might develop a mood journal where you have short daily entries about how you were feeling that day. This allows you to express your feelings in a safe place and talk yourself through emotions.

Another option is to start a gratitude journal. You might consider writing down 5 to 10 things you are grateful for every day or week. Pausing and taking a moment to reflect on aspects of life you are grateful for can create a more positive mindset.

The possibilities for journaling are vast, and it’s all about finding what comes naturally when you sit down to write. From there, you will be able to leverage journaling for self-development.

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6. Use Your Journal as Your Own Best Friend

The beauty of a journal is that it is a safe space for all of your thoughts. Journaling is essentially writing to yourself and being your own best friend. In the movie of life, your friends and family are all the supporting characters, and you are the main star.

Journaling is where you have the opportunity to really focus on yourself and make sure you continue to shine. When you journal, you can truly say anything you want. You can be brutally honest about your performance on a presentation or your excitement from meeting someone new. You can write motivating words to yourself that you can always look back to when you need a confidence boost. By venting frustrations, you might realize you were overreacting, as journaling helps to improve our perspectives.

There is also room to document any events or thoughts you might feel silly sharing with someone else but want to remember. Your journal is the ultimate keeper of your secrets and your loftiest goals. Having the ability to be your own cheerleader through journaling can be an empowering source for self-growth.

Final Thoughts

The hardest part of trying something new is actually starting it. Once you make it over the hurdle of writing your first journal entry, the rest will come easily.

Self-development is a never-ending process, and journaling is a way to document your growth. We are always changing and improving every single day, whether we are aware of it or not. It can be very enlightening to look back on journal entries you made a few months ago and compare them to more recent ones. You might find that you accomplished more goals than you initially planned or that your desires have actually changed.

Journaling can give you the deepest insight into your feelings, which is the path to becoming the best version of yourself. So, take these 6 tips on how to start journaling and challenge yourself to embark on a journaling adventure. In no time, you will be proud of how far you’ve come.

More Tips on How to Start Journaling

Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

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Nancy Solari

Nancy Solari is an accomplished CEO, life coach, and motivational speaker.

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Published on May 11, 2021

20 Best Books on Personal Development

20 Best Books on Personal Development

Let’s face it—transformation isn’t always easy. Getting from where you are to where you want to be in life requires a lot of personal growth and development. It can require everything from letting go of old beliefs to speaking up for yourself and setting boundaries to even recognizing your own unmet needs. These aren’t exactly skills we’re taught in school, so it can be incredibly overwhelming to even know where to start.

A few decades ago, most personal development information was locked behind thousand-dollar seminars and coaching programs. Fortunately, the industry has absolutely exploded in the last decade, and a large part of that is driven by books. For under $15 or with a library card, we now have access to priceless wisdom from some of the most brilliant minds and best books on personal development.

By reading the words of experts in the field, we literally can think their thoughts and benefit from decades of experience to improve our own lives. So, how do you get started?

Here are the 20 best books on personal development that can completely transform your life.

(Links are listed for accessibility, but remember to check your local library to see if these books are available for free. And don’t forget to support your local bookstore, if possible.)

1. The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

    Celebrated by everyone from Martin Scorsese to Elizabeth Gilbert, The Artist’s Way has been one of the most important books for artists and non-artists alike for decades. It guides you through a 12-week process of morning journaling and self-dates to unlock all of your blocks to creativity and intuition and live a life that feels like you.

    Whether you are an artist or not, this is an insightful book that will bring so much clarity to what you really want out of life and why you’ve been holding yourself back.

    Get the book here!

    2. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

      Researcher and storyteller Brené Brown has been a leader in studying vulnerability. In The Gifts of Imperfection, she shares research and encouragement that helps you release the definition of who you think you’re supposed to be to become who you actually already are.

      Brené encourages you to let go of shame, open up to vulnerability, and live a more authentic life. This is an inspiring and important book for anyone struggling with the shame of being radically yourself.

      Get the book here!

      3. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

        In Start with Why, author and TED speaker Simon Sinek shares the secret that united Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers—they all started with “why.” They realized that people won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the “why” behind it.

        While this book is primarily focused on work or business, Start with Why makes a compelling case for the power behind a strong motivation that people can get behind and how it can inspire more innovation and support.

        Get the book here!

        4. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

          For decades, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has famously studied the concept of “flow”—the highly-focused psychological state that Olympic athletes, great artists, and brilliant scientists all find themselves in at moments of groundbreaking success.

          By breaking down decades of research into bite-sized actions, Flow reveals the process to create this state for yourself and get “in the zone” to achieve your optimal potential.

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          Get the book here!

          5. The HeartMath Solution: The Institute of HeartMath’s Revolutionary Program for Engaging the Power of the Heart’s Intelligence by Doc Lew Childre and Howard Martin

            Touted by Deepak Chopra as the book that “saves you years of therapy,” The HeartMath Solution pulls together decades of Institute of HeartMath research on how to be less stressed and make better decisions, making it one of the best books on personal development.

            This practical, easy read will change the way you view the relationship between your head and heart. The techniques in the book are incredibly simple and can help you calm down from some of the stressful moments in a matter of seconds to tap back into your best decision-making.

            Get the book here!

            6. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller

              If you’re overwhelmed by too many things to do and never seem to accomplish the stuff that really matters to you, then this is an invaluable book. The ONE Thing argues that until your most important task is completed, everything else is a distraction that diffuses your energy and makes you frantic.

              This book helps you focus on what you really care about and want to accomplish and then, organize your life around accomplishing the “one thing” before moving on to something else. This is one of the best books for personal development, especially for anyone who’s struggling with overwhelm and productivity.

              Get the book here!

              7. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie

                Codependent No More has been an international bestseller for more than 30 years, and the reason is that we all struggle with codependency somewhere in our lives.

                Whether it looks like addiction, people-pleasing, taking care of everyone around you, or just not giving yourself enough self-care, this book unpacks the roots of codependency and helps you break free once-and-for-all.

                This is an important book for anyone having challenges in friendships or relationships or struggling with people-pleasing or addiction.

                Get the book here!

                8. The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday

                  Presenting ancient Stoic wisdom to a modern audience, The Obstacle Is the Way shows you how to turn your obstacles and challenges into massive opportunities.

                  Ryan Holiday draws from the same ancient philosophy that empowered John D. Rockefeller, Amelia Earhart, and Steve Jobs to succeed and breaks down the essential formula for not running away from obstacles but actually running toward them.

                  This is a really empowering book for anyone struggling with obstacles to get what they want.

                  Get the book here!

                  9. Real Help: An Honest Guide to Self-Improvement by Ayodeji Awosika

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                    Real Help isn’t your usual self-help book. Wildly popular Medium writer Ayodeji Awosika takes a no-BS, tough-love approach to developing mental toughness, finding clarity, and taking action to transform your life.

                    This is a great book if you’ve read dozens of self-help or personal development books but haven’t taken action to change your life. Real Help gets right to the point and gives you actionable steps to start implementing change right away.

                    Get the book here!

                    10. Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

                      Year of Yes is a deeply personal and honest account of how the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal Shonda Rhimes started saying yes to everything that scared her.

                      This inspiring and raw memoir makes you reflect on what you’ve been avoiding or making excuses for out of fear and what would really happen if you started saying yes to all the stuff that terrifies you. It’s a relatable, casual, easy read, and is great for anyone who needs a little inspiration to start saying yes to life.

                      Get the book here!

                      11. The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks

                        Psychologist Gay Hendricks unpacks why we all seem to self-sabotage when we’re so close to success and what it will take to leap to a life where you’re in your “Zone of Genius.”

                        In this highly motivating book on personal development, you’ll walk step by step on how to “go beyond your internal limits, release outdated fears, and learn a whole new set of powerful skills and habits to liberate your authentic greatness.”

                        Get the book here!

                        12. Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior (5.2.1985) by David R. Hawkins

                          Hailed by Mother Teresa, Lee Iacocca, and Sam Walton, Power vs. Force combines spirituality and cutting-edge research to help you understand your emotions and level of consciousness.

                          In this seminal work, David Hawkins explains how to get a yes or no answer to any question you ask and how to understand what you’re feeling and why so that you can begin to change your life and the world around you.

                          While it’s not exactly a light beach read, this book is really eye-opening for those wanting to explore spirituality as part of their personal development.

                          Get the book here!

                          13. What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey

                            Personal development as we know it would not be the same without Oprah Winfrey. For 14 years, Oprah shared her greatest wisdom in a monthly column for O, The Oprah Magazine called “What I Know for Sure.” This book collects all of those essays—a lifetime of Oprah’s greatest experiences and lessons—into a comprehensive work.

                            What I Know for Sure is honest, thoughtful, and deeply inspiring. This is a powerful book for devout Oprah Winfrey fans and soon-to-be fans alike.

                            Get the book here!

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                            14. Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins

                              In this memoir, Navy SEAL David Goggins recounts his own life story from poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse to becoming one of the world’s top endurance athletes and military icon through pure will.

                              Can’t Hurt Me will inspire you to stretch and persevere to defy even the most improbably odds and realize that when you think you’re completely tapped out, you’ve only tapped into 40% of your capabilities—and there’s still so much more you can do.

                              It’s an inspiring, tough love book that will motivate you to take action toward your dreams.

                              Get the book here!

                              15. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

                                In The Happiness Project, writer Gretchen Rubin documents her entire year of testing out research, classical philosophy, and common wisdom to find out what makes her truly happy.

                                This casual and accessibly written book inspires you to design your own happiness project to transform each area of your life as you follow Gretchen’s journey and contemplate research on happiness.

                                If you’re looking for an inspiring structure to change every aspect of your life, The Happiness Project is an easy read that can inspire you to experiment with what makes you happy.

                                Get the book here!

                                16. Unlimited Power: The New Science Of Personal Achievement by Tony Robbins

                                  The name Tony Robbins has been synonymous with personal development. In Unlimited Power, he reveals the exact techniques he has used to help Olympic athletes, movie stars, and heads of state to harness their own untapped power.

                                  This book breaks down complicated neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) techniques into simple visualizations that anyone can learn in literally minutes to start to change the way your mind processes information. If you’re looking to change your thinking or step into more confidence, this is an important book to not overlook.

                                  Get the book here!

                                  17. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor

                                    In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor flips conventional wisdom on its head. It’s not that we’ll be happy when we’re successful. It’s that we’ll actually be successful when we’re happy.

                                    Shawn presents research that shows us how to rewire our brains for positivity and optimism to be happier in our lives, our careers, and even our health. He also breaks down actionable strategies to retrain our brains, build a solid support network, and spread positive change to the people around us.

                                    If you’re looking to retrain your brain for happiness and success, this is definitely a worthwhile book to consider.

                                    Get the book here!

                                    18. Energy Leadership: Transforming Your Workplace and Your Life from the Core by Bruce D. Schneider

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                                      Renowned coach Bruce D. Schneider doesn’t just tell you what energy leadership is—he shows you. In Energy Leadership, Bruce recounts the story of how he helped a client to transform his failing business by systematically changing the energy of the business.

                                      At each new level, there are specific emotions, actions, and predictable arguments. By the end of the book, you’ll be able to identify exactly which level of energy leadership every relationship, job, and friendship in your life is at and how to begin transforming it for the better.

                                      It’s an eye-opening look at why we’re stuck where we are and how we can shift ourselves and those around us to get extraordinary results.

                                      Get the book here!

                                      19. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

                                        Bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert digs into her own creative process in Big Magic to unpack the mysterious and spiritual nature of inspiration. She discusses the habits needed to cultivate creativity, go after our deepest desires, and confront our fears.

                                        With a casual, poetic tone and lots of encouragement, Big Magic inspires you to find the magic inside—whether that’s to create art, start a new business, or bring more mindfulness and passion to our everyday lives.

                                        If you’re looking for more inspiration and creativity, this is an important book to reignite that fire within.

                                        Get the book here!

                                        20. Enough Already: Create Success on Your Own Terms by Mike Iamele

                                          I’d be remiss if I didn’t include my own book on this list.

                                          Enough Already is a battle cry for the success seekers who are fed up trying to achieve someone else’s definition of success. Broken up into 12 steps, the book follows a journey through the 12 aspects of creating success on your own terms with homework and challenges at the end of each chapter to implement the work into your life immediately.

                                          By the end of the book, you’ll have a completed strategic plan to step up into the world and go after even some of your biggest dreams knowing that you are enough already.

                                          Get the book here!

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          You only need one good idea to change your life, and there’s so much important wisdom and inspiration in the 20 best books on personal development listed above. You don’t have to read all of them. You just have to start.

                                          Personal development is about taking action to develop yourself personally. So, scan this list, find a book that resonates with you, and then start reading.

                                          You don’t need to measure the magnitude—just the direction. If you take one tiny step toward the life you want, every day for a year, you’ll be 365 times closer to your dreams a year from today. But you just have to start.

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                                          Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

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