If there is a practice that should be considered compulsory for personal growth, it’s to keep a journal. I can’t stress enough on how important it is, but I can list some of the benefits you will get if you keep a journal (and this is, by no means, the full list of benefits):
Record your own ideas
Our minds are constantly making some impressive observations, which we usually ignore or quickly forget. That’s a waste of our mental effort, and a huge loss for us, especially if these ideas are valuable and can change the course of our lives.
Record the information you come across
Your memory might be very good, but the likelihood of you forgetting the information you come across is still there, and you don’t need to run this risk, especially when the information can be extremely valuable to you.
Clarify your thinking
Your brain has already registered a great deal of data, and you’re constantly processing this data to make more sense of it. But to simply rely on your subconscious mind to do all the work, or to try and think by yourself, without writing down your thoughts, is not as effective as writing your ideas down and processing them on paper.
You’d be surprised by the amount of contradictions, inconsistencies, gaps and flaws you will discover in your own thinking when you write your ideas down, and the amount of insights you will get once you think on paper.
Structure your thinking
If I ask you for your opinion on a subject, you might struggle to find the right starting point for you to begin with, or how you will sequence your ideas for you to share with me. Writing imposes sequence, because you can only write one idea at a time.
When you begin journaling, your ideas won’t be well sequenced, but you’ll soon be able to structure your thinking so that one idea flows more gracefully to the next.
This mental habit will serve you well in your life, because you will structure the way you think about your life.
Plan your life
Your life involves many things for you to manage, and you can’t think about everything all the time. Writing these things down can help you plan your life more clearly.
Resolve your emotions
Have you ever felt upset or frustrated, but didn’t know why, or how to shake off these feelings? Writing your feelings down, and thinking of the situation you were in, can bring a great deal of clarity to what happened and why you feel the way you feel. It becomes easier to resolve your emotions on paper rather than experiencing the emotions, and having your thinking conditioned by these emotions.
Improve your writing and communication skills
It goes without saying that practice makes perfect, and the more you write, the better you get at it, and the more you can clarify your thinking, the better you can communicate with others.
You might think you know yourself because you’re always with yourself, but that’s not very true. If you don’t direct your conscious mind towards understanding your thoughts, needs, wants, emotions, experiences, etc., then you are your own companion, but you don’t truly know yourself.
Monitor your progress
There are some things in life that cannot be accomplished overnight and they need to be achieved incrementally. To know that you’re heading in the right direction, you need to know which direction you are heading in in the first place. You can do that by writing down your progress, and seeing how long it’s taking you to move towards your goal, and what can be done to improve your progress.
Remind yourself of your accomplishments
Your accomplishments can be very inspirational, but you might forget about your accomplishments as time passes by. Write your accomplishments down, so you can always have a reminder to keep you inspired.
Learn from your mistakes
Experiences come and go, but to learn from them, you need to be aware of the lessons these experiences bring with them.
Become more conscious
Writing is an active, conscious process. By directing your conscious mind towards making observations, you will be able to learn more about life, and having an active approach towards life, rather than operating on autopilot.
Respect the nature of time
Many people (myself included) often try to achieve 101 things at the same time, or want to get the end result before starting a project. Writing leads you to respect the linear nature of time. You can never reach the end of a sentence before writing its beginning, and you can’t write more than one sentence at the same time. Getting into the habit of writing will help you appreciate this fact about time, and to not expect to break this law in other parts of your life.
Overcome overwhelm and stress
If you’re juggling 101 ideas at the same time, chances are you’re constantly overwhelmed and stressed out. Getting these ideas out of your head and on to paper will help you overcome these feelings and to feel more relaxed knowing that your ideas are somewhere you can refer to (but are not constantly looping in your head).
Some people only think out loud, and to other people. That way they never get to address the issues that are too private to share with others. A journal is a private discussion with yourself, so you can speak about everything and anything.
Get tasks half-done
A lot of tasks depend on a great deal of planning. Writing an article requires that you write an outline. By having a journal handy, you can get to plan, write outlines, etc. so that you can accomplish projects with greater ease.
Inspiration for future projects
Simple ideas can evolve to global projects. Your journal is a treasure chest of ideas you might choose to take on as projects in the future.
Make use of idle time
A journal is a great way to make use of the time you are waiting for a friend to show up, or for an appointment, or whenever there are minutes to spare that you haven’t decided what you’ll be doing.
Keep your commitments
Most commitments go unfulfilled because you haven’t noted them down. A journal is a great place to keep and manage your commitments.
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These are some of the benefits that you will gain by keeping a journal. That’s a pretty impressive list for something that’s easy to start and maintain!
If you already keep a journal, are there more benefits you can add to the list?
If you don’t already keep a journal, stay tuned for my Quickstart Guide