How to Journal for Success!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.  If you buy something from them, I will make some money.  But no pressure.  You do you!

Hello!

If you’ve made it this far into the blog, I want to thank you so much for reading.  This wild experiment is really fulfilling for me and if even just one other person finds it useful then I’ll be satisfied.

As I write more and more here, I’m realizing that there are some things that I’d like to suggest to you that will probably help you get the most out of your journey (it feels weird to say that but that’s really what it is).

If you’re really dedicated to becoming a better version of yourself, you’re going to want to start writing a journal.  There are many, many different ways to do this and you need to find one that works best for you.  Personally, I enjoy the feeling of pen to paper so I write in a small notebook I have using a nice fountain pen.  I write in cursive and I write whenever I get the chance.  There is no set time.  If I have to work early, I’ll write in the evening (or maybe in the morning if I have time before I leave for work).  As long as I write in the journal at some point in time, I’m good.

In the fifteen minutes or so that I write (sometimes more, sometimes less) I’ll muse over a few notable things that happened during the day like an interesting thing at work or something coming up.  I generally try not to complain in the journal.  The more I write, the more I realize that the thoughts I’m putting on paper are becoming more and more permanent in my life.  So if I were to take fifteen minutes to just complain about perceived slights and things that I can’t control, that’s going to be permanently in the world as part of my journal.  Why would I want that?

Instead I take time to plan my next step and work out my goals.  I talk about things I’m thankful for and things that have been working out.  I plan trips and keep track of my progress.  I mention some mistakes I made and what I need to do to rectify those mistakes but otherwise, people who make me feel bad or people who bother me I don’t mention.  They don’t deserve that validation.

The very beginning of my journal, is a series of goals that I wrote down with reasons and how I’ll know when I’ve reached the goal.

journal1

And then I just ran with it.  The next couple of entries are daily plans with actions that help me move forward with my goals.  There are little graphs and to do lists and quotes and pictures.  Basically, if it helped me with my goals, it went into the journal.

As time went by, the journal gained more and more goals.

weightmap

In your journal, you can do whatever you want to keep track of your goals.  If you’re interested in seeing some interesting bullet journal spreads, go check out r/bujo or r/bulletjournal for inspiration.  There’s also the handy bulletjournal.com  Bullet journaling is different from regular journaling in that you have more of a weekly and monthly layout where you keep track of things like habits, chores, spending, TV shows, clothing, moods, whatever.  Only you don’t do it by writing those things down, you do it with check marks, grids, small drawings, or anything you want to really.

If you’re a list person, maybe your journal will be filled with lists of things like ideas, plans, rewards, workouts, etc.

Maybe you are a writer and you just like writing everything down in paragraph form.  That’s completely up to you as well!

Personally, I feel that there is a definite benefit to writing with pen and paper because it allows me to put emphasis on certain sections, circle things, change ink color and I have something to carry around with me.  Plus I can draw grids and graphs and triangles or whatever.  I’m saying this because I know a lot of people think that starting a journal on the computer is going to be easier or maybe more efficient but this isn’t about ease or efficiency.  It’s about admitting your goals and making your thoughts tangible.  Writing something down in ink feels more permanent than writing something on a computer.  When you’re typing something, you can just erase whatever you just wrote and rewrite it.  When you’re using a pen and paper you have to really consider what you’re going to put down because you’ll never be able to fully make it go away.

There was a point in time where I was super rigid about what I wrote in my journal.  I would always include specific tidbits like my mood, what time of day it was, the date, the weather, and so on.  Over time, I’ve relaxed on that sort of thing.  Now I just write my thoughts about whatever my plans are, how my goals are coming, thoughts about books I’m reading, plans for trips I’m going to take, things I’m excited about.  Some entries are multiple pages long, a few are half a page.

The most important thing is consistency.  This process of improving your life is not going to be instantaneous or easy.  You’re going to come across things that you don’t like to admit about yourself and you’re going to realize things that you never saw before.  You’re going to have to work through these things and they might be a little uncomfortable.  A lot of people will get to that point and stop because they don’t want to admit the truth.  You don’t have to confront everything head on right away but you shouldn’t stop trying to get better.  Keep writing.  If you’re having a bad day and you aren’t making any progress, write about whatever it is that is holding you back.  If you need to change course on one of your goals, write about it.  If you’re trying to work out why something is bothering you, write about it.  It’s amazing the things you’ll realize when you write your thoughts down on paper.

(Disclaimer: I am not a therapist and I don’t claim to be a replacement for one.  There are some individuals who have been through some things in life that need attention from someone that understands how to help.  If you are struggling, please reach out to someone who is licensed and has been to school to learn how to help people heal.  Journaling is not going to be a cure all for everyone.)

As for what to write in, just start with something.  Don’t go crazy making the ‘right’ decision.  There are so many different types of journals out there but at the end of the day they’re all paper with lines on them.  As long as you can write in it and the ink doesn’t smudge it’s fine.  If you end up hating it, just fill that journal up and buy a different one next time.

Here are some good ones that a lot of people enjoy using (in no particular order):

  1. Large Moleskin Classic Notebook
  2. Leuchtturm 1917 Medium Size
  3. Rhodia Webnotebook

I’d really like to see the cover of everyone’s journals!  I’ll start!

journal3

My fiancé got this for me two Christmases ago and now it is almost full.  It’s from moleskin and I like the quality of the paper and it is very sturdy with a little envelope in the back cover for storing things like receipts and photos.  You can’t see it in the picture but it also has one of the elastic straps to keep it closed.

I hope this helped you understand the importance of journaling as you start moving forward with your goals.  Just remember:

  1. Write about your goals and things you are going to do to make forward steps in those goals.  Don’t write about people who bother you or things that you can’t control.  They don’t deserve your time.  Small minds talk about other people.
  2. Be consistent.  You’ll figure out your writing style over time, don’t overthink this process, just write.  It’s okay if you change your style, that’s the whole point here.
  3. Just buy whatever journal strikes your fancy.  Don’t put it off.  Just get one and write in it.  If you hate it, get a different one next time.

Have a great week writing!

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5 comments

  1. What an awesome post…. I love your point about not complaining about things you can’t control. Sadly, that’s the direction my journals end up taking and so I get discontent with writing and will stop for awhile. Then I miss it, start up again….vicious cycle. I love to collect different journals, judging by the covers….and am the same with pens for those journals. I see some better journaling in my future thanks to your tips.

    Like

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