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I’m a huge fan of making a list, writing down goals, putting thoughts on paper and sending handwritten notes. I feel like handwriting has become a lost art in our digital worlds, and, in fact, I think my penmanship has taken a real hit. However, we know that when we write, it stimulates that hand-brain connection by engaging the brain and improving retention. And there is indeed something very satisfying about writing in a beautiful journal, and it makes me feel gratitude.
I’ve been journaling for years. It started with summer trips to see my grandparents, and we’d record our every activity in a little book. It was so fun! In college, I studied journalism, where writing and reporting became my passion. And as a motivated young adult, I started journaling my dreams and goals. Then, about two decades ago (wow), I discovered that most stress and frustration could be quelled by focusing on what I was grateful for, and thus began an on-and-off again practice of keeping a gratitude journal.
Take that a step further. If you engage in journaling, you can create amazing results for your business, personal life and even your long-term health. Benefits of keeping a journal include organizing your thoughts, recording ideas, achieving goals, allowing self-reflection, inspiring creativity—and maybe even improving your handwriting. Journaling helps keep your brain in its best shape. Not only does it boost memory and comprehension, but it also increases working memory capacity, which may reflect improved cognitive processing.
Journaling reduces stress, improves immune function, boosts mood and can even strengthen emotional processing of feelings. Writing in a journal has helped me create my future and achieve my goals.
With all these pluses…how do you use journaling to your benefit?
You can keep a gratitude journal, which is a beautiful process. You can journal to determine priorities and write goals. You can use it to get a creative breakthrough. You can journal to start your day on a high note, in peak state with great focus. Journaling can help you design a business, and even weigh pros and cons to make decisions. The most successful people make time in their schedules for regular journaling.
I still like to keep a gratitude journal, but I also find myself journaling as a way to create a vision for my personal and professional future. I have another journal that is just for new ideas.
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HOW TO GET STARTED
To set the stage for journaling, it’s a good idea to step away from the hustle and bustle of life. Find a quiet place and do some deep breathing. When you step out of your day-to-day routine, it’s easier to see things more clearly. While preparing yourself, you may read or listen to something inspiring, workout or visit with someone who inspires you. Meditation and visualization can help you get clear on what you are journaling about. Getting good sleep ensures your mind is its most creative.
Whether it’s your gratitude journal or not, start by journaling gratitude for where you are and what you have accomplished. Take time to reflect, then write down specifics. Be candid with yourself. Your journal is for your eyes only—unless you decide to share it with others.
To get started, set an intention. Say to yourself, “I’m going to journal about gratitude; I’m going to focus on building my business; I have a decision to make; I want to create goals.” When you start, write EVERYTHING that comes to mind…don’t edit out anything. It’s like a mental spill out on paper.
Is your inner voice speaking to you? Write that down. What happened to you this week? Write that down. What went well and what didn’t go well? What significant moments happened? What did you hope would happen? What did you learn? What do you want? How can you get better?
A and J King
I like to use the process “MORE OF/LESS OF.” What do I want more of in 2021; what do I want less of? This one always takes me on an eye-opening journey. Sometimes I journal everything that happened in a year—this one takes time—then I look at it for trends and what I want more of and what is missing that brings me joy.
Responding to a challenging question is another way to journal. I’m really into a book The Road Less Stupidby Keith Cunningham, where he talks about creating “thinking time.” I was doing this before the book, so it really resonated with me. The key to thinking time is the journaling that follows. In Cunningham’s book, he poses powerful questions to answer and journal on. When you write things down, even more than just thinking about it, you have the opportunity to “see” it and study it, and then the ideas and emotions follow.
Creating a gratitude journal is a daily habit where you simply write what you are grateful for, and research tells us it lowers your blood pressure, creates positive emotions, and sets the stage for attracting what you want in your life.
Some people use a journaling method called free writing. That is you staring at a blank page and letting the words just show up. Another way to journal is list making—as Noah asks Ally in The Notebook, “What do you WANT?” What do YOU want?”
Journaling solidifies, clarifies, affirms and strategizes your insights, goals and plans. It reveals emotions and identifies priorities. It can create clarity for your life and business. It can resolve conflict, help make decisions and allow you to let go of something not serving you. But a journal is only as good as the awareness that gets created and the action that you take.
That’s why I like to end a journaling session by asking myself some questions: What do I know now? What action should I take? How do I get where I want to go? And I try to take action as a result of my journaling by setting an intention, creating a new habit or writing a goal.
When you write your goals and intentions, write them in the affirmative, like they have already happened. Make them specific, measurable and timely. Those are three aspects of a SMART goal. Then, yes, you must write them down. A Harvard Business Study found that the 3 percent of graduates from their MBA who had their goals written down ended up earning ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together, just 10 years after graduation.
Make them visible. Take time to feel the feeling of the thing achieved as Wayne Dyer used to say. Make sure you can visualize success. Take action. And then share your goals and intentions with others as a way to essentially deepen your commitment.
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Jess Bailey Designs
GIVE IT A TRY
Journaling can create amazing things in your life and business, and I encourage you to give it a try. Buy a good pen (if you don’t have one) and a journal that resonates with your style and make it a special time for yourself. As I always say, if you are going to do something, Live Beautifully.
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