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How to Use Journaling to Better Understand Yourself and Achieve Your Goals

Jan 10, 2024


Journaling can be a highly beneficial practice to support mental, emotional, and even physical well-being. In the hustle and bustle of your daily life, finding time to reflect and become more self-aware can be challenging. One thing to keep in mind is that there is not a “right” or “wrong” way to journal. Journaling is a personal and individualized process and can look very different from person to person, or even from day to day for one person. When you write things down on paper (or digitally if you prefer, but I always encourage trying pen and paper), you get information out of your head, which can give you a different perspective. 


When your thoughts, ideas, questions, goals, feelings, etc. are on a piece of paper in front of you, you can “zoom out” and think about them differently. 


Some ways journaling can benefit you are:

Allowing for emotional expression. Journaling offers a safe space to express and release emotions, which can reduce stress and anxiety and provide a sense of relief. It can help you label what you are feeling and help you to gain clarity about why you are experiencing certain emotions. As you learn to express your emotions and understand them better, you are also better able to manage them and increase the emotions you wish to experience more, while decreasing those you wish to experience less.


Reducing stress. The process of getting information out of your head and onto paper can offer some relief since you no longer have to keep recycling thoughts over and over in your head once they are on paper. In addition, looking at your thoughts on paper can help you challenge their accuracy. Often we have many thoughts in our heads that are made up of “what ifs” and “worst-case scenarios” that, left unchallenged, can cause unnecessary stress. Once you get them on paper, you can see them from a different perspective and decide if they are thoughts you want to hang onto.

Increasing clarity and focus. When you become an observer of your thoughts, you may experience more clarity. Getting your thoughts on paper can make it easier to organize them, prioritize what is most important, and declutter the extra “noise” that may be distracting you from what is most important to you at any given period of time.


Increasing self-awareness. The more you understand what you are thinking and feeling, the more self-aware you will become. The more self-aware you become, the more in control you will feel in your life since you will be better able to notice what you are thinking, feeling, and how you react to certain situations. This increased understanding will support you in being able to proactively manage how you respond to certain situations.

Tracking progress and holding yourself accountable. Journaling can help you stay on track with something you are trying to achieve because it is a way of checking in with yourself regularly. Journaling allows you to set intentions, track progress, and celebrate achievements as they happen. You will be better able to identify the things that contribute to you being successful as well as the things that interfere with your progress. Journaling is also a way of checking in with yourself and reminding yourself of what you are trying to achieve and why it is important so that you keep going when faced with challenges.

In a world that is full of distractions, having a journaling practice can be a grounding exercise that offers focused time for self-reflection, expression, and growth. Whether you spend three minutes or thirty minutes journaling, it is time for you to be by yourself without judgment or expectations, so that you continue to transform and evolve on an ongoing basis.

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