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5 Ways Journaling Can Positively Affect Your Life

As a kid in the late 90s and early 2000s, my generation had those little diaries with a small lock and two keys (that were easily lost) where we could record anything we wanted. The flimsy piece of material ‘secured’ by the cheaply-made lock was enough to make us think that our hopes, wishes, and dreams that we entrusted to the pages were protected. Now, as an adult, journaling makes an appearance in my everyday life, and it truly has had a tremendous impact on helping me track my goals, alleviate my anxiety, and chase my hopes and dreams. I haven’t always utilized my journal in this way, though; I sometimes ignored my journal or writing my emotions down until they would build up to the point where they were bursting out of me. Nowadays, daily journaling helps me stay grounded emotionally, mentally, and physically and is one of the best ways you can work towards molding your future self while also loving the life you live. Today we’re going to look at five ways that journaling can positively affect your life.

1. Daily Affirmations and Remaining Grateful

One of the best things you can do every morning that takes under 30 seconds is write down a list of what you are grateful for in your journal. I always write mine at the top of my page under the date, and I always write down five things. This helps you begin your day on a positive note by not focusing on the worrisome things you might face in the day but rather just taking a moment to appreciate what you currently have. For me, I always write “I am grateful for,” and then my five answers underneath that range from my dogs and family to my job and home. For example, some other things I might write as an answer are my friends, happiness, and health. Reminding yourself of the things you are grateful for keeps you motivated and is a crucial way to positively shape your outlook and improve your attitude towards the day.

2. Establish Healthy Routines

For me, the main thing journaling helps me with is keeping me organized and solidifying my routine. If I write something down on the page under my daily task tracker, it becomes harder for me to ignore doing that task even if I don’t have my journal with me all day. In other words, my journal helps me stay on track, get sh*t done, and feel good about my accomplishments. There are many methods of tracking your routine or creating a daily to-do list, so I would recommend trying out a few different ways until you find the one best suited to your needs. I have a preference for lists. I love to use lists because I get to cross off tasks as I complete them throughout the day, and it is so satisfying to me. Some tasks or routines are easier for me to finish than others. For example, breakfast is easier to complete and cross off than working out, but my daily tracker helps me stay on course with everything. Utilizing your journal in this way can not only help you become more productive and establish daily routines but also set you on a path to mold your future self. 

3. Be Your Personal Confidante 

A third thing that I include in my journal entry every day is a space for free journaling. Using your journal to free-write your thoughts and emotions gives you a safe space to talk and explore your feelings about a situation, person, or event. Sometimes I will use this space if I have a particularly interesting dream that sticks with me into the morning or if I need to complain about something happening with my job or partner. If you use your journal as a place to open up and be real, the benefits for your mental wellness can be exponential. I know it might not sound like writing your thoughts down could be THAT helpful, but at least, in my opinion, it can be a truly cathartic experience that you become accustomed to doing. As mentioned, I used to ignore writing down or getting out my feelings to the point I would want to burst, so journaling has been integral in firing my old self so that I can become my best new self. 

4. Reflect on Progress 

Perhaps one of the most valuable parts of daily journaling is that you can reflect on how you’ve done over the course of a week, month, or year. This reflection period could mean congratulating yourself on your accomplishments and/or drawing attention to any areas you need to continue working on. For example, if you set a goal to put your phone away by nine pm each night, but you only did so three times last week, you know this is a goal you need to put more consistent effort into. In my case, sometimes I struggle with doing things for myself. For example, if I have a busy week with multiple work and personal obligations, things like my skincare or workout routine will often go out the window. However, by taking a minute to review my progress, I can identify these concerns and work to fix them moving forward. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that reflecting on your progress is to help you stay accountable and is meant to be helpful, not hurtful. Taking a moment to reflect can give you a new perspective on where you started versus where you’re at now and then help you start to become the person you always wanted to be.

5. Set New Goals 

After you have reflected on your progress, it is time to set new goals that should be challenging yet realistic. For example, once I was consistently working out three times a week for about a month, I decided to make a new goal of four times per week. You must find balance and what works for you and not go overboard. In this case, going overboard would be setting a goal to work out six days a week. For someone else, that might not be too much, but for someone like me who still has to actively work on my relationship with my body and exercise, six days a week would be overdoing it. It’s important to set new goals with your boundaries in mind; however, don’t make the goals so easy that there is no satisfaction in achieving them. Remember that your journal is your biggest ally in crushing your goals and keeping you accountable. By committing to yourself through journaling, you can use it to positively affect your life and begin molding your future self.

Final Thoughts Although my journal no longer has a little lock and key with a matching pen (I actually have a leather-bound journal made in Italy from Indigo,) journaling is as important as ever in my life nowadays. Not only does it help me stay grateful, establish routines, and is a safe place for my thoughts, but it has positively affected my life in many ways. Journaling has allowed me to mold myself into the person I am today and want to be in the future. Ultimately, utilizing a daily journal is a step in the right direction so that we may “Fire” our “Old Self” and create “Our NEW SELF” while remembering that Life’s Short, Love the Life You Live!

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Dani VanDusen

Dani VanDusen is a freelance writer and editor located in St. Albert, Alberta, Canada. She holds a BA in English from the University of Alberta where she graduated with distinction, and has been freelancing since the middle of the pandemic. An avid mental health enthusiast, rollerblade extraordinaire, dog mama, and pizza lover, she is a self-proclaimed ‘weirdo’ and says that this helps her be relatable and open in her writing. Dani has been a writer for the Fire Yourself movement since August 2021 and is an integral part of our content team.
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