“Keeping a journal will absolutely change your life in ways you’ve never imagined”. ~ Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is one of the most successful people in the world. She started her career as a journalist and went on to host her own TV show for 25 years. She now owns her own broadcasting network and produces movies, series and shows.
Her statement is believable because of what she has publicly shared about her life. Being conceived from a one night stand, growing up poor, being sexually molested, falling pregnant as a young teen and subsequently losing that baby, feeling inadequate for a large part of her life because of her mother’s absence from her life and struggling with her weight. Going from this scenario to who she is today is definitely demonstrative of the changes that a person can go through in a lifetime. It must have taken a lot of intentional action to navigate some of those changes, and to orchestrate some of those changes. That’s the power of journaling. It raises your awareness, and awareness raises your ability to be intentional.
Oprah is not the only person who is considered one of the most successful people in the world who has a regular habit of journaling. Others include Albert Einstein, who was a scientist, Leonardo da Vinci, an artist and Thomas Edison, an inventor.
Same as Oprah, to reach the level of success that each of these famous figures did, intentional action is required. And that is not possible without awareness. Awareness of yourself, what has shaped you, what you respond to, how you respond and what you can influence in the world. This is where journaling comes in.
Journaling gets you to spend time with yourself, your thoughts, your feelings and your experiences. You introspect and reflect and, based on what you discover, you can make decisions that aid or hinder progress in your life. As you keep up the practice of journaling, you become more and more competent in being able to tell what does and does not work in your life. You become competent at telling what you value and what is worth spending your time and energy on. And this enables you to become proficient at making decisions that aid progress in your life.
Journaling is a practice that requires commitment and the ability to tell the truth to yourself. To allow yourself to see things as they are. When you can do this, you can learn from your experiences and adjust accordingly.
So where do you start if you haven’t started yet?
First decide that you would like to use journaling as a tool for personal growth.
Then create space for it in your life. This includes buying a notebook or a journal and a pen. Or deciding on a gadget and acquiring that gadget if you prefer electronic journaling. Electronic journaling can mean using a voice recording device or using your mobile phone, tablet or PC.
Then make an appointment to sit down with yourself for a certain amount of time and journal. You might need help with prompts that will give you direction in your journaling. You can sit down to journal daily, 3 times a week or once a week. Any frequency less than this is not recommended because it might severely interfere with your ability to build consistency.
What to journal about?
It is said that former president of the US, Benjamin Franklin used to answer 2 questions daily in his journal:
1. Every morning – “What good shall I do today?”
2. Every evening – “What good have I done today?”
You can also respond to the question, “what do I want?”, until you gain clarity about what you want then write about the ideas that come to you about how to attain what you want.
Another option is to observe yourself in your daily life and write about what brings you joy, hurt, disappointment, sadness, anger, satisfaction, conflict, pride and peace. Become curious about why you react the way you do to stimuli in your environment. Examine the role you play in bringing about the results you see in your life.
If none of the suggestions here speak to you, do an internet search and you are sure to find numerous options to choose from. Or enlist the services of a coach.
Lastly, remember that transformation does not happen in an instance. It takes persistence to bring about the changes we want to see in our lives. And your journaling will have to be accompanied by your action in order to bring about change. Act and experiment on the ideas, realisations and insights that arise through your journaling.