My last series of blog posts focused on living courageously: doing something everyday that scares us, eliminating cynical and jealous thoughts, making time for self-improvement.
Courageous living means identifying your dreams and goals and taking an honest look at the situations and circumstances between you and your dreams. A great place to start your journey to a more courageous life is in a daily journal.
The Benefits of Journaling
Scores of studies have been done on the benefits of daily journaling. By turning into ourselves and disclosing our feelings and thoughts in a safe environment, we are giving ourselves permission to process, reflect on, and take responsibility for our actions and reactions. Daily journaling has been shown to relieve stress and ease psychological strain. It’s also a very effective tool for realizing our subconscious goals and determining what’s really standing in our way to living a courageous life. Journaling is a way to regain control of emotions in a safe environment, which instills a feeling of “powerfulness”, even mastery over our emotions.
I consider myself a very lucky man. I have an extraordinary marriage, a loving family, great friends, I am healthy and in good physical shape, I have built a very successful international consulting business, and overall I am a very passionate, energized, positive and optimistic person. But, like many other successful people my life is often very intense.
The opportunities and challenges associated with providing high quality services to my clients while continuing to generate and grow my business and make the time to keep myself and my family in great shape often keeps me up at night. And beyond the day-to-day I often think about my goals, how to achieve them and how create the next levels of success.
I have people in my life who serve as sounding boards for bouncing ideas, and clarifying thoughts. However, given everyone’s hectic schedules we are not always able to have these enlightening conversations on a real-time basis. Journaling has been a very powerful and useful way for me to clarify my own thoughts, gain insights into what I need to do about challenges and opportunities that are on my mind, create the next steps in personal and professional areas that are important to me and sometimes simply clearing any clutter that accumulates in my head from time to time.
My wife introduced me to journaling more than 15 years ago and I have been practicing ever since. I don’t do it every day, only in periods in which I feel the need and desire to stay focused, centered and objective. I have also recommended the practice to my clients on occasion, and they’ve always acknowledged that this has made a difference for them too.
How to Get Started
Daily journaling is like any other habit; you acquire it through practice. For some, the blank page may instill a sense of fear. Where do I start? What should I say? The beautiful thing about journaling is that it doesn’t matter where you start or what you say. This is your own, private space to say whatever comes to mind.
An easy place to start is, “Right now, I feel ________. “ or “Today, this happened and this is how I feel about it.” Start small, a few sentences, or give yourself a time limit.
Do not worry about being judged, sounding foolish, or making mistakes. This is your domain. Be courageous! And most importantly, be as honest as you can in that moment. It takes courage to admit to yourself when you’ve been living cynically. But when you journal about your feelings and about your situations, you can identify the patterns of behavior that are keeping you from living a truly courageous life.
Join the Conversation
What experiences do you have with journaling? What’s keeping you from trying it? Or if you are an avid journal keeper, what benefits have you noticed?