How to journal for self-improvement 2021

Self-improvement Journal

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Writing Your Self-Improvement Journal

Writing a daily self-improvement journal is nothing new, for centuries men and women have written journal entries documenting their daily life.

So what separates a journal like that of Samuel Pepys or Charles Darwin to a personal development journal as we know it today?

Well, we have a little known (at the time) product designer called Ryder Carroll to thank for that.

Carroll first popularised the bullet journal in 2013 as one of the best ways to set goals and a powerful tool to help personal growth. It is on the basis of Carroll’s work that we will help you start your self-improvement journey. 

In this article we’re going to show you how to turn a blank notebook into a journey of self-discovery and give you effective ways to improve your writing process.

Firstly though, what actually is a self improvement journal?

What is a self improvement journal?

A self improvement journal is a daily log where you can express new ideas, rid your mind of negative thoughts and get clarity about what you really want out of life. 

Everyone writes journals in a different way, but for the most part, the goal is the same.

Some people think of a self-improvement journal like a diary, but the objectives of keeping a diary and self-improvement journaling are much different. 

Diary entries tend to be the things you write about on a daily basis, ranting about your busy schedule or conversations that you’ve had with family members.

Whereas self improvement journals are much more about being a safe space to bring positive change to your life through practical goal setting. 

Your journaling journey is about keeping your ambitions at the forefront of your mind and ensuring that you’re moving in the right direction.

Self-improvement Journal
Self-improvement journal - Amazon

Journal Prompts To Help Your Writing Process

Whether journaling prompts are for your first entry ever, or you have been journaling for years, these 10 Journal prompts will help you on your way to top notch journaling ideas and making you the very best version of yourself.

We’ve chosen prompts for daily life in our list which should start to get your creative juices flowing and your mind thinking.

Remember, prompts are there as a guide and don’t have to be used religiously in every journal entry.

  1. Who would you take with you on a round the world trip if you could only choose one person?
  2. What is your favorite hobby? Can you do more of it?
  3. What do you love about where you live? 
  4. List all of the places you have been in the world. What countries would you like to add to your list?
  5. What are the main things you do to make yourself  comfortable in a new environment? This could be socially or at work. 
  6. If you could only listen to one genre of music for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  7. Where do you get your daily news stories and current affairs updates from? Do they enhance or damage your daily productivity?
  8. Write a movie review for the last film you watched.
  9. Where do you want to go on your next road trip? And who with?
  10. How would having no internet connection for a whole week impact your life? Would it be positive or negative?

As you can see, using prompts gives you different ways of viewing situations and helps broaden your thinking. 

Why not start your journaling session at the start of the day as a means to provoking positive thoughts before you begin your usual daily activities?

Self-improvement journal
Self-improvement journal - Amazon

Benefits of Journaling

It might surprise you to know that there are actually some pretty amazing benefits to keeping a self-improvement journal.

Here are some that we picked up from the Huff Post:

1. Raising Your IQ

A hot topic, but strong cases support the ability to change your IQ.

A report by the University of Victoria noted that “Writing as part of language learning has a positive correlation with intelligence.”

Journaling is an exploration of language, you’ll have the natural urge to search for new words and increase your vocabulary.

The report goes on to say, “One of the best single measures of overall intelligence as measured by intelligence tests is vocabulary.”

2. Evoking Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the buzz word everyone is talking about and for good reason. There’s a strong connection between happiness and peace of mind. 

Journaling helps you harness present moment power and bring into perspective what is important, dispelling negative emotions

It helps to focus your attention, from passivity to actively engaging with your thoughts.

3. reaching Your Goals

Self-improvement journaling brings into focus your dreams and ambitions, yet the idea that scribbled words can help achieve goals is understandably fanciful. 

However, putting firm plans onto paper rather than letting them whirl away in your mind, tells your brain “this is important.” 

Your reticular activating system (RAS) then flags relevant opportunities and tools to achieve that goal. More detailed goals provide a psychological blueprint, and increase the likelihood of achieving them.

Even writing a digital journal is a great first step towards setting goals and aiming to become your best self.

4. Building Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your emotions, and that of those around you. 

Journaling is an outlet for processing emotions and increases self-awareness. Spilling your thoughts onto empty notebooks gets them out into the open. 

Seeing them in the cold light of day will help you analyse your thoughts and turn that blank page into a mirror, seeing a reflection of yourself as others would.

5. Boosting Memory and Comprehension

There’s a unique relationship between the hand and brain, sparked by the composition of thoughts and ideas. 

Words are representations of ideas; the formation of letters causes the mind to compose or re-compose ideas while journaling.

This strengthens previously covered information and forces you to engage in cognitive recall.

Self-improvement journal
Self-improvement journal - Amazon

6. Strengthens Your Self-Discipline

Setting time aside to write, whether morning or evening or at the end of each week is an act of discipline. And discipline begets discipline. 

Like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes.

Habits formed in one area of life have a tendency to spread; as keeping your office clean leads to keeping the bedroom tidy, your daily practice of writing will domino onto other healthy habits.

7. Improve Communication Skills

“Writing has critical connections to speaking” according to a Stanford report. 

Journaling is a form of written communication, albeit to oneself. Nonetheless, the subvocalization of tracing your written thoughts naturally translates in actual vocalization.

Of course, anyone journaling must have a deliberate aim to tidy up their writing in order to see benefits in their verbal communication. But making that decision during writing will benefit your speaking.

8. Good for Healing

According to Dr. James Pennebaker, author of Writing to Heal, expressive writing is a route to healing — emotionally, physically, and psychologically.

Dr. Pennebaker has seen improved immune function in participants of writing exercises. 

Stress often comes from emotional blockages, and overthinking hypotheticals.

He explains, “When we translate an experience into language we essentially make the experience graspable.”

And in doing so, you free yourself from mentally being tangled in traumas.

Studies have also shown that the emotional release from journaling lowers anxiety, stress, and induces better sleep.

9. Sparks Your Creativity

Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages” has become the panacea for unlocking creativity amongst anyone and everyone. Our struggle isn’t whether we’re creative, it’s how to let it flow.

Her powerful tool is simply to write without thinking — “stream of consciousness” writing. 

Beyond overcoming writer’s block, stream of consciousness writing brings out thoughts and ideas you never knew you had in you, and loosens up your expressive muscles.

10. Boosts Self-Confidence

Your journaling habit can have a direct positive impact on your mental wellness. Writing about positive personal experiences allows your subconscious mind to relive them. 

The release of endorphins and dopamine will boost your self-esteem and mood. These reflections can become a catalog of personal achievements that you revisit every time you make an entry.

As you work to incorporate a self journal into your life, remember a new habit is best formed in small steps.

Begin writing a few days a week in small amounts, build this up to a point where it becomes natural to journal everyday.

Self-improvement Journal

What Is Gratitude Journaling ?

Adding a daily gratitude practice to your life is a simple pleasure that can have huge positive effects on your life and will genuinely change how you view everything around you.

Finding positive things in any situation, even the tough challenges, will put you in the position to wake up and appreciate every day, regardless of what it throws at you.

Gratitude journaling is essentially helping remind you of the good experiences and feelings that you have in your life. 

We’ve written an article on 101 gratitude prompts to help you complete your self-improvement journal, but just incase you don’t have time to read that today, here are our top 20 to get the best out of your day:

  1. What freedom do you enjoy but perhaps take for granted?
  2. What simple pleasures can you enjoy each today?
  3. Describe the last time you got excited at work? Why?
  4. What is your favorite time of day and why?
  5. What could you change about your work to make you happier each day?
  6. List 5 simple pleasures you are grateful for today.
  7. What are you thankful for about the food and drink that you have each day?
  8. What music are you most grateful for and why?
  9. Name 1 thing you have done today that made you happy.
  10. What activities in your day are you thankful for?
  11. Name one of the small things that made you smile or laugh today.
  12. What is something beautiful you saw today?
  13. If you are fortunate enough to have somewhere you call home, somewhere dry and warm, take some time to give gratitude for this.
  14. What do you love most about each of the 4 seasons?
  15. Describe the positivity you found in your day today.
  16. How does social media help you feel more connected to people?
  17. What is one positive thing you’ve said to yourself today? (For help with positive mantras, take a look here!)
  18. Describe something beautiful that you see everyday, maybe on your way to work or at home.
  19. What are you grateful for about the village, town or city that you live in? 
  20. What are you grateful for about the Country that you live in?
Self-improvement Journal

Further Reading

We hope that you have got some good info on getting started with your self improvement journal.

If you’re looking for some more reasons to keep a journal then check out our highlighted article. We’ve also got some great tips on the best journals to buy so be sure to read that article too.

Happy journaling!

Self-improvement journal
Self-improvement journal - Amazon