I believe many people think about starting a personal journal yet don’t. Why? Possibly due to not really knowing where to begin. Maybe it is even the confusion of what sort of journal to start. If you’re looking for a way to reflect on your thoughts and emotions, a personal journal can be a great tool. By taking just a few minutes each day to write down your thoughts, you can gain insight into your feelings and experiences. Here are five easy steps to help you get started with your own personal journal.
With so many ways to journal, the best journal to start is the one that is correct for you. That may mean trying a few different journal types first to discover which personal journal style suits you best.
I know when I started journaling, I questioned myself about where to start, how to start and even what to write about or draw. I also questioned whether I should keep a paper journal in a beautifully crafted book or an online journal. Oh! my, I just seemed to overcomplicate it.
In fact, I tried starting a journal quite a few times before I really stayed committed to it. The reason I believe I stayed committed this time is that I write my journal by hand. I also know why I keep a journal, and I see the health benefits it provides. Journaling can be an effective tool for managing stress, organising your thoughts, and tracking your personal growth over time. But, if you’re new to journaling, it can be tough to know where to start. In this article, I share some ideas for getting started with journaling and offer tips for making your journaling habit stick.
- 1. Know why you want to start a personal journal?
- 2. Choose a journal that suits your needs.
- 3. Set aside time each day to write.
- 4. Use prompts or exercises to get started.
- 5. Write freely and without judgement. Express yourself in your journal.
- 6. Reflect on your writing and track your progress.
- How to make your journaling habit stick.
1. Know why you want to start a personal journal?
Before looking at different journals, you can keep, let’s ask ‘Why would you like to start a personal journal?’ It’s important to determine what you want to achieve through this practice. You may have specific goals in mind, such as reducing stress, processing emotions or setting intentions for the future. Alternatively, you may simply want to enjoy the creative and introspective benefits of journaling without any specific objectives.
Determine your journaling goal.
Why you would like to start a diary or a journal is the first question because it can define the sort of journal to keep.
A few main reasons why people keep a journal are;
- Self-management and personal growth.
- Keeping a journal is a great way to express your emotions and clear your head.
- Journaling is also a free tool for healing emotional pain, tracking your goals and building up self-esteem. There are many mental and emotional health benefits of journaling.
- Journaling can help with overcoming limiting beliefs and seeing our successes. It also helps with creativity, ideas, communication and processing of information.
- Reducing stress, clarifying decisions, and understanding yourself are some benefits of journaling.
Though there are many more ways in which to Journal your way to better health.
Whichever journaling path you choose, it’s important to define your goals before beginning so that you can structure your writing topics and exercises accordingly. Consider creating a list of prompts or topics that align with your goals and use them as inspiration for your entries.
52 Journal Prompts on Personal Growth for Beginners.
Journal Prompts for Self-Love.
Reflective Journal Prompts for the New Year.
When it comes to starting a journal, there are so many different types to choose from. These are the 5 types of personal journals that I started with when I commenced journalling. As you commence journaling, remember that journaling should be a positive experience that supports your mental health. Therefore, be open to experimentation and adaption until you find an approach that works for you.
2. Choose a journal that suits your needs.
Below is a list of 5 types of personal journals. Try them all, or combine one, two or more of the ideas into your journal. I personally write a reflective journal but mix it up with some bullet journaling and gratitude journaling.
Gratitude increases health and well-being. The saying is ‘an attitude of gratitude“, and that is what a gratitude journal is about. It’s about expressing what you are grateful for right now. A gratitude journal encourages and inspires you to find something you are thankful for even in difficult times and challenging times.
A good way to start this journal is to answer this question.
‘What three things am I grateful for today?’
I like the way that Darren Hardy expanded on being thankful with a Thanksgiving Journal. Darren speaks about this in his book ‘The Compound Effect’. Darren wrote about his relationship with his wife and struggles after an argument. He decided to work on his relationship with his wife. To do this, he took time each day to focus on something positive to write about her or what she did for the family for a whole year. Darren then presented this gift to her on Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving journal was born.
A food journal is simply a journal where you track what you eat. It helps you stay on track with your diet, meal plans, sugar intake or whatever aspect of food journaling your choose to track.
A great thing about tracking what you eat is that you are less likely to eat mindlessly.
To keep a food journal, write down all the food and drinks you consume. The time you eat, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and also how you feel when you eat.
Although I write my meal plans by hand, I track my food with a food app. There are many apps to choose from. The one I like is the easy diet diary app, not because I can easily see the breakdown of the food but because I can effortlessly copy a meal from one day to the next. This is such a bonus because I eat the same breakfast most days a week.
A reflection journal is a way to express yourself, your thoughts, your struggles and your reactions and actions. It is like a diary where you get to write freely about your day, a current or past event or even a thought. When writing in the journal, be as descriptive as you can in your writing. Note, as you write, you may also be drawn to a similar thought, struggle, reaction or action from other times. Write about these if they come to your mind as you write. Some of these reflections may even be from childhood. Rather than question them, write freely as you think.
To write a reflective journal, write freely for about 20 minutes either with pen or paper or with an online journal or word processing document. The journal is your journal to write and reflect on using techniques best for you.
A reflective journal is a great journal to write in at the end of the day. Though I’ve heard people write about their dreams at the start of the day too. Writing from journal prompts can help with reflective writing.
Benefits of a reflective journal.
A reflective journal helps clear your head and relieve pressure or stress. It is quite often a journal recommended for healing as when you write, you process information and gain clarity.
- clarify your thoughts
- releases stress
- reflect on life’s journey
- a place to express negative thoughts and emotions
- an outlet for expressing frustration
- a place to share happiness
- give you a place to share feelings towards yourself and others
- a way to grieve
- provides a place to remember people, events, and moods. Whatever you choose to record.
This personal journal is a great way to capture areas of your life. In fact, a bullet journal is fantastic to use for self-management. You can keep track of many different topics with a bullet journal. Also, the journal can be set up with yearly views, monthly views, daily views, and even to-do lists.
What I love about bullet journals is that you can track your habits, spending, business, and life. There is so much that can be tracked and beautifully displayed the way you would like to display it. A bullet journal is like your life organizer.
Starting a bullet journal.
The first thing to do is choose a bullet journal to start creating and tracking. Next, get some ideas on what to track in your journal. Pinterest is a great place to research bullet journal ideas.
On your first page, write an index of what areas of your life you would like to track. There are so many bullet page ideas to choose from. If you are new to tracking and journalling, start with a few and add more as you progress. You don’t want to be overwhelmed before you start.
Ideas to track in a bullet journal.
- Meal planner
- Exercise planner
- Daily step count
- Bucket list
- Mood tracker
- Books to read
- Gratitude Diary
- Daily budget
- Social media planner
- Social media growth
When you have decided what you would like to track in a bullet journal, design your pages. I like to write up a monthly calendar for self-love and a monthly calendar for business goals. I then use about four pages each day. I write a monthly meal plan at the start of the week. Every day I have a page for reflection and a page for my current goals.
I have found that the more you use a bullet journal, the more your skills develop in creating your journal and your life your way.
This journal not only helps you with setting core goals, but it also helps with picturing your day. A visual journal for goal setting is great for focusing on your main objective. I personally like to keep my main goal in view on a vision board, but drawing or adding pictures to your journal daily is great for goal focus. To do this, all you need is your sketchbook or visual journal, a few magazines, some coloured pens or paints and your ideas. Choose pictures to create a collage, and draw or write your big ideas.
Explore colour, textures and themes to create a vision, record a memory or express your thoughts in your art diary. Be creative.
Some artists like to keep a sketchbook on them to draw their day, to picture a quote or something they have heard or read. Like the other journals, a visual journal is a way to record thoughts, ideas, reflections, goals, and whatever you choose to capture in your book.
Here is how to write your ideal day as a visual journey.
3. Set aside time each day to write.
Once you have your journal, it’s important to set aside time each day to write in it. Depending on your schedule and preferences, this can be as little as 10 minutes or as long as an hour. Choose a time of day when you’re most likely to be able to focus and reflect, whether that’s first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or before bed. Make it a habit to write in your journal at the same time each day, and soon it will become a natural part of your routine. Remember, the more you write, the more you’ll get out of the experience.
4. Use prompts or exercises to get started.
One of the best ways to get started with journaling is to use journal prompts. Here are 52 journal prompts for beginners. Another way to start is to use exercises like a word or theme to get your creative juices flowing. In the March Journal Prompts, I have written some one-word journal writing ideas.
Some popular prompts include writing about your goals, expressing gratitude, reflecting on recent experiences or exploring your emotions.
With free creative writing a fun way is to set a timer for a certain amount of time and write whatever comes to your mind without stopping or editing. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different prompts and exercises until you find what works best for you.
Writing the first journal entry.
Opening your journal for the first time and seeing the first blank page can be scary. Deciding what to write or reveal on the first page should not stop you from starting to write.
- Leave the first-page blank.
- Go to the next page and date it, write your location if you wish and start writing or drawing.
- When you finish your first journal entry, reflect and think about your blank page.
Ideas for the first blank page.
- Write only your name.
- Make a word cloud about your journal ideas.
- Write up a personal introduction about you and your current situation.
- List questions you would like to answer as you write in your journal.
- Write down your favourite quotes to keep you motivated and inspired.
“Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.” Robin Sharma.
5. Write freely and without judgement. Express yourself in your journal.
When starting a personal journal, it’s important to remember that this is a space for you to express yourself freely and without judgment. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or perfect writing. Instead, focus on getting your thoughts and feelings down on paper. This can be a great way to release pent-up emotions and gain clarity on your thoughts and experiences. Remember, your journal is for your eyes only, so feel free to be as honest and vulnerable as you need to be.
Your journal is your personal journal. The pages of your journal are for you. Express yourself. Write down your goals, your thoughts, and your ideas. Track your habits, your moods, and your actions. You will discover the best way to express yourself as you write in your personal journal.
When I started, I was unsure what sort of journal I wanted to keep. I started a bullet journal and a reflection journal. I now combine all in one journal as this works best for me at this current time. I keep a small notebook handy as I choose to have a journal that I can’t carry around with me. This is so I can note down comments, quotes or things I would like to remember about my day.
“Writing in a journal each day allows you to direct your focus to what you accomplished, what you’re grateful for and what you’re committed to doing better tomorrow. This, you are more deeply enjoy, your journey each day.”Hal Elrod
Scribing as Hal Elrod called it in his book ‘The morning miracle.” Journalling is one of the life SAVERS that he recommends in the book. Writing in a personal journal is one positive way to start the day, as is writing things you are grateful for at the end of the day.
6. Reflect on your writing and track your progress.
Once you start a personal journal, reflecting on your writing and tracking your progress can be helpful. This can help you identify patterns in your thoughts and behaviours and track your personal growth over time. You can do this by setting aside time each week to review your journal entries and make notes on any insights or changes you’ve noticed.
5 Elements to include in your journal entry.
- Today’s date
- Prompt or thought
- Mood or emotion
I also like to include my goal if it is relevant to my journal entry that day. Including my goal, helps me stay focused on my personal goals.
Remember, the most important thing is to be consistent and make journaling a regular part of your routine.
How to make your journaling habit stick.
Like any habit, the best way to make your journaling habit stick is to journal at a set time per day, or after another activity that is already set in your routine.
I like to journal in the morning. On waking, I make breakfast, enjoy breakfast outside on my back deck and then journal while listening to the birds singing. I always check I wake up early enough so that I can commence the day with a productive morning routine.
Do not overthink; what shall I write about today? Use journal prompts or simply write what you are grateful for. Keep your journal habit simple.
The more your journal, the more you will start expanding the time you spend journaling as you discover the power of self-healing and personal growth.
If you’ve been looking to start a personal journal and are unsure, check out these 4 reasons to start a journal with a list of 25 habits to track. The main thing is not to get hung up on what sort of journal to start; you can change as you become more comfortable and consistent with your writing. Also, you can keep more than one kind.
If you are keen to start today, don’t wait for supplies. Grab a piece of paper, grab a pen and start writing or drawing. Every day, at home as a family, we share what inspired us today. Maybe the first question you could ask yourself and write about is ‘What inspired you today?’ Feel free to share in the comments.