How To Use Journaling To Make Decisions And Progress In Your Life

Photo by: Daria Shevtsova via Upslash

Photo by: Daria Shevtsova via Upslash

There are two tools I use when I need clarity in my life or want to take action on a goal: Meditation and Journaling. Both are excellent methods for witnessing your thoughts and observing patterns.

Although I like to use a combination of both, journaling is what ultimately turns my thoughts into an action plan. Here are some strategies for getting the most out of your journaling sessions, so that you can continue to uplevel your life and reach your goals.

Morning Pages

Morning Pages is a technique created by Julia Cameron, that she introduced in her book The Artist’s Way. Essentially what you are doing here is a casual unloading of the brain as soon as you wake up every day. In Cameron’s words, they are “three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness.” It doesn’t matter what you write, the point is, that by tapping into your creative mind first thing in the morning you start to eventually uncover some jewels that may or may not be useful later on.

Morning & Evening Stoic Journaling

According to Ryan Holiday, “the Stoics believed that the two best times for reflection were in the morning and evening: Prepare for the day ahead; Review the day that just passed.” Holiday’s journal, The Daily Stoic Journal: 366 Days Of Writing And Reflection On The Art Of Living, offers inspirational Stoic quotes, poses questions for you to answer and provides writing space for planning and reflection.

Gratitude Journaling

This technique helps us remember all of the things we love, are thankful for or take for granted in our lives. It is also a good opportunity to appreciate things that are not going so well in our lives, so that we can learn from them and make progress.

Productive Journaling

If there is something in your life that you need to manifest, taking the time to sit down and write it out is a good way to make dreams into reality.

Marie Forleo’s strategy for success is laid out beautifully in her free audio training - How To Get Anything You Want. In this training she encourages her listeners to grab a journal and do the following exercises:

  1. Write down what you want and why.

  2. List your top 10 excuses you will probably use to sabotage yourself. For every excuse jot down why the excuse is BS and what you are going to do instead, so you can eliminate it.

  3. Create 20 ideas and/or action steps you can use to move you closer to getting what you want.

The Mastery Journal, created by John Lee Dumas is also an excellent tool for productivity. In this journal there are 100 days of templates where you can fill in four goals you have for each day, how long you are going to spend on each one and what you have accomplished each day. Every day starts out by checking off elements of your morning routine and ends with laying out a plan for the following day.

Sketch Out Ideal Schedules

This is one of my favorite goal setting exercises. I know, I’m a geek. In your journal create your ideal schedule. These can be exercise schedules you want to put yourself on, work schedules you wish you had, an ideal morning routine, etc.

The goal here is to look at your daily life at a glance and make it work for you and your goals. Even if you have a demanding job or kids you still have the power to create time in your schedule each day for the things that are truly important to you. This is a great time to reflect on what your priorities are at the moment, what you are willing to sacrifice and how you can get creative to make time for the things you want to achieve.

Create the life you want with journaling

One of the most productive things you can do is carve out quiet time alone for thought and reflection. These are the brainstorming sessions you have with yourself, to look at what is going right and what is going wrong, so you can decide what you want to work on or get better at.

No matter what strategy you use, taking out a journal on a daily basis gives you space to think and creates a guidebook for your life.

Unload your thoughts in your journal. Take a walk and think about what you wrote. Go back later and re-read what you wrote and make a to-do list.

Nobody is going to do this for you. Nobody can tell you what you need to do in order to be successful in your life. This information comes from within. And it comes out by writing it down and taking action.

Get to manifesting!

Written by Sarah Burchard

Sarah Burchard is a writer, marketer and ingredients driven chef. She is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a food and lifestyle blog that focuses on cooking, healthy habits and supporting local. Sarah also leads farmers market tours and hosts farm-to-table events in Honolulu. Follow her on Instagram to learn more about local Hawaiian food.