There’s one thing true about life: change is constant. Whether it’s a friend landing a new job or your mother learning how to use an iPhone, there are so many new things going on. Sometimes these changes are manageable, while other times, we’re not sure if we can handle just one more thing being thrown our way. Journaling about your thoughts and experiences can help you process your emotions and make sense of what’s going on.
When I made the decision to turn my love for words into a business, I decided to start a journal to help me process the whirlwind of information I had been researching and finding out from my encounters with other business owners. Although everything didn’t make sense at the time, I was able to go back later and reflect on what I wrote. Reflective journaling has helped me tremendously for three reasons:
Reflecting journaling helps you achieve personal growth.
Beginning a business is an interesting journey, to say the least. In the moments when you feel like you’re on the hamster wheel, going nowhere, it’s great to look back on old journal entries and reflect on how far you’ve come. For example, instead of being sad about the amount of email subscribers I had at any given time, I could at least reflect on knowing how to set up an account with my email service provider! (Gotta keep it positive, you know?!)
Reflective journaling increases self-awareness.
The benefit of consistently writing in a journal affords you the opportunity to notice trends and themes in your writing. These themes can highlight topics you may need to explore further and help you learn who you really are. For example, you may notice a passion for helping others in your writing. Or you may notice constant struggles with having a poor mindset. When you are consciously aware of these themes in your writing, you have a better chance of recognizing your strengths and limitations. This, in turn, will allow you to experience the growth needed to not only help yourself become a better person but your readers, too.
Reflective journaling helps you process your thoughts.
There are a lot of hurtful and frightening events happening in the United States: school shootings, police brutality, natural disasters, and political unrest. It can be difficult to figure out how you feel about the chaos around you. Journaling has helped me to put aside what I see on various media platforms, and come to my own conclusions about the many events happening around me. It can help you, too.
Tips for Reflective Journaling
There is no right or wrong way to maintain your journal. However, in order to get the most out of your writing, try out these tips:
Write from the heart
It can be extremely difficult to write what your real thoughts in ink. There’s always the fear that someone will discover your work and misunderstand you or misconstrue your words. I will not deny that this is a possibility. I admit I have experienced the same fear; however, I choose to think about the people who need to hear what I have to say. I think about how I can push past my fear and use my experiences to help someone who shares my story. You have to think about how you can write from the heart without causing added turmoil in your life. (Or, perhaps, the turmoil will be worth it?)
Resist the urge to edit as you write
This can be such a difficult urge to break, but it is necessary. I encourage you to get the real you onto paper first. If you choose to turn your journal into a piece of content for your readers at a later time, then you may proceed with editing. However, your journal is not meant to look like it’s been through the ringer with your high school English teacher’s red pen, okay?
Be willing to experiment
In business, I hear many who feel you should be known for one specific skill. While I understand and appreciate this perspective, I know that as a writer, this approach makes me feel “boxed in”. At this point in my life and career, I have come to appreciate the adventure and excitement of experimenting with my writing and figuring out what kind of writer I want to become. Experimenting has made me realize I’d like to not only write creative nonfiction, but I would also love to write a collection of flash fiction. I would never have known this had I not taken the opportunity to “write outside the box.”
If you already know you enjoy journaling or if you’d like to learn more about how journaling can help you increase your self-awareness and create authentic content that resonates with your readers, I invite you to join a group of talented individuals in the #WriteReflectCreate challenge. This challenge is for writers, bloggers, and creative coaches who want to use journaling as a way to learn more about themselves and use that knowledge to genuinely connect with their audience. The challenge begins Monday, October 17th, and you can join and learn more here.