My New Year Habit
One of the habits I’ve restarted this year is journaling. I’ve done it in the past but I’ve not been consistent at it, and part of the reason was not having the right tool that I could capture down my thoughts conveniently and consistently. I’ve resolved to rediscover the art of keeping a journal.
Being an intuitive introvert (according to the Jungian MBTI profiling), there’s a lot going on in my head and inner world, it’s a waste not to capture them down in words. I believe that journaling as a self-reflection and self-exploration tool will prove invaluable in time to come. I often have a lot of significant thoughts and events that go unrecorded, and I can’t keep trusting my memory as year by year goes by. So I’ve resolved to write them down somehow. And I’ve started doing that on a daily basis since the first day of the new year.
For me, a physical diary is just not going to cut it anymore as I want to keep less books/papers over the years. Beside, I want to keep something that I could never lose, hence I was exploring software and mobile apps that I could sync over the cloud (across my PC, iOS and Android devices). I spent the last few days in December researching and trying a handful of apps, and eventually settled for Evernote – my tried and trusted note-capturing solution that I’ve been using for years.
In this post, I want to discuss the benefits of journaling that I’ve discovered, and in my next post I will write on how I use Evernote specifically for this purpose.
7 Benefits Of Journaling
1) Reflect and process on events – Journaling provides me a place and time to pause at the end of the day, to review and process everything that happened during the day. My journal is not just a place where I recall and record down the events, but more importantly, the meanings I give and associate the events with. What happens to me does not matter as much as how I react or respond to what happens.
2) Self-awareness and inner searching – Better self-knowledge can be attained as I write about myself to myself at the end of each day, and put everything down into words. All my thoughts and feelings are uncluttered and disentangled, one sentence at a time. And the thick onion (me) is slowly peeled, one layer at a time, day by day. Journaling provides a reflective surface for me to see myself. Also, it allows me to connect with my heart and many unspoken emotions. This is soul-searching on paper (or in my case, e-paper).
3) Idea creation and capturing – Creative thoughts and ideas often come to me, especially during early mornings. Journaling provides me a mean to capture all of them down. I will write more on my processes using Evernote, in my next post.
4) Stress management – Based on scientific research, self-expression through creative journaling engages both hemispheres of the brain, improves cognitive functioning, strengthens the immune system and counteracts the negative effect of stress. One will feel more integrated in the mind. For me, journaling is also a form of spiritual prayer, where I get in touch with my spirit and God’s spirit. I record down my list of gratitudes too.
5) Tracking my progress and personal transformation – I’ve adopted some of Jim Rohn’s philosophies of life and succcess, and one of them is this: ‘It is not what you will get, it is who you will become‘. In the midst of the busy pursuits of external gains, I’m reminded that personal development is an inside job too. My extrinsic destination is determined by the intrinsic journey I take. Journaling is a powerful self-coaching tool to record my inner travel.
6) See the context – Journaling helps me to view the bigger picture in time. As I do a weekly review, I could see and reflect on the bigger story that’s happening in my life versus the daily events. And I will do monthly and yearly reviews using my journal – useful in zooming out to see the forest from the trees.
7) Ask the right, powerful questions – I know that the quality of the answers (outcome) that I want is determined by the quality of my questions. All the insights and lessons that I can gain from the benefits above will lead me to ask better questions, expect better results, and become a better person in the journey.
Sticking to the Story
How consistent will I stick to this contemplative practice called journaling? I’m compelled to make this my lifetime habit, based on the benefits discussed above and more. Actually, it’s not difficult for me as I’ve already cultivated the habit of recording random thoughts into Evernote for years. Now I’ve to give myself the permission to have more space and time to express and face myself even more.
What’s your story on journaling? Do you have one? I would love to hear you share your stories and experiences in journaling!