Have you ever felt as though you’re being weighed down by all of your worries? Have your thoughts ever seemed tangled beyond hope? If so, the solution might be more within reach than you think. All you need to do is keep a journal.
Journaling may bring up negative connotations of high school students and “dear diaries.” However, this does injustice to the many scientifically-proven advantages that the practice can give you. This post will show you why famous changemakers like Ronald Reagan, Harry Truman, Mark Twain, and Winston Churchill all kept journals — and why perhaps you might want to consider doing so, too.
Journaling develops leadership skills
On Harvard Business School’s blog is an article that’s titled: “Want To Be An Outstanding Leader? Keep A Journal.”
Of course, it’s not quite as easy as that. You won’t magically become a great leader just by walking into the nearest Barnes & Noble, purchasing the nearest Moleskine you can find, and scribbling a sentence in it. However, the benefits that journaling affords its enthusiasts are well-documented — and many of them are key to developing good leadership skills.
Journaling encourages mindfulness and gives you time to reflect. More specifically, it forces you to make a concentrated effort to be self-aware, allowing you to absorb and sort through information that might have come quickly at you in the moment. In our frenzied times, this in and of itself could give you a competitive advantage. As Barack Obama notes: “In my life, writing has been an important exercise to clarify what I believe, what I see, what I care about, what my deepest values are. The process of converting a jumble of thoughts into coherent sentences makes you ask tougher questions.”
It jumpstarts creativity
Multiple studies have concluded that people who journal show long-term improvements in stress and depression. Writing that tackles taxing and emotional events is particularly beneficial for our states of mind: those who do so are significantly less likely to be affected by illness or trauma.
Besides these health benefits, there’s one more intangible thing that journaling improves: your creativity. Creativity is a muscle that you need to exercise as often as possible, and a journal is one of the best ways to trigger ideas and make free-thinking a daily practice.
Writers out there can combine the creativity boosts that journaling affords with writing prompts to really get your writing off the ground. Even if it’s a short story, it’s a way to keep your daily word counter up — or perhaps write through writer’s block. And journaling itself is a written exercise that will improve your writing skills, whether you’re narrating an event or describing a scene.
It actually improves your ability to remember
Unless you’re one of the lucky few out there with a pitch-perfect photographic memory, you’re unfortunately probably going to lose your recollection of past personal events as time goes by.
However, journaling presents an easy counter. Recording a moment in time is perhaps one of the bravest and most truthful ways to fight the inevitability of memory loss. Outside of being a simple documentation of your life, a journal preserves your thoughts, ideas, and impressions at the time of incident. Capturing these things down on a page could literally be priceless at a later date.
More than that, journaling actually improves your ability to remember. If you do end up recounting the past day’s events in a journal, try and do so at night: a study found that those who journaled in the evening had a more precise recall rate than those who journaled in the morning.
It helps define your goals
How many of your well-intended ideas go straight to Neverland just because you never ended up carrying them out?
If you’re like most people, it’s probably many. But that’s where journaling can come into play.
Once you write and record a goal in a journal, you turn a vague idea into something concrete with legs. Recording the progress that you’ve made every day can then help with the implementation of the goal by allowing you to strategize how to move forward the next day so that the finish line is always in your sight.
Many language learners, for instance, are encouraged to keep a daily journal in which they write in their target language. This way, they are not only executing the means to reach the goal (language learning) every day, but they’re also able to physically flip through the journal and see the progress that they’ve made from day one to the present day.