Self-improvement is a loaded word, and leaning too heavily into it can actually be pretty destructive. After all, the current you is pretty great—so putting too much energy into changing isn't always a good idea.
That being said, if you have little areas of your life you want to improve, whether that's related to getting more exercise, getting a promotion at work, spending more time with friends and family and the list goes on, journaling can be your best friend.
Journaling helps us organize our thoughts, get clear on our goals, and make plans for accomplishing them that are actually realistic. With that in mind, here are 9 tips on how to journal for self-improvement.
How to Journal for Self-Improvement
1. Choose a journal you really love
If you don't love your journal, you won't feel excited to write in it. This will make you less likely to be consistent in your journaling, which will be detrimental to your self-improvement efforts. So, look for a journal that really speaks to you, whether that's in the cover or format. For example, some people might like a journal with blank lined pages, while others prefer a more bullet-journal style journal, or one with prompts.
2. Set a goal
Next, set a goal. How often do you want to journal? What do you hope to get out of your journaling journey as you work toward self-improvement? Do you want your journal to actually hold you accountable, or are you just using it to come up with a plan of action? Finally, come up with the areas of your life you hope to improve so you can have a solid starting point.
3. Find a time to journal that works for you
Next, find a time of day to journal that's actually realistic for you. If you tend to be too exhausted to think straight (much less write) late at night, that's definitely the wrong time. If you tend to be a morning person, on the other hand, that's probably a great time to journal. Or you can always journal on your lunch break! Consistency in journaling is important, especially when you're working toward self-improvement, so choose a time of day when you know you'll actually have the time and energy to journal and stick to it.
4. Let your thoughts flow freely and be honest
If you're not honest while you're journaling, where can you be honest? When you're journaling for self-improvement, and especially when you're in the phase when you're trying to figure out what you want to improve on, free-flowing, judgement free thoughts are key. This phase is all about the brain dump. Be honest, and let your words take you where they will.
Let your thoughts flow freely and don't worry about spelling or grammar.
5. Don't worry about grammar or spelling
And on that note, try not to worry too much about grammar and spelling. Are these things important when you're writing emails at work or sending a text to a friend? Sure. But when you're journaling, the most important thing you can do is keep the words flowing—that's how you'll reach the revelations you really want to reach.
6. Read and re-read your journal
It might not occur to you to read your journal once you're finished writing in it, but by reading and re-reading your journal from time to time (you can correct your spelling and grammar then, if you'd like), you'll learn a lot about yourself and your motivations. This can help you better understand yourself, which is key to any self-improvement journey.
7. Come up with a plan
Here's a little secret: Self-improvement is very unlikely to happen without a solid plan in place. If you want to exercise more, for example, it's important to write down how many times a week you plan to exercise, the type of exercise you'll do, and when you'll do it. It can help to journal about different challenges around fitting exercise in, any factors that cause you to skip it, and how you feel afterward.
8. Experiment with different journaling methods
For some people, a blank page is their best friend. For others, it's their worst enemy. If you find you're having a hard time holding yourself accountable after getting past the goal-setting part of your self-improvement journey, it may be time to turn to a bullet-style journal like Silk + Sonder for tools that will help turn your self-improvement goals into a reality, like habit, mood and spending trackers.
9. Be consistent
Consistency is key to self-improvement, and if you find that journaling is helpful for you as you continue on your self-improvement journey, make sure to stick with it (among the other self-improvement related commitments you make to yourself). Journal at the same time every day, and ideally for the same number of minutes. You've got this!
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