Is Journaling Useful?
On a scale of one to four, how useful do you think journaling is?
Keeping a personal journal is like keeping a diary, but it dives a lot deeper into your inner thoughts and hopes. It’s about examining your life.
Interactive journaling, when taken seriously, can lead to memory improvement, growth, insight, overcoming trouble and even achieving goals. It's also a great way to improve your Intrapersonal, Linguistic and existential intelligence1. Your writing will become more naturally organized, and you are improving your ability to think laterally (or divergently).
I’ve been an avid journaler for about fifteen years now, and I cherish my journal because I can look at it and see real personal growth over the years.
Anything can be used as an interactive journal: a spiral notebook, a diary, stapled pieces of paper, a computer, a blog (less personal), etc. Write as much or as little as you think is necessary. You don't have to follow this outline every time you write in it, in fact, a journal is a great place to muse or let off steam.
But I do encourage you to give Interactive Journaling a try. Modify it and organize it to a way that better fits your needs and personality. The way mentioned here is the way that works for me, and I feel like I have more control over my life. Please enjoy!
1. To find out more about the different intelligences/aptitudes, take the Multi-Intelligences self-test and read about the different learning styles in Gardener's Book about them.
To Get Started:
- Number your journal.
Number the pages (or entries) of your interactive journal so that you can have easier access to goals, worries and memories. It will make your journal more organized and it will feel more purposeful.
- Create Goal Index
I suggest using the last page (or two) of your journal for this. Give yourself room to write a one or two word description of the goal, and the page/entry numbers that you discuss it on. The ones you write about most can tell you about what you really want and what action you should take to reach these goals. If you have achieved a goal, do not cross it off your index, simply put check mark or smiley face next to it with a date.
- Create Worry Index
Next to the Goal Index in your interactive journal, make yourself an index to list your worries and troubles in. This is a good way to stay aware of what bothers you, and remember how you plan to solve the problem. If you have eliminated a worry, do the same thing you would do as if you checked off a goal. That way, you can use the same reference if the worry should ever return.
The Process of Interactive Journaling:
Following, you'll find the eight-step process of Interactive Journaling.
Of course, putting a date on the page is always the first thing to do when writing any kind of journal entry.
Before starting every entry, take about half a minute to look at your last entry (or two). This will help you get into the journaling mindset and remember a bit about what has happened since you last wrote (depending on the frequency of your entries); and, especially look to see if you have accomplished or solved any of the item(s) in your Plan or Solve sections of the last journal entry.
If you are writing your first Interactive Journal entry think about things that have been on your mind lately and what you've planned to do versus what you've actually done.
2. Recap & Reflect
The first part of your Interactive Journal entry. This is where interactive journaling differs a little from your average journaling.
Write about what you have done and what has happened since your last entry, and include how you felt about each activity. No need to go into extreme detail, but do try to remember the "big things" and your reactions. Remember what you put in the Plan and Worry sections of your last entry, and discuss whether or not you have actually done what you said you will.
Even if your routine is pretty regular and you feel that your life is boring, think about what was different about this stretch of time. Was there anyone you talked to that you don’t usually talk to? Did you try a new restaurant? Was your usual “something” (drink, lunch, beer, break) different in any way?
Write like you would write in normal diary or journal, but make sure you include how you felt and how you reacted to things.
Recap, Reflect & Connect
Try to link/connect something you saw, read or did since your last entry to the “greater good.” Find a lesson to be learned for yourself, people in general, or the world.
Finding deeper meaning in everyday activities, events, movies and literature is a great way to strengthen your brain, increase your intelligence and improve oneself as a member of society (and the human race all together).
If you didn’t watch or read anything, and are having trouble thinking of something to write here, think about the simple things, things that worked well for you (or didn’t work) and a lesson to be learned from it.
This is where you take a moment to consider your personal goals and track the progress thereof. You don’t need to discuss every goal you have, but one or two that you are reminded of after writing the first two parts of the journal entry.
Write the goal, and list at least three steps or things you can do to reach that goal.
If you have made progress towards and important goal (I feel all goals are important), write it here and don’t forget to mention what else you can do to achieve it. Or if you have completed a goal, write that too; and mention how you finally achieved it and your feelings about it.
Always remember to add the new goal or page number of an already written goal to your Goal Index.
Life isn’t always positive, and there are almost always things we wish we could change whether big or small. Here, write down one or two things you are worried about or track the progress of something you’ve written down before.
You should also write down one or two ways in which you can fix this problem or worry. The more on-paper brainstorming you do about how to rid yourself of the problem/worry/trouble, the better!
Don't forget to add each new discussion or topic here to your Worry Index.
6. Be Thankful
Write about someone or something in your life that you can be thankful for.
Big or small, significant or not, write something.
Ending on a positive note will leave you with a positive attitude towards interactive journaling. When looking back, you will be surprised of all the things you have in your life to be thankful for, and you will be happy that you wrote them down.
A signature at the end of your entry will make it more meaningful and seem more official and serious.
When we sign our names, usually it’s for something important; and, interactive journaling should be an important thing in your life if you decide to do it.
I challege you to give this a try. Write 21 interactive journal entries and see whether or not you feel more in-control of your life!
If you don't particularly like this format, mold it and shape it to a format that will be more useful to you!
Will You Try?
How likely are you to give interactive journaling a try?
© 2014 Jake Z