I have been journaling from the moment I learned to form cohesive sentences. Over time, the content of these entries has evolved from the amateurish accounting of daily events to shameless self-involved teenage dramatics to strategic life mapping. I realize that verbalizing thoughts and ideas comes naturally for me as a writer, but journaling isn't just for wordsmiths. In fact, some of history's most notable people have kept journals as a way of sharpening their vision, recording their successes and improving mental clarity. Oprah Winfrey has long advocated the practice. She has even shared with her audiences excerpts from her personal diary entries over the years, providing documented evidence that the distinct vision for her successes existed on paper long before it was actualized
No matter how satisfied you might be with your life, if you aren't journaling, you're leaving tons of potential on the table. Here are 17 reasons why you need to start journaling TODAY:
1. VentingLife presents tons of opportunities to get angry. If you confronted every offense, you'd spend your entire life popping off. So what do we do with all this pent-up tension? Write it down! Get it all out, leave it on the page. I promise when you're done, you'll feel like a new person
2. Issue MappingThere is a reason you have to show your work in math. Seeing the problem laid out before you helps you to recognize all the little pieces that add up to the bigger picture. Once you have a good scope of the situation, you can begin strategizing the solution
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3. Problem SolvingNot everything is as black and white as mathematics. Sometimes the solution to an issue is more complex than x+y=z. The act of writing turns on the creative, intuitive side of the brain where the answers you're seeking are often found
4. Self-examinationTaking the time to write things down provides an opportunity to intellectually process situations outside of your feelings and beyond your own perspective. If you're journaling from an authentic place, reading what you've written can be a helpful tool for self-confrontation to identify and eliminate your blind spots
5. HealingUnless you're the one person in the world with no baggage, there are surely some underlying, perhaps dormant issues that consistently create the same stumbling blocks in your life. There is a reason we tend to repeat the same behaviors that produce the same undesirable results. Seeing your patterns and pathologies over time can help you get to the bottom of them and correct your course
6. Goal SettingHaving a goal in mind is one thing, but putting it on paper is an all-together different matter. Why do you think every successful business has a vision and mission statement? It's necessary to keep all parties aligned and on track toward a common goal. Apply this principal to your personal brand and see what happens
Write it down on real paper with a real pencil. And watch shit get real.— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) November 26, 2013'
7. AccountabilityWriting your goals in a journal will keep you accountable and moving in the direction of your target. It's pretty tough to skirt responsibility for your life when you have hand-written, dated accountabilities
8. ManifestingJournaling is a huge part of my spiritual practice. I firmly believe that there is supernatural power in writing the vision. This concept has been tried and proven countless times. Long before becoming a renowned bestselling author, African-American science-fiction writer, Octavia E. Butler, wrote in her journal, "My novels will go onto the above lists whether publishers push them hard or not." And so it was
9. Documenting your winsOne of my most gratifying experiences to date was stumbling upon an old journal where I had written a list of 11 goals that I wanted to accomplish by the time I turned 30. I had completely forgotten about the list but by the time I found it I had checked off every single item. I was 27
10. InspirationThe significance of that story is that given that when my 21-year-old self wrote the list, those goals were as far-fetched as riding a unicorn across a rainbow. That journal serves as a reminder to keep my personal bar high. It reminds me that no matter my current reality, if I can maintain the vision there is no such thing as an unattainable goal
11. AffirmationThere is no safer place than the pages of your private notebook to flex your cocky fresh, affirm your dopeness and remind yourself how utterly amazing you truly are...because chances are, no one else really wants to hear it. Can someone please get a journal to Yeezy?
12. HumilityI can totally understand how arrogance happens. When you acquire a little experience, a bit of knowledge and a certain level of success, it's easy to forget how clueless you once were. Revisiting the mentality of my 22-year-old self keeps me humble and completely non-judgmental of others stumbling into adulthood. Journaling is a great way to keep your ego in check while tracking personal growth
13. LegacyThink about the utter dopeness of having your own documented personal history in the context of the broader cultural history. The Bush/Gore election scandal, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and other events that shaped the perspective of an entire generation...they are all recorded, from my perspective, within the pages of my journals. My dad also keeps a journal. Imagine the legacy we'll have to pass down to future generations
14. IntelligenceMost IQ tests skew heavily toward language as an indication of intelligence.Writing is an exploration of language, it sharpens vocabulary and increases the appetite for reading. Writing enhances your ability to think critically and articulate succinctly. Consistent journaling makes you smarter
15. Self-awarenessWhen a foul mood strikes (seemingly out of nowhere) and you find yourself becoming nasty or quick tempered, it's never without reason. Journaling keeps you tuned in and in touch with yourself and helps you get to the core of why you do what you do at any given moment
16. ConfidenceNothing breeds confidence like self-awareness, knowing exactly who you are, your flaws, your strengths and what you want out of life
17. CenteringSpending quiet time alone with your thoughts is a form of meditation. It allows room for creativity and inspiration for your plan to merge with the divine
These are just a few reasons to make journaling a part of your routine. Your entries don't have to be deep or profound. You can start by simply writing your thoughts as they pop into your head. No matter how ridiculous it might feel, you are guaranteed to emerge from a journaling session feeling lighter and more focused