“Some people have everything, and other people don’t.
But everything don’t mean a thing if it ain’t the thing you want. Express Yourself!”
—Lyrics to the Song Express Yourself! by Charles Wright and the 103rd Street Rhythm Band
Journaling is the deliberate process of capturing your current thoughts, feelings, experiences and observations. It is a record of what is going on around you as well as what is going on in your head and heart. It is a way to “express yourself” and zero in on those items that are important and meaningful to you.
It creates an environment in which you are slowing down, pausing from the busyness of life, to clarify your values and get in touch with your true feelings. This increased self-awareness will lead you to becoming more purposeful in how you choose to live your life. It can also be the gateway to charting a path for the next chapter of your life, your 2nd Act.
Journaling can also help to unburden your soul from the worries of the past or fears about the future, allowing you to become more grounded in the moment. Becoming more focused on the here-and-now is essential for developing feelings of contentment and serenity.
In addition, journaling can be an excellent way to capture your life story, to memorialize your thoughts and feelings regarding events both big and small in your life.
Other benefits to keeping a journal include:
- The ability to solve problems and overcome obstacles quickly and more effectively.
- The elevation of self-confidence, self-esteem and mood through the journaling of positive experiences.
- Increased creativity through the free flow of thoughts that will come to you as you write.
- The opportunity to “find your voice” by providing an avenue for exploring approaches to ideas, notions, concepts and attitudes that are unique to you.
- The chance to resolve conflicts with others by facilitating a way for you to examine your own personal position more carefully through a different lens and a critical eye.
- The freedom to capture and further refine your BHAGS, those “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” you have been dreaming about for a while.
- The space simply to note and check off your to-do lists. (Not everything in your journal needs to be life changing.)
The benefits listed above will give insight into what you should be journaling about. The exercise will give you the overview to reflect on your life to date and imagine your future self. It can give you the framework to ponder a habit you would like to improve or a skill to develop. Or perhaps as you describe an event that just occurred, journaling can help identify your most honest insights, reactions, outlook and judgments. In the end, of course, you can write about anything you wish. My hope is that whatever you write will bring greater understanding, peace and joy to your life.
So, you might be asking, what is the process for journaling? Here are some easy to follow steps:
- Keep it simple. Use “stream of consciousness” writing by jotting down whatever comes into your mind.
- Don’t worry about punctuation and sentence structure. This is not to be turned in to your English professor.
- Keep it private. This is for your eyes only, so you can be completely open with yourself.
- Understand this is a judgment-free zone as you write. The time for discernment is after you record what is in your head and heart.
- Be consistent. The more you write, the easier it becomes and the more revealing your words will be.
- Find a time and place that works best for you. If a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine at night helps your writing, then go for it.
- Write your thoughts in longhand. There is something cathartic about documenting your life by hand in a leather-bound volume.
- Most of all, have fun and enjoy yourself. This is your time to reflect, reframe and revitalize.
The trek through your journaling experience will assist you with raising your understanding and self-awareness as you head down the path to an enriching retirement experience.
“Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.”
—Leadership Guru Robin S. Sharma
Gary A. Weuve, CFP®
Founder and CEO
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