By now you’ve likely made your New Year’s resolutions or aligned your energy with your deepest intentions. Want to know the best way to stay on track? Keep a journal. This process can help you create a personal plan and develop the tools to actualize it.Your journal can be like a good friend who listens without interrupting and doesn’t judge. Why not write about what’s bothering you or what’s not working – really, anything that comes to mind. Journaling clears your head and relieves stress. It helps you work through problems as well as opens you up to new ideas. If you’re ready to give it a try, let these practical tips guide you:
Begin to write. By getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper you can examine them objectively and pursue the goals that are right for you. Think about what’s holding you back or what you’re protecting. Ask questions like, what am I afraid of? Or why am I sabotaging myself? Write without censoring yourself and you may tap into your unconscious. If you follow a stream of consciousness, you’ll discover meaningful answers.
Isolate pessimistic thoughts. Access your negative self-beliefs that prevent you from living the life you want. And write down the deep, dark secrets you’re too scared to admit out loud. Counter these with positive affirmations about how much you’re valued and how you’ve contributed to family, co-workers and friends.
Release emotions. If you have pent up feelings, writing can be cathartic. It helps you regulate your negative emotions and savor your positive ones. If you let go of judgment and trust your feelings, you’ll open up to a deeper, more expressive experience. Read between the lines of your journal and trust what you discover – ways to express yourself, resolve conflict, gain closure, find inner strength, build relationships.
Identify your strengths. Create an assets inventory or a list of your accomplishments as a means to appreciate yourself. What are your natural talents? What comes so easily you often don’t notice it? And what about the acquired skills you’ve used successfully?
Make a gratitude list. This can be a reminder of what is good in your life. Consider how positively others view you and the ways you support them. Who sees you as a role model and why? What in your life experience has led you to wisdom? Honor these insights.
Embrace change. As you move toward your goals, continue an active process of getting to know your true self. Write about what you really value, care about and want – your dreams and passions? An unused journal won’t help make your dreams come true but a well loved and often used one might do just that.
Journaling gives perspective and restores sanity. It can be a lifeline as well as a record.
Right now your goals or intentions are still fresh in your mind, but that likely won’t last. Writing down resolutions in your journal will help you stay motivated and activate the mind/body connection. It gets you past the obvious and underneath the surface. And lets you delve into issues and untangle messes. Studies show that journaling keeps you healthy by releasing mental toxins and deepening awareness. You’ll see there’s something magical about putting pen to paper, regardless of who you are.
© 2013, Her Mentor Center
Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. and Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. are consultants in family dynamics. If you’re coping with marital stress, acting out teens, aging parents, boomerang kids or difficult daughters-in-law, they have solutions for you. Visit their blog and website, http://www.HerMentorCenter.com. To subscribe to their free newsletter, “Stepping Stones,” and download complimentary eBooks, “Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching for Your Goals” and “Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm.”