Journaling has been proven to help reduce stress, improve focus, and get you to think about your goals and accomplishments. What you want from your journaling can help you decide whether to journal about your past, your present, or your future. Here are some examples:
Past: Journaling about your past can help you work through issues, but sometimes this is more of an emotional journey than some people want. You don’t have to dredge up your deepest memories to benefit from journaling about your past. It is very useful to think of times when you accomplished something, and how you did it. Maybe you overcame challenges, maybe you reached a big goal, maybe you went through a life event. How did you go through these experiences and come out the other side in a positive way? Learning about your methods of success can help you replicate them in future experiences.
Present: Doing an old-fashioned diary or daily log is a useful way to be mindful of how you spend your days. Recording your present can help you see if you are accomplishing your daily intentions, and if not what you can do to get back on track. Listing good things that happened, things you are grateful for, and/ or positive social encounters can help you have a more positive mindset. Nature logs and garden journals can help you be more mindful of your environment. Noting what happens day to day can help you be more present, as well as preserve your memories for the future.
Future: Your journal can be a tool to help you transform your life and get you to work toward the future you want. Work through your goals on paper to help you determine what you want your life to be like. Describe your ideal life, your ideal self. List your goals and the steps you need to accomplish them. Something else you can do is to write journaling prompts to your future self (more on that here).
Some people use a combination of these methods. Or you might find that you prefer different types of journaling in different phases of your life.
Let your journal be your tool to help you use your past experiences and records of the present to create the future you want!
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