Journaling – Writing down your feelings, thoughts, and concerns – provides you the voice you need to reflect, prioritize, and address concerns. There is no wrong or right way to journal, but there are some tactics you can use to make your journal keeping more impactful and helpful. Start journaling with intent then, put yourself mentally and physically in the right place, and finally, let the words flow.
In the meantime,
5 Steps to Journaling
Everything with intent. Decide why you want to journal and what you want to get out of journaling—for example, journal for self-awareness, addressing your emotions, and aligning your purpose with your behaviors. You can even journal to prioritize your day, goals or remain mindful. Start with a quick meditation to garner clarity and proceed on your path to journal with intent.
Understanding why you want to journal will inform how you journal using either reflective, freestyle, goal-oriented, emotional, or gratitude journaling.
Let’s breakdown the various ways of journaling to aid you in deciding how you want to journal. Keep in mind that you can use these various styles simultaneously; it all depends on intent.
Harness your self-awareness power and reflect upon your behaviors during specific experiences or circumstances or from daily habit. Think of Self-Reflective Journaling as your self-performance review and an opportunity to celebrate your wins, joys, struggles, emotions, and notable moments.
One of the benefits of Self-Reflective Journaling is that it enables you to go back in time. By reviewing your journal entries, you can track your development, learnings and marvel at how far you have come.
Self-Reflective Journaling is a beautiful nighttime ritual (hello dairy), but you can also start the habit of jotting down notes after a call, meeting, lunch, or presentation. This practice is an excellent means of tracking, enhancing, or changing your strengths and challenges, respectively.
Self-Reflective Journaling Template
Goal Journaling aligns your purpose and intent. How? Always ask why. “Why is this my goal” “Why does this fulfill me?” Note your drivers or influencers. Understanding why and how your ambitions enhance or contribute to your overall life plan is key to meeting your goal.
Once you define and have clarity on purpose and intent, it is time to get SMARTT- specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, thoughtful, and timely in goal planning.
One of the best ways to prioritize goals is to create a vibrant and actionable plan. Try creating a Smartt Vision Board or bullet journaling. You can also join Mavens 101 for a time management journaling workshop where I teach the practice of bullet journaling. The link to sign up (or view) is above.
In the meantime, purchase and download the Mavens 101 Goal-Getter Journal Exercise.
Freestyle journaling is a creative mind exercise. You put pen to paper with no agenda, plan, goal, or preconceived notion. Write, draw, doodle, and see where your mind takes you. Freestyle journaling can best be described as a self-brainstorming session. Ideas, thoughts, and words that matter will come to you as you write. The intent is to explore. When I am tired or even bored, I freestyle. The act itself is cathartic; the outcome is always interesting. Don’t like to journal? Freestyle is an excellent option for you!
Something is bothering you. You are not quite sure why you feel anxious or what triggered your sense of unease. It is time to journal your feelings. Journal any emotion, you want to understand, heal, or celebrate. Start your Emotion Journaling process off with a mediative practice. Own your current state of emotional being. Then evoke memory awareness and finally, commit to focusing on your “why.” Then, journal.
With Emotion Journaling, do not expect healing while writing; instead, heal and learn through writing. Journal to pinpoint triggers and add them to your self-awareness practice.
Make a list of a couple of things for which you are grateful. Think about a person, pet, thing, or experience for which you are thankful. Why? Through Gratitude Journaling, you learn to appreciate your life and those in it. Being thankful provokes self-expression via acts of love, kindness, and positivity.
The what is two-fold. What tools will you use to capture your thoughts and musings? Use pen & paper, computer, or your phone, even video or audio record your words. The additional “what” is the tactic that you use to record it all.
Pick Your Tools
Your choice is personal. Whatever works for you and works for the process. I prefer to write, as the act of putting pen to paper is cathartic and promotes productive journaling sessions. Others prefer to talk to themselves and thus use video/audio journaling sessions. Keep in mind whatever medium you use to journal; keep it uniform. You want to keep track of and review your words to learn, grow, or heal as you reflect and introspect.
Pick Your Format
Now that you know your “why,” “how,” and the first half of the “whats,”…let’s figure out what format you will use to journal. You can linearly format your journal entries (think a diary entry), bullet, outline or do a combination of all.
Record your thoughts, feelings, plans, aspirations, whatever, in a standard storytelling/composition of topic and supporting paragraph(s).
A method of creatively and systematically logging all of your information in one place while using self-defined index pages to keep it all organized.
Hierarchy formatting your thoughts, plans, feelings, reflections as a table of contents, with topics and their supporting details.
For more on Bullet and Outline Journaling, visit
Now, pick your place. Find someplace you can write in private, avoiding distractions. Set the mood to amplify your journaling.
Journaling – Writing down your feelings, thoughts, and concerns – provides you the voice you need for reflection and introspection.
Finally, sit back and write with honesty. Write your truths. Let your words flow with no internal filter. Just write, starting with intent and streaming from your heart and mind.
Join a Mavens 101 journaling workshop to manage stress, goal setting, focus, and more.
The Maven 101 Journaling Starter Kit
for proactive, focused, and smart growth.