Keeping a journal or a diary can have a huge benefit if you are looking to make changes in your life or if you are working on your self development.
By tracking your daily activities you can look for trends. How much time are you really spending with friends and family? Did you really go to the gym three times a week last month? How many nights did you just grab a take away because you were too tired to cook? Of course you can only find these trends if you have recorded the specific information but it is likely to be far more accurate than your memory.
Journals can also tell you a lot about your emotions and feelings. How many times did you write about the tough day at work? Is all your writing about the things that have not gone well or is it all about fun and happiness?
So far I’ve been assuming a free flowing journal, that is one that you just write whatever comes into your head at the time. However, add a bit more structure and it can become a very powerful tool to help you know yourself and your situations better. If you’ve read Bridget Jones or seen the film you will have an idea of how structure can work in a journal/diary. Every day she recorded:
- Alcohol units
I often see clients who are low in self-esteem and one of the basic steps I get them to take is to make a list of their achievements. It appears to be human nature to achieve something and then move straight on to the next project and barely take any time to celebrate or acknowledge what you have done. Likewise for those who are in a place of doom, where everything appears to be negative I ask them to spend a few minutes at the end of the day thinking about the good things that happened, or the things that made them smile. This simple process can make a huge difference to how they perceive their situation.
If dieting one of the first things you are asked to do is to record what you actually eat and drink each day. This activity is a great one for showing you just how selective your memory can be (how many chocolate biscuits did you really eat as opposed to the one that you remember!)
So if you are working towards a specific goal or if you would simply like to infuse your life with more positive and happy thoughts I would strongly recommend keeping a slightly structured journal. Work out what key items/occasions it would most benefit you to record and make these your structure. Have space for some free flow writing as it’s always good to spend some time on a general review and being able to record things that don’t fall into the structure.
So what would you record on a daily basis? If you need some help, let me know.