I wrote in a journal when I was a girl. I named her “Lily.” My Grandma bought her for me at Hallmark. She had a flimsy little keyed lock that somehow made me think my secrets were safe. If I lost the key, I would just jiggle the lock and pop it open. It never occurred to me that others could do the same thing.
I destroyed Lily (and her two younger sisters) in middle school after receiving trusted advice that I shouldn’t write down anything I didn’t want to share with the world.
I’ve never journaled since, despite my continued love for writing and feeling the therapeutic benefits of free writing without the concern of being read.
One of my coworkers writes in a journal every day. I came into her office once when she was writing, and was shocked to discover her ritual. I told her about my fear of disclosure. She laughed, asking me why anyone would want to read someone else’s journal. “But what if I died? Then anyone could read it,” I said. Her response: “Who cares! You’ll be dead!”
My friend, Jen, also writes in a diary. She said she always has documented her life in this way, but admitted that she tends to write more when things are bad. Jen said she keeps a journal because she finds it therapeutic and it betters her writing.
“Writing is definitely something that the more I do it, the better I get at it,” she said. “I regress if I’m not doing it.”
These pro-journaling encounters made me wonder if perhaps it was time for me to give it another try. Maybe journaling was just what I needed to help focus my busy brain.
Since I began journaling again in May, I’ve noticed 5 Positive Reasons to Journal.
1. Venting Feelings
I respond with emotion when I get frustrated or angry. This usually leads to me “going off” on or to the person most nearby. It’s not a good coping mechanism, especially in the workplace. Keeping a journal has given me a place to express my frustration, anger or sadness and better understand those feelings before deciding if I should share them.
2. Tracking Progress
Journals can be used to document steps toward personal or professional goals. Your writings also can help you understand what derails your goals and remind you of why it’s important to get back on track.
3. Documenting Task Trials
Plans are not flawless. There always are a few things you would do differently or better if you had a “do over.” Writing down those errors can help you avoid repeating mistakes and work more efficiently in the future.
4. Creating Organization
Journaling helps you to brainstorm and plan tasks and subtasks. I would argue that it also helps you to get more things done because of the visual reward of marking items off of those lists. It just feels good to draw a line through a completed task.
5. Better Planning or Procedures
Journaling allows for better planning and procedures by helping you clarify your thinking, combine processes and work toward logical solutions to solve problems. These things are just simpler to do in a tangible, pen-to-paper manner than they are in your mind or on a screen.
Do you keep a journal? Why or why not?For further reading on journaling, I recommend 10 Reasons to Keep a Journal and Five Reasons to Keep a Journal.