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journal_write_down_goals

Benefits of journaling your goals and improving yourself by writing your goals down. Part of our blog post series on journaling.


You may already find journaling to be a therapeutic or productive activity. Did you know that writing down and journaling your goals actually makes you more likely to achieve them?

From a Forbes article:

“A Harvard Business Study found that the 3% of graduates from their MBA who had their goals written down, ended up earning ten times as much as the other 97% put together, just ten years after graduation.”

This is one reason why I continue to consistently write down my goals in a handwritten journal.

Some of the goals I’ve achieved this year after writing them down and working towards them:

  • Winning a writing award
  • Keeping to a regular, almost-daily exercise and yoga routine
  • Improving my skincare routine
  • Processing negative experiences that have kept me from living up to my full potential
  • Reading more of the books I own (instead of hoarding and feeling overwhelmed by needing to declutter them)

Grab a copy of the Optimal Living Daily hard copy workbook, a 216-page journal based on OLD episodes!


Writing Down and Journaling Your Goals: How Does It Work?

Writing down my goals creates consistency: it makes me think about how to go about making them a reality.

Having a fixed number of daily or weekly goals helps too, as they break down my long-term goals into smaller, manageable steps.

But don’t just take it from me.

Here are several expert opinions on the benefits of exploring and writing down your goals through journaling!

1. Discover Patterns in Your Habits

Michael Levitt is the founder & Chief Burnout Officer of The Breakfast Leadership Network, a San Diego and Toronto-based burnout media firm. He says that journaling is a critical component for reduced stress and keeping burnout at bay.

“By documenting your daily life,” Levitt says, “you can search for patterns of stress, or days that are filled with joy and fulfillment. If you document your life on a daily basis, you'll discover patterns, which will allow you to make adjustments when required.”

Levitt also recommends using a food and energy journal. In his experience, this gave him insights to food intolerance issues that he wasn’t aware of prior to journaling.

journal_goals

2. Set a Plan of Action

Tina is the founder of Mindfulmazing. She’s also a mindfulness teacher and focuses on journaling for worry and anxiety.

“When you write down your worries or anxieties you can relax knowing they won’t be forgotten. They are now on paper,” she says.

Writing down your concerns and worries tells your brain that these worries are important and you won’t forget them. You will work to solve the problem.

Tina says that our thoughts often create worst-case scenarios when we worry. These thoughts can be strong enough to cause unpleasant emotional and physical responses.

Pinpointing your negative thought patterns helps you to set a plan of action if the worst-case scenarios you have in mind really happen.

3. Self-Expression via Journaling Your Goals

Dr. Richelle Whittaker, LSSP, LPC-C, PMH-C is an educational psychologist, mental health therapist, and parenting coach. Journaling is a great tool to maintain and improve your mental health.

“Journaling provides freedom to express one’s self in a non-judgemental, uncensored manner,” she says. “It also allows people who have difficulty verbalizing their feelings a way to communicate those feelings in a way that is non threatening.

Your journal provides a unique record of how you work things out and the steps taken to get there.

4. Take Stock of Your Accomplishments

Yocheved Golani is a content writer and editor at e-counseling.com.

Keeping a journal can promote positive changes in a simple, profound way, as it lets you quickly recall feelings of happiness over joyful events or accomplishments.

“You’ll feel the same sense of satisfaction all over again when you reread your journal,” she says. “You can dwell on your sense of happiness, accomplishment, and self respect just by holding the document or thinking about it.”

Positive change comes from positive thoughts. What you give your attention to is what you give your life force and energy to, and what you cause to grow.

Golani adds that journaling about your accomplishments will be proof that your positive efforts and focus pay off. It can be “soothing in sad times, and a source of growing strength throughout your life.”

This can serve as a source of stability even in times of stress.You’ll have a sense of inner strength from the knowledge that you've made it past other difficulties and have the ability to make it past others.

5. Clarity Through Releasing Negative Feelings

Journaling empowers you to write yourself to a healthier and more positive mindset.

Jothi Dugar AKA The Chaos Guru is a transformational wellness coach. She says that when your mind seems to be hijacked by Darth Vader (the saboteurs that make you stay in the emotions that make you feel bad), a quick and effective way to release Darth Vader and get back to your Jedi is by journaling.

How do you do this?

“When you feel that you’re getting sabotaged by your Dark Vaders making you feel bad, angry, frustrated, stressed, like a victim, etc.,” says Dugar, “take your journal and just write out exactly how you’re feeling. If you’re upset at a certain person, put it all out there, just lay them out on paper. Once you’re done, tear out the pages, crush them up and throw them in the trash or if you really want to go all out, burn them or rip them to shreds.”

The act of writing down all your negative feelings in your journal, then getting rid of the paper enables you to release them energetically from within you. You may notice a feeling of lightness and relief. Releasing negative energy helps you move into a state of compassion and empathy instead of anger, which gives you clarity and calmness.

6. Gain A Different Perspective

Noel Hunter is a clinical psychologist in private practice in NYC. According to Hunter, there are several reasons why journaling can be quite beneficial.

“The part of the brain that is geared toward thinking is different than that of talking and writing,” he says. “Writing is closer to talking, especially when done by hand, and allows for processing information in a different way. Thinking often operates on a loop, while speaking and/or writing has the benefit of surprising ourselves with our own words.”

Journaling allows for our thoughts and feelings to be put somewhere outside of ourselves. “Often when we write about our experiences and feelings, there can be a sense of resolve and finality.”

This also helps you to keep track of your moods and thoughts in an objective manner to gain a better sense of self-awareness.

7. Challenge Your Thoughts

Jessica Ortiz, LCSW, is the founder of Catalyst Therapy & Consulting.

Ortiz says that after writing out your worries, you might notice they tend to be fear-based or unlikely to happen. Maybe you observe a tendency to take things personally, make assumptions or jump to conclusions.

“Our thoughts affect our feelings, so if you're thinking negatively, it shouldn't come as a surprise if you experience uncomfortable or negative feelings like anxiety, fear, sadness, worthlessness etc.” she says. “The good thing is that our thoughts and feelings are based on our perceptions of an experience, not objective facts. If you recognize a negative pattern to your thoughts and worries on paper, try challenging them or finding other ways to interpret the situation. Oftentimes, considering other possibilities alleviates anxiety and gives you a new option in how you choose to think (and in turn, feel) about things.”

Recognizing the way we think about things gives us the opportunity to change the way we think about a situation, our experiences and ourselves. Challenging negative cycles of thinking can help people break free from anxiety, depression, and stress and create a new, healthier way of living.

8. Manage Your Anxiety

Dr. Rashmi Byakodi is a health and wellness writer and the editor of Best For Nutrition. She says:

“Journaling is writing down your worries and stressful thoughts to understand them better. It helps you to gain control over your emotions and have better mental health. It is a great way to manage your anxiety and cope with stress.”

Journaling and writing down how to achieve your goals gives you a path to learn positive self talk and overcome negativity.

According to researchers, most notable findings from journaling are associated with better mental health, including lower anxiety and psychological distress.

9. Journaling Your Goals Helps You Gain Control Of Your Life

Dr. April Givens is a licensed psychotherapist.

Journaling transfers thoughts to paper. According to Dr. Givens, if you’ve experienced depression or trauma, you’ll begin to feel better the more you write as it “helps you to create balance so you can move forward in a positive way.”

The reflection and self analysis of your goals, strengths and weaknesses through journaling helps you gain back control of your life.

Dr. Givens recommends following this format to journal more effectively instead of ceaselessly brain dumping negative emotions. The format is:

  1. Write the situation
  2. Write your thoughts about the situation
  3. Write your feelings about the situation (happy, sad, angry)
  4. Write your plan of action to move forward
  5. Write three things that you are happy and grateful for

“I think it is important to include gratitude in your journal so you will end on a positive note,” adds Dr. Givens. “It also helps you to remember there are positive things going on in your life.”


Grab a copy of the Optimal Living Daily hard copy workbook, a 216-page journal based on OLD episodes!


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Jess Chua

Jess writes and edits content for the Optimal Living Daily podcast network. Her interests include personal growth, cooking, and spending time with her pets.
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