How Does Journaling Help You Succeed In Life?
Journaling is a record of how you see yourself and your world. When you keep a diary, you can freely express ideas and observations that matter to you.
Think of a journal as a thought catcher. The average person has between 12,000 – 70,000 thoughts a day. Imagine trying to imagine all of them. Your journal expresses you on the most personal level, and so you can explore your ideas, express frustrations, describe events, tell stories, remember dreams, and set goals. Maybe you are visual? Maybe your expression is by audio recordings? You might want to carry a small notebook with you or use a large notebook for reflection before starting the day, or the end of one. Inspiration is a constant, and building the habit of consistency will reward you.
Visionaries Who Journaled (And What We Can Learn From Each)
Some of the first known diaries were written by rulers and explorers (early travel diaries). Later, journals would include reflections and discoveries around science and inventions and become the creative inspirations for art, books, and film. What all have in common are the processes of men and women about their inner worlds. Let’s see how others have used their diaries and what we might learn from each.
YOUR JOURNAL ACTS AS YOUR EXTERNAL BRAIN
George Lucas was mixing the sound for American Graffiti with Walter Murch, when Murch asked Lucas for the R2, D2, meaning Reel 2, Dialogue 2. Lucas liked the sound of that phrase and jotted it down in a notebook he carried with him to record his thoughts and ideas. Other scribbles in his notebook included Jawa and Wookie. We know these now as the famous names of characters from Star Wars.
Your thoughts matter. In a single day, you will have thousands of them. Imagine how many slip away even when you stop and think, “Wow, that’s a good idea,” but how unrealistic it is to contain all of them. Free yourself up from the cycle of rehashing a single thought over and over again, so you don’t forget it. In its place, others will arrive.
Charles Darwin had a red notebook filled explicitly with a memorandum to himself on things to look further into, questions he wanted to answer, and scientific speculations. He kept notes on the many books he was currently reading and the ones he wanted to read. In other journals, he kept his thoughts about natural observations and sketches of what he saw. Although they were chaotically arranged as they fluidly came to mind for Darwin, many would become his theory of the transmutation of species.
- Make lists of favorite words, an idea you have, or places you want to visit.
- Write down questions you want to think about more later on when you have time to contemplate.
- List the books you want to read, or the name of the song your friend played for you that you want to remember.
JOURNALING IS A WAY TO UNLOCK YOUR CREATIVITY
Frida Kahlo, the famous Mexican painter, not only chronicled her life through her paintings but also expressed her life in writing. She kept a diary the last 10-years of her life, revealing the enormous pain that she experienced and documented life surrounded by family and friends. Because of her visual abilities, her diaries were creatively expressed in bold colors and sketches.
It was observed that Pablo Picasso only went into the studio to work on paintings, but worked out his ideas in sketches a notepad that he carried around with him. Some now-famous art, like Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Picasso made 809 sketches for the painting in many notebooks for nearly six months- more preparatory sketches than any other known artwork in history.
- Make sketches of the things you observe.
- Use paints, colors, or different inks to express your thoughts.
- Include what inspires you or that you want memory of: Leaves, festival tickets, and even images from a magazine.
A JOURNAL ALLOWS YOU TO LEAVE A TRACE
Anne Frank wrote one of the most read diaries of all time. We get a glimpse of a teenager under the direst circumstances as a jew in hiding during the Nazi occupation. But, she didn’t just keep a diary, she wrote it to record her time in the Secret Annex, where she spent her last 2 years.
Captain Scott left behind his harrowing account of his expedition to the South Pole in 1910-12. Scott’s diary, discovered with his body, was filled in detail about the trip and recorded his last days. As among the most moving passages ever written, he was trapped in a tiny tent with a raging blizzard on the Great Ice Barrier.
- Chronical your gap year.
- Share your favorite memories from school.
- Write about your travel adventures.
JOURNALING IS A POWERFUL WAY TO MEET YOURSELF
One of the earliest recorded travel journals was by the Venetian merchant and explorer, Marco Polo. He wrote not only of the places he visited but his hopes and fears. For instance, he works out his concern, “I am still nervous, though. I am trying to convince myself not to be frightened, but I just cannot shake it off. I have heard so many terrifying things about the Mongolian Empire and their rulers.” And then later, “Why was I ever frightened to travel to Mongolia? Looking back at my first entry, I can’t believe I really thought that the Mongolians were a harsh people…”
Ludwig van Beethoven kept numerous journals. In many entries, the German composer reveals his deafness and deep depression and struggles with keeping it a secret. As a diary is such a personal document, it is common for people to use journal entries to cope with stress.
- Write as if you were your own mentor. Give yourself advice.
- Claim responsibility for your personal thoughts by fearlessly writing them out.
- Write your thoughts about what could happen before you do something, and return to them later to see what actually did.