Journaling is a great exercise that can help you improve many aspects of your life, from allowing you to express your thoughts and relieving anxiety, to help with setting and achieving your goals. Many accomplished individuals like Benjamin Franklin and Emma Watson have credited journaling as a major factor in their success.
So how do you journal, and how do you do create a habit of journaling daily? Most people have no idea where to start or how to get the most out journaling, and this is where Habitbetter comes in.
Building your Daily Journaling Habit
A habit is something that we do automatically – almost without thinking. We have both good and bad habits, and often they are created without any effort on our part.
Charles Duhigg has created a framework for a helpful way to think about habits in his book The Power of Habit. The key takeaway from his analysis of habits is the habit loop, which describes how habits are formed and reinforced. Understanding the habit loop can help you build the daily habit of journaling and remind you why you are engaging in this new practice.
The three basic components of the habit loop are the routine, the cue, and the reward.
- Routine: Identifying the routine is the first step in building a habit, and in this case, we are focusing on journaling daily. While this part may seem straightforward, we often set these goals without considering what the cue or reward will be or how this will affect our existing habits.
- Reward: The next step will be to pinpoint the reward you will receive by journaling daily, as this is what will satisfy the craving that drives the habit loop. For example, if your reward for journaling is stress relief, you can gauge your level of stress after you’ve finished journaling and determine whether it actually relieved your stress. It is important to be clear with what the reward is, as this is what keeps the habit loop going.
- Cue: After you’ve identified the routine and the corresponding reward, you need to find the cue. This is what starts the habit and can be things like a certain time, place, or emotional state. Do you want to journal every night? Perhaps in this case the cue can be getting ready for bed or 10 pm.
When these parts are combined, you can objectively view your behavior as follows:
When [cue], I will [routine], so that [reward].
For Example: After [I get ready for bed], I will [journal for 20 minutes], so that [I can release my stress from the day].
It is important to make a plan of action to move forward with building your daily journaling habit. Set clear goals and expectations so that you can self-reflect and determine if the reward is sufficient, or if the cue needs to be adjusted.
Our Habits 101 course is a great place to start when learning how to build a daily habit of journaling. This course will help you understand what a habit is and how to change them, giving you the tools to shape a daily journaling habit.
How to Journal
While building the habit is the foundation for how to journal daily, you may still be asking – how do I journal? Physically picking up the pen and putting your thoughts down on paper may seem daunting and prevent you from getting started.
We specifically designed our free Intro to Journaling course with this in mind. This online course will take you through the different styles of journaling and provide techniques for specific areas such as self-reflection or reducing anxiety.
The course will teach you how to start a journal and build your daily practice with 5-minute guided sessions and journal prompts. Our approachable coaches will be there every step of the way and help you stay accountable with weekly check-ins and progress reports.
Different Journaling Methods
There are many different journaling methods to choose from, and there is no right or wrong way to journal. The key is to find what works for you! Some ideas include bullet journaling, gratitude, and reflection.
A bullet journal is a great way to write for those of you that love lists. Bullet journaling involves writing down your thoughts and ideas in different bullet points, and you can make it creative by experimenting with colors and fonts.
Sometimes when you are having a bad day it is easy to focus only on the negatives. A gratitude journal helps remind you of the things that you are grateful for and can make you realize that you had a bad moment – not a bad day or week. All you need to do is write what you are thankful for each day, and soon you will be cultivating a positive attitude and spirit of appreciation.
Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky conducted research that showed that gratitude brings happiness and significantly increases feelings of optimism, joy, and overall life satisfaction.
A reflection journal consists of a daily reflection and does not have to be structured in a particular way. You can write about good or bad things that have happened, something you learned that day or a goal you are working towards. Reflection can help you identify themes and patterns in your life and allow you to grow from experiences.
Benefits of Daily Journaling
There are many benefits to journaling daily, and the positive impacts are unique to each person.
According to a survey we conducted, 78% of respondents that participated in reflection writing saw an increase in knowledge retention and performance. They found they were able to learn better and had an increase in self-awareness.
Journaling can also help you define your goals and achieve them. Research by the Dominican University of California found that writing down and revisiting your goals led to a 42% increase in the likelihood that someone will accomplish that goal.
Addressing your goals during your daily journaling can help you refine your thoughts and determine what exactly it is you still need to do. It can also help you reflect on the progress you have made!
Besides helping you achieve your goals and improving mental clarity, journaling can help you manage stress and process emotions. 74% of our survey respondents said they were better able to deal with stress and manage anxiety after incorporating journaling into their daily routine.
The list of benefits from daily journaling can go on and on. Our online journaling courses can help you create better habits and achieve your goals, as well as find what unique benefits journaling can add to your life.