How Journaling Can Help You Stay Positive and Motivated

6 min read

Education & Career Trends: June 22, 2024

Curated by the Knowledge Team of  ICS Career GPS

Let’s explore the importance of keeping a journal and how to incorporate this powerful habit into your daily life.

Excerpts are taken from an article published on

Did you know one of the most powerful self-improvement activities is right at your fingertips? No, it’s not working out or having good sleep hygiene (although these are great habits). It’s something even simpler — learning how to start journaling.

Although it’s been around for thousands of years, journaling is currently having a moment in the limelight. Despite its recent soar in popularity, this isn’t just a new-age self-help trend. If practised consistently, it can transform your mental fitness, emotional well-being, and even physical well-being.

Let’s explore the importance of keeping a journal and how to incorporate this powerful habit into your daily life.

What is Journaling?

Journaling involves writing down your thoughts and feelings as you navigate everyday life. Journaling can help you understand and work through your emotions, especially when you’re feeling anxious or sad. It can also help you grow, become more self-aware, and gain meaningful insights.

The beauty of journaling is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s a deeply personal experience that can take many forms.

One day, journaling could look like a diary entry, the next day it can be a list of things that bring you joy or a list of goals you want to achieve.

Developing a journaling habit can help you work through your emotions, especially when you’re feeling anxious or sad. It can also help you grow, become more self-aware, and gain meaningful insights.

For these reasons, journaling is one of the best self-improvement tools.

Having said that, it’ll come as no surprise that some of the most successful people in the world, including Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, and Arianna Huffington have kept journals throughout their lives.

5 Types of Journaling

Each person is different. You might want to use your journal to reflect on your behaviours, while your friend might want to keep track of their daily habits. Being clear about the intention of your journal will help inform the type you decide to start keeping.

Here are five common types of journaling to get you started:

1. Daily Journaling

As the name suggests, this is a journal that you write in every day. The contents differ from other types of journaling, however, as you focus on sharing what you did and how you felt about it each day. 

This type of journaling can be helpful for individuals experiencing life changes or wanting to keep track of a period of their life. It can also be useful to kick off when starting a new job or career. Having a daily journal will be a great resource to look back on to see how far you’ve grown. It can also serve as a reference if you feel life is moving too quickly.

2. Visual Journaling

When most people think about starting a journal, they think of writing. However visual journaling is mostly made up of images. Each entry uses drawings to tell your story. These can be simple line drawings, storyboards, comic strips, or stylised sketches. Experiment with different types of drawings to see which works best for you.

This type of journalism is good for individuals who do not enjoy writing or have difficulty expressing themselves with words. You might find language limiting and prefer a more visual representation of your journal entries.

3. Stream of Consciousness/Free Writing Journaling

Many writers use free writing as a warm-up before jumping into their novel or other long-form text. But it can be a useful tool for starting a journal, too. With stream-of-consciousness journaling, you write down thoughts as they flow through your mind. 

It can be difficult for your fingers to keep up with your brain, so don’t worry about your handwriting or spelling errors. The main goal here is to get the bulk of your conscious thoughts out so that you can unearth your deeper ideas and perspectives. You can start this kind of journal with an intention in mind or just jump in and see where it takes you.

4. Gratitude Journaling

Studies show that gratitude is linked to happiness. Developing gratitude and a strong gratitude practice is shown to strengthen relationships and develop greater resilience in individuals. So starting to write a gratitude journal can be highly beneficial. Even adding a few bullets for things or people you are grateful for to your existing journal practice has benefits.

You can structure your gratitude journal in different ways. You can list the things you’re grateful for, weave them into a larger entry, or format them as short thank-you notes. You can then choose to keep these private or share them with others.

5. Bullet Journaling

You may have seen a bullet journal and wondered how to use one. Instead of lines, they have evenly spaced dots to guide your entries. Bullet journals are highly customisable. They can be used to track everything from your mood to your daily steps.

Or you can use one page as an agenda with bullets for reflections such as “one thing that made my day today” or “my intention for today.” You can also get creative with different colours and mediums to design your journal entries just the way you like.

The Importance of Journaling

The only way to reap all the rewards that come with journaling is to be consistent. This means making journal entries a daily habit rather than an occasional hobby. Writing daily is a powerful way to do inner work. It can lead to insights and breakthroughs and help you process difficult emotions and situations.

Learning how to write a journal is also a great mindfulness practice because it helps you focus on the present moment. Being present without worrying about the past or future is a very calming and peaceful feeling that relaxes the mind and body.

The calming effects of daily journaling can also help treat emotional exhaustion. For example, incorporating 20 minutes of journaling into your nighttime routine can help you unload heavy feelings of stress before bed.

What to Write in a Journal

This is a personal decision, and it can change over time. You might start your journal to gain clarity about what career you want and then adapt it to include a goal strategy. 

Here are some ideas to get you thinking about how you might want to use your journal and what to write in it:

  • Personal or career goals
  • What you are grateful for
  • Quotes that inspire or motivate you
  • Reflections or revelations
  • Questions you hope to answer at a later date
  • Things you want to improve
  • Compliments to yourself
  • A long-term vision of where you want to be
  • Your activities and what you’ve done and experienced
  • Blockers or frustrations you’re struggling to overcome
  • What you eat in a day and how you feel afterwards

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(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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