The earliest time I can remember journaling was when I was in grade 7. I received a scented notebook with a key and a lock inside my birthday goodie bag. I was really excited at the time because I thought the notebook was so cool. What was I going to do with it?
Start a diary, of course! A place that smells goods AND where I can write about my secrets?! Count me in.
(Are scented notebooks still a thing? I want to buy another one now.)
My first diary entry in my scented notebook was my first day of seventh grade. I found out a girl I went to elementary school with when I was in Hong Kong was going to be in my school in Toronto. What a small world, eh? (Hey Canadians, get what I did there? Haha.)
Since then, I’ve been journaling on and off throughout the years.
Before I Moved Back to Hong Kong
Ideally, you should dedicate some time every day to journal but don’t feel like you must adhere to this rule. There’s no hard and fast rule about the right way to journal. It’s about your needs.
There were periods where I journaled consistently but then would rarely write in it for months. It all depends on how I’m feeling. I wrote in my journal quite a bit during my 14-day quarantine in Hong Kong because I was quite worried about what life would be like here in the city. I haven’t been back in almost 4 years and haven’t permanently lived in Hong Kong for more than a decade.
What would it be like moving back in with my parents?
Should I have stayed in Toronto?
I was worried about a lot of things but fortunately, my journal was always there.
My experience is just this one time where I benefitted from journaling. There are so many more other times where journaling changed my life for the better.
1) Keep A Piece of History
This is one of the two most important reasons why I like to journal. I wanted something where I can look back on my past self. Memories aren’t all reliable because they can fade. Documenting my adventures at one point in time means there’s something tangible I can refer back to. I can keep a piece of history with me forever.
I can’t tell you the number of times where I would have forgotten a memory had it not been for my journal. Then I would read the journal entry and it sparked my memory. Oh yeah! That happened.
Your brain has a billion things to remember. I guarantee everyone has experienced a time where you might think you will definitely remember something just to forget it soon after. You’ll be surprised at how many things you forget if you don’t write them down. I’ve certainly learned that lesson before.
Relying only on your memories is a sure way of forgetting things. Although I can’t always prevent that from happening, I can choose to journal what I consider to be important things so that I don’t forget.
Whenever something significant happens, I have an internal alarm that reminds me to write it down. This took a lot of practice but get the habit of jotting it down before you forget.
2) Improving Your Writing Skills
a) For Blogging
As a blogger, it’s essential to have good writing skills. A big part of blogging is about writing. How can you be a decent blogger if you don’t even have this necessary skill?
You slowly become a better writer because you’re writing nonstop. I write at least 5 days a week. And at least one hour each time. Writing is one of the things I got better at after blogging consistently.
Writing in your journal can help you improve your writing skills because it’s another way of practicing. The writing style in your journal will probably be a bit different because it’s more casual. It doesn’t have to be as formal because your journal is for your eyes only. Nobody else’s.
There’s no need to filter whatever thoughts you have unlike many other aspects of our life. It’s very refreshing.
b) For Your Career
If those other points didn’t convince you, this reason probably will. Having good writing skills is crucial to your career. In almost all industries, you’ll need to write emails. This is at a very basic level and if you get an office job, you’re likely need to write a lot more than just emails.
You’ll have to use your words to communicate with other people. Not expressing yourself clearly will only cause frustrations for everyone.
You can practice expressing yourself with words in an informal setting like writing in a journal. This prepares you for more formal settings like in school or in the workplace later on. You can never be too good at written communication skills.
3) Processing Emotions
Journaling is a terrific way to process your emotions. Think of journaling like a brain dump. Whenever something happens to me in my life, my first reaction is usually to talk to close family or friends but sometimes, they’re not available. They can be busy with their own stuff or just straight up not pick up the phone for whatever reason. What do you do when it’s something you want to talk about NOW?
Answer: your journal
So you know how there are times where you learn something new as you’re sharing your story with other people? Journaling is like that too. Except you have more time to think about what you really want to say. In conversations, we can rush our words because the other person might be urging us to continue talking.
But sometimes your feelings can come at you like a tsunami. You’re confused about how you’re feeling. How can you share with someone else what you’re feeling when you don’t even know yourself?
Sometimes you just get in a bad mood randomly. As you journal, you have time to reflect on what you’re feeling. You will be able to slowly process your emotions as you write them down. You’re almost forced to confront your feelings because you have to describe your emotions with words.
4) Reflection/Personal Growth
Life can go by super quickly. So much that you can often forget to stop to think about how long it took to get where we are today. There’s nothing wrong with looking ahead in the future but it’s also important to turn back once in a while. Appreciate the journey.
I like to read past journal entries and see how much I’ve grown since then. Sometimes the growth can be so small that I barely notice. Seeing my words on paper helps me realize how I’ve changed. I no longer think the same as the girl from a few years ago. Or even a few months ago.
Although I like to consider myself to be a self-aware person, I’m still learning new things about myself. I reflect on my day, past conversations and me as a person.
When I’m out in public, there have been many times where I suddenly have the urge to write in my journal. I want to document my progress so I can read back on it. Reflection is a key component of personal growth. If you don’t reflect on yourself, how can you grow into a better version of yourself?
5) Journaling As Some ‘Me Time‘
When people think of self-care, people might think about getting a facial or massage. That can be a lot of money and make you hesitate to spend especially if you’re trying to cut out expenses.
Journaling is a cost-effective type of self-care. You can get a notebook for a few bucks at a store. You might even have some spare notebook lying around your place right now. All you need is a pen and paper. That’s literally it!
Especially for those who live with other people, it can be hard to get some ‘me time.’ Trust me. I understand this. When you are journaling, you are spending around 20 – 30 minutes with yourself. Journaling is a very personal thing and gives you precious time where you can be alone with your thoughts.
Journal when it’s absolutely quiet so you can hear yourself think. I find that I can get quite distracted by outside noises when I’m thinking. You can put in your headphones and play some music or grab a pair of earplugs.
Still not convinced? Research shows that there are health benefits to journaling.
Do you like to journal? How has it helped you in the past? If you haven’t journaled before, what’s stopping you?