When the thought first crossed my mind that I should make a New Year’s resolution to keep a daily journal, I immediately dismissed it. Too many past resolutions had fallen by the wayside, and I could foresee ending the year with a journal full of empty pages. I also didn’t have time for another project, I told myself.
However, I had recently completed a counseling course in which keeping a journal was a requirement. The instructor had emphasized making a habit of recording thoughts, ideas, plans, experiences, worries, fears, and victories. It was an important step toward self awareness, he explained, and that is crucial to being able to help someone else sort out their problems.
I decided to give it a fair try, and I’m glad I did. I chose a journal that had a thought-provoking quote and Bible verse at the bottom of each day’s page, and I committed to spending 15 minutes each day writing in it. Here are some of the benefits I have already experienced:
- Keeping a journal helps me to better understand my strengths and to identify self-defeating or negative mindsets and habits.
- It helps me uncover discrepancies between what I think and how I act—wanting to lose weight but finding excuses to not exercise, for instance.
- Writing about difficult or sad experiences helps me understand and come to terms with what happened, which is a necessary part of the healing process.
- Noting what I’ve prayed for each day and keeping a record of how those prayers were answered has strengthened my faith.
- Writing about situations with people I have a hard time getting along with has helped me uncover and avoid the patterns that lead to misunderstandings and bad feelings.
At the end of each month I review and summarize the highlights, which gives me a better idea of how things are going, what challenges or obstacles came up and how they were resolved, which prayers were answered, what progress was made toward my goals, which decisions or plans I followed through on, etc.
Looking back I can wholeheartedly say that journaling was worth the effort and the filled-out pages of my 2011 journal are now a treasure chest of ideas, thoughts, lessons, revelations, achieved goals, and answered prayers.