The unexpected power of journaling

I never understood the power that one simple task done daily could have on my life until now.

On new year’s day January 2017 I woke up bleary eyed not from a night of partying, but from another night as the Mum of a two-month-old baby.

I barely had enough time to shower, let alone ponder new year’s resolutions.

I was resigned to just surviving the coming year, expectant of the further depths of sleep deprivation that were ahead of me (and oh how right I was on that front!)

As I sorted through Christmas presents that morning I came across a journal I’d been given.

It was a standard Christmas gift that would normally be relegated to the stationary drawer only to be called upon for taking notes in a meeting – which as a stay at home Mum, were few and far between these days.

This year, however, something felt different.

I’d not kept a journal since my teens but I had fond memories of letting my thoughts, dreams and emotions spill out onto the page, and the subsequent joy of closing the lid on them before a night of restful sleep – the words no longer banging down the door of my subconscious.

Why not start a journal, I thought. It was new year’s day, I had this new journal….what was there to lose?

This scenario was far too tempting for a perfectionist like me – a blank slate and a fresh start all rolled into one.

I couldn’t resist.

So as I penned my first entry on the afternoon of January 1st, 2017 I committed to writing every day for the next 365 days. Even if I had nothing to say, I’d list something I was grateful for or a funny thing that had happened.

I hadn’t committed to anything for months, except for keeping a newborn alive of course. Surely I could write a few words a day?

This simple intention has truly changed my life.

I have felt noticeably happier from writing in my journal every day.

I’m more grateful, too.

Journaling isn’t new of course – many personal development gurus have been espousing it’s benefits over the last five years, with 5-minute journals, bullet journals and the like being the hot new thing in the self-help world.

All it took for me was a simple notebook and a pen, no catchy name needed.

Sometimes I write pages and pages, and other times it’s just a sentence. But the act of doing it every day has cultivated a habit of checking in with myself and being mindful of how I’m feeling and the direction I’m headed.

And yes, I’m human.

I have missed days here and there, but I don’t dwell, I just get back to writing with no judgement.

It’s a just easy enough goal to stick to without feeling overwhelmed. And I believe this has been key to my success. Just a few words. Who hasn’t got time to write a few words a day?

If I had made the goal write three pages a day I know for certain I’d not be writing this post.

I wouldn’t have lasted a week.

Never underestimate the power of small incremental change.

It adds up to big things, which compound over time.

This simple habit has allowed me to uncover my Why, figure out my values and the goals to get me there, and it led me to start this blog.

It’s formalised the passion I’ve had for writing since my teens in a manner that will hopefully one day allow me to publish a book, build a community of like-minded people and connect with others interested in living their purpose and pursuing more of what makes them happy.

I feel clearer than I’ve ever been about what I want to do with my life.

I’ve written down snippets of articles I’ve read, podcasts I’ve listened to, or a passing comment from a friend that has stayed with me.

Sometimes a stream of consciousness leads me to a hidden door, sometimes to a dead end, but the exploration is valuable nonetheless.

We tap into a different part of our brain when we write things down, a level we are unable to access through just thinking.

Anyone who has ever written a journal can probably relate to the feeling of your hand being taken over by some formerly unacknowledged part of our subconscious that is able to write things you had not been able to articulate in your conscious thoughts.

It truly is like magic.

Especially for anyone wanting to grow, change or improve their lives. In this instance, I would go as far as to say that writing a journal should be mandatory.

I wish I’d discovered its power sooner.

So here we are in August with just four months of the year left, and I have no intention of slowing down.

Not all new year’s resolutions stick, but this one has been the stickiest of all.

I never fully understood the power of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) until I did it regularly. Try unleashing your subconscious and see where it leads you.

It might just work for you too.

 

6 comments on The unexpected power of journaling

  • Mike

    I like that this is such a small commitment that it’s easier to stick to, but it is giving you such amazing results. Who would have thought a pen and paper could be so powerful?!

    • Nicole (author)

      It’s always the simple stuff that works, isn’t it!

  • Maureen

    The sentence “small incremental change” resonated with me. The other day I was thinking about how small adjustments can give the best benefits. Initially I was thinking about my sore shoulder while doing yoga 😊and then it hit me this is good lesson for life!

    • Nicole (author)

      Oh definitely – it’s always frustrating in the moment when we can’t do everything we want to do (especially with yoga!) but after a few months you realise how far you’ve come!

  • Eli

    A great reminder Nicko! A journal is going back on the night stand!

    • Nicole (author)

      Thanks Elly, do it!!

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