How to Keep a Self Improvement Journal

So you want to improve yourself, do you? There is something in your life that needs to change. The good news is, you have identified that element, or you will soon, and can start working toward making change happen.

The bad news is, it isn’t going to be an instant transformation. You are going to have to find a way to track your progress along the way, to keep yourself motivated and consistent. A journal might be able to help you get to where you want to be, if you are willing to give it a try.

Keeping a self improvement journal comes with a lot of benefits, including helping you change your perspective on a situation and figuring out how to treat mistakes more like learning experiences. Here are a few things you can do to start recording your thoughts, feelings and observations in the form of a journal.

Decide on your journaling platform

Laptop and Paper on wood desk

There is more than one way to keep a journal, so don’t feel limited to a spiral notebook and pen if writing by hand isn’t really your thing (but by all means, go for it if it is). You can also use virtual tools, both on your computer and/or mobile devices, to keep track of your thoughts, goals and progress.

Mobile apps like My Wonderful Days allow you to keep virtual track of your thoughts and mood as you move through your days – the good ones, the bad ones and every day in-between. Journals stored in apps can be accessed from anywhere, and are completely private, and are perfect for those accustomed to communicating with primarily their thumbs.

You can also keep a private blog online if you want a more formal-feeling way of getting your thoughts out of your head and organizing them. No one has to know it exists, and if you keep it set to private, you can make sure it doesn’t somehow show up in search engine results for other people to find.

Figure out your own personal technique

Hands Writing

Once you have chosen your journaling platform, you can then decide your own personal technique for journaling. Some people prefer stream of consciousness writing, where they simply write whatever comes to mind as if having a one-sided conversation with a friend. Others might make lists or draw pictures instead.

There is no right or wrong way to record your thoughts or express your feelings. Your idea of a self improvement journal might be a sketchpad, where each day you create a sketch that represents how you are feeling. You might make a list on a blank page of things you feel went wrong that day, and how you would have made sure they turned out differently.

It all depends, in the end, on what you are hoping to accomplish by keeping a self improvement journal. Everyone wants to improve themselves in one way or another: that is not specific enough of a goal. A journal will help you track those goals, but you have to have one, or several, before you can begin.

Set goals for what you want to improve or change, and how you will track them

Walking Boots Train Tracks

Journaling for self improvement purposes will more often than not involve creating and tracking the progress of specific goals. You want to improve yourself, obviously, but there is something specific in your life that you want to make better or change completely. Once you identify that, you are on your way to becoming a better you.

So what do you want to change? Do you want to take more risks? Speak up more in staff meetings? Eat less chocolate? Decide not only what you want to be different, but when. Most importantly, figure out what needs to happen in order to meet those goals, and how you are going to keep track of your own progress.

Will you start each entry with your list of goals, and then spend the rest of the entry reflecting on how you worked your way toward them that day, week or month? Perhaps you will pick only one goal to work on at a time, and journal only about that goal for a certain amount of time. Whatever your method, keep at it for as long as it takes to start accomplishing the goals you have set.

Stay consistent and hold yourself accountable

Phone Pen and Keyboard

One way to build better habits is to make sure you stay consistent, and this concept also applies to keeping a self improvement journal. Journaling for a few days in a row, and then neglecting your journal for two weeks or a month before returning to it again, isn’t going to do much to help you achieve the goals you have previously set for yourself.

As you begin your journaling journey, decide when you are going to add entries to your journal, both in terms of time of day and frequency. You might be someone who wants to journal every single day, and if that is what is going to help you meet your goals, there is nothing wrong with that.

Whether you decide to journal daily, weekly or even monthly, also decide when throughout the day you are going to do it. This makes it more likely that you will actually follow through. Do you want to do it first thing in the morning, so you can mentally prepare for the day ahead? Or would you rather use your journal to reflect on the past day’s events, and save your entries for the evenings?

Choose a time and frequency and stick with it. Set yourself reminders on your phone or through your email account if you have to. The key to consistency is not letting yourself veer off course. Keep going!

Self improvement is all about starting at point A and figuring out what point B is, and how you are going to get there. Keeping a journal, no matter your format or methodology for doing so, can help you stay on track and get to your destination, no matter the roadblocks that might stand in your way.