Have you ever thought about how you can go from blank pages to big life changes in your through the art of journaling? Remember when you were younger, when you spend countless hours on writing in your diary during those awkward middle school days?

Since those days, journaling has evolved and changed into something a bit more – it’s become a tool for helping you organize your life, prioritize and set goals, reflect on and remember the past as well as envision the future of your dreams. And no matter what your personality or creative style looks like, you can make journaling work for you – it’s not a one size fits all kind of habit.

There are many different styles and elements of journaling, which can be intimidating when you thought all you had to do was to grab a pen and start writing. It doesn’t have to be scary when all you really just have to do is start to turn the blank pages into big life changes.

blank pages
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Know Your Why: It doesn’t matter what you want to do, knowing your why is always key when it comes to your own success. Getting clear on this will set the stage for everything that happens once you open your journal to that first blank page. Keep in mind, that your why is not going to be the same as your sister’s, your best friend’s, or your co-worker’s, and it shouldn’t be. Your journey is unique to you and your own expectation of what you want to get out of it.

Maybe you want to get more organized and pay off debt. You could use your journal to track spending, set a monthly budget, and keep a record of everything you owe. On the flip side, maybe you desire a healthier lifestyle, and you need a place to track your workouts, your nutrition, and your weight loss. You might need a place to brainstorm ideas for a new business or set a 5-year plan for your current one. No matter what your reasoning is, journaling can assist you along the way. Knowing the why behind it all will help to guide and keep you on track long after you fill in that first blank page.

Keep It Simple: Yep, there are many beautiful journals out there, and with one click, on Pinterest, you’ll stumble into that new world of beautiful journaling layouts, creative artwork and calligraphy, leather-bound notebooks, expensive markers, and the “oh-so-cute,” must have stickers. When starting out, however, keeping it simple is best. Start with a cheap notebook (or sketchbook), a couple of pf pens, and about 10 minutes each day to practice writing.

You’ll be able to experiment and find your journaling style without breaking the bank trying to fit in with everyone else’s journaling experience.  As you grow and learn, you can start to invest in the tools that will allow you to create a journal that perfectly expresses your creativity and unique personality. Just take baby steps at first until you figure that part out.

Let Go of Perfection: This is a hard one but valuable. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to journaling is feeling the need to be perfect right from the start. Perfectionist tendencies will ruin your experience and keep you stuck on a blank page because the reality is that there is no right or wrong way to do this.

Your journaling experience is yours and yours alone and the important thing is that you just start. Who cares if your handwriting isn’t beautiful, or you can’t draw to save your life? Messy action is where all the magic is at – it’s where you gain confidence and clarity about where you’re at and where you want to be. It’s where you learn and grow and challenge yourself to be better. No one is perfect, even if it seems that way sometimes. Letting go of that perfection perception is one of the best things you can do for yourself, in the journaling world and in the grand scheme of life.

Make Time for Writing: If you want the habit to stick, it’s important to make journaling a priority in your schedule. If you don’t set aside some writing time on purpose, it’s going to fall through the cracks and become second to other obligations. This doesn’t mean you have to schedule hours of solitude each day with just a notebook and a pen to keep you company. Simply find 5-10 minutes in your day where you can go someplace quiet and spend time with your own thoughts.

Think about your daily routine and see when it would make more sense to carve some time out of your schedule. Maybe the early morning hours are complete chaos, and you need to wait until the kids are tucked in bed before you start writing. On the flip side, maybe it’s easier for you to find some quiet time as the sun rises and everyone else is asleep. No matter if you are a morning person or a night owl, the key is to make journaling a natural part of your daily routine. Only then will you form a long-lasting habit that can help to set you up for future success.

Make Lists: If the thought of long, in-depth journal entries stresses you out then writing lists may be a great way to dip your toe in the journaling pond. Lists are a super easy way to kickstart your writing habit without putting too much pressure on yourself at the same time. And you can make lists for just about anything and everything out there.

From meal plans and business ideas to travel goals and favorite books, you can use your journal to become a list-making pro. You can keep it simple or even go a bit deeper into the self-reflection realm. For example, make a list of fears you want to overcome or goals you want to accomplish in the next 5 years. List making is a great way to jump-start your journaling habit and the best part is, you’ll never lack for things to write about.

Take Your Journal with You (Everywhere): A great way to ensure that journaling becomes second nature is to take it with you wherever you go. You have moments throughout your day where you scroll social media, wasting time and accomplishing very little but when you have your journal handy, you can use those moments for creative exploration, self-reflection or simply to write out a much-needed grocery list that you’ve been putting off.

It’s easy to find excuses as to why you can’t write or don’t have the time to fit it into your schedule. By carrying your journal with you, you’ll always be able to find a free minute to tackle a sentence or two throughout your busy day. Another perk? When inspiration strikes, you won’t have to wait until you get home to let those creative juices flow.  

Set Up Your Space: Journaling is a habit that can be done anywhere and everywhere but when you first start out, it may be helpful to have a designated space for your writing. If you already have a home office, that may be a perfect setup but you can also choose a spot with a comfortable level of privacy that is free of distraction. Think of your space as a retreat – someplace you can go to get away from the chaos for a few moments and get in touch with your own thoughts. 

If you sit down to journal and the TV is blaring, kids are arguing and your phone is beeping with constant notifications, it’s going to be challenging. You can easily claim a corner of your bedroom, a quiet spot on the front porch, or simply a seat at the kitchen table, as your journaling space – provided there are no other distractions clamoring for your attention.

Use Prompts: One of the biggest challenges in staring at that blank page is knowing what to write about which can be discouraging and can lead you to not journal at all. Writing prompts can be a helpful guide when you have zero clue how to even start. Prompts come in the form of statements or questions that are meant to give you a focused topic to write about and can be used to get those creative juices flowing.

Whether you are looking to use your journal for self-reflection and discovery, to manage your emotions, or to help you deal with anxiety and stress, prompts are meant to guide you and help bring your thoughts, feelings, and emotions to life on paper. What are you grateful for? What is your meal plan for the day? What is your favorite memory, book, or movie? The options are limitless when it comes to writing prompts. Think you don’t have what it takes to be a writer? Think again. Prompts are an easy, surefire way to help you dig deep and find a way to journal your heart out even when you’re at a loss for words.

One Minute Rule: You’re a busy person and sometimes time or lack of, is one of the many reasons some may not maintain a successful journaling habit. The one-minute rule means that something can be done in one minute or less, don’t put it off. Do it NOW. Whether it be doing a load of laundry, taking out the trash, loading or unloading the dishwasher, or even journaling, you’re bound to find 60 seconds in the day to commit to these activities. It makes the time factor seem less of a problem when you carve out such a simple, small amount of your day. Plus, it’s much easier to commit to something when you know it’s not going to take time away from any other portion of your schedule.

This is a great way to stop procrastinating and start forming new habits that will serve you long into the future. For journaling purposes, it can even be helpful to use a timer, so you know exactly when your minute is up. Once you get into it, you’re most likely going to feel like writing for longer than that. However, the key is to start small and build up over time until it simply feels like just another part of your daily routine. 

Track Your Habit: If you have any intention of forming a journaling habit that’s going to stick, you have to be willing to work at it a little bit every single day, especially in the beginning. A great way to ensure that you stay consistent is to keep a habit tracker and mark off each day after you get done journaling. This super simple task will help keep you motivated, even on those days when you feel like writing is the last thing you want to do.

The more you see those checkmarks add up, the more determined you will be to keep the streak alive – because we’re human and it’s super satisfying to make that little mark once we’ve completed our writing for the day. Keeping a habit tracker will allow you to see how far you’ve come over time and can be the key to building and maintaining a successful journaling habit for years to come.

One of the best things about journaling is that there are no certain rules you have to follow and there’s no need to feel intimidated and overwhelmed at the thought of getting started. You can easily create a journaling experience that is unique to you – your wants, needs, and personality. Through self-reflection and discovery, journaling can provide a shift in mindset and perspective that will start you on the path of life-changing transformation. Don’t wait to go from blank pages to big life because you’ll open up a whole new world right at your fingertips.

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