The 7 Benefits of Keeping a Daily Journal

Though I typically write several thousand words a week, I have never been a consistent journaler. I’ve tried. I have friends who swear by it. It’s just never worked for me.

Diary and Coffee on a Newspaper - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/neomistyle, Image #15713596

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/neomistyle

Until recently.

My wife Gail and I have been on an extended vacation for the past two weeks. We have been tucked away in the mountains of East Tennessee on the edge of a beautiful lake.

When we arrived, Gail challenged me to keep a journal. I rolled my eyes but reluctantly agreed to give it another try, evidently forgetting a previous post I had written on the difference between trying and doing.

So far, I have written daily for twelve days in a row. I’ve surprised both of us.

Here’s how journaling has worked for me in this setting.

  • Gail and I get up at about 5:30 a.m. (Yes, even on our vacation. We can’t help ourselves.)
  • We read the Bible on our own while drinking a cup of coffee. I’m currently reading through The One Year Bible (Tyndale).
  • When we finish, we grab our journals and walk down to the dock. It’s only about twenty yards away.
  • Then we sit quietly for fifteen minutes. No talking, no writing. No doing. Instead, we silently take it all in, give thanks, and pray. We take time just to be.
  • Finally, we crack open our journals and start writing. This is completely unstructured. We don’t edit. We don’t judge. We just get it out. We write for twenty to thirty minutes.

I might write about what I read in my Bible, a dream I had last night, an experience I had yesterday, or what I hope to accomplish today. Sometimes I will write on one topic; sometimes on four or five.

The main thing is I am writing for myself rather than an audience. I have found this tremendously liberating and deeply satisfying. Amazingly, I am effortlessly writing five hundred to a thousand words a day.

If I had to sum it up, I would say journaling has afforded me seven benefits. It has enabled me to:

  1. Process previous events. What happens to me is not as important as the meaning I assign to what happens to me. Journaling helps me sort through my experience and be intentional about my interpretation.
  2. Clarify my thinking. Writing in general helps me disentangle my thoughts. Journaling takes it to a new level. Because I am not performing in front of a “live audience,” so to speak, I can really wrestle through the issues.
  3. Understand the context. Life is often happening so quickly I usually have little time to stop and reflect on where I am in the Bigger Story. Journaling helps me to discern the difference between the forest and the trees.
  4. Notice my feelings. I understand feelings aren’t everything, but they also aren’t nothing. The older I get, the more I try to pay attention to them. They are often an early indicator of something brewing.
  5. Connect with my heart. I’m not sure I can really explain this one, but journaling has helped me monitor the condition of my heart. Solomon said “above all else” we are to guard it (see Proverbs 4:23). It’s hard to do that when you lose touch with it.
  6. Record significant lessons. I’m a better student when I am taking notes. Writing things down leads to even deeper understanding and, I hope, wisdom. I want to write down what I learn, so I don’t have to re-learn it later.
  7. Ask important questions. A journal is not merely a repository for the lessons I am learning but also the questions I’m asking. If there’s one thing I have discovered, it’s the quality of my questions determine the quality of my answers.

Will I stick with this after my vacation? Time will tell. I sure hope so. So far, it has been one of best personal development exercises I have done in a long, long time.

By the way, I started out writing in my Ecosystems journal. However, I am not the best at writing lots of text by hand. The legibility of my writing deteriorates quickly.

On day three of my journaling experience, I stumbled upon a software program called Day One (not an affiliate link). This is a beautiful minimalist writing tool that reminds me a lot of ByWord, the program I use to do most of my professional writing.

Day One Screenshot

Day One sports:

  • A simple, uncluttered writing area.
  • iCloud and DropBox sync to iPad and iPhone.
  • Password protection (though not encryption yet).
  • A calendar view, allowing you to jump quickly to a specific day.
  • MultiMarkdown support, which is a formatting language I have grown dependent on. I use it in ByWord.
  • A fast, intuitive search engine that allows me to retrieve my notes instantly.

Best of all, it is only $4.99. I only wish the Apple app store allowed for trial versions of software, so you could experience the beauty of this program before you buy it.

Regardless, the tool is unimportant. The main thing is for it to become invisible, so you can focus on writing and reflecting.

Question: Do you journal? If so, what has been the primary benefit to you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • SiuonChan

    I used to journal a lot when I was young. But when the Editor-Me kicked me after I obtained my degree in translation, I stopped. I think I get to pick it up again after I read the post. Thanks, Michael

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Hope you’re able to pick it back up Siuon. Find a way to switch off the editor and just write freely.

      • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

        Agreed, Joe. Just write.

    • http://www.changevolunteers.org/ Kenneth Acha

      I share your history SiuonChan. But I’m not a translator/editor. I have learned many lessons about journaling and have even seen some fruits. I kept a daily journal for almost a year and then at one point, life hit me hard and I lose my bearings and dropped off of the journaling wagon. I think this great post by Michael has encouraged me to dust off myself and gather the courage to run and jump on it again and once again enjoy the fruits of journaling. John Maxwell was the last person who encouraged me to journal. Hopefully, I don’t stop again… I have missed many days to write down the things that have happened to me in the trenches of life.
      Thanks Michael.

  • http://www.meadowrue.com/ Meadow Rue Merrill

    Love journaling! In fact, I’ve kept up the practice for nearly three decades, which gives me a fascinating look back on not only how I’ve changed but on the dreams God has brought to pass in my life. Now, as I’m completing a memoir, it is also helping me piece together events I’d forgotten. For my middle-grade writing, I can also look back and read about my 12-year-old self. One of the best practices I’ve cultivated as a writer.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Wow, that is awesome Meadow! Writing a memoir… That can be a great use of old journals. Scour through them and use what you’ve written to bring back memories that you’ve forgotten.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Great idea! I have a stack of old journals in a box in my basement. I never thought about pulling them out as reference material for stuff I’m writing now. Thanks!

      • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

        Time to dust them off!

    • elauer4

      Ha! I’m writing a memoir too, and my journals are helping me so much as well. Looking back is the best!

  • http://bdentzy.com/ Bryan Entzminger

    I’m a DayOne user and absolutely love it. I’ve also tried http://750words.com and like it as well. But, still prefer the DayOne Journal overall. I can’t say that I journal as regularly as I ought but it sure helps when I do.

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    I don’t journal.  Like you, I have tried, but it just never seems to work.  Should I try again? :)

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Might be worth a try.

    • Blair Easdon

      Larry, personally I have found that I am rather terrible at maintaining a regular journal, but I find that having kept one on and off for long enough, I have now seen the benefits they offer, and although my journal doesnt have entries for every day, it has started to fill up. It is quite an experience to be able to read back on your thoughts and feelings from the past and often see where change has or hasn’t occured, and what you might still wish to work on, etc. My point is, even though I can hardly keep a regular journal, something is better than nothing. So I would definitely encourage you to try again! And you may find that as you get enough entries, you will start to experience the benefits of a journal for yourself, and from there be motivated to maintain it more often.

    • http://ramonbnuezjr.com/about-2 Ramon B. Nuez Jr.

      Try it again :-)

  • http://garridon.wordpress.com/ Linda Adams

    No.  I used to when I was young, but frankly, I didn’t even like what I write at the time.  I tried it over the years and either didn’t like what I wrote or wondered what was the purpose of it.  Wasn’t something I enjoyed.  I also always felt like the time was better spent writing stories.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Maybe writing stories accomplishes some of the same benefits for you, making it a different flavor of journaling. If you’re like me, you probably work through real life scenarios while writing fiction ones.

      • http://garridon.wordpress.com/ Linda Adams

         Could be.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    I journaled last year things that I was thankful for about my wife. It was a fun and different type of present to give.

    I was hoping to continue the process, even wrote about how important it was. Sadly, I haven’t done as well as I wanted. Only completing about 5 entries in the last couple of months.

    One of the benefits I see is not for myself. It will be a great treasure trove for my children when they’re older and I’m gone. They can go through and see the thoughts of their father. How awesome is that?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I like that possibility too, though I want to be careful that I don’t end up writing for an audience, if you know what I mean. That is so easy for me to do.

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

        I can understand how that could be an easy way to switch to an audience type of writing. I just look at it as an added benefit.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

       My wife and I wrote letters to our son from early on (don’t think it began on his birth day but soon after). I continue to write and send letters to him on a weekly basis (Monday or Tuesday each week even when I’m traveling). The journal records our thoughts about him and his growth, how we felt when he was two months, when he first smiled, how proud we were when he learned to swim or hit a ball or stayed overnight with a friend …

    • ThePromisedLife

      Joe, you remind me of a form of journaling that you speak about.  I learned this form while going through a transformational training program and believe I will return to it. It is writing love letters to yourself.  As you write about how thankful you are for your wife, write also about how thankful you are for what you do.  Amazing how much better it makes you feel.

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

         I’d never heard of that before. I can see how  that can be effective in changing the way you think about yourself. May have to give it a shot.

  • http://chrisvonada.info/ chris vonada

    I’m finding similar results… I am also a writer and my blog is about my daily walk, life in general. However, there is a lot going on that I don’t share with the world, and I need to reflect on that for my own benefit. Journaling is it.

    Loved #5 Michael, you absolutely have to connect with your heart to guard it :-)

  • http://runningwithhorses.wordpress.com/ Steve Hawkins

    Journaling started as a personal journey that grew into something much bigger. When I was 18, my older brother lost a battle with cancer. A church counselor suggested that I journal my thoughts about the ordeal with the idea of moving the pain from my head, down my arm, through my hand and pen, and onto the journal. So I did, for the next three decades, filling over 20 binders. What I didn’t realize back then was that writing fit me. Eventually, I went back to school, got a masters degree in technical writing, and started a new career. 

    The benefit I learned from journaling was to practice trying new things. I think we learn by doing. And if you never try something new, you’ll never discover a new talent that is dormant in your life. 

    Journaling may not fit you as it did for me, but it may open a door in your life that didn’t have a door handle. 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Wow. What a story. Do you still have those binders? Have you gone back and read through them at any point?

      • http://runningwithhorses.wordpress.com/ Steve

        Yes. It’s amazing how differently I see the world and where I am now. 

        When you’re writing in a journal, it’s as if you’re in a car driving at night with the headlights on. You can only see about 300 feet or so in front of you, so your vision of the surrounding world is limited. But multiply 300 feet times 60 mph times several years and you’ve covered quite a distance. That’s what I like about journaling. It’s a textual photograph of where you were at a moment in time. 

        • Bethany

          Great quote – “It’s a textual photograph of where you were at a  moement in time.”

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          Well said.

  • Katie

    It’s tough to stick with journaling. But this post refreshed my memory on how much I love to write in my journal. I think I’ll go do that right now.

  • Lainehmann

    I used to be pretty diligent about writing in a journal, but as a professional writer (like you) my blogging, videos, and social media seemed to suck up all my writing energy and time. I would like to start a prayer journal, though, as I think that can be very helpful in seeing what I’m longing for and what prayers God has answered. 

    Just the process and practice of taking time to sit in stillness is a valuable one. Thanks for the reminder!

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    Journaling is huge to me. It’s one of the most used ways I talk to God. I’ve journaled so many prayers it’s not even funny. That’s actually what my first book is based on – journal entries from one year. 

  • Roku77

    I use DayOne for my journaling, only limitation is doesn’t allow for photos.
    Also, how often do you look back at your entries, do you have a 7-day check or a follow up of some sort?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      According to their website, images are coming soon. That would be a nice feature.
      I really haven’t gone back to read previous entries much yet. To me, the exercise is about the process more than the output.

  • Truckerdan279

    Personally, I can’t seem to find the time or content to journal everyday. However, I think I may need to try journaling some of my past memories that I have of the journey of my life so as not to forget the important lessons I’ve learned.

  • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

    I started journalling soon after I became a Christ-follower in college. It started out simple enough – notes on what I read in the Bible. But it really helps me process what I am thinking, to really think through what all is in my head (which is usually pretty jumbled).

    I’ve been doing it for 16 or 17 years now, and most of the time, I just used a composition book. I’m currently working on my 29th journal.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That is amazing to me. I so wish I had started this in my early 20s.

      • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

         The “catch” is that I have to not just spend time analyzing what’s going on in my brain, but have to be disciplined to put thoughts into action.

  • http://twitter.com/rodneyeason Rodney Eason

    I am not consistent at journaling but try to write down the “junk in my mental trunk” at least once per week. Listening to podcasts from Mike Ashcraft at Port City Community Church in Wilmington, NC really turned me onto journaling. Mike talks about his journaling quite a bit in his sermons (he did a sermon last year on the very art of journaling). 
    I find the process to be cathartic. By seeing the words on the page, I sometimes say, that was silly, let go of it or… that is something you need to push on, get after it.

  • Pay Valerie

    I started journaling about more than a month ago, and like what you mentioned I could track the changes in my mood throughout the day better and understand myself a little more.

    Perhaps a free web app I’d recommend would be 750words (750words.com) where besides acting as a journal, it also has extra functions like analyzing your entries and moods as well as count your writing streaks to encourage you to write everyday and create and break your own journaling records. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I read that web page for the first time this morning when someone else recommended it. While the software didn’t appeal to me, I loved his philosophy and explanation.

  • Jorgeherrera21

    I tried it once but it wasn’t for me. I felt weird about it. But I’m doing something similar. I read Quitter by Jon Acuff, and he mentions he writes himself emails to be received at a specified date in the future via futureme.org. I have followed his method and wrote myself emails to be read next year. Present me wants to see if future me really stuck to see my yearly goals through. One weird thing is that I found myself being violent on the emails. It was a powerful, intense thing, writing those emails to myself. Any thoughts?

    • http://twitter.com/CXOAlliance Anthony

      challenging thought!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      What do you mean, “being violent on the emails”? Not sure I am tracking with you.

  • http://twitter.com/longyear Scot Longyear

    I have been “Life Journaling” (a system adopted from Wayne Cordeiro). It is basically the one year bible with some simple journaling.  Instead of using paper, I do it all thru the computer, using You Version to read and Evernote to capture my thoughts.  It has changed the landscape of my spiritual life.  Here is a tutorial on how I Life journal on the computer: http://scotlongyear.com/blog/how-to-life-journal-on-your-computer

  • Nathan

    Perhaps you already answered this, but why don’t you use Evernote to journal?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I did answer it a few times. Thanks.

      • http://dancingupsidedown.com/ Emerson Jane Browne

        Where did you answer that – regarding why you are not using Evernote?  Sorry, but I am not seeing it.  
        I am curious how you are keeping everything you use straight – meaning clear boundaries for different apps / different purposes and therefore different information in different places.  

        I love your blog and always check out your suggestions and the apps you use.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          No, I am still very much using Evernote, just not for journaling.

          • http://dancingupsidedown.com/ Emerson Jane Browne

            Thanks.  I am curious how you are keeping everything you use straight – meaning clear boundaries for different apps / different purposes and therefore different information in different places.  I would love it if you would post about that sometime. I love your blog and always check out your suggestions and the apps you use.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

            The boundaries are not as clean as I would like. I m constantly adjusting my workflow and experimenting with new apps. Sorry. I wish I had a better answer for you.

          • http://dancingupsidedown.com/ Emerson Jane Browne

            Believe me!  I get it.  I am writing a book for time and life management for brain injury survivors and best practices are a moving target!!  I find the boundaries challenging too.  There are a lot of good apps.

  • http://twitter.com/learygates Leary Gates

    Great post Michael. I used to journal sporadically and abandoned it.

    But late last year, I picked it up again after reading the Artist’s Way. I now journal daily. In fact recently, I posted a series of blogs on why it’s now a daily habit:

    http://www.learygates.com/2012/07/02/why-i-gave-journaling-another-try/

    For me, I’ve gained greater awareness, increased focus, and a daily space for strategic thought. That daily practice has become one of the more transformative habits I’ve taken up as an adult.

    Keep up the inspiring posts!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I love the title of your post!

  • http://www.delemares.wordpress.com/ sandra delemare

    I’ve kept an intermittant journal for many years. I’ve also found it helps clarify my thoughts – and more stuff comes as I write.
    I also keep a daily biblical meditation journal – I’ve been working through various books of the bible for many years – jotting down what comes to mind as I read – some of it’s more bible study, some personal insights which might end up in yet another notebook of significant verses, which I find encouraging to reread from time to time.
    There are so many benefits to journalling for mental and spiritual health.
    Thanks for this, Michael

  • Sheryl Buckner

    Thank you for a great post Michael! I love to journal and have been doing it for more than 20 years even though I must admit the past 3 years I have struggled to stay consistent. I prefer to write by hand. There’s just something about writing it out by hand that is very “freeing” for me. I can’t edit when written by hand. However, I am going to check out your recommendations on the software. I have a tablet that I am learning to use and that might be another tool to help me along.

  • Aaron

    I’ve journaled off and on since 2nd grade (those early ones are funny, like a report on what I ate for breakfast and details on the girl I liked). In my adult life, I’ve had to let go of putting requirements on myself – like journaling every day. Instead, I just keep it available. The result is that I write in it about once or twice a week, and at the end of the year I sit down and review the story that has formed.

    Talking with people about the practice of journaling, I find there is often a lot of guilt attached to it. The assumption is that it has to be done daily; there is a kind of performance mindset that gets attached to it. If we can give ourselves freedom without guilt or requirements, then it can be a really fruitful way to engage our own hearts at new levels and a way to engage what the Spirit of God is saying and doing in our lives.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You make a really important point. If this just becomes another item on my to-do list, I think it will lose its magic.

      • Aaron J

        I find this especially true when we journal as a spiritual discipline. I usually recommend that mentee’s don’t commit to it (or really any spiritual discipline) unless they are doing so by the invitation of God’s Spirit. But sometimes, it’s not a matter of committing to it, but wondering, “Is this for me; Is this something I’m being led into?” In that case, I usually encourage them to just try it out for a couple weeks.

  • Jamie Chavez

    Your discoveries are very like the things I discovered when I was working my way through a facilitated reading of The Artist’s Way and had to commit to Morning Pages. Sadly I fell out of the habit but I agree it’s astonishing what wonderful, creative, enlightening ideas come out of stream-of-consciousness journaling.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That book motivated Gail to start journaling. She cited it when she encouraged me to start journaling. I am eager to read it. Also, Gail is reading the Joy Diet right now, and I am about to start that one.

  • Amy

    Journaling means a great deal to me. I kept a journal for quite some time now. Although I do have to say I haven’t always been as consistent as I am at the moment. I love I can just write, whether it’s a prayer or just thoughts I have. I can struggle while writing and whilst writing I might just decide to let it be. Journaling to me is raw, unedited, honest and most importantly a way of communicating with God. 

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Interesting post, Michael. I have a journaling habit of sorts by keeping a daily planner. I usually start the day by filling in the top four or five things I want to accomplish for the day and then filling in a short to-do list. I also make notes of ideas I want to explore and people that I want to talk to. It’s messy at times, but actually gives me a pretty good record of the day. Since it is paper based, my ideas flow freely with a pen. At the end of the day I three hole punch it and keep it in a notebook for future reference.

    I’ve also found that I like to use paper when writing fiction. This allows me the freedom to write short snippets, use large expressive punctuation, and write as the ideas come. It also forces me to do an automatic edit, when I transfer my hand written words to the computer. It takes longer, but as a kinesthetic person, it gives me the freedom of expression. I call it writing out loud. It works especially well when writing dialog.

    I came up with a paper based template that works well with this writing  technique. It gives me just enough structure to make the words flow. Your readers can download one here if they want to try it out. http://goals4u.us/PzSIwC

  • Bill Krebs

    You might want to look at the 5 Year Journal from Levenger’s .

    I am 3 years into mine… great tool!

  • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

    My journals are my prayers.  I tried to write about my thoughts and life etc.  But I found by writing my prayers out, I have a great way to look backward and see God’s work.  I realize how often I pray for something. God does it. And I don’t even remember He answered me.

    Yearly I review the last 12 months and give thanks.  Periodically I go back a few years and see the progress my kids have made and have a lot to be thankful for.

    I have been writing my prayers for 8 years now.  There are some noticeable dead periods.  When I reflect on those, I often see times of spiritual bleakness.  Journaling my prayers keeps me in touch with my Father.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That’s a great idea. I know others who do the same. I occasionally do this myself. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/stacey29lincoln Stacey Thacker

    Why do you like this app verses using EverNote for journaling?  What is the key difference?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I tried it in Evernote but found that I got distracted. I also don’t like having to enter a title, decide which notebook it goes in, and whether or not I should add tags. I just want to write in a clutter-free environment and go.
      But honestly, the tool is not important. If it works for you, use it. The main thing is to write. Thanks.

  • Dick

    Writing in a journal has been of great value.  It helps me to gain perspective on my journey but often this perspective is not present in the moment.  As I go back and read my journal at some future point in time, the perspective and the learning seems to crystalize.     I have been writing in Evernote and that seems to work well.
    Thanks for the encouragement!   

  • http://alphaefficiency.com Bojan Djordjevic

    I just recently started using Day One, and I like it a lot. So far I was writing my journal in Evernote. To be honest it lacks to me Evernote integration, cause it’s my everything bucket.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I tried to do it for a while in Evernote but kept getting distracted by my other notebooks and notes. So I like having it in a separate location.

      • http://alphaefficiency.com Bojan Djordjevic

        I didn’t like getting back to it, it feltmreallymdry to read it. I am still in the process of migrating old journal posts from Evernote to Day One.

        On iPhone they introduced full screen writing, that I never seen anywhere else.

        • Aaron j

           Glad you guys discussed the evernote piece. I was wondering if it would be a good tool for journaling or not.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    In my case, my journal habits come out during short-term mission trips. I just returned from a 2-week trip where I recorded much of what you highlight–especially lessons learned. I’ll review my notes at some point in order to glean information for a number of articles but it is all unedited and primarily for my personal benefit.
     

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’ve done the same on mission trips. I keep a daily log of what we did, what I’m learning, truths God is showing to me, etc. I usually read back through it and go through the pictures after I return home. Brings it all back to life again.

  • PatrickF

    Was actually in the middle of journaling this morning when I took a break and saw the blog post. Thanks so much for the added insight and tips so I can do a better job!

  • http://twitter.com/CXOAlliance Anthony

    Thanks Michael. A while ago, I found out that journaling is also one of the main recommendations of counselors on how to overcome fears even if they are as deep as Panic Attacks! Truly a blessing to examine our thoughts against His Thoughts AFTER we have “confessed” them in writing to ourselves and to God! Have you read “The Panic Attack” by Dr. David Burns http://www.amazon.com/When-Panic-Attacks-Drug-Free-Anxiety/dp/076792083X/ref=pd_sim_b_1 ? (although his frame of reference lacks the STRONGER clarity of The Scriptures and Christian Paradoses, he does have a solid system for helping to weaken the stronghold that FEAR has on too many)

  • http://www.whiteboardbusiness.com/ Dallon Christensen

    Do you notice any change in your thought patterns when you type on a computer compared to actually writing? I’ve heard competing viewpoints on the topic, with some saying it makes no difference and others saying they think more clearly when they handwrite. I know this is a personal preference, so I’d like to hear your own thoughts on this.

    I think this shows the influence you have on me, Michael. I started journaling on my own vacation three weeks ago after reading some of your old posts and I use the same Ecosystem notebook. I also notice how my handwriting, which is not good to begin with, gets worse as I write. I looked at DayOne, and I agree that its an awesome interface. I just wish it integrated with Evernote. I tried journaling in Evernote, and I was always distracted into looking at a project notebook or my blog ideas checklist.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I think it’s a highly personal choice. For me, I don’t want the process of writing to get in the way of the thinking and the reflecting. I want the tool to recede into the background. For me, this works best on a computer with a program that has a simple, uncluttered interface like Day One.

      • http://www.whiteboardbusiness.com/ Dallon Christensen

        I downloaded the iOS and Mac App versions of Day One and tried them out tonight. I definitely see what you mean now!

  • Tom Norvell

    I have journaled for many years and itnisnone of the most therapeutic exercises I engage in. In recent years I have gone back and forth from using my computer, my iPad and a handwritten journal. Writing by hand takes me longer but also allows me time to do more reflecting (something that is very important for me) and thinking about what I am writing. When on my computer I tend to get distracted by fonts, highlighting, etc. However, the convenience of my iPad calls me back to that format…especially when someone like you suggest a new app.

    Journaling helps me sort through the events of days past and the things that may come. Many times when my mind has become cluttered with the stuff of life, if I will take time to write to down and get it out in the open the feelings fo being overwhelmed fade away. I often recommend journalist to counselees and church members…some try it…most do not.

  • Steph Shackelford

    I have journaled almost every day since second grade, and the most beneficial aspect that I have found is being able to look back on struggles and see God’s blessings – often in unexpected ways. Just as God says throughout Scripture to remember Him, journaling helps me to remember. Thanks for writing about the importance of journaling and some other key benefits from it.

  • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret Wortman

    For me, journaling has to be easy, frictionless, and very pleasurable or I just won’t do it.

    I’ve tried electronic versions and (this is just my experience, obviously everyone’s different) they just put an artificial layer between me and the expression of my thoughts. So when I’m really trying to express something deep inside, I stick to pen & paper.

    And the most pleasurable form I’ve found is a fountain pen and Rhodia or Clairefontaine paper. Rhodia makes notebooks that are visually indistinguishable from Moleskines except that the covers are a bit thicker and feel somehow plusher and the paper is more luxuriant and takes a fountain pen’s ink without running or smearing. The feel of the pen on high quality paper cannot be beaten and it just makes the act of writing that much more … organic, beautiful, wonderful and pleasurable. When I’m going to be writing a lot, I prefer wirebound Clairefontaine notebooks because the pages lie flat, where the Moleskine-style notebooks bunch up near the binding and can be awkward at times.

    As for frictionless, I just like having paper and pen, no format, no style, no rules, no markdown language to remember, just my own shorthand and my own handwriting. Some days it’s frenetic, other days it’s slower and more expressive. I can even tell my mood from day to day, or from topic to topic by how the writing looks.

    Anyway, thanks for goosing me a little. I’ll try to spend some time with my little orange Rhodia book tomorrow morning.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      It is amazing how many different tools are available. Wow! The key thing, I think, is to find what works best for you.

  • brassworks

    Thanks for this nudge.  I journal sporadically.  I recognize its value (although until your blog post, I’ve never delved into its deeper values), but continue to be too easily distracted by life and its events, which I should be recording!  I do like to write letters, of which I keep copies as supplements to my journal, but I engage in neither letters nor journal frequently enough. I plan to start anew, and to try to apply a little self-discipline.

  • Tom Norvell

    By the way, I just got Day One in the App Store for $1.99.

    • http://www.whiteboardbusiness.com/ Dallon Christensen

      The iOS app is $1.99 for iPhone/iPad (it’s a universal app). The Mac App Store is currently selling the desktop version for $4.99. I purchased both so I could sync with Dropbox. I’ve just started journaling in the last 3-4 weeks, so I’m trying some of the same tools Michael is using. I’ll see if I do better with DayOne, Evernote (sure wish DayOne had a way to intergrate with Evernote), or writing by hand. I’m guessing I’ll use a combination of digital and writing, especially if I’m out and about. There is still something about putting pen to paper to express ideas.

  • http://twitter.com/SS_Hines Sharon S Hines

    Great summary! I’ve been journaling most of my life, but not necessarily every day. Just recently, I looked back at how the nature of my journaling has changed over the years as it has brought me closer to God. I was totally fascinated to find that the stages I’ve gone through in journaling correspond closely to what the REVEAL study says are the four stages in the Christian’s journey. I put a keyword to each stage.

     The first stage is RECOGNIZE, meaning the first step is to recognize God’s hand in your life. Journaling helps you to do this as you review things that have happened and see how God is working with you. All of your 7 benefits tie in here, but #1 and #6 are especially relevant.

    If you get to where you don’t have enough time for full-blown journaling, I’ve developed a quick 5-minutes-a-day minimalist version that keeps the continuity going even when you’re super busy. See my site for more info: heargodsvoice.org.

    Thanks also for the software suggestion. I’ll have to check it out. Looks very promising.

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    I journaled for years, filling up stacks of spiral notebooks with everything from reflections to prayers. It was a means to process what I’d read in the Bible or dialogue with God about what was going on in life, ask questions, listen and record impressions. It gave me space and freedom, allowed me to let down my guard and be fully myself. I don’t journal consistently anymore, maybe a few times a month, tops. And talking about it here makes me miss it!

    • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

      I think it could be interesting to go back and read your old journals, and see how far you’ve come.  I’m not a journal-er but I like the idea of writing prayers and seeing them answered, or doing it as a faith journey.

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        Most of my journaling is exactly that, recorded prayers. I like using dates, then going back and recording when answered or resolved in some way. Makes me think of Deut. 6:10, 12: “When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers … be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley

    Michael,

    The most powerful piece of what you’re doing in my opinion is the 15 minutes of “Taking it in..”

    We don’t clear our heads anymore… It’s constant thought and media and conversation or just nonsense TV cluttering our brain.

    “Taking it in…” That is powerful.

    Thanks and the vacation sounds great.

    Ryan H.

  • http://andrew-meyers.com Andrew

    Love, love, love Day One! An update that offers the opportunity to include photos with your entries is coming to the Mac and iOS clients very soon.

  • Cherry Odelberg

    Journalling is like having a counselor and life coach close at hand 24 X 7.  You expressed the proper spiritual and unstructured use of it well in this post, as did John Eldredge in his book “Walking with God (Thomas Nelson, 2008).  When I talk AT other people too much instead of writing in my journal, I lose some of the felt inner depth and self-awareness that putting pen or pencil to notebook provides. 

    • http://www.clayproductions.com/ Aaron Johnson

      Cherry, I’ll second that. Drawing out what is going on internally is half of the work that a great counselor will do. Often, I will review my journal before meeting with my mentor/spiritual director in order to save us some time :) Themes and emotions emerge that he would usually have to coax or pull out of me. It helps us get to deeper issues more quickly.

  • Josey Bozzo

    I do journal. But my personal journalling is not as consistent as my Bible studying journaling. Oh and this is funny, I used to keep them separate now I journal personal things right along side my Bible study entries. Then there are notes from Sunday sermons mixed in as well. Also, alot of entries are out of order because my personal entries only happen once every couple of months. It’s really a “hot mess”. I keep thinking some day when my children read these they are just going to laugh at the unorganization of it all.
    This post is perfectly timed to, I’ve had the itch to sit down and write in my journal and haven’t done it.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    I journal frequently, although not daily, as much as I’d like to…  I’ve found all of the benefits you listed to be true, and would add one more:  my journals, while private and written for me, will leave a legacy for my children.  They will one day be able to look at my stack of journals, and see all of me, success, failures, dreams, and desires, both for myself and for them.  They will be able to point to those journals, after I am gone, and say “This is who dad was…”  It’s a legacy.

    • http://www.wevival.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      I dig that. My mom kept a “medical” journal during her battle with cancer. She detailed everything that happened, though, nothing personal. I wish she would have shared some insights into what she was going through, outside of the logistics. 

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

         That would have been cool.  I lost my dad a year ago, and the last few months of his life were pretty intense, spiritually.  I kinda wish he journaled, so I could look back on those times and remember more than just my point of view.

        • http://www.clayproductions.com/ Aaron Johnson

           Thanks for your thoughts on this guys. Both of my Grandfather’s were wrote a lot and I’ve not really thought about trying to locate some of their  notebooks. You may have just set me on an adventure :)

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

             I hope you find them.  Enjoy!

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    FYI:  The link to the post on trying vs. doing is broken…  Just thought you’d like to know…

  • http://www.ofwnurse.net/ ofwnurse

    I love writing in a journal. Ever since I started this year, I’ve never stopped.  It helps me to clarify my thoughts and express my feelings.  SOmetimes I also used it as a tool in communicating with GOD.  I am writing all my concerns and doubts and fear…everything….

  • Gloverleah3

    I have journaled off and on for years. After a friend told me it helped them pray more honestly when writting their prayers down, I tried it. Now I journal daily during my quiet time. Sometimes it is just prayers, sometimes about things that happened in the past, crazy dreams, and often what I would like to accomplish for the day and future.

    I used to get down on myself when I would skip a few days, but then I decided that was silly. I journal as often as I remember and do not stress about how often that is.  I do it the old fashioned way of an actual journal of paper and a pen. Crazy I know, but paper and pen are still in use! :)

    • http://www.clayproductions.com/ Aaron Johnson

      I’ve found the same thing to be true; that when I write, I’m challenged to be both more honest with myself, and with God. I think it’s maybe the deliberateness, that it takes more time and focus. Listening to Anne Lamont talk about writing in Word By Word, really is what brought that to my attention.

  • Andrewinge

    I find journaling closely related to your post about sending angry emails before you really get to process them.  Sometimes journaling about my anger or frustration lets me vent before I make a fool of myself.   

  • http://brettcohrs.com Brett

    I’ve been journaling since college. I mainly journal after reading Scripture: Observations, applications, then prayers in light of that. Then perhaps I’ll add some things that have been on my mind. It’s helped me to be more observant and reflective (maybe too much so). I have bins of the things.

    By the way, one of my favorite things about this post: The snapshot of a sweet moment in your marriage. Thanks for that!

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

       What do you use to journal your thoughts on scripture?  Have you ever used Journibles?  If so, I would love your thoughts on them…

      • http://brettcohrs.com Brett

         Never heard of ‘em. Since it’s my quiet time, prayer time, sermon, misc. journal, I have a general notebook.

        My weapon of choice: Blueline A9 Black or Blue 9.25 X 7.25 hardback notebook. Smaller than a standard size, larger than the Echosystem or Moleskin. I love them. I always have to find a new place to order them. I discovered them at this small town office supply place when I was in seminary. But I digress. :-)

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          I just ordered one.  It allows you to write the scripture in your own handwriting, and gives you space to journal thoughts and reflections.  Neat idea…

          • http://brettcohrs.com Brett

             Interesting. I’ll check it out some time.

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    I think it’s hard for Type A people to journal.  We have the goal of completing the task,  no matter what it is.  Journaling is about the moment – what you are thinking, feeling, etc.  Type A’s or “thinkers” have a hard time wresting down what they are feeling, and just want to do the task, which doesn’t make fulfilling journal time. 

    I’m not ready to try it again, but I loved how you quoted your own previous blog post (trying versus doing) back to yourself. It made me smile.

  • http://KarlSakas.com/ Karl Sakas

    For me, the key to journaling is to keep it short. I wasn’t able to sustain past journaling when it was open-ended and I’d write forever and not get enough sleep. Now, I use a Moleskine 18-month XL planner, which has space for each day, but only enough for about 5 minutes of writing. It forces me to think about what was most important for the day, which is a good exercise.

    The biggest benefit is seeing trends over time. I have a record of how I was feeling a week or month or six months before, and I can see whether things have improved.

    I also used it to help me realize it was time to move on from a previous job. I began writing a “+” or “-” (for “love my job” and “hate my job”) in the margin each day for a few weeks, and realized that more than half were minuses. It was the evidence I needed to leave, and I found a new job within a month.

    • Aaron J

       Karl, This is a great idea! I keep a small moleskine in my back pocket to record important things said to me by friends, mentors, or direction I sense from God. At the back of it, i record writing ideas, or other things that get my creative juices going.

      My brother is a stand-up comedian and keeps a notebook like this for joke ideas, something he has watched Dave Chappelle do for years.

  • Pam

    Michael, absolutely without question, give 750words.com a try and blog about your experience after a significant trial. I have journaled on and off since I was about 15 and still have some of the earliest ones. I am not a great fan of Day One. I have tried Awesome Note, Moe’s Notes, Momento and a bunch of others. One I really love is called 9 Square — you set up 9 sections of your own choosing. I find it helps me focus on various areas of my life and it is beautiful.

    Right now I am using one called MD. It is a little bit fussy but provides a quick Place to write. And I am using 750words.com. I personally actually LOVE the challenge of writing every day a d it is an special challenge when I am at my mother’s in the country where Internet is very much an intermittent thing! Please do give this a try. I am eager to know what you think. I do not find the interpretations helpful at all. I glance at them but do not spend time or energy.

    I copy each day’s entry to Evernote so I always have it available. 750words is a one-man operation. I hope it lasts. There is truly something magical about it and something that has surprised me is that doing this daily generates an ENERGY to continue writing other things such as personal essays and school papers that I never had available to me before.

  • Agatha Nolen

    Michael,
    Absolutely great post on the benefits of journaling. I’m not as disciplined as you. I don’t make notes every day, but I do set aside 10-15 miinutes after Bible reading before going to bed to reflect on the day and one question: Where did I see God’s hand today? I don’t necessarily make a written memory each day, but more often than not, it results in a short note, or sometimes just a Bible verse that had new meaning that day. It is a habit, but if I don’t journal each day it isn’t the end of the world; some days, I actually take a photograph that serves as my journal instead of written words.
    This is a “keeper” post. I’m going to bookmark it and share it with my friends for a long time. I’m often asked, “how can I come to know God” and as you say, “journaling helps you to know your heart.”
    Blessings,
    Agatha Nolen

  • http://twitter.com/bobevankc Bobby Shaw

    Hi Michael, and welcome back! This area of journaling is one I have also struggled to maintain consistency, even after a great start this year using Evernote, my favorite “everything” tool. I downloaded the Day One to give it a shot. I downloaded both the Mac version as well as the iPhone/iPad version. Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Great. Let us know what you think of Day One.

  • http://spiritualsidekick.com/ Tom Wideman

    I journal using a variety of different techniques; prayer journal, scripture that jumps out at me and quotes from books. These often lead me into exploring more on related topics and journaling my thoughts.

    Here’s my main struggle with journaling. I know I am writing just for me, so I tend to explore my doubts, my fears, and my sins. But then I start thinking about what happens to these journals when I die? Will my family come together and read them to each other? When my in-laws passed away, their journals became priceless family heirlooms. This crosses my mind every time I’m tempted to write about one of my deep secrets or sins. I would appreciate anyone’s thoughts on this.

    • http://bluebonnetreads.wordpress.com Hannah C.

      I’ve already decided to be honest in my journals, and if my descendants read them after I’m dead…oh well! They will know the real me, including the sins, and hopefully they’ll see whatever good I did along with the flaws and be able to forgive me the flaws. I’d rather they know all of me! Seeing how God worked in my life, despite my sins, will be a greater legacy to them than seeing the sanitized version, IMHO.

  • http://twitter.com/BrianHolmesLive Brian A. Holmes

    Off and on. Like you Michael, in the past I have found it hard to do as a habit. Early this year, I began journaling everyday, and found it to be of great value. Somewhere along the way, I lost it again. Thanks for reminding us of the value. I am purposing to pick it up, and develop a strong habit for my own sake.

  • http://www.VictoryChristianCoaching.com/ Marianne Clements

    Michael,

    I’ve been journaling regularly (mostly daily) for about 10 years.  The primary benefit of journaling for me  is peace.  Journaling is a written form of prayer for me.  I can think about an issue and get no solutions and no peace, but when I write it down it’s like I’m truly giving it to God and things seem much clearer.

    Also, I love being able to look back at all that God has done in my life.  At one point, I was handwriting my journals, but they are all typed now.  They are organized by year and it’s so easy to scan through old journals for information, especially now that I have a monthly summary at the bottom of each journal.

    Have a Victorious Day!
    Marianne

  • Clara Rose

    I had an English teacher in high school that had us journal everyday for the first 15 minutes of class… it is where I found the joy of writing.  This was a great reminder of the therapy that it can be for your soul, thanks.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      A great teacher.

  • http://www.wevival.com/ Jason Stambaugh

    I’ve had many fits and starts with journaling. For a time, I had some success with http://280daily.com/ However, when life got “busier” I stopped posting. I love the tools focus on data analysis. Maybe I’ll get back into it…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I love the gamification aspect of this. I have suggested to the Day One developers that they do something similar.

  • http://exciramedia.com/ Shannon Steffen

    I just bought Day One (thanks to your recommendation). It is fabulous.

    I’ve tried keeping a journal many times before but always stopped because my hand was cramping. You see, my writing hand has a reconstructed elbow – after I smashed & dislocated the elbow and broke the upper bone. Needless to say, my writing has never been the same.

    However, my brain is still active with so many things that I was getting frustrated at not having an opportunity to write them down. Thanks to you, I now have a very easy way to journal my life, dreams and innovation.

    Thank you so much and I’m happy you truly had a great vacation.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Great, Shannon. Enjoy!

  • Karen

    Journaling has been a life-saver and life-revealer for me.  I did it sporadically over the years but in the last 2 1/2 years I have become much more consistent.  I don’t necessarily write every day and may miss a few days now and then but that was the secret for me.  It wasn’t an “all or nothing” rule.  It was a way for me to process life and faith and along the way I have learned so much about myself, about God, about my relationships with others, and about my purpose for being here! 

    Even though I am retirement age my journal is helping me continue to grow and learn and best of all, it is helping me step out of some old fears and take risks that I have avoided progressively throughtout my life.  I genuinely look forward to journaling.  It is not a chore or a requirement but rather a place to share and process everything from the weather to my life goals.

    One thing I’d recommend for new “journalers” is to find a time and the tools that work best for you.  Mine is first thing in the morning with a cool spiral notebook.  My first journal which was a gift actually asked questions to guide my daily entries and that really helped me get started.  I no longer need those kinds of prompts but they helped me establish and tweek a process that works for me. 

  • http://prashantbhatt.com/ Prashant Bhatt

     

    Very interesting post Michael.

    I have kept a regular journal since 1983 and have been keeping  joint journals with my children (now aged 13
    and 11 ) for around 4 years.

     Though not exactly a
    journal-in the 1970s my grandfather used to reply and correct my letters sent
    to him from Pune to Moscow

    Apart from Joint journals (esp for children who may not be so developed as to
    note down things themselves or in helping the uninitiated) another method of
    journal keeping
    is to try to record conversations of persons met. This adds depth and
    perspective.

    There are many other interesting ways of developing journals but for brevity, I
    have mentioned only these few examples . Over the years, (decades) when I read
    back my journals, I  find how their shape
    -character and interpretations change.

    I suggest Penguin Book of Diaries as an interesting read for
    persons who want to develop journal writing.

    I follow your blogs regularly and try to see how to fit my
    journals into being blogs as per guidelines given by you. (am not very successful
    at that but yet my blogs-journals serve the purpose of connecting to some
    important family and friends)

    Journal keeping is a must for any thinking human.
     

  • Mrydjeski

    I have been writing everyday for four years now. I journal more as a way of leaving a record behind for my children. I have used a variety of tools, but this year I am using Oh Life, a website that sends a daily email asking “How did your day go?” You respond to the email and the response goes to the website. You can look at past entries and edit them there at the website. The free version also allows you to upload a photo for each entry. The premium version gives a few more benefits, including being able to upload more photos, but I find the free version totally adequate. When I am ready to, I can even print out the entries so I can have a hard copy. Two years ago I focused my entries on noting where I saw the hand of the Lord in my life each day, like a gratitude journal of sorts. That was a ver satisfying year, to know that I did see the hand of the Lord each day.

  • http://www.beyondthesinnersprayer.wordpress.com/ Barb

    I’ve done something I call truth journaling for eleven years now. When I’m emotionally distraught or trying to break a habit, I write out my thoughts (just a paragraph or so), and then carry each thought captive to the truth (2 Corinthians 10:5).

    God has used this discipline to give me a relationship with Him I never dreamed I could have back in my bored-with-the-Bible years.I’ve also written questions I that use for journaling through emotions and habits; they help me get a biblical perspective on life when I’m wrapped up with the world. (I just put them out on an iPhone app a couple of weeks ago.)

  • http://chasinggoodness.com/ Robyn

    Hi Michael, much to my surprise this post truly moved me – I am a journaler (I use iJournaler – it has a pw and I did get it from the iTunes) Any way where you said “Notice my feelings, Feelings aren’t everything but they aren’t nothing” Wow did that resonate and move me. I too write about what I’m feeling but somehow what you wrote was on some level powerful to me. 
    And then with the next point in the article being – Connect with my heart – the two together almost moved me to tears. It was confirmation for me that I should not feel guilty or “off” when my journal entry is all about what I am feeling about something – that writing about matters of the heart only is fine on any day. While I know all of this intellectually, I recently have been missing it in my heart. SO thank you! Your journaling that prompted you to write this post is not only useful to me, but in my mind more importantly a blessing.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, Robyn. I am so glad this helped you!

  • Advinthekitchen

    I used to journal daily and about three months ago picked it back up again. I find it helps me focus and is a place to freely express the good and the bad.  It is  a place to dream and visualize what could be.  I just downloaded Day One – excited to try it out!

  • Shane

    Great honesty! Like you I hear of great journalers and wished I could be better. Now it has moved into the “roll my eyes” category.

    But really, I just got to the point of just being myself in my journal. Most of it is thoughts on Scripture. Every so often (couple of times a week) I think of something to say about life.

    I think the biggest thing is to journal true of yourself, not journal true to somebody else.

  • Nick Bell

    I only started keeping a one-page record (in a Moleskine notebook) of what happens every day in December 2009 and only wish I had started earlier. It is wonderful to be able to look back and see what was happening on any day. 
    I also keep a sporadic journal, mainly devoted to what I call dialogues with Jesus. It could just be my mind replying to my questions and concerns, but at any rate this is a more confident part of me.
    Tried keeping both journals together in one book, but it didn’t work. 
    I like having the physical books as I tend to mislay my computer data more easily and it doesn’t seem quite so solid to me.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Nick,
      I love my Moleskine! I use the “reporter” style to journal so the binding doesn’t get in the way!

  • Edwina

    I have journaled for years. One of the major benefits for me is that it has been, at , the beginning of the healing process for me as I walked through some very difficult times. I am a counselor and the first homework assignment my clients have is to buy an inexpensive, spiral-bound notebook and begin journaling. It is amazing how God will open doors, bring situations to mind they had long forgotten or buried, and healing through their journaling.

  • Theresa

    I’ve found that journaling over the past ten years has kept me focused on how to head my life in the direction I want to go.  See 
    http://mthupp.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/3take-the-plunge/ and http://mthupp.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/the-dailiness-of-writing/

    Theresa

  • http://cocomojos.blogspot.com/ Pat Thomas

    I have journaled since I was a young girl.  Besides the Bible,  journaling is the best way to keep a positive mental attitude.  It amazes me to look back at old journal entries and realize that I accomplished so many of the plans I wrote about.  Unfortunately, I no longer journal everyday even though I have pressing issues that journalizing would help me work out. 

    I stopped daily journaling when a guy at work stole my journal  and then sent me photocopies.

    As the GTD guy says:  ‘Get it out of your head’  It works WHEN I do it.

    Your column today has inspired me to set calendar alerts for journaling!

  • Lwishard

    Michael,  Thanks to God for giving you the guidance to journal and write about it.    I have experienced 35 years of daily journaling.  Within a five years I had written and had published a couple of books on Quiet Time, Milk, Meat and Honey and Jesus and Quiet Time.  These are both out of print now, but the main result of my writing has been for me and your article was right on about the benefits.  Thank you. Larry Wishard

  • Carol

    My morning routine is a cherished time.  Waking early, to spend time in the word, a cup of coffee, and journal.  This happens before anything else; even if I have to get up earlier.  I started my first journal in college as a class assignment and have kept it up over (40) years.  In recent years it has become more a prayer/conversational journal between my Lord and me. I encourage everyone to journal if only a few lines each day.

  • Beyondchatter

    Personally, I am more liberated when I write with pen and paper.  Occasionally I  use a word document, but with auto corrections the mind tends to go into editing mode.  I carry real paper with me at all times for when I am sitting at the car repair shop, the doctor office or waiting to renew my car tags.   I have made some enlightening observation which I was able to note. 

    One of my favorite associated activities is when I get to purchase a new journal.  I derive great pleasure in selecting just the right paper, the right binding and the right size.  I usually can visualize myself  writing pages and pages in this journal before I actually make the purchase.  If I can’t visualize myself writing in it, I don’t make the purchase.  I move on to something else. 

    Visualization is essential in journal writing.  If you don’t see yourself as a journal writer, then the chances are slim that writing will actually occur. 

    I have established a family member to become custodian of my journals when the time comes that I die or become incapacitated.  My eldest daughter has been given strict guidelines for destruction since these journals contain very personal information that should never be viewed by anyone other than myself.  I trust her implicitly. 

    Blessings,    

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  • http://www.giniwoodward.wordpress.com/ M Andg Woodward

    I have journalled off and on for nearly twenty years. I tend to journal more when I am needing to center myself. I find that when I “blah, blah,blah” about the same struggles I begin to look for solutions and not just the same old ones. After all, one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I really appreciate MH site which clearly and consicely offers tools for better living. Thank you!

  • http://www.LaurieAcker.com/ Laurie Acker

    Returning to the world of journaling, after a 4 year break, I am developing the habit once again. The thought of “noticing” is what struck me in your post today. It is totally conceivable to live a day without noticing people within arms length, without noticing my own feelings affecting my health and productivity, without noticing needs around me where I could be of great influence. In this world of 24/7 bombardment of information and ideas – where within seconds I have 53 insightful twitter posts and blogs  - social media, instant news, marketing galore – I no longer have to let my fingers do the walking! Noise surrounds me, seemingly, by default. I will no longer take for granted my power to choose. I will continue to unplug, sit with a journal, if just to notice. And … I believe … this could be a step toward (borrowing a phrase from a stand-out author!) “getting noticed in a noisy world.”

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

       Well said, Laurie!

      • http://www.LaurieAcker.com/ Laurie Acker

        Thanks, Barry!

  • http://twitter.com/stantonlanier stantonlanier

    Even though it is often sporadic, journal entries from the past have helped capture story ideas for writing/blogging today. Looking back at journals also helps me remember blessings to count, struggles that I have overcome, fears that I have broken through, and creative inspiration from scripture verses and life experiences.

  • Ljclewis

    I have journaled for years now.   I usually use it as a means to pray.  Sometimes, just talking or thinking doesn’t seem to have the same seriousness.  When I write, I am able to focus my thoughts more clearly.  It has been a wonderful exercise that helps me remember where I have been and what the Lord has brought me through.  I otherwise tend to forget. It also serves as a challenge to me to keep with my plans and goals.
    I went through an extremely tough period in my life and actually threw away the journals that I wrote during that time.  I really needed a tangible way to move forward. It has been invaluable discipline.

  • rjordan003

    Michael, I am a huge fan of journaling, and have journaled for almost three decades, on and off–both for diary-like notations, as well as personal thoughts and insights during moments of quiet mediation and Bible Study. To date, I have filled almost 25 journals. I still prefer pen and paper journals, though I have used my computer as well on occasion. I agree with all of the benefits you mentioned above. They are really great reasons to journal.

    In additon, one benefit has been that most of my books have originated (or were sparked) from these journal entries. Another benefit is that as I grow older, and memories may fade, I’ll have these word pictures to help me remember the past. :>) And maybe these will be a legacy to leave for my children. Of course, there are some pages I will have to tear out from when they were teenagers, and I was venting….. Thanks for this post!

  • http://KatieAxelson.com/ Katie Axelson

    I love to journal as a way to process through life. I have found I can’t write a “this is what happened today” diary because I spend too many hours trying to include every little detail. Instead I pick one event or conversation I want to process through. Most of that content gets revised and revised to become a blog post but it isn’t always written for that purpose.

    Katie

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

       I am with you Katie—I love picking out one thing from my day and writing on that instead of the play by play. The thing I pick out to write about is usually pretty random too.

  • rjordan003

    Michael, I am a huge fan of journaling, and have journaled for almost three decades, on and off–both for diary-like notations, as well as personal thoughts and insights during moments of quiet mediation and Bible Study. To date, I have filled almost 25 journals. I still prefer pen and paper journals, though I have used my computer as well on occasion. I agree with all of the benefits you mentioned above. They are really great reasons to journal.

    In additon, one benefit has been that most of my books have originated (or were sparked) from these journal entries. Another benefit is that as I grow older, and memories may fade, I’ll have these word pictures to help me remember the past. :>) And maybe these will be a legacy to leave for my children. Of course, there are some pages I will have to tear out from when they were teenagers, and I was venting….. Thanks for this post. Some of my most favorite and helpful journaling has come on vacation times!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

       I am with you. I carry a mini Moleskin around with me almost everywhere and try to journal (random thoughts, object lessons, prayers) throughout the day. I way prefer the tactile pen and paper experience for journaling.

  • http://twitter.com/umeshnawathe Umesh Nawathe

    I have started to write the journal and the money I am spending for the day, for around 20 days continuously now. After reading your article I feel like I must continue it whatever happens.

  • Grace

    First of all, welcome back from your vacation! Really enjoyed your popular posts from the past. 

    Thanks for your challenge to pick up my pen and start journaling again. I regret for not keeping track of what God has been doing in my life which I consider as a great benefit for journaling. 

  • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

    I used to keep different journals  – bible study journals, writing, personal journey – but found that too scattered. Could hardly keep up. Now I keep one handwritten journal where I record my journey with God (quiet time) – verses that speak to me and practical applications my thoughts and sometimes prayers.  I also note down ideas, thoughts, things to do.

    I also capture additional thoughts in my computer ( Day One sounds great – right now I use evernote or Word :)), usually major events/transitions and my handling and processing of the same

    I find that i have a very short memory! So looking back and tracking where i’ve come from helps me stay strong, focused and greatful.

  • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

    I used to journal. It was very meaningful. Thanks for the post as I need to get back into routine.

  • http://twitter.com/HomemakersDaily HomemakersDaily

    I journal but not the way you described.  I have a planner with two pages per day.  Every night I sit on the couch and write stuff in my planner.  Sometimes it’s about things that happened during the day.  Sometimes it’s thoughts or struggles or problem solving.  Sometimes I have to add paper because I write so much. 

    Because it’s part of my planner, it’s easier for me to do it.  It’s part of my “planning routine”.  And I have all my planners from past years so I can go back and see what was going on. 

  • Martin Bass

    A blog is a very therapeutic way to share your feelings and also help others.
    http://ourdarknightofthesoul.wordpress.com/

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      I’m with you deskpub. Blogging is a type of journaling for me. But there are some things that are too private to publish.

  • Sally Ferguson

    Journaling helps me sort things out.  I still like to use pen and paper; the messy handwriting is a reminder that I am more confident on some days than others and it comes out in the way I express myself.  It is ownership in who I am.

  • Deskpub

    So how does one get their blog posted here….

  • Lorraine

    Another interesting essay, sir. It’s great finding out even those who write daily the tons of words that you do have had problems keeping a daily journal. I too have tried several times. Your piece encourages me to try again. Funny thing, the only other blog I read on a regular basis also has a piece on keeping a journal. Her blog is called “Emilia Jordan: Writing on Writing, Blindness, TV, Metaphysics and More Writing” and her essay today is titled, “What’s your story– Perils, Pitfalls and Pleasures of Writing Memoir. “

  • Purdier

    I have always heard about the benefits of journaling, personally have never set aside or disciplined myself to do this. The app that was mentioned seems to make it bullet-proof, thanks for sharing.

  • ThePromisedLife

    I have not journaled as of late.  However, I have in the past. The other technique, for which I created a 90 days planner, is to pick a quotation theme for the week and ponder one quote a day as to how I can live that quote in my daily life.  Reminds me to stop and think before about living The Promised Life!

  • Wendy Claussen

    I’ve journaled very sporadically  .  I do love your routine of quiet time with your spouse and then journaling together. :-)  I am going to recommend this to my hubby. Thanks for a great idea. :-)

  • Bethany

    WOW!  You read my mind – I just discovered your gold mine of a blog and have been searching for your wisdom on journaling.  It is one of my five daily activities of an ideal day that I am still trying to achieve consistently.  Thank you for the encouragement to journal.

    Thank you also for your blog, books, and seminars.  I just purchased “A Day About Books” with you, John Maxwell, and Charlie Wetzel.  It is an awesome seminar and I eagerly rushed to your site after watching your session.  Your blog is amazing in thr quality and quantity content you provide. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Wow. Thanks, Bethany!

  • http://rayedwards.com/about/ Ray Edwards

    Michael, I have a similar experience with journaling: I am in inconsistent journaller at best. But when I do take time to journal, I find it to be remarkably clarifying. I also find that I can quickly gain insight from God simply by being still enough to allow the thoughts to flow onto paper. A friend of mine once said, “Writing is the doing part of thinking.” I believe that is what happens for me when I journal.

    Also, I have been along time user in big fan of the DayOne app. Two thumbs up!

  • http://www.davidpmariano.com/ Dave Mariano

    My wife and I started a tradition (not our idea originally) when we got married. Each anniversary we read a few selected passages from our journals. They’re not always about each other, but it’s been a fun way to remember what we’ve been through together in the past year.

    It’s fun to do this together, but I tend to look back and review what I’ve written every few months on my own too. I enjoy journalling, but haven’t as much this year. Thanks for the reminder!

  • http://twitter.com/MentorMarnie Marnie Swedberg

    I love to journal! Such a powerful tool! Also, came here today to say Congrats, Michael for your affiliation with http://premierespeakers.com. Was way excited to see that! Marnie

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Marnie. I am pretty excited about it too!

  • Lindy

    I find looking back over old journal posts helps me to see how far I have come, what I have forgotten and most importantly recurring trends or issues for me that still need work!

  • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    Thanks, Dawn. Thanks for helping get the word out!

  • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

    Great post, Michael!  I especially like to write down in my journal anything that I think I hear from God.  Going back to those pages brings me back to into the context of those defining moments in my life.  That’s where I go when I need to refill my vision bucket.  

    It’s great to have you back!  :)

  • http://www.twitter.com/erikjfisher/ Erik Fisher

    I used to journal in high school. I’ve “tried” during college, and for the past ten years since, but have never gotten back to it. I have however always felt like I wanted to do it. I even purchased Day One months ago, and intended to get started “trying. 

    I am going to start “doing” now. I’m traveling the next few days, and my nervous waiting around energy will be focused into writing. Thank you for writing this, and thanks to Gail for “making” you do it! :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Let me know how it works out, Erik. I think you will enjoy it if you can just get into it.

  • http://www.carolaround.com/ Carol Round

    I started keeping a prayer journal almost 11 years ago. It has helped me to grow spiritually and document what God has been doing in my life as well as the lives of my loved ones. After speaking at women’s retreats on the benefits of prayer journaling, I was encouraged to write a book, which was released by Westbow Press earlier this year. “Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God” sensitively guides the reader along his/her own prayer path through balanced scriptural support, stories from the lives of women transformed through the power of journaling, encouraging explanations about the benefits of journaling and timely tips about how to start. http://www.journalingwithjesus.com

  • Janie Gentry

    I have been keeping a journal since my first grandson was born, 81/2 years ago.  I want him, and my other grandchildren, to be able to read about how much joy I felt when they were born.  I have since added things we have done together including our vacations and little picnics and spending the night camping on the living room floor.  When they are grown and I am gone, I hope my journals will bring them as much happiness as the children have brought to me.

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      What an incredible motivator, Janie.

  • Wendyrickpic

    I have a journal that I use sporadically. I bring it with me on vacations because I usually feel more reflective without all the usual distractions. I also keep a journal for each of my two kids. In it, I write letters to them about lessons I want them to learn or things that I struggle with that I hope they can avoid or just about funny stuff. They are too young to understand now, but it helps me reveal my heart to them. I will definitely be journaling more.

  • Inspired2ignite

    Like you, I feel journaling helps me clarify my thoughts.  If I’m trying to process some difficult issues, I often find peace that has been evading me without the benefit of writing about them.

    Something I’ve come to appreciate about my journals is having a visual to see where I was and how far I’ve come.

    Although I enjoy the benefits of journaling, it is often a chore in the moment.  This is an on-going challenge for me.

    Suggestions?

    • http://www.carolaround.com/ Carol Round

       Try to set aside a specific time everyday to journal. For me, the first thing in the morning before my day gets busy works best. By the end of the day, I’m too tired.

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      I agree. Seeing the changes is worthwhile. It also helps decide if you took a wrong step somewhere. 

      I think the key to going from being a chore to a habit is to just keep doing it. Even when it is hard or seemingly irrelevant. The longer you do it, the more likely it will become easier and more beneficial.

  • http://www.kylechowning.com/ Kyle Chowning

    Mike…I’ve got to ask. In the spirit of GTD, why would you introduce another piece of note taking software instead of using Evernote?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Kyle. Several people have asked that here in the comments. Two reasons. First, I think the word processing aspect of Evernote is its weakest link. I just don’t enjoy it and find it quirky. Second, I also find the environment distracting. I find myself getting side-tracked by notebooks and other notes.
      But, hey, use whatever works for you! Thanks again.

      • http://www.kylechowning.com/ Kyle Chowning

        I knew you had an intentional reason for it, I just wondered what it was. Thanks for taking the time to reply (again).

        I also wondered if others had asked the same question. Sorry for the duplication. I couldn’t find any reference doing a quick page search. 

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          That’s the problem with so many comments. It becomes difficult to find anything!

  • Jacob Summers

    Honestly, like most men, I’ve never been a natural journaler (is that a word?).  However I noticed that almost every successful person I heard about journaled.  So about 1.5 years ago I started a project to motivate people to journal called the Daily Self Growth Journal.  It’s based on a motivational message comprised of a quote, a Bible verse, a vocabulary word, and a short message from me.  Then it’s followed by the real powerful part. Questions… Questions designed to be simple, yet introspective. My goal is to provide an exciting and easy way to journal and reap the 7 benefits you talk about.  Thanks, for the message. It strikes at my passion.  You’re so right. P.S. I don’t mean for this to be an advertisement for what I do.  I’m just excited that somebody else noticed the value of journaling.

  • Neal Durham

    Hi Mike:  Journals are great to have, especially to look at the past so you do not repeat some things that were not the best.  I have copies of our G Grandfather Harry Hyatt journals from 1909 up to almost the day he died.  The journals provide a great insight into his life and that of our grandparents Marshall, Emma Hyatt and all our great uncles and aunts.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I would love to see those journals, Neal. I had no idea they even existed! I don’t suppose you have digitized them have you? All the best.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

       What a great legacy!

  • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

    Yes, I journal and I agree with everything you have written on it’s benefits!! Great post!!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Do you journal daily? Any particular style or direction? Lately I’ve been thinking of journaling as a warm-up to my daily writing routine. Kind of like stretching before a run. I’m wondering if anyone has tried this particular angle …

  • Warnerdave1

    I so appreciate you.

  • Stephanie

    I like the way you describe your relationship with Gail. Laidback. Easy. Good friends and confidants. 

    My husband and I are the same, but we are in a different season of life. The season of lots of little voices and pitter-pattering feet. ;) We have three girls (ages 5, 3, and 3 months)…so I don’t get much journaling in. BUT I do still write daily. 

    That said, your posts always encourage me to be more disciplined and I appreciate that. Thank you. 

    • http://www.clayproductions.com/ Aaron Johnson

      Writing daily with 3 kiddos under 5! That’s an accomplishment.
      What kind of writing are you doing?

  • Cgwanzura

    I have never done it but from your post am motivated to try it.

  • http://twitter.com/TanaraMcCauley Tanara McCauley

    I journal for many of the same reasons highlighted in your seven benefits. One difference is I journal before I pray and before I read my Bible. I used to do it the other way, but found myself praying what I thought I ought to pray instead of what was really on my heart…junk and all. For example, if I was harboring bitterness against someone who constantly offended me and happened to read about being merciful, I would bypass sharing with the Lord how I felt and instead I would beat myself up about how I was failing in mercy. By journaling first, I get it all out there honestly and don’t leave unspoken hurts/fears/feelings inside to continue eating at me under the radar. Journaling keeps me honest in my prayers, and helps me to grow healthily in my walk with God. Great post!

  • http://twitter.com/TanaraMcCauley Tanara McCauley

    I journal for many of the same reasons highlighted in your seven benefits. One difference is I journal before I pray and before I read my Bible. I used to do it the other way, but found myself praying what I thought I ought to pray instead of what was really on my heart…junk and all. For example, if I was harboring bitterness against someone who constantly offended me and happened to read about being merciful, I would bypass sharing with the Lord how I felt and instead I would beat myself up about how I was failing in mercy. By journaling first, I get it all out there honestly and don’t leave unspoken hurts/fears/feelings inside to continue eating at me under the radar. Journaling keeps me honest in my prayers, and helps me to grow healthily in my walk with God. Great post!

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Neat idea Tanara. I agree that it can be better when we get the junk out.

  • MariaKeckler

    I have been journaling for years. It is more like a direct conversation with God. About five years ago, Dr. David Jeremiah, my pastor, gave a small seminar on Journaling.  It is a practice he has kept for a long time.  He confessed that he originally thought the idea of journaling was not “manly” enough. But then he began to keep a journal electronically, printing each entry and putting it at the top of what has become a very tall stack.  

    He hooked me when he talked about the value of “harvesting” one’s journal, the systematic habit of going back and reviewing one’s entries.I have now been harvesting my journals on a regular basis.  I’ve discovered amazing answers to prayer… seasons in the valley where I grew the most… ideas that are now ripe for pursuing but weren’t at the time…One of the most special journaling experiences has been keeping a prayer journal for my daughter. I started it when she first left for college. I hope to give it to her one day–perhaps when she’s a momma herself.Ah! How rewarding journaling has been.My latest and most amazing experiences in journaling began a couple of months ago. My desire was to have a more meaningful “conversational” relationship with God.  I journal before bed, leaving the journal with a question for God.  When I read the Bible in the morning or when I’m reading a devo like My Utmost for His Highest –and sense His voice responding very specifically–I write down that response with a red pen.  My journal is resembling my “red letter Bible” which highlights Jesus’ words in red.I have enjoyed teaching journaling workshops too, but I confess that they are mostly for me :) As you can see, I’m very  enthusiastic about journaling in many different forms! 

    Hope your journaling journey is fruitful in many ways.

    • http://twitter.com/TanaraMcCauley Tanara McCauley

      What an insightful and helpful post Maria. I write letters to my children but have never considered journaling for them. That’s a wonderful idea! Is your Dr. David Jeremiah the Turning Point pastor? I’ve listened to him for a long time. I also “harvest” my journals and I agree that it’s a great way to be amazed by how God has responded to the needs of that time, though I have been guilty of tearing out and shredding a page or two along the way :). Thanks for sharing.

      • MariaKeckler

        Hi Tanara.  Yes, I’m referring to The Dr. Jeremiah of Turning Point.  I’m blessed to be unders his weekly teaching here in San Diego.

        • http://www.clayproductions.com/ Aaron Johnson

           What a great man. I grew up in the same hometown, and he came to speak at the college there often. His father, James, was a kind and caring man. Though he was in his eighties, he would often stop  and walk with me between classes. They both have created a real legacy.

          • http://www.MariaKeckler.com/ Maria Keckler

            Yes, Aaron. You are so right.  What an inspiration for us all.  I’m truly blessed to be part of his congregation.

  • Ron

    I had to leave a comment on this one. I can identify with the internal push-back of journaling and avoided doing it for years.  Then last year, my dad gave me the greatest gift I’ve ever received – a one year bible in which he had written notes and thoughts to me every day of the year.  I was so moved by this that I decided to keep a journal of my thoughts and life during the year that I went through the bible and give it back to him.  I did that and gave it to him earlier this year.  It ended up being about 1/2 to 1 page of journaling every day to my dad for a whole year. It was therapeutic both for me and for our relationship – we weren’t close when I was a kid and are still trying to make up for it even 20 years later.  He doing that bible and me doing the journal was instrumental in us making great progress in our relationship.

    I’m now doing the same thing for my wife – I’m going through the bible in a year and writing a journal to her every day, starting with stating the passage of scripture, some of my thoughts about it, and then some kind of note or thoughts about anything…what’s going on in our lives, the kids, our relationship, something I”m struggling with, what I’m praying about, etc.  It ends up being about a page or so each day, and over the course of a year, I expect that I’ll have a nearly 400 page journal to give to her that I hope will inspire a love for God’s word in her and will help us grow even closer together.  

    So the point here is that journaling can have many uses and I agree that it’s worth the effort!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That is an awesome concept. Very inspiring!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

       Really great story, Ron. Thanks for sharing!

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  • Jimlong1

    My most meaningful Journal was one that was the central tool in my recovery from alcohol and other drugs over 23 years ago. I wrote down as many events as I could remember, what happened, and how I felt then, and how I felt writing it. This helped me connect with the PAIN of using instead of the initial pleasure using brings initially. Another notable Journal was the one I wrote early on the morning of 9/11 (I worked in NY at the time) and how everything can change in an instant.
    Your blog has inspired me to begin again. Thank you for sharing it.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

       WOW! Jim that’s really powerful! 23 year is AWESOME! do you go back and read your thoughts yearly? less? more? The idea of looking at the pain that using caused in you, and others around you, must have been really difficult. Thanks for taking the time to share!

  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

    I have had periods where I have journaled, but it has been many years ago.  Your list of the benefits makes me think it is time to begin again.

    Thanks for sharing your journey as a believer.  It encourages my walk!

  • Maoojelabi

    I do not keep a daily journal. its quite a long time since I discarded the idea of keeping a diary. I guess the era of cell phone and internet took that scibling rigour off my back. However your presentation today give me a lot of food for thought. I quite appreciate this and would take a positive stand from today about the great idea.
    Regards.

  • http://Thefieldgeneral.com/ Chris Coussens

    Like you, Michael, I’ve tried to start journalist many times. It has never stuck. I process a lot while I’m exercising, so traditional journalist just hasn’t been practical.

  • TJ Gilroy

    I journal intermitantly.  I find it helps to clarify my thoughts and allows me to communicate them more easliy to others. 

    I thought your point #7 in your post about journaling was excellent.  In a mentoring relationship I have, I found the quality of counsel I receive is directly related to the quality of questions I ask.  Scripture backs this up also as Jesus says when he tells us to ask, seek and knock, and James tells us we do not have because we don’t ask.

  • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    I have not read it, but my wife has. Several people have mentioned it. It is on my list.

  • http://therockstardevotional.blogspot.com/ Clint Hall

    I don’t often do this, but sometimes when I have a specific prayer in mind, I write it out. I often feel like I can become internally distracted during my prayers. When I’m praying about something difficult, I find that writing out my prayer helps me to focus and think it through.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      True. Journaling has helped me focus as well, as long as I don’t write for anyone else but God and me.

      • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

        I am with you, Michelle. I like the point you and Michael make about not having an audience when you journal, but if stumbled across a really good thought that was “blog worthy” you would use it, right?

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          Absolutely. But I have to guard against getting caught up in the execution versus the experience. For example, if I’m journaling and thinking of my kids (or my readers) and how I want to leave this legacy of my life after I’m gone, then my writing can easily wind up contrived rather than authentic. How’s that for honest confession? :)

          • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

            Are you kidding? I love it! Sometimes I feel like I am always writing for an audience… even when I shouldn’t be. I try to be authentic, or at least real with myself, about who is this REALLY for? sometimes it’s hard to peel back the layers? I think what you just wrote… Execution vs. Experience and Contrived Vs. Authentic would make a great post! (Do you see what I mean???? there I go again)

          • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

            Hahaha. We’re a mess. :)

  • Jon Felske

    Hi!  My name is Jon Felske.  I recently started journaling for the the first time and I’m curious do you reread what you wrote the same day, day after, never at all?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      So far, only a few times. FOr me, it is all about the process not the end product.

  • http://thelenexaedifier.com/ Jim Stauffer

    As one who is a newbie at blogging this seems to me to be the best tool for me at this time. So many thoughts pass through my brain and then do not return. It should stimulate these kinds of thoughts even more. Thanks.

  • zcochran88

    Journaling is a lot like life. You pick it up and put it down. But over the years, it show you the story of how God has been at work in your life…where you’ve failed and where you’ve succeeded.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       I like that … takes the pressure off.

  • http://www.andersgerdmar.com/ Anders Gerdmar

    I have journalled as part of my prayer life for thirty years… What the Lord told me while doing that truly changed my direction so many time… e.g., when God delivered me from business ;) (it’s not wrong w business but he had another way for me…)

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  • michaelgassconsulting

    Thanks for sharing Michael. I purchased the Day One App and love it.

  • http://www.thesaltlick.tv/ Peter Gowesky

    I have found that my journal has become so precious to me.  It stores some of my deepest feelings and some of my greatest learnings.  I have kept a journal now for over 7 years.  However, I do not journal everyday.  I don’t even journal every week.  It is something that I would like to make more of a habit to do though.  Thanks for the encouragement in this post!

  • http://themindsetmaven.com PJ McClure

    I absolutely love journaling! It has provided the most reliable way for me to reconnect to myself and get to the heart of anything I’m facing. My favorite practice is to “pray through my pen” in my journal. Hearing God’s voice seems much easier for me when I’m engaged this way.

    Many of my clients journal in very different ways than I do, but the point is simply to get in and make it happen. It sounds simple and I’ve met many who still struggle to get started or keep going. Seeing that need led me to create a course for why and how to keep a journal. (not pitching, just saying)

    Keeping a journal is the single biggest commonality among successful people. Hands down.

  • http://somewiseguy.com/ ThatGuyKC

    I’ve wanted to start journalling regularly since high school, but I’ve had a hard time getting started and sticking with it. Wanted to avoid a “Dear Diary” scenario.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with trying out journalling & using Day One. It’s caught my attention before, but I never pulled the trigger.

    I hope you had/have a great vacation.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      KC,
      I am with you about the avoiding the “Dear Diary” feel of journaling. Reminds me too much of the closing scene of Doogie Houser M.D. ha ha.

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    I have The Artist’s Way (and workbook) on my shelf, but haven’t dug into it yet. It stares at me from my bookcase, but I’m intimidated. ;)

  • Kormandcraig

    I have started and stopped more journals than I can count, and kept them all. I find looking back a pattern of journaling during times of tremendous changes in my life-a past divorce, miscarriages, losing a job….But I have also journaled when I first met my second husband, when our blessed child was finally conceived and born, and my first “real” writing was published.

    I used to beat myself up when I didn’t journal EVERY single day. But I stopped doing that. I know that the pages will call out to me when I need them and the pen will flow with my changes, my fears and loves and losses. And one day, I will look back at today and see the wonder of my life.

  • Valerie

    I noticed that you mentioned DayOne, a mac/apple program.  Any suggestions for non-Apple/Mac users?

    • http://www.mondayisgood.com/ Tom Dixon

      I’d like to know the same thing!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I’m sorry, I don’t have a suggestion. Maybe someone else does. Thanks.

  • http://www.MichelleStimpson.com/ Michelle Stimpson

    The best thing about journaling for me was that one day (after 15+ years of journaling) I opened up my journal to write about a big problem and it just hit me: I’ve been here and done this so many times before. And every time, I look back on those “big problem” entries a few days, weeks, or months later, and the “big problem” is never as big as it was to me the day I wrote it. That “aha!” moment just reminded me that whatever I happen to go through in life, it too shall pass.

  • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

     I love the Artists way! It’s a must read!

  • Jonathanraber

    I started a journal when I decided to go to college. I started out in a book with lined pages and a hard cover. I have gone through a book shelf of these books. I have moved them with me and keep them close at home.

    My first computer was my next journal. I have a file that is tucked away in a file called “Journal”. I keep adding to it day by day. Each new computer has the file copied over from the old one. I like to write by hand in a journal, but a computer can have a password to protect one’s writing from prying eyes. I found that once I had a password protected journal, I become more honest and transparent. In the end, is it not the goal we all shoot for?

  • RonnieTabor

    I was on the fence about commenting here not sure if I had any value to add. But when I saw the Day One shout out, I got off the fence.

    I have struggled (translate) failed, to journal consistently.  But in the last year using Day One has increased my efforts.

    #1,4 & 6 are where I see the most growth.

    As a matter of fact Michael, your book Platform got me off the fence and I started blogging again and my tag line is Lessons Learned (see #6). 

    Thanks for sharing.

    Ronnie

    http://www.ronnietabor.com

    P.S. If my site looks eerily similar to yours, check out my FB page and you will see that I have had my favorite quote listed for years “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your comments, Ronnie. I’m glad to know I helped. By the way, we will be coming out with a WordPress theme based on mine soon.

  • http://dalemelchin.wordpress.com/ Dale Melchin

    I have been journaling since high school.  I don’t always do it consistently or in the same medium.  I have a book that I carry around and I have a file on my computer where it all goes.  I’m eventually going to have to find a a way to consolidate all of them. 

    I need to make it a more consistent habit.  I’m glad to see that you’ve started doing this and wish you well in burning it into your subconscious as a habit.

    Good luck to all who are taking it up as a habit.  It will be one of your best choices! 

  • http://abarenakedlady.com/ Shelly Tiffin

    I have always said that I processed aloud. In fact when I am trying to figure something out with people I don’t know, I warn them that I am going to ask all kinds of questions and pursue different avenues, but to please not think I agree with everything I am saying. I just need to get it out of my head to cross it off the list. Putting it on paper allows me to do the same thing.

    Journaling also allows me to make connections.  For example, yesterday morning, as I was trying to figure out where to start on a book idea, I prayed then started writing. The events I wrote about at first seemed to be all unrelated, but in the end I realized that the hardest moments of my life came when I was looking for security in all the wrong places. 

    I have even begun journaling during worship. This is a new experience for me. I don’t do it all the time. But we just had an outdoor worship night at our church and they set out a huge canvas with markers for people to use during that time. I couldn’t resist and what came out was not only an expression of my love for Christ, but it became a sort of binding contract between the Lord and I. It seemed to mean more.

  • http://scribingthejourney.com/ Duane Scott

    I call myself a writer and yet, here I get stuck.  I simply don’t know how to stick with a journal.  Although I read posts like this one laying out the benefits, it just never materializes.

    Do you think there are different types of needs for different types of bloggers?

    For instance, I share my heart and soul on my blog pertaining to faith and the stories of my life.

    However, people like you Michael, that provide a service to the world when you write, don’t have that freedom to express the heart as much. 

    So do you think one type of blogger benefits more from journal writing than the next? Because my blog isn’t titled “blog” even on my site. It’s called “Journal” and that’s exactly what it is.

  • http://www.brandongilliland.com/ Brandon Gilliland

    That’s some great insight. I liked how you said ” Journaling helps me to discern the difference between the forest and the trees.”
     
    By the way, I think I found a slight grammar mistake in the first sentence of your last point…?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      It looks like I had an extra “a” in there, correct? I have fixed it. Thanks.

      • http://www.brandongilliland.com/ Brandon Gilliland

        Yes…that was all. Awesome!

        Great post today!

  • Keith Godfrey

    Thanks for this post.  Does anyone know of a journaling application like Day One but for Windows based systems?

  • http://www.liveyourwhy.net/ Terry Hadaway

    Some of my best thoughts are captured through journaling. My books, blog posts, etc. often are rooted in those moments when I am least distracted and most tuned in to God.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      I agree, Terry!

  • http://www.newdrugaddictionguide.com/ drug addiction treatments

    Reading journals is good habit to be aware of what is happening in the world.

  • http://www.skipfilmschool.com/ Brooks Lockwood

    I laughed when I saw the this post popped up in my RSS reader. I have been debating on starting to journal for over a week.

    I guess I’ll take it as a sign to go for it.

    Has anyone experienced a significant improvement in their writing skills after they have been journaling for a while?

  • http://www.matthewreedcoaching.com/ Matthew Reed

    Great encouragement to journal. I know that I use Evernote for lots of things, but there is nothing like pushing pen across paper for part of the journaling process (imho). It makes the act itself pleasurable, in addition to the spiritual, intellectual and emotional benefits.

  • http://www.margaretfeinberg.com/ Margaret

    My friend journals exactly like you experienced on your vacation. She spends time being before being herself on the page.

    Thanks for the app name– I’ll pass it on to her. She and her husband are always looking out for stuff like this!

  • http://dustinstout.com Dustin W. Stout

    I’m terrible at keeping up with my journaling. Although I did manage to keep at it for 2 periods of 6 months (not consecutively). Thanks for the reminder. 

  • http://twitter.com/HealthyLife_UK Healthy Lifestyles

    Whether as a stress management tool, weight loss or fitness tool, or just to make sure you never forget anything important in your life, to me my journal is the most important possession. So it is something i have recommended to all my clients, and to my friends. Maybe being an avid journal writer was a factor in me becoming a blogger. Hey i will read back to find out. 

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  • Ken Metzger

    During my cancer of 10 years ago I journaled and then stopped after I survived all of the chemo,surgery, radiation,feeding tube. I can re-read the journal and “see” God’s hand in my life then when I couldn’t “feel” Him in the actual journey. Still brings tears to my eyes to hear my heart call out to My Savior for strength, courage, mercy and  His presence as I battled for my  very life in a very dark, lonely valley.
    The memories are  invaluable and I am blessed to have them to remind myself that even when I cannot “feel” His presence He surely ‘ IS” present and will never ever leave me nor forsake me.. So why do I not continue to journal? Laziness and lack of discipline.. I shall start today…

  • http://twitter.com/liveabundantly8 Living in Christ

    Loved reading this! I journal regularly to connect with God. In my journals, I write my prayers and the words I hear Jesus speaking to my heart. It’s amazingly refreshing for the soul.

    I hope you keep it up!

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  • Brandon Betancourt

    I wonder if this is something that is easier for empty nesters. I’d love to have quite time, reflection time, bible time, writing time, but most often, I’m rushing out the door on average of 10 min behind schedule to some sort of family event.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You may be right. But I feel like I am busier now than ever before in my life.

  • Harrisdcourtney

    One of the biggest things I learned from journaling – look back at earlier entries. I was thanked God for things/persons He said no about, also it’s a good check up to see if you’re growing & to see patterns of consistency or inconsistency. If you’re still writing about changing the garage into a studio 10 years later – you’re confronted with the question of why hasn’t it happened & how can I be more of a person of action.

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  • Yemi

    Hi Michael,

    After reading your post, I started a journal and on my second day.  I’ll let you know my experience at the end of 2 weeke.

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  • AnneMacDonald

    My mentor asked me today, “Would you keep writing if you knew that no one would read your work?” I smiled when I read that in his e-mail.I have been writing for over 10 years in journels, only sharing my heart with the Lord and if He is the only one that sees my words . . . wow!What an audience! I need to write in order to see the constant touch of the Master’s hand on my life. I need to see how He tenderly carries me during the times my “heart-legs” can’t and feel again the joy He gives during the times of celebration. I write to document God’sunfailing love in the lives of those precious to me . . .Have found in the journey that writing every day is not a law! Life happens, time slips away and it is ok to miss several days, occ weeks ,sometimes months. But what a joy it is to again pick up the pen, look at the next blank page and continue.

  • Kaylus Horton

    I have consistently kept a journal for at least 13 years.  Journaling has kept me sane, balance and hopeful through many changing scenes of life.  I have often hear people respond so diversely to this question “what would you save in a fire”, but I always answer my bible, journals and hard copy pictures (take before the digital age). 

  • MarkJCundiff

    Michael, Thanks for sharing your journey on this. I too have struggled to be consistent in this area but you have inspired me to give it another try after seeing the value you have attributed to it for personal growth. Great Post!

    Mark

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  • Blair Easdon

    Michael, I’m curious as to how you go about using Day One with an Ecosystem journal. 

    I have tried many times to keep a regular journal, but my lack of daily routine (the life of a university student!) has made it difficult for me to find a consistent time to journal, and telling myself to wake up at 5.30/6 am does not simply translate into a habit, and this has made it hard for me to find a consistent pattern for journalling, so I often end up simply journalling at midnight-1 am when I have things on my mind to write down, if I journal at all for a given day.

    In my many attempts, I have managed to keep a semi permanent (on and off) journal between Day One, Evernote, and a Hillsong Music Australia paper journal. Did you start off with the paper one whilst on vacation, and switch to Day One on your Air when back to normal life? Or are you still maintaining the pen&paper journal as well? Or had you taken your laptop down to the lake with you to journal on?

    Similar to you, I have noticed particularly the benefits of clarifying my thoughts, understanding feelings, asking questions, and found a journal has helped me to learn a lot about myself over the year or so I’ve kept one, so I often find that after a period of not journalling, I realise my thoughts are rather chaotic, so I return to a journal of some form to help set my mind straight again. Thanks for the post, it was a great read, and another motivator to keep going with my journal!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I took my MacBook Air down to the lake to journal. Day One is the only thing I am using to journal. I love it. I hide all other applications and just focus on it. Hope that helps!

  • http://twitter.com/missionsgirl susie finney

    I’ve been journaling for about twelve and a half years now, and love it.  Glad to hear that it has been beneficial for you too.  :)

  • DK

    I do journal and the Day One program has been the catalyst to bringing my consistency to a new level. About 3 weeks ago I broke my arm and was unable to type for several days. With the iPhone Day One app I can actually use the built in speech to text and it works beautifully.  I use this function now to journal anytime I am not in a position to type and it allows me to capture thoughts without limitation. Thanks for your blog!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That’s good to know. I would have never thought of that option.

  • http://twitter.com/quincyzikmund Quincy Zikmund

    I don’t currently journal, but I’ve really been wanting to recently. Like you said, it’s a great way to write honestly and freely for myself without any reservation. I’ve also been trying to spend less time posting on social media sites and I think journaling will provide the outlet I need for documenting life and lessons while keeping it personal and away from screens.

  • http://aaronchavezonleadership.com/ Aaron Chavez

    You are right there is something liberating about putting your thoughts and feelings on paper. I think it makes you slow down and live the moment. I think I will do the same and begin keeping a daily journal. I downloaded the app can’t wait to test it out. lol. Nothing like a new app to get you going.

  • Michaels031100

    I am a firm believer in writing down our thoughts in a journal. The way I see it a journal is an emotional photograph. How can we really remember our thoughts, experiences, victories and defeats unless it is captured on paper. Without this capturing of our day to day activities so many good lessons, ideas, and victories can easily go unnoticed and forgotten.
    It has been through consistent (not every day but most) that my faith has increased,
    I have been able to deal with past issues, and I get a sense of peace. I have heard it said on of the best ways to develop yourself is to journal. I couldn’t agree more.

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  • Midwestbenderservices

    I would like to say
    this is really awesome and appreciable.

    Pipe and Tube
    Benders

     

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  • Lori Lynn

    I’m just curious to know what the advantages are of using a program other than a word processor like Word?  Why do you need a different app?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You definitely could use Word or a text editor. I like having open a program I just use for journaling. That way I am not tempted to do anything else. It’s kind of like having a special place you go to. I also don’t have to think where I am going to file my entries. The program and the entries are self-contained.

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  • Roland

    Excellent post. Another reason to journal: you may want to write a memoir at some point in your life. In the course of my own life, I’ve been involved in leadership roles (largely by happenstance) in a couple of projects that one could say rise to a level of historical interest. I did not make the effort during those busy years to keep a personal journal to record my inner thoughts and feelings about those important times as they were unfolding. Now years later, with memory not as vivid as it once was, I deeply regret not making that extra effort.

  • http://twitter.com/SemisiTopui Semisi Topui

    I have continued to keep a journal since 2008. It’s been on and off but I have tried to write at least once a week. I find out that it’s a lot easier to write without having reservations in my mind because it literally becomes the time when I pour out all my concerns that I’ve had that week or that day. As you mentioned in your blog post, it has clarified my thinking by disentangling my thoughts. When your article popped up in my RSS reader, I immediately thought ‘Yes, this is what goes through my mind!’ but described out in an organized manner vs the garbled mess in my mind. This has renewed my commitment to keep writing regularly, thanks Michael

  • Miriam

    I used to write a daily journal mostly in dificult periods in my life. In that time I could better express my inner happening, sorrows, wishes and prayers. When I feel good, happpy and when I am busy, I don’t write. Also I keep a daily journal when I travel or when I stay longer time out of home. That shows me wider and deeper context of God’s work in the world, in the lifes of other people I am able to reflect on that and take  a lesson for my life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnny.fritsche John Fritsche

    I kept a journal in Iraq in 2008 and I just picked it up after reading this to take a look back into what it was like. It’s amazing. It almost brings me to tears skimming through it. One of the entries was about when I gave a Ugandan guy food. He was so happy he wanted to hug me and started crying. They where so grateful for every little thing in life. 
    I will journal for the next 30 days to see if I can get back into it. Thank you, Michael.

  • Jennifer

    Me too! I always wanted to journal (and for that matter, have a consistent daily quiet time of Bible reading), but always seemed to peter out after a week or so. Then not quite a year ago I hit a really difficult time and was challenged to start journaling my thoughts and prayers. I set an appointment with God for a half hour before I usually got up in the morning (which, coincidentally, is now 5:30am..once the kids go back to school, it’ll be 7am…I’m looking forward to that!) and pulled my iPad out without even getting out of bed. I now read from a YouVersion Bible reading plan, pick out one or two passages that really jump out at me and copy and paste those passages to my DayOne app.

    As weeks turned into months of this routine, I discovered that if I missed a couple of days, it got to feel like I hadn’t brushed my teeth. Sort of itchy and unpleasant feeling. This seems to be working for me too, so I was really pumped to see that it wasn’t just me that found this ‘workable’ for finally getting the habit ingrained.

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  • Sharon

    It would be too slow of a process to journal on my iPhone. Guess that means I need an iPad. I would like to start journaling again, it’s been too long!

  • http://ramonbnuezjr.com/about-2 Ramon B. Nuez Jr.

    This is — I think one of the best personal development posts you have written. Why — because I have a race-way of thoughts constantly barreling through my head. I have conversations with myself — I am not crazy ;-) 

    Conversations about my day, my wife, my mother, my job, etc. In each of these conversations I am trying to teach myself something. 

    Learn from my experience — to be a better person the next time.

    But I think — if I were to write it down. The learning experience or my reflection upon that experience would be better understood, by me.

  • Aliesha Sandstrom

    Day One has worked wonders for me. I have scribbled down journal entries on scraps of loose paper for a few years now (I have 3 kids). I like that I can add the entries in as I have time, and the ability to back-date is awesome! Now I have all of my thoughts & dreams & children’s firsts in one place, in order by date. As an extra precaution against loss, I email each entry to a journal folder I created at Evernote.

  • Michelle White

    Like many here, I have journaled for many years, beginning (I think) in middle school.  I prefer writing in a notebook over typing as my thoughts flow differently when I am putting pen to paper.  My big take-away from this blog post is that it can be used to record significant lessons.  I wrote down the full list in the front of my current journal and highlighted this one.  Currently, I am in the process of making some changes and am learning lots and lots of lessons in my career and this would be the perfect place to reflect on these lessons.  But making time for this has been a challenge for me.  And when I do make time, I can spend a couple of hours at a time in my journal because I get carried away.    

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  • Deb Osorio

    I journal rather sporadically. I’m trying to get better with it. Thank you for this article.

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  • Luci Swindoll

    Loved your blog, Mike and your seven reasons for Journaling make perfect sense to me. I’ve journaled daily for the past 26 years, and have kept those “chronicles of life” in my library, referring to them all the time. One of the primary reasons I love having them handy is that when I write a letter, essay, devotional or book, I can refer to my journals knowing the information will be accurate because I recorded it the day it happened…or the day I felt what I wrote. I’ve often said if my house were on fire, my journals would be the first thing I’d grab before I ran out! A journal is a place of self-reflection, to which I turn when I want to either relive what happened, or re-create what can so easily fade in one’s memory.

    Congratulations for journaling Mike. I wish you well with this venture. Hopefully, it’ll be a source of joy and discovery about yourself and your thoughts for many years to come.  There are so many things about you I admire…and this is one of them. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Luci. You are precious for stopping by to comment. I have seen your journals in your library, and I so admire (actually envy) that you have kept up with it all these years. You are an inspiration.
      Hope you are well. Gail and I miss you!

  • http://twitter.com/hisadventure Rocio

    As always, I appreciate you taking the time to share this information.  I have recently been journaling again, and yet, much like you, I find it so much easier (faster) on a keyboard.  However, for now, it’s paper, and for me it has helped focus my mind on things of God, even if I don’t write about God.  For that alone, it’s priceless!

  • http://christinefaour.wordpress.com/ Christine Faour

    I journal just about every morning, and have been doing so for a few years. It helps clarify my feelings, sort them out and classify them. It is also my own sounding board for things I want to do in my creative life. Lastly, journalling helps me get the worry and negativity out of my thoughts so that I can get on with my day. When I reread my journal entries over a period of time, I detect certain themes that show me where I’m putting my energies and thoughts.

  • Brian Tomlin

    I have been journaling since high school, and I find the longer I keep it up, the more I get out of it. I frequently refer back to my old journals to look things up: restaurants, quotes, etc. But most importantly I learn amazing things about my thought process, my decision making. So often the right course to take or decision to make is revealed long before I consciously realize it. I encourage anyone to stick with it. 

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  • Peter j Foster

    Many years ago, as a young man, I went on a 4 week exploration of USA (I’m from UK). I’d driven for days and days alone and found myself in Palm Springs. I checked  in to a Motel early evening and sat in my small room, very lonely and very miserable. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me – miserable to the point  of depression.
    I had a sudden urge to write but found no paper. It was by then 11.30 pm. I went off in the car to find writing paper. An hour or so later I returned, having brought a large A4 note book. I sat on the bed and wrote and wrote all night. 
    I was clearly depressed. I wrote about feelings from childhood, my youth and the dissapointments of my later life. There were broken relationships, un-realised dreams; there was loneliness and even self-hatred.
    From that night onward I have written a daily journal – and wouldn’t (couldn’t) be without it! It has helped me to forgive others who had hurt me. It has been my counselor, my therapist and most importantly it has been the chief factor in recognising my need for a Savior. My journaling clearly led me to a relationship with God, through Jesus. And I have never looked back.  
    Keep up the Journaling. Peter j Foster (Christian Journaling Coach)

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Peter,

      Thanks for this heartfelt testimonial to the power of journaling. Is there any piece of advice that you end up giving out to people who are thinking about journaling? Any pitfalls?

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  • Steve

    I use http://www.sojo.co
    to journal. Its really cool. It uses my facebook, google + or twitter
    account to help jog my memory. Allowing me to catch the rest of the
    story to the items I’m writing on my social medial sites. 

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  • Tonya

    Thank you for your message on writing in a journal. I have been writing in a journal for about 18 years now and boy oh boy has it made a tremendous impact on my life—I call it my Grateful Journal—I sit down before I go to bed each night and write 15-20 things daily I am grateful for. What I am personally grateful for is in MY control and with the world changing since I started teaching and coaching 35 years ago it helps me continue to appreciate what I have in life verses what I do not have. As a high school Health teacher I have my students also journal daily 5 things they are grateful for as well a state one positive affirmation about themselves. I know for a fact that writing in a journal has helped my positive mind set and striving to help our young of today as well. Again—Michael–I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and thank you for what you do–Looking forward to reading more of your blog—

  • elauer4

    Great post. I’ve been journaling for over 30 years, since I was 6. Actually, I’m blogging my journals (backward) at http://www.firstpagelast.com. Your list is spot on, especially the one about getting in touch with your feelings. My favorite part of journaling has always been looking back; it’s given me lots of perspective on my life — and actually my 18 journals are helping me write a memoir now! I love the ritual you and your wife started on vacation. Thanks for this!

  • http://thepuresacrifice.blogspot.com/ Deanna Wiseburn

    I find for me that journaling works with about the same benefits in me. However it must be hand written. It just seems to be best that way….before I become plugged in, and after I unplug for the day. I journal twice daily, most days. But it doesn’t seem to be as effective if I type it. Something about having the handwritten journal affects me, and the idea that my family will find this one day after I am dead and gone, is much better than anything that I would do online that the family would not see. Kind of like leaving a written legacy for the future generations. I’ve been journaling since 2009.

  • moscowrunner

    Great article! I hope you can keep it up. I have been journaling since I
    was twelve and have regularly experienced each of the seven benefits
    you mentioned. My journals don’t always go into a lot of detail about
    events in my life, but they give incredible detail of the path and
    Scriptures that God used to lead me through those events. Now, I’m able
    to go back and share those blessings with others both in blogs and
    books. I see it as a great tool in God’s system of comfort and
    edification, so much so that I have just published a devotional journal
    designed to help Christians learn to journal their way through their
    Bible reading. I never regret journaling, but I do regret the times I
    set it aside.

  • Dan Walton

    “Hi, this November will be twenty years since I began keeping a journal. It began when the Holy Spirit nudged me to begin living a more disciplined life. My temperament is such that I find it a real comfort to my journey through the years. Being a sixty four year old I cherish looking back at all the valley’s and mountain tops I have crossed. I dated each entry and keep an index at the back so that my writing traceable,for me at least. A few years ago, I lost my best friend Scooter, my dog and stopped journaling for seven months. But then God healed my heart and a new page was added. Record as much as life deals you, don’t be limited by what you consider unimportant, “because everything will be of value when you grow older and reminisce and you aren’t able too.”
    I started in 1993 and plan on keeping it up until I can’t hold a fountain pen. How old or young do you have to be to begin? Now, is a good! “Expose your heart, God may be nudging you to write an never ending story.”

  • Christina Stevenson

    I do a lot of personal journal writing. I have wrote 6 books of journaling and working on my 7th., it has helped me in so many ways. I do it all the time.

  • VDB

    I used to write a daily journal but I figured I was never able to get it all out of me because of the fear that someone else might read it. Hence a week after I had written about three or four daily entries, I would tear off the pages and burn them. I really don’t feel comfortable. Did you ever have had any of such issues?

  • Oh my!

    Hello

    I’m about to keep a Journal/Diary. I am using it as a beneficiary method of learning myself better and attempting to spark my imagination.

    Wish me luck! ;D

  • Ian Matthews

    I use a ten year diary/journal from journal10.com. The format allows just short entries each day, which I find makes it easy to keep up – I don’t feel there is pressure write a lot. I made it a habit to write an entry at the same point each day, just before bed.

  • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    Great. I am checking this out for my followers who don’t use Macs. Thanks!

  • Henar

    I have never journal until I listened to your “7 benefits of keeping a journal” podcast . Journaling is helping to practice introspection and gratitude. Thank you Michael!

  • Dominic Stanley

    I have journaled since I was five in some capacity. It took years to release the judgement towards the process and now I shamelessly write in my journal. It keeps me clear words aren’t meant to stay inside me.

  • Pam H.

    Also the Bible tells us repeatedly to “remember” what God has done or taught us. It’s easier to “remember” if we’ve written it down.

  • Eddie Rivero

    I’m trying to make it a discipline. Thanks for the encouragement.

  • CM McLaughlin

    I began my “3 pages a day,” what I call Morning Pages (from The Artist’s Way) when chronic fatigue forced me to live my life from bed and change just about everything in my life. (As an athlete who worked with elite performers, it was quite a shock). It saved me, helped me find the way to heal, and now keeps me connecting with my trusty radar as I navigate my way forward fashioning a new and different life. Morning Pages: First thing when you wake up, pick up your pen and notebook and write 3 pages as fast as you can. Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, re-reading your work, or writing within the lines. Just keep that pen moving. I find that about 1 1/2 pages in, I often drop into what’s truly real, and it surprises me…a solution, how I really feel about a situation that felt too hot to touch, a new idea, a wonderful piece of writing with connections I had never thought of before, deep gratitude and other emotions, something surprising from The Muse…but in those first pages, I might be writing my shopping or to-do list or reminders, whining or complaining (it’s not pretty), or just plain grumpy…and then the magic drop into the vein of gold. It changes you.

  • http://lancecashion.com/ Lance Cashion

    I’ve been keeping a journal for more than 3years. It is a wonderful experience.
    -I can look back on the landscape of my life and see answered prayers
    -I can see periods of testing and growth
    -My children and their children will receive a legacy of my heart and prayers for them long after I’m gone.
    -When life gets crazy or trying, I go back and read old journal entries and see where God has always lead me and never let me down.

  • stewardshipdad

    I have thought about buying a separate journal for each kid and writing to them about our life together since they are still too young to remember but then keep it going until a time to give it to them. I know this would be writing to an audience and thats not what youre talking about here. I have never thought about keeping one for myself or writing unbridled thoughts. Perhaps I should start and see how it goes.

  • Gol Naz

    I can’t start my day without planning the first thing in the morning in my journal, writing about everything and anything in my mind…and reminding myself of my goals…

  • laughing

    If you need a free diary software, you can visit here: http://www.efficientsoftware.net/diary

  • http://JasonandChelsea.com/ Jason Allen White

    I’ve wanted to journal, and you really inspire me to do so. I especially liked benefits 1, 2, 4, and 5.

  • Peter j Foster

    I Journal daily. I find it my primary way of off-loading cares, concerns and disappointments. I began journaling many years ago when I was going through much stress and fear. It was the beginning of a daily routine that keeps me (fairly) level headed. Sometimes I ask a question (when I’m really stuck!) as though I were writing to God. I don’t exactly know how it works but I seem to get some clarity and peace whilst working it through; even getting what I would call an inspired solution!
    Other times He points me to Scripture to gain my own understanding.
    Just a little point, I can only Journal on a writing pad; computer journaling just dose not do it for me!
    Happy Journaling folks.

  • http://www.saleemrana.com Saleem Rana

    I have journaled for many years now, and it has provided me with the benefits you outlined here. I usually use a pen and school notebook, and I finish one a month. If you don’t journal, you can quickly become unconscious of your life. Life is moving so fast that you can’t even remember what happened last week. Sometimes the real benefit of journaling is looking back and seeing a pattern unfold.