Encore Episode: The 7 Benefits of Keeping a Journal [Podcast]

I am on sabbatical for the next few weeks. While I am gone, I am running a series of “Encore Episodes.” These are my most popular podcasts ever, as measured by number of downloads. Enjoy!

In this episode, I talk about the benefits of keeping a journal. I also share my own practice and offer a few tips. Whether you have never journaled, need a little motivation to keep going, or are just curious about what others do, I think you will find this episode helpful.

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Between blog posts, podcast show prep, courses, speeches, and books, I typically write several thousand words a week. However, I have never been a consistent journaler. I tried. I had friends who swore by it. It just never worked for me, until recently.

On our vacation last summer, my wife, Gail, challenged me to give it another try. I reluctantly agreed and fell in love with it. I have now journaled daily for more than six months.

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

  1. Process previous events
  2. Clarify my thinking
  3. Understand the context
  4. Notice my feelings
  5. Connect with my heart
  6. Record significant lessons
  7. Ask important questions

When I started journaling, I did it the old fashioned way. I kept my journal in a physical notebook. I happen to use an 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 DayOne. This is a beautiful minimalist writing tool that reminds me a lot of ByWord, the program I use to do much of my blog writing.

About a month ago, I started using Evernote for my journaling. Several people had suggested this from the beginning, and I finally saw the wisdom of it. It makes all my journal entries readily available when I search for a topic, making my notes available for blog posts, speeches, books, etc.

Regardless, there are a thousand different ways to keep a journal. Don’t get hung up on the method or the software. The most important thing to do is just to start.

Listener Questions

  1. Aaron Johnson asked, “Some people just can’t seem to journal. Are there other ways people can engage in the process of self-reflection?”
  2. Bud Brown asked, “How do you flag pages in your journal, so you can get back to the important stuff?”
  3. Christopher Scott asked, “How do you catalog or keep track of previous journal entries?”
  4. Lynn Morrissey asked, “Is journaling scriptural or should Christians be wary of it as a New Age practice for self-exploration?”
  5. Jackie Ulmer asked, “Is your journal more of a Cliff Notes summary of the events of your life or is it super-detailed?”
  6. Jason Jones asked, “Is there a benefit to paper journaling?”
  7. Kwin Peterson asked, “For whom do you Journal? Who is the audience you envision?”
  8. Linda Kuhar asked, “When you are journaling, how do you keep yourself from lapsing into performance-mode and writing for an audience?”
  9. Sam Lytle asked, “What are the benefits of keeping a private journal as compared to a public one, like writing a blog or engaging in social media?”

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Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here, courtesy of Ginger Schell, a professional transcriptionist, who handles all my transcription needs.

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Question: Do you journal? If so, what has been the primary benefit?

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