Damn, they were all keeping some kind of journal. I am talking about people who have a huge impact on my life…

People that I found interesting…

Could that be a coincidence? If I copy what they do, can I be like them?

I walked the walk and let me tell you the short answer first…

NO

Yeah, success absolutely will leave some clues but you need to look them strategically. Wow, strategic ha? What a fancy word.

What do I mean by that? You just need a process that’ll lead you to keep a journal.

Well, I tried to emulate this journaling habit. The result was negative because I did not feel like writing at all. I was forcing myself to write but something felt always unnatural.

Therefore, those attempts did not last long. Clearly, it was not the time for me. I jumped on it just because of my eagerness to achieve more.

Before you start anything, you need to understand why you should do it. You are lucky because I am telling you “why” you should keep a journal.

First of all, a journal will be a challenge at first.

Why do I consider it as a challenge?

Let’s say the day is over. You are about to take the pen in your hand and start writing everything you have done for the day.

It’s hard as hell to face how you spent the day. You are alone with yourself and there is no place to escape. It can make you realize how meaningless your life actually is.

Also, it is a tough pill to swallow if there is nothing to write. Why?

There might be two options.

1- You could not honor your time. That means you did not live well enough to have anything worth writing. The day has passed and you just wasted it.

2- You just can’t write. Maybe you don’t want to face your decisions, maybe you don’t want to remember your events.

I get it, we are all human.

We often lie to ourselves and we think we can get away with it. Also, we can have average days where we did not live anything spectacular.

I get this, too.

I was also afraid to try journaling and not keep at it. It always seemed like a huge waste of time at the end of the day.

What an illusion ha?

Ironically, I was passively watching youtube videos, playing video games, and probably doing lots of bullshit stuff that are literally killing my time.

It is like seeing working out as a waste of time because once you quit, you would lose all the muscles you have built.

The same logic. In this case, why would you quit working out at all? You assume that you are going to quit anyway. You never consider the chance of falling in love with it in the process where you find yourself in a place you can’t live without it.

Right now, I cannot live without journaling.

I actually had a strong urge to write in my journal before writing this article. I can’t focus on my work if I hadn’t emptied my mind.

We can have good, bad, catastrophic, disastrous days; it does not matter. There is always something to write about because we have a tireless inner dialogue that keeps talking to us all the time.

A mind of an average human being deals with 500,000 thoughts every single day.

What changed my mind about journaling?

I passed the first awkward stage where I force myself every single day and eventually made journaling a habit.

It was not a coincidence. I dug in the benefits and saw how it could change my life from A to Z. For over 6 months,  I have reaped unbelievable benefits from keeping and writing in a daily journal.

Once you see it with your own eyes, the rest is just a piece of cake.

Right now, I know the liberating effect of being able to analyze where I exactly am, see my daily improvements and capture the highlights of the day.

I feel stable because I see my thoughts on a paper rather than grappling with them in my head.

Journaling is a powerful way to get a bird’s eye view of our lives.

When you see your thought process plainly, you can develop healthy plans on making everything better.

As Jim Rohn said: “A life worth living is a life worth recording.”

Your journal becomes your best friend. You don’t have to pretend with it, you just have to be honest and write however you want. The more you open up yourself to it, the more meaningful it makes your life.

A general overview of the benefits of journaling:

  • You become more grateful
  • You can keep track of your goals
  • You can always remember the key lessons of your day by noting them down
  • You can create immediate solutions for your daily problems
  • You have solid proof for your development: looked back at old entries about my anxiety and several moments of giving up then it made me realize, it does get better. Eventually, everything will fall into place.
  • You feel more stable and in control.
  • You heal yourself physically and cognitively.
  • You get rid of anxiety and all other negative emotions.
  • You think and speak more clearly.

You see these benefits are highly valuable and they are what people are chasing desperately. They can pay up to thousands of dollars to a therapist to fix their issue.

Same for life coaches, seminars, courses, and books…

Most people spend lots of money in the pharmaceutical industry to take care of their mental issues.

They make themselves addicted to drugs and several substances to feel a little bit better. Nobody thinks that the cure can be absolutely free…

Journaling is self-therapy.

It makes you realize that you can’t move one step further without taking control of your inner dialogue.

If you don’t, who will do it? Who will spend the time to understand what you are actually thinking? What’re your dreams, desires, needs?

You can read all the books in the world but they don’t mean shit if you don’t spend time with yourself. Everything starts making sense once you learn to understand yourself.

Let’s give you more reasons to start journaling because every change starts with a strong reason “why”.

  • Journaling will organize your thinking

The best way to teach yourself critical thinking is to teach yourself how to write.

This is huge.

There is a certain decision-making process behind your every action. If you are not thinking clearly as a lack of critical thinking skills, you just drown yourself in water.

Vague thinking leads to vague production.

The source of self-mastery is nothing but mental clarity. Thinking makes you act effectively in the world. It is the only way to win the battles you are engaged with.

Journaling will teach you to become articulate.

If you can think, write, and speak effectively; you are a deadly weapon. Nothing can stop you from anything.

So, that’s why you should write a journal. If you can’t formulate your arguments coherently and make your points organized, you are not going to get anywhere.

  • Journaling will foster hope

That time will come. Yeah, I am talking about “that” time.

You know the time you feel like absolute shit. You feel like everything started to fall apart. All of a sudden, you find yourself alone in the darkness. There is no light and you are lost.

Who will find and guide you through the light? How are you gonna be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel?

Here’s how…

You pick a pen and start writing everything down! Nobody can do it for you.

It’s your responsibility to break the fear and let the hope rise again. It’s your duty to make the impossible possible again. What’s impossible before, what’s paralyzing and tricking you into bullshit pessimistic drama is nothing but an illusion.

But you gotta see it!

All of a sudden, “Aha! I dared and oh! It’s not so difficult and dark at all”.

The harsh truth is we are all alone in our journey. That’s the interesting part.

People can hold your hand to the edge of a cliff, but when it’s time to jump to the other side, nobody can occupy your hand. You can only do it for yourself.

As every fighter faces the cold-stone reality, you must also face it.

The ring of life is a lonely place.

By journaling, you make huge neurological changes in your brain. You rewire yourself around this hopelessness, anxiety, fear and all shitty negative emotions.

And you know that you are not the same person before. So, you open your journal and start writing like “Here’s what I want to happen in my life that will improve my love, passion, finance, health…”

And for sure, it will train your brain to go for something better and more meaningful. You will attract beauty by writing it out. It’s amazing how you can be filled with inspiration and hope after a short journaling session.

You get rid of all the anxiety and replace it with lots of hope. You will cultivate strong confidence.

Confidence is not about being brave or doing great things all the time.

Confidence is facing the truth, accepting your current situation no matter how shitty it is, and cultivating the strength to act on improving it. It is about finding your inner strength when you are knocked down.

  • Journaling will allow you to relive your best experiences

If it’s a good memorable one, you can let it infuse your heart and become felt-knowing all over your body.

When you write it again by trying to retrieve those moments back to your mind, you trigger the same emotions you felt in that special moment.

That means you might write about all the good things, sunsets, and all the blessings to relive those beautiful moments again. How amazing is that?

On the other hand, you might want to bring bad memories back, too. You know, after an event you just don’t know why you felt that bad.

For example, we were doing a group project in college. There was a girl who was interrupting my speech very often. Without listening to what anyone says, she was just stating her opinion like they don’t matter at all.

Whenever she has done that, we were just making jokes about it but actually that was annoying as hell.

So, one day I just flew into a rage and started tearing her down. Well, that did not work well. She was, of course, pissed off and we still had a huge project to work on.

The other group members knew that I was right but they were also mad at me because of that created conflict between us.

I did not know what to do now. What should I do? Apologize her? Hell no, I was damn right. That was enough of her.

I talked to other group members to get objective views on the issue. Later, I started writing every down in my journal and everything became clear.

I was right about that she should not interrupt our speech but the way I show this was a huge mistake.

Also, I should have not let this come to this stage by tolerating this behavior by joking. So, without giving her a clear warning, I just showed a quick temperament and that burned the bridges.

I owed her a sincere apology and I apologized very soon after this event happened.

Later, she came to me and said, “If I knew that my behavior was really disturbing, I would not do it. I promise, from now on you won’t see this again”.

So, everything is solved and we started working on our project. We created the best software which has got “AA” from the instructor.

What would happen if I could not see everything clearly? Things could have fallen apart so easily.

  • Journaling imprints deliberate gratitude

Gratitude is a muscle and the happiest people are training this muscle relentlessly.

Instead of falling into the hollow of greed, they rather appreciate everything they have. And happy people do great things, they are the creative ones, they are the influencers with a magnetic positive aura.

You can easily practice your gratitude in your journal and it changes your whole perspective in a moment.

5 things that I am grateful for in my life:

  • I have a chance to live today.
  • I have two healthy eyes.
  • I have food in my belly.
  • I have a beautiful family that I adore.
  • I am blessed to write and talk to you guys.

Once you apply deliberate gratitude, you immediately leave the hedonic adaptation behind. We all take things for granted and become ingrateful very easily.

Journaling helps us to fight this survival instinct.

It might have helped us to survive in ancient times, however, it is self-destructing right now.

You can have everything you want but still, live in misery because the experience of happiness is nothing but a matter of perspective.

  • Journaling will help you to release negative emotions

If you are a human being, you will taste the pain of darkness. You will find yourself in a place where you are lost, hurting and everybody seems to pull you down for no reason.

Journaling is your savior in those hard times. Some days, you can write for hours to process this pain and clean all the negativity. You might have to make hard confessions and accept your disappointments.

If you don’t do that and try to possess all the pain, disappointment, anger without turning them into forgiveness, freedom, and love; you will suppress and depress these negative emotions.

This is how you become a toxic person. I guarantee that will make you bitter 10 years later and you will never be able to forgive.

You can’t do positive work in a negative frame of mind. You can’t be creative, productive, positive, or amazing by carrying all those burdens.

Instead of moving forward and spread the positivity, you will be stuck where you exactly are 10 years ago.

Can you imagine how painful it is? Being stuck in the middle of nowhere without being able to go further even one more step.

Journaling is a fantastic tool to move you through those difficult times as you wish. It is like a traveling machine designed for your mind.

It provides you a moment of calmness and detachment from the hustle and bustle of life.

  • You will record the proof of your self-growth

Your journey is the best book you can read. Period. It is your autobiography. You write it now and let the future version of you read later.

There is no better experience than reading the words of your old self. When I look at my old writings I see a moron. I say “Only a moron can write these words, Gosh how stupid I was”.

The funny thing is that I was not aware of that stupidity.

Probably, I will be stupid when I read these words 10 years later. That’s the beauty of journaling.

You see your wrong beliefs and how they drive your behavior in the wrong way. You feel blessed because you are not the same person anymore.

You have solid proof of how much you have changed. It humbles you because you know how stupid you can be while you believe that you are very wise…

Plus, you record your remarkable life as a bonus.

  • You learn how to stay focus in the right way

You can be focused but it doesn’t mean anything if you focus on too many things at the same time.

That’s called being busy nowadays.

Busyness does not mean you are productive because it’s a result of being functionally-overwhelmed.

Think about the number of choices we have to make in our lives. You immediately start to feel the stress when you think about them.

To make the right decisions, we need a certain element…

FOCUS

However, focus does not come out of blue. It requires us to sacrifice our two most valuable resources which are time and energy.

Nobody likes to think about how to invest these resources because that’s too stressful.

“What do I want to do with my life?”

What an overwhelming question. We keep making decisions all day long on the subjects that don’t matter and we lose our focus on the way for the highly important decisions.

What’s the result of being a decision fatigued?

Decision avoidance.

You lose your mental clarity and prefer to smooth over the cracks. Do they disappear? Yeah, for a while. Later, you’ll meet them as turned into huge disasters.

Before that happens, you need cleaning for your brain and journaling is the ultimate mental inventory. Look, holding thoughts in your mind is like trying to grasp water, it’s just impossible.

Journaling gives you the opportunity to write your thoughts, capture them and work on them later. You save yourself from the distracted, mind bubbling life to living with intention.

You declutter your mind all the time and cultivate your curiosity on the topics that matter for you.

While you are working on your projects, you can easily remain focused over time with the mental clarity you gained.

Tips on how to write your journal

  • Be explicit and honest: As long as you are honest, you have nothing to worry about. It’s tempting to cast yourself as the hero, but it’s more honest, worthwhile and challenging to write about the truth, no matter how bad it is.
  • Write as you wish: Your journal is your free space. Write what matters the most for you. Don’t be overwhelmed by writing everything like it’s a school task. You’re allowed to skip details. Don’t get bogged down in explaining an entire story, write about the parts which you sat down to write about.
  • Write when you feel it: You don’t have to write every day. If you have nothing to say, say nothing. Develop the habit of picking up your journal after something meaningful happens.

Final Thoughts

Ever since I started searching the cues of success, I always encountered that most high achievers were keeping a journal.

If you are struggling from starting to journal, look deep inside you and see what emotions are stopping you (might be an embarrassment, fear or something else) and deconstruct your feelings.

Ask what they are, why they are there and try to find a working solution to this problem.

I know no matter how much I write, nothing would be more convincing than actually seeing the results.

I invite you to go for it and see with your own eyes.

And you already know why you should do that if you have read the article.

So, we have no problem.

See you soon.

-Ugur.