This is one of those “I couldn’t find it anywhere so I wrote it myself” posts. I have been looking for a good, long list of reasons to journal for a while, and few get past 10. In fact, I think what you are about to read may be the longest “reasons to write a journal” list ever. At least ever that I can find.
I know this site usually focuses on methods of journaling and making it easier, but I am also (clearly) a strong proponent of the sport and try and convert any one I can every chance I get. I just truly believe that there are fewer activities that can make a life more fulfilling than keeping a diary or journal. And if you don’t read all of this, that’s okay (in fact, bravo if you do!), that isn’t what it is written for. Just find the things you need to give yourself that extra boost of motivation.
For organization purposes (and also so you can just get to the ones you care about) I have separated these reasons into different groups. The groups or reasons themselves are in no particular order, though I have tried to clump some similar ones. I tried my best to avoid redundancy and beating dead horses (ie Because your mom said to. Because your dad said to. Because your teacher said to. Because Oprah said to…) The last group is actually more of a list of different types of journals, but it fits in pretty well anyway.
Feel free to share this list with whoever else you are trying to convert to the art of journaling (you can find Email, Twitter and other sharing options at the bottom of this post).
So, here it goes. You should write a journal to:
1. Find inner peace Find your inner Tibet within the inner pages of your journal.
2. Relieve stress It is better to let it all out in written words then a fist slammed through a wall. Really.
3. Set, track and accomplish goals “A goal not written is only a wish.”
4. Increase your chance of success with goals Studies show that you are more likely to accomplish a goal if you write it down.
5. Develop a well-defined bucket list Yup, we all have things we want to accomplish in life. Why not write them down somewhere where you will remember them?
6. Find out who you really are Like, not who everyone else thinks, but who YOU think.
7. Find out what you really like How often do we pretend to like things, for whatever reason. Why?
8. Discover weaknesses I don’t have any, but if I did, my journal would be a great place to discover them.
9. Plan how to overcome weaknesses Plan it. Track it. It will happen.
10. Discover talents and learn how to improve them Some talents are obvious, yet others take a little more time and discovery.
11. Measure progress and changes through different stages of life Sometimes I wonder if the only reason I keep a journal is to remind myself of how stupid I was in my younger years.
12. Better appreciate what you have gone through Through the desensitization process of time, we often forget how traumatic certain experiences where in our lives. If we write them down, we can appreciate the lessons learned.
13. Remind yourself why you acted a certain way Why did you dress like a lumberjack in the 90’s? Because everyone else did silly!
14. Discover how to rely on happiness from within How often do we base our happiness and fulfillment on things we can’t control? With time and effort we can overcome this. I think Ghandi did, but I’m not 100% confident he used a journal to do it. Sorry.
15. Develop gratitude for the smallest things Some people write entire journals just to point out things they are grateful for. I don’t, but I do try and add them here and there among the mindless babble I frequently engage in.
16. Build self mastery I think if everyone could control their selves, there would be less problems in this world. Yeah, I think I’m pretty safe saying that.
17. Grow personal empowerment We are more in control of our surroundings than we let ourselves believe.
18. Build confidence We have conquered self-mastery, grown personal empowerment and the result? We are now confident!
19. Learn how to laugh at yourself It’s really easier than you think.
20. Learn to dwell on the good stuff We could fill our journals with 101 reasons why the world is a terrible place, or we could just add a few nice things that happened. Either/or.
21. Learn to trust yourself Remember that time you said you were going to lose weight? When you didn’t, you trusted yourself less. When you do what you say you will, track it and you will believe in yourself more everyday.
22. Improve health Stress causes health issues. Journal and diary keeping relieve stress. I think a geometry theorem proves that therefore, journaling improves health.
23. Cultivate open-mindness It is true that we are all raised with some pretty rigid ideologies in our heads. That’s okay, but being open-minded about other’s beliefs is super duper important and makes for less awkward work lunches.
24. Learn how to learn from other’s mistakes instead of your own “A wise man learns by the mistakes of others, a fool by his own.”
25. Find a unique sense of accomplishment Every time I flip through one of my old journals I feel a sense of pride that I actually finished something.
26. Learn how you want to be treated and how to reciprocate that to others Do you like it when other people respect you? How else do you like to be treated? Write them down and then do them to someone else.
27. Become more organized I try and sort things out in my mind a lot. It doesn’t really work out to much. Writing it down, however, is much easier.
28. Learn how to care less about that which is not important As I go back and read old journal entries, it amazes me how much I get caught up on little things in my life that mean absolutely NOTHING now.
29. Become a better doodler Who hasn’t doodled in their journal? Why not?
30. Make up new words The one place other than Twitter or the presidency where you can make up words and get away with it is your journal or diary. Proven fact.
31. Master hidden messages Write in code. Write backwards. Spell out your secret love with the first letters of every sentence. Who cares?!
32. Write letters to yourself I love this! It is almost as enjoyable to write them as it is to read them. Try a specific time frame like a year or a decade.
33. Learn how to break down barriers, step out of the box We make rules for ourselves. Bend ’em a little!
34. Discover different ways to express yourself Do you like poetry or Haikus? How about writing in Shakespearian? How about writing without the letter ‘e’?
35. Create a home for your favorite pictures What better place is there to put that awful picture of you in your favorite Christmas sweater than below the entry about the awful Christmas party? Modern journals make this much, much easier.
36. Help you understand that most limits are self-created and intangible Those rules we follow? We made most of them and most of them don’t even exist. Find out which ones.
37. Become a better parent, spouse, sibling… Write one thing you want to do to make a family member’s life better. Rinse, wash and repeat. Note the change in your life.
38. Unravel romantic confusion Hehe. For some people (or some stages of life), this is the DEFINITION of a diary.
39. Fall in love, all over again For those of you who have the perfect marriage without any problems, skip this one. For the rest of us, why not take a peek back in time and remember all of those reasons we were head over heels for the Mr. or Mrs.?
40. Record important dates Birthdays, graduations, baptisms, anniversaries, broken legs… we shouldn’t forget when these things happened.
41. Leave something behind I know I’m not going to leave much money behind for my kids (sorry kids). I will, however, leave a journal or two. Some people would argue that a personal journal would be worth more than money <gasp!>.
42. Help future generations know who you really are, from your own words Our friends, acquaintances, the general public and the tabloids all know us a little differently. Why not let our posterity know who we ACTUALLY are?
43. Preserve history If generations before us had not kept journals, we would have a pretty limited view on the majority of history as we know it. Write what the price of gas is today, just so that you know you can give a good laugh to a grandkid down the road.
44. Remember important stories I think this is fairly self-explanatory. Just don’t forget to do it!
45. Not forget where you came from The roots of a tree are the foundation of what it is. If I ever forget who I am when I make it big with my journaling website, I will refer to my journals to ground myself.
46. Record the lives of your children My mom did this. I can’t tell you how much they mean to me today.
47. Tell stories to your children and grandchildren I’m talking about like “Grandkid, I sent my first text message today.” They’ll get a kick out of it in 50 years when the new thing is mind messaging.
48. Set the example so your children will journal I’ve mentioned this before, but I have many fond memories of my parents spending a quiet moment hand writing in their journals. I wonder how many bad things they were saying about me…
49. Your mom told you to I have a couple of journals to show for this reason.
50. Capture ideas before they are gone Don’t let your great plot ideas slip away! Write them down, quick!
51. Build grammar, spelling and vocabulary The best place to learn how to sing is in the shower.
52. Learn how to start, tell and end a story Do this every day for simple stories and you will be astonished how much easier it is when you write a big (fictional) one.
53. Find your sense of humor Unfortunately, I never found mine.
54. Increase your writing speed If you are a writing writer, then write your journal that way. If you are a typing writer, write your journal that way. If you are a touchscreen writer, you need to figure some things out.
55. Practice writing, every day You may or may not have heard about a book called Outliers. It explains that, to be the absolute best at something, we need to spend at least 10,000 hours doing that thing. I haven’t spent that much time on many things, but if you count all of my journals, I almost might be a professional writer!
56. Develop plot building …and then, I carefully walked around the corner. The scraping noise was incessant! What could be making that noise? Oh, the cat, of course.
57. Increase your writing confidence I would have never believed that I could have written an entire novel if I hadn’t roughed up a few journals first.
58. Help you know whether or not you even like writing If you like to write, journaling will be a joy. If not, you might give it up and go back to basket weaving. There is only one way to find out.
59. Destroy writers block Like, obliterate, mangle and pummel. Only brick crumbs will be left after you do a free write or two.
60. Discover what kind of writing you don’t like Are you a fan of first person or third person? Do you like lots of adjectives and explanations, or do you like plot more? I have found out a lot of what I do and don’t like through journaling.
61. Identify your writer strengths and weaknesses I am strong with plot and character development but weak on descriptiveness. Guess how I figured it out? Guess how I am going to get better?
62. Build your writing portfolio, even if only for yourself When I decided I wanted to write a book, I would get discouraged sometimes and wonder “Who am I to write a novel?” I would get up and get a drink and trip over a stack of journals and hit my head. When I came to, for some reason I would remember that I had already written several.
63. Vent! Because your husband, your dog and your steering wheel only pretend like they care.
64. Try to see both sides of an argument There ARE two sides to every argument, even if only one makes sense.
65. Foresee issues before they occur History repeats it’s self. Figure it out and you will already know what is coming next.
66. Clear your mind Write about something else in your journal other than the problem you are facing. As soon as you have a clear head, solutions will be much clearer.
67. Unload secrets If you want to remain trustworthy, you shouldn’t divulge secrets you promised to keep. The law says that personal journals are exempt from this rule.
68. Improve relations by describing what you appreciate about people Can’t stand to look at or think about someone? Write something nice about them. How do you feel now?
69. Make your therapist happy Yup doc, I wrote in my journal, just like you asked. Do I get a discount now?
70. Have a confidant when no one else will listen Ever felt lonely? Journals are always there to listen. Especially if you carry it around in your pocket like I do (as long as I remember to charge it at night).
71. Prepare for confrontation If you have to face someone you have had issues with before, write about how they may react to different things.
72. Draw closer to your God An old farmer and his wife were riding along in their old pickup one day. The woman said “You know, we don’t sit as close together like we used to, all cuddled up next to each other.” The farmer waited a minute or two and then answered, “I haven’t moved”.
73. Tune your spiritual and moral compass A wise man once said “Righteousness isn’t where you are at, it is where you are headed.”
74. Be obedient to religious leaders Many faiths encourage keeping a faithful journal. Why not oblige?
75. Find out what you really BELIEVE in With so many ways to believe and so many religions, how do we know what is right? Keep track of your feelings and discoveries if you find yourself along this path.
76. Record prayers They feel like they mean a little more if you do.
77. Keep track of favorite scriptures Use them to enhance a point or story.
78. Connect with God on Holy Days If there are certain times when you try and focus on God, use a journal to keep close to him.
79. Confess and reconcile Did a no-no? The journal is always there to listen.
80. Learn to tune out the noise of the world There is a lot of crap and distraction out there. Tune it all out in a few hundred words. Works every time.
81. Record inspirations Feel inspired to do something or act a certain way? Don’t let it slip from your mind.
82. Record religious missions/pilgrimages/travels I went on a religious mission. Never have I been more faithful with my journal than at that point in my life. Now I cherish the records I have of those memories.
83. More interesting days If you know you are going to have to write about SOMETHING in your journal that night, sometimes you will do more interesting things just for good journal material. I know I have.
84. Remember events before you forget them Where did I spend last New Years? Oh, I hope I wrote it down!
85. Learn how to notice the little things The first conversation you had with your new co-worker, a gift you were given for no apparent reason. If you don’t write these things down, you won’t remember them past next week.
86. Have a guaranteed moment of reflection Life is busy. Like CRAZY busy. We may not stop and let it all in very often, but a few minutes with your journal gives you that opportunity pretty much every day.
87. Separate fact from fiction Sometimes we get so caught up in something we don’t know which way is up and which is down. Sort it all out and separate the facts from those things that you just imagined or someone made up.
88. Record good quotes There are good quotes outside of this epic post, I promise. Some of them are even from regular, ordinary people you talk to every day. Write them down!
89. Entertain yourself with last year’s entries Bored? See what you were doing at this point a year ago. How about two years? Ten years? You will find something entertaining, I promise.
90. Prevent wasting time I know that sitcoms are noble causes and everything, but I am tempted to argue that keeping a diary is better use of your time. That’s just me though.
91. Creates proof for legal issues If you ever get caught in a legal battle you can actually use your journal to remember specific events and dates. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m sure this information could prove stuff. I think. I would hope.
92. Daily diary for work I have actually had to keep one of these. Partly for reason 91 and partly so that I could show what I accomplished each day.
93. Calorie journal Food diary, intake journal, there are a hundred names for the same thing. Track what you eat and you will eat less. Fact.
94. Workout diary Track what you have done for your workout. If it worked, you will know exactly how to do it again. And again.
95. Illness diary I actually have a brother that is perfectly normal but just rarely feels energetic or fully well. It has gotten to the point where he tracks the days he feels good and the days he doesn’t to hopefully find some correlation as to what causes him to feel this way.
96. Travel/vacation log These are rather popular though I haven’t tried one yet. You can write it with words, but I would add some pictures along the way as well.
97. Hobby journal Passionate about something? You can keep better track of it with a journal.
98. Baby journal My wife kept one of these during her pregnancy with our son. Tender are the words she shared as she felt life growing inside of her.
99. Team journals If you are part of a team for work or anything else, you can track your growth with a combined journal that each has access too.
100. Dream diaries Another idea that is growing in popularity. Keep it close to you at night so that you can quickly record your dreams in the morning before you forget them. One might even come true!
101. Million dollar idea log I’m always coming up with get-rich schemes and my next big idea. Not that I have done much with them. The best million dollar idea I have had is to market a million dollar idea journal. Nope, just Googled it. Someone else beat me to it, again.