The Amazing Power of “Guided Journaling”
Without question, “guided journaling” is one of the most
powerful tools available for making Positive Changes in your life.
People journal for many different reasons: some simply want to create a log of their life events, others want to explore their inner selves, and still others use journaling as a tool for personal growth.
So how can keeping a journal help you make progress toward
becoming the person you really want to be?
Let’s take a look at the steps involved in making positive changes.
BECOME AWARE Positive Change usually doesn’t occur by accident. For example, people who are fearful and high-strung don’t, as a rule, suddenly wake up one morning and experience a sense of overwhelming inner peace. Persons who successfully change from living in a state of perpetual anxiety to living in a place of peace and faith, do so as a result of repeated, focused efforts. And it all begins with awareness. We can’t change things about ourselves that we don’t actually see or acknowledge.
The Journaling Benefit Journaling can give you valuable insight about your actual behavior and emotions. It gives you the opportunity to see yourself as you really are, with no excuses or clever rationalizations clouding the view. Did you lose your temper? Did you say “yes,” when you really meant “no?” Did you “do it again” and wish you hadn’t? Taking an honest look at yourself and quietly identifying areas where you can make improvements is the beginning of awareness.
COMMIT TO ACTION Okay, you’ve become aware of something you’d like to change about yourself. It might be a behavior or an attitude. The next step is to commit to a course of action. The more specific you are in selecting actions, the more likely you are to succeed.
Take the noble example of deciding to “make healthier eating choices.” For starters, that’s a pretty broad objective. Does “healthier eating” mean consuming more fruits and vegetables? Does it mean reducing calories, fat and/or carbohydrates? Does it mean not skipping meals and staying away from fast food outlets? Exactly how are you going to accomplish making healthier food choices? When are you going to start?
The Journaling Benefit Writing down the answers to questions similar to the above helps you formulate a concrete plan and create a vision of a new and improved you. You need both a plan of action and a vision of yourself actually engaging in those actions in order to make positive changes.
Journaling can help you formulate your plan of attack. You can plot your intended course right there in black and white. But you can take the next step and use your journal to create an image of yourself actually executing the plan.
For example, you can write about going to a restaurant and making a healthy choice. After writing it down, you can re-read and revisit that image as often as necessary until you are very comfortable you will actually make that healthy choice and not get side-tracked by hunger-fueled excuses or justifications.
PERFORM THE ACTION Aye and here’s the rub: performing the action. And not just once, but repeatedly practicing a desired behavior until it becomes comfortable. The goal is that you engage in your new pattern so often that it becomes your automatic response. You no longer have to debate or think about it; it becomes an ingrained part of you, a habit. Now that’s Positive Change!
The Journaling Benefit At this point, journaling becomes a method for recording successes and failures. Did you perform the action or not? Every success gives you a chance to congratulate yourself and renew your commitment. Success tends to beget more success. The more you savor each victory and cheer yourself on, the more likely you are to repeat that positive behavior in the future.
Conversely, every failure gives you a chance to analyze why your plan didn’t work and explore modifications that might lead to success in the future. Your journal is a perfect place to write down what happened to undermine you, giving you a basis for envisioning what you might try in order to improve next time.
Making Positive Changes is a continuum of small steps that ultimately leads to measurable progress. Change doesn’t happen overnight or without a few missteps here and there. Journaling helps you keep a healthy perspective and develop a relaxed but direct path towards whatever goals you have set for yourself.
OPEN AND GUIDED JOURNALING There are two broad categories of journaling: open and guided. As you might expect, open journaling is simply finding a blank sheet of paper and writing down whatever thoughts happen to pop into your head.
Open journaling definitely has its place in giving folks a chance to explore their feelings and reactions. But, by definition, open journaling is not particularly focused or goal-oriented.
In “guided journaling,” you respond to pre-formatted prompts. The prompts are designed to help you set goals and stay focused in modifying your behavior in order to achieve those goals.
The “Guided Journaling” Benefits “Guided journaling” has many potent advantages for people who want to make lasting lifestyle improvements:
- Guided journaling is targeted to help you make specific behavior changes.
- Pre-existing prompts address important actions you need to practice repetitively in order to be successful, some of which you may not have even thought about.
- Guided journaling helps you stay aware and committed.
- Responding to the prompts helps you manage the change process and break it down into small, achievable steps.
- Your willingness to journal is also a measure of your willingness to do whatever it takes to be successful in reaching your goals.
- Guided journaling is great for people who aren’t particularly comfortable with writing or who have trouble knowing where to start with a blank journal page. These folks love how easy it is to reap the benefits of journaling by simply answering the prompts.
- Guided journaling draws on the experience of other people who have succeeded in making the exact changes you want to make. Why reinvent the wheel?
- Your guided journal is private and available 24 hours a day, helping you stay focused on achieving your most important self-improvement objectives.
- You can use a guided journal by itself or while working with a health professional, personal trainer, life coach or therapist.
- Keeping a guided journal for a sustained period of time substantially increases your chance for long-lasting, integrated, and successful personal growth.