Journaling For Goal Achievement
There’s a lot of value in planning your life. Studies show that setting goals in advance and working toward achieving them can lead to increased emotional wellbeing, better planning skills and an improved approach to time management. If you’ve never formally been taught how to set goals, however, you might come up against some roadblocks when you start.
One major roadblock most people experience is a loss of inspiration after setting lofty goals. When you first begin planning, you’ll have a ton of enthusiasm for what lies ahead of you. But, just like everything else in life, that enthusiasm will start to wane once you’re on the long road to making your dreams come true. So how do you keep the spark alive?
The answer — as anyone who’s read the title of this article should already know — is journaling. When used correctly, journals are excellent planning and tracking tools that can help you manifest your goals. The following are some of the best ways to use a journal as a tool for goal achievement.
1. Setting goals with a journal
Did you know that writing your goals down actually improves your ability to achieve them? According to a study conducted at the Dominican University of California, putting your goals to paper — or, even better, logging them in an online journal — is said to help you conceptualize them in a concrete and meaningful way, which improves your chances of success.
More than simply a tool to hold yourself accountable, writing in your journal will force you to think in greater depth about the kinds of goals you want to set, track and meet. Anyone can say they want to get fit or write a book, but journaling about those desires will make your goals more granular, and thus achievable.
For instance, how will you go about getting stronger? What kind of book do you dream of writing? These are the questions you can ask yourself as you set your goal achievement benchmarks.
Put as many details into this first step as possible! You’ll thank yourself down the road once you have a highly detailed initial journal entry to look back upon.
2. Tracking your goals by logging them
Writing down your goals is only the first step to planning them. In truth, goal achievement is as much about tracking what you want as it is about making goals in the first place. The beauty is that if you’ve done your due diligence in charting your goals beforehand, you’ll have real, actionable milestones to meet once you get to this stage.
Let’s continue with our theme of journaling for fitness. If you’ve written down your milestones in your journal, you can update that entry each week with the number of times you’ve gone to the gym, the types of exercises you’ve done or a weekly weigh-in. Logging all this information will not only make you feel inspired, but it’ll also give you valuable data about what’s working for you, and what isn’t.
3. Reviewing your goals with a journal
Just because you write them down, it doesn’t mean your goals are absolute. That might sound like it flies in the face of everything we’ve just discussed, but the truth is, there’s nothing less achievable than an inflexible goal. Remember that plans change, and so does life, so it doesn’t do you any good to berate yourself for not accomplishing your goals as fast as you thought you might’ve.
The good thing is, you can easily update your goals in your journal whenever you’d like. Maybe you underestimated how much time getting fit would take, or the amount of time it would take to write and edit a book you’re happy with. That’s okay! Just adjust accordingly, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Ultimately, your real goal is to be excited about achieving your goals, and that’s it.
Alternatively, maybe you’re absolutely crushing it, and you’re going to blow past your initial goals in no time. That’s amazing! If that’s the case, you can take the same principles outlined above and apply those here, too. Just set bigger, even gnarlier goals to tackle. See how it works?
You can also write about potential problems that might throw you off course during your journey. What could go wrong, and how can you move through those problems with grace and ease? More importantly, what could go right, and how will that make you feel? Capture those feelings like lightning in a bottle, and release them into your journal, where you’ll be able to reflect on them later.
4. Staying inspired to finish
Planning isn’t all sunshine and daisy. If it were, it wouldn’t be called planning. That’s just one more reason to start journaling for goal achievement: you’re human, so you’re going to have lulls on your journey to achieving your goals, and you’ll need ways to stay inspired.
Fortunately, journals are perfect tools for inspiration. You don’t just have to use your journal for tracking goals and setting new ones — try inspiring yourself by writing about where you want to be in a year, or how you picture feeling once you’ve done what you set out to do. Get really creative and extremely curious about your goals, and you’ll feel far more excited to tackle them than if you simply track and log them.
An important distinction to make is that you’re journaling to stay inspired, not motivated. What’s the difference, you ask? In short, motivation comes from a place of fear, not joy. When we feel motivated to work out, we’re afraid that we’re going to gain weight, and that’s what gets us up and out to the gym.
Unfortunately, as soon as that fear factor disappears, we no longer have a reason to stay committed to our goals. Think about it — how many people go on diets and get fit, only to gain the weight back once they’re no longer “scared” of putting on pounds?
A better way to approach life is from a place of inspiration. If your reasons for working out are because you’re excited about what it will feel like to be in the best shape of your life, then you’re not going to stop exercising when you hit a target weight.
That goes for anything: writing a book is a miserable experience when your sole purpose is to not look like a failure to your peers, but it’s exhilarating when you’re curious to know what you’ll learn about yourself as you write. Becoming a lawyer is more rewarding when you’re thrilled by the prospect of helping people than afraid of settling for a low-paying job. Training a dog is better if you’re doing it to teach them new tricks, instead of because you’re afraid they’ll bite.
5. Celebrating with a journal entry
Didn’t think you’d make it this far, did you? I’m speaking to your future self, naturally, because that person has already tackled all the goals you’ve come up with. To celebrate, they’re using their journal as a victory plaque: a place to write down everything that was achieved, and the road they traveled to achieve it.
That’s the best part about a journal — it’s not just a logbook; more than that, it’s a personal record of how you conquered what you set out to do! Whenever you’re feeling tired or stressed or disheartened during your journey, just think about the amazing victory journal you’ll get to write once you’ve tackled your goals.
On top of that, when you’re done, be sure to take yourself out for something especially rewarding: ice cream, a new movie, a romantic date, some retail therapy, or something else you love to do.
Bonus tip: using a journal for emotional management
It should come as no surprise that journals are exceptionally versatile. That’s why, on top of using your journal as a goal-keeping tool, you can also use it to manage, reflect upon and consider your emotional state. Doing so will help you process your emotions in healthier ways, and a healthy emotional state is far more conducive to goal acquisition than a negative attitude.
To start, try writing down your mood each day, as well as what you did that day. Compare the two and see if any patterns form. What’s bringing you joy? What’s making you miserable? Are there ways to bring in more of what you love, while letting go of some of what you don’t? These are the questions you’ll want to ask yourself as you track your emotional state.
Journaling for goal management
OK, that’s it. Got everything? It’s okay if you don’t just yet! We covered a whole lot of journaling tips and strategies, and unless you’re an expert journal-er, not all of them are going to stick right away. With time and patience, you’ll develop the core skills required to use your journal as both a goal-setting and emotional management tool.
One more thing: if you’re nervous about where to start, why not get a buddy who can help you keep yourself accountable? Try journaling with a friend, or one of our awesome coaches, who are hand-picked for their amazing journaling skills. We’re friendly, professional and most of all, fun. We’ll show you the ropes when it comes to planning, and what’s more, we’ll keep you inspired when you’re feeling low.
Whatever you choose to do, don’t let go of your dreams. That’s what’s most important — for you, and for everyone who’s counting on you!