Putting Pen to Paper

Why journaling can take your work from blah to hurrah


“If you’re serious about becoming a wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured, and unique individual, keep a journal.”

— Jim Rohn, entrepreneur and author

By Sheridan Cotrell


If you’re looking for a way to set priorities in your life, clarify your thinking and accomplish your most important tasks, it might be as simple as putting pen to paper. Keeping a journal might help you dial in your goals and give you a roadmap for the journey. It’s kind of like making a promise to yourself to work on the things that could ultimately bring you more joy.

So, while I share these six reasons, make a note to go pick out that fancy new journal so you can write your 2020 success story.


There’s an age-old theory that dumping your thoughts out on paper will help you reboot and refocus. While writing down your stressors or negative thoughts might not completely erase the bad mojo, it might give you a bit of clarity and help you get rid of those limiting beliefs. These beliefs are basic insecurities and — listen up: beliefs are not facts. Limiting beliefs create an invisible wall around you that keeps you from reaching your full potential. So, grab that journal and let’s start reprogramming.

Write down one of your limiting beliefs. For instance, “I am not good at_________.” Or, “People don’t like ____________ about me.” Now replace those lines. “I am getting better at __________. People like the way I _______________.” Now, cross out those limiting beliefs with a black marker. See how good that feels?


 There are times when you might be facing a game-changing decision. How do you know when it’s the right path to take? Use your journal to map it out. Start by making a column for each path and write down all the elements. What could taking that path look like? What do you like about it? What do you dislike about it? Where could it potentially lead you? This can help you see how each path aligns with your vision and your deeply held goals. It might also give you a boost in optimism when you see you’re one step closer to living your best life.


Taking a few minutes to decompress after an awesome or maybe an awful day can help you put into perspective your emotional response to the day. Did you have a confrontation with a family member or an unhappy client? Or, did a mentor drop in to tell you how proud they are of your work? Write it all down. Put those feelings on paper and, in essence, release them. When sharing a negative experience, journaling might help you explore a positive way to reframe your feelings. What can you learn from the experience? There’s no better place to brag (or vent) than in the privacy of your own journal.


 Showing gratitude and counting your blessings is a highly effective way to relieve stress and focus on the things that are working in life. Use your journal to list at least three things daily for which you are thankful. Studies show that when you concentrate on the good, there is little room left for the negative. As a bonus, on those days when you’re feeling down, you’ll be able to flip back the pages and remind yourself of all the things you’re thankful for in life.


 Those perfect ideas don’t always hit when you are ready. They might come when you’re lying awake, staring at the ceiling at 3 in the morning. Make sure your journal is like your BFF and keep it close so you can write those thoughts down, whenever they strike.


We all have those people in our careers who are fonts of knowledge. They impart their wisdom and give us advice that is worth its weight in gold. What’s even more important than receiving those nuggets is remembering them. Jot down these insights and keep them at the ready when you desperately need a dose of professional creativity or inspiration.


The beauty of journaling is that it can be done at any time. Add it to your daily routine, or simply open it up when you want to record an achievement, vent about your day, or dream a little about your future. You don’t have to write each day in order for this action to work for you. Simply focus on the things that you know can help you focus on your future, and get writing, whenever the mood hits.

Conversation starters for yourself

If you need help getting started, why not use these prompts and get writing?

Where do you want to be in five, 10 or even 15 years personally or professionally?

What are your goals for the next year?

What places might you want to visit and why? Writing this down helps you dream and when you dream, there’s a better chance of your making it a reality.

Make a bucket list

Write about the highlights of your day so you can remember these moments

Add photos to make your entries more special


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