13 Ways to Use a Journal to Grow in Success

After doing some reading, I became convinced that the key to living that next chapter of my life might be recording this chapter and envisioning the future using pen on paper. Journaling could be the key to progress.
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Girl writing in notebook in a field.
Girl writing in notebook in a field.

In March, I grabbed a journal that had long sat on a shelf and began seriously journaling. I was working in a job I had come to hate and was ready for the next chapter in my life. After doing some reading, I became convinced that the key to living that next chapter of my life might be recording this chapter and envisioning the future using pen on paper. Journaling could be the key to progress.

And in the past nine months, I've become convinced it is. Sure, my actions are the true drivers of success, but my writing of reflections, to-do lists, and more help me move along the right path.


If you want to see for yourself how important journaling can be to your success, try using your journal the way I use mine. Here are several ways you can use your journal.

1. Record daily events for later reference.
Carry your journal everywhere. Have a few minutes at the cafe between meetings? Record how the first meeting went, how you're feeling afterward, and what you might have done differently if you could.

2. Celebrate #smallwins.
This is related to recording daily events. The idea here is that you want to write down whatever circumstance excites you, gives you the feeling that you've won. Clients and others change their minds and sometimes do things to counteract the positive feelings you've

3. Break down future goals and next steps into actionable to-do lists.
There might be other places you keep to-do lists, but I find my journal the perfect place for long-term to-do lists and write down short-term actions steps when I've forgotten my daily planner at home. (I rarely forget my journal.)

4. Arm yourself with words of wisdom.
You keep having to look up that favorite quote of Oprah's that you keep looking up, or you've just read something in a novel that strikes you. These quotes are great fodder for the compost pile that is your journal. Write 'em down!


5. Capture those brilliant ideas as soon as they occur to you.
The trick to acting on great ideas? Writing them down as soon as you come up with them. We often forget our ideas unless we write them down quickly. I usually draw a little lightbulb above my ideas so they're easier to identify when I review my journal at later times.

6. Take notes on things you read, hear and watch.
Note the highlights when reading a book for personal development or watching a TED Talk to learn things related to growing your business skills. Then you'll have at least a rough idea of where to find those notes when you want to read them over again in a few weeks or months.

7. Write affirmations.
Affirmations can be powerful psychological tools to empower you. A personal favorite is: "I am capable of loving myself enough to find peace with all circumstances." Sometimes I write a whole list and sometimes I repeatedly write one specific affirmation over and over.

8. Keep a list of books you'd like to read, or other similar lists.
I'm often recommended books or read about books I feel I should check out.

9. Tell yourself what you want to move past with "Let It Go" lists.
Face it, you're human. There are going to be things that bug you and you can't seem to forget. Write them down. Whether it's an interaction with someone you considered an idol but now you lack respect for, or something like watching a competitor's social media following grow at an unrealistic pace. Let it go!

10. Put some intentionality into your networking with lists of people you want to meet.
When I see someone on social media or in the press that I think would be a great connection, I write their name down and any contact information that's readily available. Later, I can dig deeper and do some outreach.

11. Make lists of memories or funny things your loved ones say and do.
I keep a list of things I hear my boyfriend say in his sleep. (He talks a lot in his sleep.) These notes don't necessarily have any impact on your business or career success but help you remember that your life is about much more than the work you do or your dreams for your future. You're living in the here-and-now; record it!

12. Write down questions to reframe the problems that plague you.
I've written down questions like "How can I make $5,000 a month?" One trick is to focus on positive outcomes. "How did my account end up negative?" gets you focus on the negative actions or inactions that you don't want to repeat. Instead, you might ask "How can I keep a constant flow of money coming in?" Not that these questions will all be answered, but it's key to focusing your attention on positive growth-based actions and thought processes.

13. Draft content for product or marketing purposes.
Begin outlining the topics you want to cover in your ebook or next LinkedIn post. Draw possible layouts for these products if you're designing them yourself or working with a graphic designer.

Rosella LaFevre is a marketing and communications consultant helping clients get NOTED: be seen, be heard, and be read. Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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