Listening to your “little voice” is a big theme of my blog (obviously)! If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I often recommend a journaling practice as a way to hear this voice. Since there are many types of journaling you can do, how do you pick the style that is best suited for you?
In this post, I will explain what journaling is, the many benefits of it as a regular practice, and cover a few different types of journals that I find most impactful for personal growth.
I’ll also provide 3 simple steps you can use to get started with journaling, how I structure my own personal journaling practice, as well as the opportunity to get my FREE Journaling Guide.
What is journaling?
Journaling is the practice of regularly getting your thoughts, feelings, desires, and more, out of your head and onto the page (or digital platform).
There are many types of journaling, which you’ll learn about below. You can and should use journaling however you feel it works best for you!
Why should you journal?
If you don’t already journal on the regular, you might be wondering why you should consider creating a journaling practice in the first place.
Journaling is an important method you can use for self-reflection, which will help you get to know yourself better and gain a greater understanding of the workings of your mind.
I believe that by getting to know yourself better, you are better able to evaluate your life and start being intentional in creating and living the life you want.
This includes directing your time and energy to what matters most to you, rather than functioning on auto-pilot, as many of us do.
A journaling practice has many benefits including:
- Reduces anxiety by giving you an outlet for pent-up emotions and worries
- Aids decision-making by helping you gain clarity
- Challenges your thoughts so you can learn to let go of those thoughts that don’t serve you
- Provides a written record for accountability and tracks your progress
- Helps you tap into your intuition
- Guides you to live more intentionally by keeping you focused on your goals
- Gives you perspective and creates a more positive mindset
- Improves your self-confidence by making you more aware of your strengths as well as areas for growth
All of these aspects provide great benefit, but for me what I find most impactful about having a journaling practice is that it enhances my ability to tap into my intuition and helps me trust my inner voice to guide me.
Also, because a journal is a written record of all of my thoughts, feelings, desires, goals, and plans, it allows me to see where I’ve come from and track my progress.
I often look back on what I’d written weeks or months ago, and it helps me see that I was able to overcome things I may have been struggling with previously and how I’ve grown and evolved. It also helps me reflect on my choices and whether they’re serving me.
In a nutshell, journaling is a powerful tool and it’s the best way I know to process my thoughts and feelings in a productive way.
How many types of journaling are there?
You might think journaling is the same as writing in a diary, but that is just one of the many types of journaling!
There are actually a plethora of different types of journals you can keep and I’m going to go over the ones I recommend most for finding mental clarity, tapping into your intuition, and fostering your personal growth and development.
5 Types of Journaling for Personal Growth
1.) Diary journaling
Diary journaling is just what you’re thinking of from your childhood. It involves noting what happened to you in relation to the activities and events of a particular day, and how you felt about them, usually in great detail.
A diary is a structured account of daily happenings, laid out calendar-style and dated, often with each day having its own page. An entry for a diary type journal might include an explanation of an event and how the people, places, and actions made you feel.
Diary journaling is a good way to assess how you’re handling different situations in regards to the happenings in your life and where you might want to do things differently.
2.) Reflective Journaling
Reflective journaling involves asking yourself thought-provoking questions in an effort to help you define your goals and visions for the future or simply to get to know yourself a little better.
This type of journaling provides a private place to reflect on your life and process emotions and experiences. I find it to be truly therapeutic as it helps me discover and make sense of how I’m feeling about the different areas of my life and what I want.
If you’d like some self-reflection questions to get started, click the image below and I’ll send them to you! You can also check out my related post on the “10 Major Benefits of Self Reflection”.
3.) Gratitude Journaling
Gratitude journaling is where you record 3 (or more!) things everyday for which you are grateful, that brought you happiness, or made you smile.
Creating a gratitude journal is a powerful way to cultivate appreciation for all the beauty in your life. Also, it provides a record of everything for which you’re grateful that you can turn to anytime you’re feeling down.
A great tool to use in said gratitude practice is a gratitude journal! The “Five Minute Journal” is a popular gratitude journal from Intelligent Change. It also incorporates daily affirmations and inspiring daily quotes.
4.) Bullet journaling
This type of journaling is rather new to me and I think it’s a pretty interesting concept, especially if you are a visual person or like to be artistic.
A bullet journal is unique in that instead of blank, lined pages, a bullet journal consists of a dot grid pattern as the base to create beautiful and organized layouts. It often involves stickers, doodling, calligraphy, and different colored pens or markers.
You can log daily to-dos, keep a monthly or weekly calendar, jot down your thoughts and musings, keep track of physical and mental health, and record goals all in an organized layout that lets your creativity shine!
You will need some materials to get started with bullet journaling, so it could be a good idea to pick up a bullet journal set.
5.) Stream of Consciousness Journaling
Stream of consciousness journaling is synonymous with free writing. It simply means starting with a blank slate (i.e. blank journal pages) and writing whatever comes to mind without a prompt.
You may have heard of “morning pages”, which is a popular version of stream of consciousness journaling. The morning pages exercise comes from a renowned book called “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron and the idea is to free-write whatever comes to mind until you’ve filled up 3 pages of your journal every morning.
I also think of this as a big brain dump. If some of the other types of journaling feel too structured for you, try stream of consciousness journaling.
You might start off thinking you have nothing to write, but you’ll be amazed at how quickly the thoughts come pouring out of you and onto the page once you get started.
How to Start Your Journaling Practice
Now that you’ve learned about many of the different types of journaling, I hope you feel ready to get started!
Journaling on a regular basis is the best way to reap the benefits of the practice. Pick whichever of the types of journaling resonates most with you and try to be consistent and do it daily.
I know that’s not always possible, but at least aim for a minimum of 4-5 days per week!
Below are 3 simple steps to start your journaling practice.
1.) Choose where to write
I recommend that you actually hand write your journal entries, rather than type them on a computer. When you take the time to physically write something down, your brain processes and remembers the information better than if you were to type it.
Lastly, where to write also involves choosing a physical area in which to journal. Do you want to use your bedroom or home office or would you prefer to journal outside of your home in a park or coffee shop?
I sit in my living room each morning, in the same spot on my couch in front of the large bay window where the sun shines in. This is where I feel relaxed and best able to focus.
Think about where this physical setting may be for you.
2.) Decide when to write
Now it’s time to decide when you will journal each day and set that time aside. You might even want to schedule it into your calendar or planner so you don’t forget or let anything else take precedence.
The best time for journaling will be different for everyone. It should be the time of day when you have the most energy and presence of mind to answer thoughtful questions and process what you’re thinking and feeling.
Whether this is morning time or part of how you unwind before bed, do whatever fits your personality and lifestyle best.
It’s also important to choose a time of day when you can be free of distraction. You don’t want to get sidetracked with message alerts on your phone dinging or your kids coming in and asking for snacks or help with something.
Personally, I like to journal as part of my morning routine after I’ve had a little coffee and woken up a bit. I find that I am most alert at this time of day.
If you are more of a night owl, then journaling as part of your evening routine may work better for you.
3.) Understand what to write
Knowing what to write can be the hardest part of a journaling practice. You can use the below suggestions to get you started.
⇒ Mental check-in
Think about how you are currently feeling. What thoughts are going through your head? Write these down in 1-2 sentences.
⇒ Daily intention
What type of behavior or attitude do you want to have for the day? My intention today was “to be more present with my children”.
To get a greater understanding of how to set a daily intention, check out my post “What You Need To Know About Setting Daily Intentions”.
⇒ Positive affirmations
Write down 2-3 positive things you believe, know, or trust about yourself and your current state.
You can find some ideas for positive affirmations and learn about why using affirmations can be so impactful in my post “50 Powerful Morning Affirmations for a Positive Mindset”.
What are at least 3 things you’re grateful for AND why?
By writing gratitude in your journal, you are making it a practice to actively notice all the blessings or good things in your life and thus are bringing positivity to the forefront of your mind.
⇒ Free writing
Use 1-2 pages to journal whatever is on your mind. These thoughts could be related to your goals or schedule for the day, or to hash out something you’re currently worrying about.
What I’ve described above is how I structure my own personal journaling practice. You may have noticed that it’s a bit of a combination of a few different types of journaling. This is what works for me!
Is journaling a big time commitment?
No, not really!
Once you get used to journaling, spending just 5-10 minutes a day may be all that is needed to see the benefits and improvement in your life.
Remember, it’s important to be honest and have no judgment about what you’re writing. Nobody is going to read this except for you, so just use this process to write whatever comes to mind without judgment or expectation!
Still not sure what to write about?
Get FREE thought-provoking journaling questions right now by clicking here!
Types of Journaling: Which Is Best For You?
The greatest thing about journaling is that nothing is set in stone. You can always modify and try something else if what you’ve chosen isn’t the best fit!
It may take a few tries to find what works for you. Don’t give up!
Which of the types of journaling do you like best? Let me know in the comments!
Carly is a wife, mom, and former NYC fashion industry executive turned writer and life coach. Through her writings on littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice, heartfelt insights, and actionable resources to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life. Carly also helps women create better balance in their lives and live with more joy, purpose, and connection every day through her coaching.