What’s the Real Deal with Reflection Journaling?
Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve journaled. At eight and nine years old, it was a pretty pink diary with a lock and key that I would fill with my thoughts and poems and then replace with a new diary when it became full. My childhood was chaotic and being able to write down all of my thoughts in a private place was a life saver for me.
As I got older, I continued to journal, but more situationally. When my young husband died in a car accident and left me and our two small boys to deal with life on our own, the counselor who I went to see recommended that I keep a journal.
This was 34 years ago, and to this day I have that journal and sometimes go back and read it. It’s hard to read but it was cathartic and got me through a very rough patch in my life.
For the past two years, I’ve incorporated reflection journaling back into my daily routine, just as when I was a little girl. Not because things are chaotic. But, because for me, journaling is a tool that provides me with great clarity as I move forward in my life. And the act of handwriting helps my brain to process and remember.
Journaling to Reflect
Journaling is a very helpful tool as we sit and reflect on life, life changes, and possible redefinitions. At 58 years old, I knew that I could not continue to do my job working with kids on the autism spectrum forever. But I also knew that I couldn’t imagine NOT doing something each day.
So, I began to write to other women like me who were wanting to redefine their life in some way and weren’t sure how to begin. I created a workbook based on my reflections, including:
- What my ideal day, week, and month would look like.
- The things I always wanted to do but never did and why.
- The parts of my job/life I loved and was good at.
- All of the ways I could possibly use my skills and enjoy moving forward.
It is important when journaling to reflect to have the right mindset and environment. Find a block of uninterrupted time – ideally, 45-60 minutes. Pour a glass of wine, cup of coffee or tea and just start writing. Don’t censor. Let the thoughts flow. This type of journaling is similar to a brain dump, so write down everything that comes to mind.
The Daily Habit of Reflection Journaling
My daily journaling is a way for me to prep for my day. Everyone’s journal prompts would look slightly different based on their lives and priorities. I pour my cup of coffee and journal daily on the following:
How Do I Feel Right in This Moment?
Am I tired? Refreshed? Excited about the day? Anxious? Then I reflect on what got me there. If it’s a good feeling, I make a note about why that might be. If it’s a bad feeling, I think about things I can do to turn it around.
What Is My Top Priority for The Day?
This will vary depending on the day, but daily priorities should always move you towards your big “why.”
What Is My Big Why?
This reminds me each day about why I do what I do. It makes me happy and can sometimes even give me butterflies in my stomach! Your big why can be anything you want it to be, but it needs to really make you excited when you think about it.
It can be monetary, but it’s often a lifestyle why. More time to travel, time with family, ability to take summers off, ability to volunteer at the animal shelter, etc. This journal entry is usually the same each day but it’s a reminder. The act of writing it down keeps it on my mind throughout my day.
I write down at least one thing that I’m grateful for in that moment. It can be as simple or small as the delicious creamer in my coffee. Or it can be as big as the health of my husband.
I write at least one affirmation each day and often it’s the same one. My current favorite is, “I am a healthy, active wife, mom, and grandmother every day.” This sets the tone for the day for me. It motivates me. Helps me go about my day with a spring in my step and a flip in my hair!
Meal Plan for the Day
This helps keep me on track rather than aimlessly wandering into the kitchen trying to figure out what to have for lunch. I think about it in the morning, write it down, and stick to it. It’s been especially helpful as I’ve been working from home during the pandemic.
What Does My Journal Look Like?
When I first started my daily journal habit, I went out and bought a pretty journal. Now, I journal in spiral notebooks. They’re easier to write in as I’m sitting in my chair with my coffee. Someone said to me, “When we journal in spiral notebooks, the ordinary becomes sacred.” So true.
Do you journal? If so, how often? What do you journal on? How long have you been doing reflection journaling? What does journaling add to your day?