When I’m feeling stuck or like I can’t push past an obstacle, intentional journaling helps me get my life back on track. And the best part? You can integrate this process into whatever sort of journaling works for you.
Now, it’s no secret that I’m a feral notebook hoarder and at any given time, I have about 15 notebooks I’m working with. I keep them for different writing projects and some of them are for planning. But there is always a journal on deck, gang.
If you’re looking to create an intentional journaling habit, start by thinking about what journaling actually is, and how you can do it intuitively.
What is Considered Journaling?
Like all the best things in life, when it comes to journaling, there are no rules. At least, not in the sense that if you have to keep a journal in a specific way.
Journaling is the process of writing down your thoughts and feelings. Some days, you may have very little to say. You may write what happened that day and how you felt about it. Other days, you may find that your pen never leaves the page and you’re in a full-on stream-of-consciousness flow state.
Both are correct.
The journal is there for you to write what you’re thinking and feeling, and to help you work through anything that might be stuck in your mind.
You can use whatever tools make the most sense to you for your journal. I’m a notebook girl, but some folks prefer to type because they can get the words out quicker that way. Some people like to speak their thoughts and record the audio files.
As with all things, do what works for you. There’s no medal for doing journaling “right.” So pick a method you enjoy and keep coming back to.
Luckily for everyone, there are tons of different ways you can journal. This list isn’t comprehensive, but these are the most common types of journaling.
- Art Journal. Want to use paints and markers and collage materials to get your thoughts on the page? Art journaling is a great way to expend some creative energy and create a journal that is uniquely yours.
- Bullet Journal. Usually regarded as solely a planning system, bullet journals are also a great way to record thoughts and feelings, especially if you want a record of your to do lists and inner thoughts in the same place.
- Gratitude Journal. Keeping a record of things you’re thankful for and why you’re thankful for them can be a great journaling practice. I definitely recommend this for beginners who want to create the journaling habit, but aren’t sure where to start.
- Dream Journal. Admittedly, most of my dreams are nonsense that feature scenes about lobsters pushing lawnmowers through my house. But if you have better dreams and want to record them, keeping a notebook by your bed can be a great way to do that. An added bonus is that this is the first step in learning how to lucid dream.
- Reflective Journal. This is the type of journaling people think about when they think about journaling. It’s the process of writing down your thoughts and feelings so you can work through whatever you’re dealing with.
- Daily Journal. A daily journal is a way to record your experience each day. The entries are usually very short and contain references to what happened that day and your emotional reaction to those things.
- Illustrated Journal. Maybe your journal style is more comic book-like, or you can only express yourself in the form of a children’s book. If that’s the case, try journaling with added illustrations.
- Freewriting Journal. This is my favorite method, and I would argue morning pages falls under this category. Basically, you sit down to write and just let whatever comes out hit the page.
- Travel Journal. If you have a tendency to wander, a travel journal can help you record your thoughts and feelings as you go from one place to another. The best travel journals also include ephemera from all the places you’ve visited.
- Nature Journal. Are you an outdoorsy sort? Then a journal where you record your experiences while out in nature is the perfect journaling option for you.
Of course, you’re free to create whatever sort of journal you need. I’ve learned a lot by writing a book journal before, and my ideas journal always has my back. And a writer’s journal is never a bad idea.
How to Do Intentional Journaling
Typically speaking, most of us don’t think about picking up a journal unless we have a ton of negative emotions we want to unload. That is definitely a good use for a journal, but that’s not how intentional journaling works.
Intentional journaling is the act of setting an intention or goal, and using the journal as a tool for keeping you accountable to that intention or goal. This process can help you solve problems or overcome the negative emotions you may have been unloading in a more reflective journaling session.
To get started with intentional journaling, choose your journaling method of choice. You can journal intentionally in an art journal or nature journal, or any type of journal. So make sure you pick what works best for you.
The next step is to set an intention. Think about what you want to get out of the act of journaling and why you even started the journal in the first place. That will help you narrow down what the whole goal of this exercise is.
Then, you’re going to hit the ground running.
Please know that creating the journaling habit and keeping it up are going to be the hardest parts of your intentional journaling journey. So make sure you give yourself some compassion and grace as you work through the startup phase.
Perfection isn’t the goal, here. Your intention is.
Intentional Journaling Prompts to Clear Your Head
If you need a little inspiration for you intentional journaling, check out these prompts to get you started.
- What am I stressed or worrying about right now?
- What do I need to let go of to move forward?
- What are my priorities right now?
- What does my ideal day look like?
- What am I most proud of?
- Who brings me joy in my life?
- How can I be more present for the people who matter most?
- What’s something kind I can do for someone else?
- How can I strengthen my relationships?
- What qualities do I think are most important in another person?
- What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
- What three goals should I focus on this month?
- What does success look like?
- How do my current goals align with my life goals?
- How can I better achieve work-life balance?
- What do I love most about myself?
- How can I better practice self-care?
- Which of my habits need to change?
- What is one change I can make to become a little healthier?
- How can I better relax?
Do You Journal Intentionally?
Are you a journaler? Have you ever kept an intentional journal? What’s your favorite journaling method?