Sometimes you may feel stressed because you are not achieving things that are important to you or your focus seems to take you in the wrong direction. Daily stress and underlying tension can result from a lifestyle that doesn’t align with your values or goals.
Brain science has shown numerous benefits to journaling that include processing feelings and brainstorming solutions. Not only can this relieve stress, but will also help you attain goals by providing an opportunity to work through problems, find solutions, and keep from getting stuck in unhealthy patterns.
The point is to use journaling as an aide to reduce your stress and anxiety, so don’t get yourself stressed over it! There are no actual rules to journaling. No one is grading you on spelling, grammar, punctuation, or structure. You can buy yourself a nice leather-bound journal or a marbled composition notebook, or use a legal pad, or index cards. Use whatever suits you.
Using these goal setting journaling techniques will help you to get in touch with your goals and align your priorities.
Personal and Professional Goal Setting with a Journal:
1. Ask yourself – What do I really want – at my very core? If you had a magic wand, what would you like to see included in your future? Ignoring the ideas of how you’ll get there, vividly imagine your ideal life, and what would be included in it. Begin to list a couple of changes and goals to go from ‘here to there.’
2. Continue to dream and plan as you journal – and take small steps to begin a shift. It might be as simple as taking a class that you think will get you closer to your dream job or scheduling an “informational interview” with someone who works in a profession that you’d like to move into. Pat yourself on the back for success and work through frustration of setbacks.
3. Make updates to your goals as they change with you. Sometimes the pursuit of one goal will lead to growth and then will lead to the realization that a different direction would be better for you.
4. Record gratitude. It’s important to write about all the things for which you are grateful. This form of journaling can help you develop the habit of an “attitude of gratitude”. This can decrease stress, increase awareness of how far you’ve come and help you realize progress.
5. Acknowledge your emotions to create goals. After moving to a different city – I realized I felt lonely. So, I created a goal to find new friends, keep myself connected with more quality talk-time with old friends and put more fun into my life. By volunteering, taking some cooking classes and asking people to go out to coffee/lunch — my life changed dramatically in 1 year. Instead of feeling lonely, I felt “filled up, included, connected and part of.”
As you write — and dream – and plan — and feel – then notice if there are any Inner Critics that come up. An Inner Critic is that voice inside of you that may say things like, “You need to stay small. You can’t do that. You don’t deserve that. You’re incapable of doing that. People will laugh at you if you try that. You’re too old to make changes. Give up. Stop trying. You’re defective. What’s wrong with you?”
The Inner Critic – although its messages are harsh – those voices are actually trying to protect you in some way. They are afraid of you trying something new or different – they are afraid you’ll get hurt or be judged or ridiculed or be unsafe in some way.
Inner Critics can block you from achieving your goals. Inner Critics eventually lead to regret as time passes – “I wish I had tried that or done that – but now it’s too late.”
Record your Inner Critics (and journal about them!) as you hear them. See if you can get an understanding of why they don’t want you to pursue something new/different. A Catholic therapist can help you remove these blocks to set you on a path of freedom and more choices.
Journaling moves goals and the blockages from the unconscious to the conscious level. Once conscious – you can begin to live an abundantly full life.
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