What is the Difference between A Diary, A Journal & A Kaizen Journal

 

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When I mention “journaling” to some of the people in my non-online life, they often don’t know what it is. There seems to be a lot less awareness of the concept of journaling in the UK than in the US. When I attempt to explain, one of the most frequent responses is, “Oh, so it’s a diary!”

Um…not really.

This post is the answer to that question, to define the difference between a diary and a journal. But we will go further than that. I will also explain how a kaizen journal differs from a journal.

A Diary is a log of facts. It is driven by EXTERNAL events and factors.

For example:

I woke up at 7, had cornflakes for breakfast, went to work. Meeting about the new project. Watercooler gossip about such and such, who’s such a horrible person. Forgot to bring lunch.

A more developed / organised version of this could be:

07:05 – woke up
07:45 – cornflakes and a coffee for breakfast
08:00 – drove to work
10:00 – meeting about the new project. It went well, and I think I really showed off my presentation skills. Need to work on the eye contact.
11:00 – watercooler chat about x. She’s such a horrible person, treating her poor children like that.
12:00 – Just realised that I forgot to bring lunch.

Generally, this is all a diary is. Amalgamation of facts and events, with maybe a few comments thrown in.

Traditionally, a journal is driven from INTERNAL factors.

Remember the teenage drama you used to pour out on the pages? That’s journaling. In a journal, you focus more on your feelings, on your thoughts. You write about what’s going on inside you, rather than your day-to-day agenda.

An example of this could be:

Feeling blue this morning. It’s weird that it’s a happy thing when the sky is blue, but we say “feeling blue” when describing feeling down. On some days, you wake up and realise everything that’s going wrong, and feel like you’ve no control over fixing any of it. Just got to wait. I’m tired of waiting. I just want to do something. Change something. But don’t know where to start. If only you could start from scratch – really from scratch, with no history, no mistakes. How would it be if you could design your life? Would it be good though – because you could only design yours, you can’t control how people in your life design theirs. So even if you could, it would still be the same. You would be stranded in a web of relationships, dependent on other people to define your happiness.

In a journal, you are not required to be logical. The truth in your journal is the truth from your perspective. This is where you can be absolutely honest about your feelings, without need for apologies.

A kaizen journal takes it even further.

 A kaizen journal is a combination of EXTERNAL and INTERNAL factors.

Here, you would record external events as they feel relevant but without the rigidity of keeping a diary. You wouldn’t write everything that you do during the day, but only what seems important at the time, or what you feel like recording. There is no one way to do this, as journaling at its core is unique to each individual.

An example could be:

I woke up at 7, feeling blue.  It’s weird that it’s a happy thing when the sky is blue, but we say “feeling blue” when describing feeling down. On some days, you wake up and realise everything that’s going wrong, and feel like you’ve no control over fixing any of it. Just got to wait. I’m tired of waiting. I just want to do something. Change something. But don’t know where to start. If only you could start from scratch – really from scratch, with no history, no mistakes. How would it be if you could design your life? Would it be good though – because you could only design yours, you can’t control how people in your life design theirs. So even if you could, it would still be the same. You would be stranded in a web of relationships, dependent on other people to define your happiness.

How do I define my happiness?

Great meeting about the new project. All that practice I put in brushing up presentation skills came in handy. Just need to make sure this project is a success, and it could be the key to promotion.

What are the things I need to make sure must happen to make it a successful project?

A kaizen journal may include your hopes and dreams, internal dilemmas, failures and successes, thoughts about relationships and work, shopping lists, goals, favourite things, what you did – just about anything. A kaizen journal is about your entire life.

A kaizen journal can help you with a particular area of your life, or all areas of your life. You can keep a career journal, writing journal, reading journal, food journal, wine journal, relationship journal, motherhood journal, spiritual journal, dream journal, goal journal, self-improvement journal, fitness journal, learning journal or any other type of journal you can think of. Alternatively, you could combine aspects of these specific journals into one journal that you use every day.

A kaizen journal is an useful tool for recording, remembering, learning, and developing. But it is an invaluable tool for striving for your potential.

 

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:

Decide whether you are currently keeping a diary, a journal or a kaizen journal? How can you ensure that you are keeping a kaizen journal, if you are not already doing so? If you are doing so, what can you do to make it better?

 

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6 Responses to “What is the Difference between A Diary, A Journal & A Kaizen Journal”

  1. Andy Shackcloth February 17, 2013 at 10:51 # Reply

    Hi Dolly,
    Thanks for the post. It is interesting how you are viewing these three forms of personal scribbling.

    From looking at your examples it struck me that a Kaizen journal entry is characterised by asking yourself questions.

    Am I happy with ….
    Is there a better…
    Why do I believe…

    Interesting.

    If I have got this right, then there is a parallel between Kaizen journaling and guided meditation.
    Very interesting.
    Thanks again.

    • Dolly Garland February 17, 2013 at 15:08 # Reply

      Andy,

      Asking questions is only a part of Kaizen Journaling. As I have mentioned on this blog before, journaling is an extension of you – that means it’s about your whole life. So Kaizen Journaling would include anything and everything. Asking questions because you are seeking the answers, diary entries because you are recording your life, general reflection because you are going through your thought process, plans and goals, projects, your interests, art journaling entries – there is no limit.

      Personally, I don’t meditate so I can’t really compare it to guided meditation – but both journaling and meditation have a large component which is for self-awareness.

  2. Clayton Bulice February 17, 2013 at 13:43 # Reply

    As I reflect on your definitions/descriptions of “daily” writing, I realize that I do all, depending on the time allowed and my mood at the time. But, mostly I am a journaler struggling to become Kaizen. Thanks for your help in this struggle because I fully believe I am becoming a better person through the challenge.

    • Dolly Garland February 17, 2013 at 15:09 # Reply

      Clayton,

      Journaling is a very personal thing, and therefore there is no right or wrong. The purpose for Kaizen Journaling is because it’s about continuous growth. Growth in journaling that is reflected by growth in life.

      Keep going :-)

  3. Carol February 17, 2013 at 20:09 # Reply

    Thank you so much for clarifying the difference between a diary and a journal! It appears that my sisters both keep diaries, but I, on the other hand, keep a Kaizen Journal. I feel quite proud of myself for doing so. :-)

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