16 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Journaling

As I’m nearing the end of my 28th personal journal, I was thinking about how much of my life is in these journals, and how they have contributed to my growth. It’s a symbiotic relationship where life feeds journal, and journal feeds life.

Here, I will share with you 16 lessons I’ve learned throughout the course of my 28 journals.

  1. It is always better to make decisions, and take action. There is only so much time you need to think anything through, no matter how important it is. Just thinking about things is a form of procrastination and it stops you from progress.
  2. Positivity trumps negativity. Every single time.
  3. Self-awareness is the first step towards self-growth
  4. You are far more capable than you think. You may lack self-confidence. You may think you are not capable of any great achievements. But you are as capable as the next person. No one is forced to be mediocre. Journey from mediocrity to amazing is a choice you have to make.
  5. Memories of the past become clouded by your present self, your perceptions today, and your current situations. You can’t really project yourself back in the past, feel what you felt then, believe what you believed then. That’s where journaling provides an accurate account of who you were at any given time.
  6. Writing down your thoughts, feelings, goals, fears, dreams…in other words, writing down your life, creates a deeper connection between your outer, everyday conscious self and your true inner self. The deeper the connection, the more aligned your outer and inner self become. Our aim is the ultimate alignment where your conscious outer self is one and the same as your true inner self.
  7. Negativity is best dealt with by getting it out of your system.
  8. Good written skills are a mark of intelligence. Okay, so journaling didn’t teach me that but it certainly helps with the writing skill.

  9. Dreams are easy. Making them happen is hard.
  10. If you don’t keep constant vigilance on your wandering mind, you’ll end up worrying about, attempting to achieve same things year after year, and get trapped in circle.
  11. It is always, always better to be yourself. Unless you suck. In which case, you should immediately start taking steps to stop sucking.
  12. Life is a lot more rewarding with friends. But only true friends. These must be the people who accept you for who you are, call you “weird” with affection, and don’t try to force you into a mould that’s not meant for you.
  13. Goals tend to lose sense of urgency if they are not regularly reviewed.
  14. There is immense comfort in knowing you have a place – your journal – where you can offload anything that’s on your mind.
  15. Journaling is the best way to recognize your voice. There is no finding, because your voice is already there. It’s inside you, and you’ve probably used it a fair few times. But what you want is constant awareness of that voice. You want to know what your voice feels like, what it sounds like. You journal for a few months, and depending on the integrity in it, that awareness will increase tenfold.
  16. How you grow and evolve as a person is the most important journey you would make, and by recording it, the transformation ceases to be a miracle, and you can see each small and painstaking step you took, and each obstacle you overcame to be who you are now. The process, once achieved, could be repeated, and it can also be used as a warning not to fall into the trap again.



Journal about which of these lessons resonate with you? Are there any others that your journaling, or any other self-reflection method has taught you?

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30 thoughts on “16 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Journaling

  1. Self-awareness is the only way to start growing! Journaling is very helpful in all the ways you described. It’s easy to forget or gloss over the past, unless it’s written down. Then it is very clear!

  2. Very well done list, Dolly

    One thing I’ve figured out is that there have been times I am shocked at who I am. My perception of me changes when I write and discover.

  3. Dolly,
    This is quite the comprehensive list of benefits and lessons of your journaling life. It truly showcases the process, with thoughts, intents, dreams and ACTIONS. I especially loved the point you made about the true inner self and conscious outer self coming into alignment with each other. What a fabulous process of true self discovery!

    I have chosen your post, 16 Life Lessons I’ve learned from Journaling, for the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 9/17/12 for all things journaling on Twitter;
    I will post a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog and website Refresh with Dawn Herring, and in Refresh Journal, my weekly e-journal: http://tinyurl.com/9te3lev.

    #JournalChat Live is every Thursday, 5 EST/2 PST, for all things journaling on Twitter; our topic this week is Your Journaling: Word Power.

    Thanks so much for sharing your life lessons that have developed from your journaling experience. Inspiring!

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter
    Author of The Birthday Wall: Create a Collage to Celebrate Your Child

  4. These are all great tips as usual, but my favorite part of this post is this photo of your journal pages. So artistic! So inspiring! I want to do more collage journaling like this!
    Also #11 is a keeper: “…you should immediately take steps to stop sucking.” :-)
    I love to look back on past journals and realized I’ve taken great strides in staying positive, and just being less sucky overall.
    Fun post Dolly!

  5. You are so smart! I just love everything so much and honest it’s all helpful.Right now all I’ve read has me thinking!Who knew?! I actually do think,probably too much.My first love of over forty years ago and I got back together a couple years ago.We were engaged to be married and no date was set.Suddenly he decided to go home and be alone as he had been for about 18 years.Just up and left and I was stuck hiring a truck and my son and I moved his stuff to his home.I hurt,my son,adult with Autism,and pets who loved him so,hut so much.I’m in my late 50’s he’s in his 60’s.So blown away and broken hearted.So bowled over and shocked.Noone else involved.He texted he loves us just has to be alone.Thats it that is all.Done.Journaling has helped me to save what slim sanity I have left. I’ve been reading alot on my Fav.Journaling sites.Thank you so much for being here and accepting my subscription to Kaizen Journaling.Congrats on your most recent goal,finishing up so many journals.I’m proud of you and your accomplishments!Blessings<3

  6. Loran,

    Absolutely true. We corrupt our memories of the past often in a way that suits us. Journaling provides the naked truth, and truth is essential for growth.

  7. Yvonne,

    That’s the beauty of self-discovery. If we had all the answers, we wouldn’t need to do this. But not having all the answers is a sign of growth, because if we have all the answers, that means we are not moving and evolving.

  8. Dawn,

    Thank you. I believe that too many people are trapped in their outer self, because most people are simply not used to even considering their subconscious self. Too many people think things like “self-discovery” or “life purpose” are new age crap, not realising that it is actually their day to day life. That’s why alignment is essential. Alignment is what helps you discover, and bring forth, who you really are.

  9. I appreciated particularly what you said about going around in circles unless we’re aware of the patterns that we’re caught in — looking back at my own journal entries from a few years ago is definitely a sobering reminder that I’ve been working with the same concerns for a long time. On the other hand, when I look back at anguished entries, I often find that I no longer identify with the suffering I used to experience, so that perspective is useful as well.

  10. Sarah,

    Thank you. Those beautiful pages are not mine (see image credit below). While I do some graphical journaling, I’m more of a word person myself.

    Being less sucky is good :-)

  11. Mary,

    Thank you for your enthusiastic and positive feedback. I’m sorry to hear about your situation, but you should be proud of yourself. You are facing a difficult situation, and taking control of your sanity. Journaling can help yes, but always remember that you are the one who is doing the work. Keep doing it :-) You are an amazing, important person, whether or not someone else appreciates it.

  12. What a powerful list. One of the many thoughts that occurred to me when reading over this was that 1) I had stopped journaling as it was all going into my books and 2) In looking at your beautiful stack of 28! journals, I realized that i hadn’t gone back and re-read any of mine. I need to do that to make certain that i am not ‘going around in circles’. Thank yo for all of these reminders. Very powerful.

  13. Hi Dolly,

    I am a firm believer in writing down your thoughts, feelings, ideas, and such on a regular basis.

    This is such an eye opening post, of all the ways that journaling helps a person.

    I love what you said, that “self-awareness is the first step towards self-growth”. I so agree with you. Journaling is a way to get quiet and help with our own self awareness.

    I will also add that journaling helps flame that spark of creativity that is in all of us. Journaling helps me create new ideas!

    Through journaling over the years, I have expanded on many ideas that began with just a single thought written down. I have developed new products & programs, gift ideas, adventure plans, and an array of other creative ideas from journaling.

    Love & Hugs,


  14. I’m pleased I came across your post Dolly, I have never kept a journal so didn’t necessarily have an immediate interest in the subject but I was intrigued about the life lessons you had learned from the process.

    I’m not saying that I am going to start at this stage of my life, although I’m sure you will encourage me to, but many of the lessons make sense to me even without recording my thoughts in a formal way.

    So many thanks for your thought provoking post, I will try to carry the lessons with me even if I don’t pick up that pen.


  15. Tony,

    Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I’m glad you gave it a go. And of course I would encourage you to keep a journal :-)) It’s my life’s mission to encourage people to journal. Perhaps one day….because there is no such thing as any stage of life which is unsuitable, too late, too early to journal.

    But enough pushing :-) I appreciate your support, and it’s good that you enjoyed the lessons.

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