Most people eventually come to a point in their life when they’re struggling to find clarity and direction. You know, questions like, “What do I want to do with my life?” “Should I take this job or that one?” “Is this person the love of my life or is it someone else out there that’s better for me?” Believe you me, I know, that it can bee really difficult. I’ve been there and at various times confronted variations of all those questions.
When you are at a crossroad in your life, it can be hard to figure out if you’re going in the right direction and what your next steps should be. One way of figuring things out is by journaling. Writing in a journal can help you on the path to clarity and self-discovery. You just have to make the time to do it. First, I’m going to discuss two ways that journals can help you with clarify in general, then I’ll talk about three types of journals you can keep in order to help you find clarity.
How Does Journaling Help You Find Clarity?
Journals Help Chronicle Your Emotions
It’s enlightening to look back into the past to see what kinds of emotions you were experiencing during different situations. Having a strong reaction to a situation can be a sign as to whether it’s good for you or not. Or if deep down inside you enjoy doing that activity or not. That can help you gain clarity when you’re faced with those big decisions that I described earlier such as taking a job, moving to a new place or even continuing in a relationship.
Journaling Helps Create Intention
One of the biggest parts of achieving clarity, is understanding your purpose and intention in whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve or decide about. Writing down your goals, dreams, and intentions can set you on a more structured path that will help you to achieve and attain them. When you aren’t sure of what it is that you’re going for, it’s a lot harder to make sure that you’re doing all the things that will make your dreams a solid possibility. Seeing things written down can give you an idea of what to strive for.
3 Types Of Journals To Keep For Clarity
Although you can make lists about many different aspects of your life, one place to think about starting is to list the things you want for your life. Your goals, dreams and aspirations. Knowing what you want out of life can make it easier to develop an action plan to turn these dreams into reality. These kinds of lists can be serious topics or just fun things that you've been thinking about for a long time. That kind of a list is usually called a bucket list, and it can give you things to look forward to.
Another way to list journal for clarity is to list the accomplishments you’ve achieved in the last year, quarter, or month. This can help you see how awesome and capable you are, is a form of positive self-talk and can give you a clearer picture of how you’ve been spending your time and where your talents may lie. Which can be helpful if you’re trying to gain clarity about your professional future.
Alternatively, you can list out the things that you don’t want for your life so that you have a sense of what not to do. For example, at one time I was looking for a job (my background is in social work, stress management/wellness and training/professional development), so I made a list of what I called my deal breakers such as social work jobs that required that I go on home visits; so that I could more easily spot if an opportunity was right for me.
The Gratitude Journal
If you ever find yourself becoming impatient and jealous about what other people have that you don’t, or not truly appreciating the great things in your life, consider a gratitude journal. Taking a bit time out of your day to write down the things that you can feel grateful for can put a lot of minor annoyances into perspective.
Sometimes it takes a good hard look to remind you that things could be so much worse than they are. Ask yourself questions like:
What do I feel grateful for today?
Who am I grateful is in my life?
What experiences seemed bad at first, but now I’m grateful for?
Keep asking yourself these questions as often as you can, and you might be surprised at what you learn about yourself and what gives you inspiration which can provide the clarity that you seek.
Free Thought Journal
When you write in your journal, you shouldn’t feel constrained by rules. Sometimes you need to just get what’s in your head out on paper – whatever way it comes out; it’s okay to be unfiltered because this is just for you. You can set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and just let it all out. This is usually called free thought journaling but sometimes also called doing a “brain dump.” This technique is great for all those random ideas and musings we all have.
Afterwards, you can go back and analyze what you wrote down. Some thoughts can get masked by the influence of the world around you, so looking at your writing later might help you get in touch with yourself, which can push you closer to clarity.
10 Questions To Get You Started On The Road To Clarity
So are you ready to get started on your clarity journey? Here are some questions (in no particular order) to help you start your journey on clarity through journaling:
How can I best be of service to others?
What are the things that bring me the most joy?
What are 3 things in my life that I need to let go of?
What are the things that you love most about yourself?
What am I afraid of? What’s one step that I can do today to confront that fear?
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
What do you want to learn more about?
Who are the people, things or events that drain my energy?
What are my short term (6 months or less) and long term (5 years or more) goals for myself? Can be personal and/or professional
What are the things that others always seek my advice on or help with?
It may be cliché, but: If money or time was no object, what would you do or create?
I hope that this will help you get started journaling in a way that can help you figure out which direction to take. What type of journaling are you going to try to help gain clarity in your life? Let me know in the comments section.
Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, wellness coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In