Have you ever had a knot in your chest that you cannot make head or tail of? Or you know you are badly in need of solitude. Or you have ideas in your head that you need to make into a concrete plan. You might just need to ask yourself some right questions that would spur you into self-reflection. You need to do what is called journaling. The year 2024, just like every other new year, is usually anticipated at the end of the previous year, in this case, 2023. People see the season as a unique offer of reflection, an opportunity for growth, making better decisions and intentionally living a life of purpose.
Benefits of Journaling
Journaling helps you to express your emotions and feelings on paper and turn them from their abstract form into something tangible. Your brain is as volatile as anything can be. A 50 Naira pen and a random jotter will help you remember things in such detail 20 years from now. A friend once asked why I loved journaling. For one, I’m someone who saw Dad do it from my earliest age. He usually penned down ideas that would otherwise fly away with the wind. Being a writer now, I know the feeling of loss when I forget to write ideas down. I get to rack my brain, and when fragments of the idea do return, they feel incomplete because there was no way the idea could return in its entirety.
1. Serves as Dream Archive: Dreams are windows into the soul. God speaks to his children through dreams. However, you have to be able to distinguish the dreams that are from God from the ones purely as a result of the activities engaged in before sleep, the ones from the devil, and those from your thoughts. The direction you need for the next season of your life might already be highlighted in some dreams you had a few months ago.
Proper journaling of those insights would aid you in looking at them now as you would a map. God speaks to us, but are we listening? Are we listening but not holding unto his word diligently? The writers of the books of the Bible did their due diligence, that’s why we have what we call scriptures. So, have you been sleeping on this ancient practice called Journaling?
Thankfully, we’re in the technological era. If you’re not into hardcopy journaling ( selar link to hearty journal) like those who love to hold pens in their hands, you have several options. There are journaling apps that would guide you into journaling, give you prompts, help to document your mood and all that. A traditional voice recording app is also useful, only that people like me have to guard them with our lives, just so our deepest thoughts do not get into the wrong hands.
2. Journaling helps to cultivate gratitude: Journaling helps you to cultivate the habit of gratitude. Reflect on the blessings, no matter how small, that you’ve experienced during the day. Our minds may be myopic sometimes, choosing to see only what is obvious. In a calm environment and with background music, hardly would you fail to recollect details you would otherwise forget. Gratitude fosters a positive mindset.
3. Helps in connecting to God: Journaling can also be a way of connecting with God, listening to His voice, and following His guidance. Reaching God isn’t as hard as people make it seem. Like a little child, people can build up their faith by writing letters to God. Apparently, there’s no mailing address to send them to. But in your writing to God, you have that consciousness of relating to God. Journaling is a wonderful practice that can help you grow in your faith.
How to Cultivate the Practice of Journaling
1. Choose a journal that suits you.
There are many types and styles of journals available, such as notebooks, planners, diaries, bullet journals, digital journals, and more. You’re opening up yourself, so don’t make it boring, Infuse creativity into your journal. Include doodles, and sketches, or even incorporate colours that reflect your emotions. This creative expression adds a personal touch to your entries. You can also customize your journal with stickers, stamps, and other accessories.
The important thing is to choose a journal that you like, that you feel comfortable with, and that you can access easily. You can also have more than one journal, for different purposes or occasions. For example, you can have a gratitude journal, a prayer journal, a Bible journal, a dream journal, etc. You can find some examples of journals on Amazon (include Amazon link) or you can make your own journal with some paper and a binder.
The Hearty Journal is what you need.
Designed to ease a complete journaling beginner into the practice of Journaling. A collection of resources that would help kickstart your journey of intentionally writing your story. A great gift idea for your friend, spouse, daughter or son, etc. Exercises are fun to do with family.
2. Set a time and a place for journaling.
Journaling can be done anytime and anywhere, but it helps to have a routine and a dedicated space for it. This can help you create a habit of journaling, and also make it a special and sacred time for you and God. You can also journal whenever you feel inspired, moved, or challenged by a song, a book, a conversation, or you just want to pen down God’s speaking and instructions. The important thing is to find a time and a place that allows you to focus, to relax, and to be honest with yourself and God.
3. Write from your heart.
The third step to journaling is to write from your heart. ( hearty encourages submission of real life/vulnerable pieces you think would bless others) Journaling is not about writing perfectly, grammatically, or logically. It is about writing to God and writing to yourself. It is about writing to express, to explore, to discover, to heal, to grow, to learn, to praise, to thank, to confess, to repent, to forgive, to ask, to receive, to surrender, to obey, to follow, to serve, and more.
4. Use prompts and guides.
Journaling can sometimes be challenging, especially when you don’t know what to write, when you feel stuck, or when you face a blank page. Prompts and guides can be anything that can spark your thoughts, feelings, and imagination, it may be in the form of questions, quotes, scriptures, prayers, affirmations, challenges, goals, and more.
5. Review and reflect.
In all your journaling, don’t forget to review and reflect. Journaling is not only about writing, but also about reading, reviewing, and reflecting on what you have written over time. This can help you gain insight, perspective, and wisdom from your journaling, and also help you track your progress, growth, and changes over time.
(the hearty journal with a special track your decade feature helps to search through your journals to gain insight on where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to be) *banner or catchy image from Canva
You can review and reflect on your journaling at any time, it could be daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or whenever there is a need to. You can review and reflect on your journaling by yourself or with someone else, such as a friend, a mentor, a counsellor, or a spiritual leader.
Journaling Prompts for 2024
- Your Word for the Year
- Lessons learned in the past year
- Encounters you with God
- Goals and Intentions
- Things that you can do to help others in 2024?
- Things you are grateful for in your life?
- What goals to achieve in 2024?
- What are some of the most significant events that happened in 2023?
- How do you strengthen your relationships in 2024?
- What are those things you want to do to take care of yourself in 2024?
Or simply get the hearty journaling workbook that would ease a complete journaling beginner into the practice. It comes with a special track-your-decade feature that helps to search through your journals to gain insight into where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to be
In conclusion, it is important to occasionally review and reflect on your journal entries( example of a journal entry submitted to hearty) and to see how God has been working in your life, and how you have been growing in your faith.
These are some of the steps that can help you journal your way through 2024. We hope that you will try them and that you will enjoy the benefits of journaling in your life.