The Power of Journaling

July 13th, 2009 by Kevin Ngo

So what is the point of journaling? Well, it could be one of the most important things you can do to increase your chances of achieving your goals and living a happier, more fulfilled life.

“A life worth living is a life worth recording.” – Anthony Robbins

For over 10 years now, I have been keeping a journal to record my thoughts and certain significant events that occurred in my life. I have tons of books and audio programs but the most valuable thing to me is my journals. There are many benefits to having a journal which I’ll be discussing in this article.

You can learn quite a lot about yourself when you write down your thoughts as well as being able to revisit some of those moments that made a significant impact on your life. My goal in this is that by the end of this writing, you will know why many of the most successful people keep a journal as well as help you get started on your own journal.

Tracking Your Goals

When it comes to journal writing, many people see it very much like keeping a diary of everything little thing that goes on during your day. This is what I did when I first started keeping a journal over a decade ago. Although it’s a great way to capture daily events that take place, it’s not the best way to get the most out of journaling. Over the years, my entries have become less and less about events and more and more about thoughts, ideas, reactions, goals, struggles, and achievements.

Gradually, my journals became more of a tool to help me achieve my goals. This is such a powerful instrument to help your progress with any goal you are trying to accomplish.

For example, one of my goals in building this website is to reach 100,000 visitors a month by the end of the year. As I documented my progress with this goal, I also wrote down thoughts and reactions to certain milestones. It’s truly interesting to revisit your thoughts at different stages of your goal. When I reached 50 visitors for the first time, I remember being excited. I also remember, from reading my journal, that I couldn’t wait to have 100 visitors a day and how great it would be to get to that level.

The funny thing is once I got to that number and well surpassed it, now days, getting only 100 visitors would be a total let down. I saw that my mentality, expectations, and belief in achieving my goal grew over the months. I also got to revisit those days where things weren’t going so well. Those times when I was met with setbacks and obstacles, I was able to capture my thinking process. This is important to know because now that I’m at a whole new level in respects to my goal, I’m faced with similar challenges, just on a higher scale.

Being able to look back has helped me gain perspective on things. I know that what seems like a big daunting challenge today will be insignificant several months from today. I know this because what I saw as a big challenge 6 months ago I would not even pay much attention to today. The more obstacles you overcome, the stronger you become. The stronger you become, the bigger the obstacles you can overcome.

Do you have a goal that you’ve failed to accomplish over and over? How about a goal that you’re currently working on that is full of setbacks and challenges? What I’ve learned over the years through using journaling is that we all tend to have certain patterns of behaviors when it comes to achieving our goals. By writing down your progress, struggles, and thoughts, you can go back and see exactly what happened. When you start seeing the same thing happening every time you try to achieve the same goal, it will allow you to have greater insight into what you need to do differently in order to produce a different result.

It will also allow you to notice patterns of success. Success isn’t some mysterious force reserved for the few. People who are successful at what they do take certain actions in a certain order. When you achieve a goal, go through your progress and look at what you did and how you handled challenges. Notice what your thoughts were saying. By doing this, you could uncover your own recipe for success. Many times you can apply the same principles of achieving one goal to help you achieve your next goal.

Capturing Lessons

One of the things I write down in my journals is lessons that I have picked up. It’s my “Things I learned today” part of my journal. These are basically words of wisdom that I pick up during the course of a week. Sometimes it’s a general lesson like, “Sometimes success is a numbers game. The more you do, the more you get.” Other times it’s something that I learned about myself that by knowing it can help me with future goals such as, “I work better at night.”

Sometimes I would go back and read some of the lessons I’ve learned and think to myself, “Did I really write that? I gotta remember this.” Often times, reading those lessons help motivate me to work even harder because it helps bring my mentality back to when I wrote the entry.

This is another powerful reason for journaling. When you write while your emotions are still high, you will be able to not only capture your thoughts but also your enthusiasm as well. Some of my journal entries do an excellent job of motivating me. I have several entries about why I cannot fail and must keep pushing myself no matter how hard things get. Sometimes when I don’t really feel like doing anything, reading those entries help re-spark that fire in my belly and get me going again. Those types of entries will help you get back into the same powerful mindset and allow you to refocus and continue to fight for your dreams.

Continuing to fight for your dreams is critical because as Les Brown puts it, “Once you stop fighting for what you want, what you don’t want will automatically take over.”

Solving Problems

Another great benefit of journaling is that it allows you to solve problems. What I do personally is write down my current challenges as it relates to my current goal. By doing this, you will get a clearer picture of exactly what you need to overcome. If you have ever written your challenges down, then you know just what this can do for you. It’s almost the same thing as writing your goals down. When you get it out, your mind will find ways to get the problem solved. It can also reduce your stress level as well once you identify and pinpoint what it is that is holding you back from achieving your goals.

How to Get the Best Out of It

How you get the best out of it will depend on you but what I have found to be valuable is basically what I described above. Tracking my goals, writing down current struggles and challenges, lessons I have learned, any major event that has impacted me in some way, and any observations about my habits and reactions as well as observations about life in general.

You’ll get an idea of what will be most useful to you the longer you do this. Like I said earlier, writing about daily events, stuff many people write about on Twitter, is pretty much pointless in terms of helping you achieve your goals. By writing about the topics I mentioned, you start to discover a lot more about yourself, your tendencies, thought patterns, and a range of other things that will help you in accomplishing your goals.

Here’s an important tip when writing. Don’t censor yourself. Write exactly the way you feel without holding back. If you have to write curse words to better express your emotions, then do so. If you are disgusted about where your life is currently, say it like it is. Don’t use words that water down your emotions. Doing so will rob you of the intensity you may need to snap yourself out of a mindset of helplessness.

When you write in this honest fashion, your raw emotions will be captured as well. There are certain entries that I have written during those low points in my life where I had enough with living the way I was living that whenever I read them, it brings back the intensity, the drive, and the hunger to succeed. You will find that entries like those can be a very powerful motivational tool to help you refocus and take massive action.

Why People Don’t Keep a Journal

One of the main reasons why people don’t keep a journal is because they don’t see the point. Hopefully, by now, you can see just how powerful this tool can be if you use it correctly. Another reason has to do with privacy. People don’t like the idea of someone else being able to read their thoughts. For nearly 10 years, I have been writing in notebooks and always had to make sure I put it somewhere no one else can find.

For the past year however, I switched over the keeping my journal on my computer by using a password journal software. At first I had the concern of losing all of my work, but since the program I use backs everything up every few days in a convenient file that I could just email to myself, that is no longer an issue. Another great thing about using journaling program is that since I can type way faster than I can write, it saves me time. There were times where I just didn’t bother creating journal entries because it would have taken too long and I didn’t feel like cramping up my hands.

Another great thing about using a program is that you can find entries a lot faster. I remember having to go through tons of pages to find certain entries in my notebooks, but with the software, I can easily search for any entry I want. I write in my journal every 3 days or so and as I said before, it’s one of the most valuable things I own.

Using a Program

The program I use to do my journaling is called, The Journal. It has a lot of great features. You can add pictures into your entries, sort them, create templates, and a ton of other things. Being able to organize and quickly jump from entry to entry has been a great time saver.

What you use is up to you. Whether you use a notebook or a program, my hope is that if you don’t already have one, you will now start one. You will see, like I and many others have, that it will become one of your most treasured item.

You can also get a notebook at any stationary store. If you’re going to go that route, I suggest spending a few more bucks and buying a leather journal or something sturdy. My first few journals are on cheap spiral bound notebooks and trust me, since these journals will become so valuable to you over time, you don’t want to go cheap.

Being able to take time to reflect on your life and write down where you are and where you want to be, your struggles, triumphs, progress, and results, is one of those things that once you start doing, you will never want to stop. I know that when I pass away one day, I can pass my journals down to my children and grandchildren so that they can learn and benefit from a lifetime of experience and knowledge if they choose to do so.

I’ll end this article by quoting something Jim Rohn once said…

“When the end comes for you, let it find you conquering a new mountain not sliding down an old one.”

Remember that you have greatness within you. It’s not a matter of destiny, it’s a matter of choice.

Until next time…

Love Life. Do Good. Live Well.

Return from Journaling to Self Improvement page.


  1. Theodore Stein August 11, 2009
    • Kevin Ngo November 8, 2009
  2. Jettee December 16, 2009
    • Kevin Ngo December 16, 2009
  3. abeth March 26, 2012
    • Kevin Ngo March 26, 2012

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