Why I Journal Every Night

As a natural list maker, intention journaling has become a more effective, practical method than goal setting for me to identify what I want. I have been making to-do lists for as long as I remember, but so many times, those lists can feel overwhelming; I only end up crossing off half of them and am left with a feeling of disappointment and incompletion.

I decided to try something different in order to better understand myself and keep myself motivated. Short daily lists—as opposed to longer, “big goal” lists—are much more achievable and make me feel more accomplished. I make a list of things, limit the items I have to do on a given day, and then work to achieve them. That evening, I write down everything I got done and how I felt about it. Intention journaling may just be for you, too. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Find a notebook you like. It doesn’t have to be fancy or showy, but it needs to be something special you enjoy carrying with you and look forward to opening every day.
  2. Leave the first few pages blank as a section for big, long-term goals that you can continue to add to when you think of one.  Go ahead and write a few down.
  3. Look at your list of long-term goals. Pick one and break it down into small, achievable steps and daily intentions that will help lead you toward that goal. Then, start tackling your lists.
  4. Begin keeping “daily intention pages” that include the date and your goals for that day. Write a reinforcing statement at the top of the page that reminds you of your larger goal to keep you motivated.

I usually have categories under my daily intentions list such as personal, work and purpose. I list three to four intentions under each category for the day; you may want to list a few more or a few less, but keep it manageable. It may take some time for you to find “the sweet spot” for the number of things you can accomplish in one day. For example, in the “personal” category, I remind myself to be empathetic toward others, have realistic expectations, to go easy on myself if I fail to achieve something and to acknowledge failures as partial successes. 

I cross off the small goals I complete throughout the day for the sense of satisfaction. It also keeps me accountable when things do or don’t happen; if I wait until the end of the day, I may be too tired, not in the mood, or may even forget what did or didn’t happen that day. Whatever it is, I write it down so that I do not dwell on it the next day. Slowly and gradually, intention journaling will become a habit and you will feel incomplete without it!

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