Personal Development Journal: How to Keep a Journal of Self Improvement Step by Step

• A personal development journal is a great self improvement tool.

• Learn how to keep a journal that will help your personal development.
• Read what to write & how to write a journal to improve life for you.
• Get journal writing ideas for journal writing topics.

• Self help journaling can boost any area of your life. Try it!

What is a Personal Development Journal?

A personal development journal is sort of like a traditional diary - only not! :-)

The traditional diary has to do with external things ... what you and other people said and did, events that happen - plus perhaps what you feel and think about them. And you're supposed to write in your diary pretty much every day.

The personal development journal is all about change. Getting from one place to another, better place - in your life (improving your life) and with yourself (self improvement).

In other words: The personal development journal has to do with your self development and is focused on you as a person - plus your experience of life.

Under normal circumstances you're probably not going to write in your personal development journal every day (though when things get 'wild' you might).

What's the Biggest Advantage of Keeping a Personal Development Journal?

That would be the 'kick butt' effect of noting where you are, where you want to go, how you plan on getting there, what you actually did to get there - and how that worked out.

A different word for that effect is this: Awareness!

Or, if you prefer: Inducing consciousness.

The point is: By recording these things you get an overview you wouldn't have had otherwise. This really helps you learn and improve.

One example of this is how the journal helps you keep watch over the internal workings of your mind. In order to bring your various mental processes more in harmony with each other you need to get to know them.

The same goes for your feelings, needs, actions and beliefs. Record them all when you notice them. Notice any and all patterns that show up. Evaluate everything and reflect on it (what do you like and what don't you like?). Then make decisions that will improve your life ... and record how they turned out.

All these things will help you immensely.

There are many more advantages, though. Towards the end of this article I'll mention 7 of the Greatest Advantages of Keeping a Personal Development Journal, but let's first look at some other, important things.

What's the Difference Between a
Personal Development Journal and a Self Improvement Journal?

In my opinion? There isn't any.

Personal development journal = self improvement journal.

What's in this Article (about a Personal Development Journal)?

This is a pretty big article that will tell you more or less all you need to know about how to keep a journal of this kind.

I'll present you with some general journal writing ideas that will help your ego development (self actualization) and your personal empowerment - and help you improve life for you in every way you want it to.

Who Am I to Talk?

Well, I've been keeping a personal development journal for many years, and I still do.

In my personal development journal I record anything and everything that has to do with my life improvement, self improvement and spiritual development, and it does me a world of good.

What I Get from Keeping a Personal Development Journal

The single most important thing keeping a journal gives me is the one I mentioned previously: AWARENESS.

Writing in my personal development journal is tantamount to inducing consciousness in myself.

I get to record frustrations, note possibilities, ideas, decisions and progress, and over time the patterns that govern my life become obvious to me.

Then, as I notice these unconscious patterns, I start to govern them instead. I learn. I empower myself.

Thus, the increased consciousness leads to me having more choices, more power and more freedom.

After making the transition to a general condition of inner peace I don't write in my personal development journal as much as I used to, but for the first many years of my wild personal development I wrote in it approx. two or three times a week, every week (and I'm a certified personal development nutcase).

These days (after a decade of crazy, INTENSE personal development) I probably write in it once or twice a month.

My conclusion after all these years?

A personal development journal is a great self improvement tool - one of the very best ... and also one of the cheapest.

What KIND of Personal Development Journal Do You Want?

Some people prefer writing on their computer, others prefer writing by hand. Decide what suits you best and go for it!

If You Love Pen and Paper

If you're the hand writing type:

A) You could just write on loose sheets of paper. This has the advantage of being something you can do anywhere and it also makes it easier to sort later - in folders or a ring binder (indexed, perhaps, with one index for every major element you want to journal about - e.g. money, love, self esteem, inner journeys, etc.).

If you do this, be generous in your use of paper. Try to stick to one subject on each page. If you want to write something about another subject, take a new piece of paper. This will make putting it in folders or ring binders much easier.

B) You could also get one of those blank journals (books with blank pages) - perhaps one that has dividers for ease of use (though you can also add those manually, using little 'index' stickers). You might also go for a luxury leather journal; or a really huge one that will allow you to put in pictures, drawings and clippings.

You could also use a traditional diary, although it may not really be set up for the kind of entries you will be making. However, it's still a good idea to have a section to log in daily.

If You Love Your Computer

Some people prefer writing on a computer, particularly those who use it a lot and who are, perhaps, much faster on a keyboard than with pen and paper. If you have a laptop or netbook, that's perfect, because then you can make entries pretty much anywhere.

If that's you:

A) Perhaps you'll simply want to use your word processor. In that case you have at least two main choices:

a1) Simply start writing in one single document which will eventually become very long. If you do this, do remember to put in dates for each entry and make lots of telling headlines so you'll be able to quickly find the info later. (Your word processor probably also has a search function, though).

This very basic method is the one that I use. When I reach approximately 200 pages, I start a new file so that my document doesn't get too long and unhandy. I have a number of those files. (Yep, I told you, I've been doing this a lot!) Also, of course, I keep older versions of each file on backup. I do consider my personal development journal to be one of the most important documents I have.

a2) Create a folder (perhaps called 'PD Journal' or some such) and a number of sub folders dedicated to each of the subjects you'll be working on (money, relationships, career, feelings, thoughts & ideas, beliefs, etc). When you write entries, file the document (entry) in the relevant sub folder.

B) You could also use some sort of dedicated diary or calendar software for your personal development journal. I don't have any experience with this sort of thing, but I believe that for instance Google offers a product called Google Calendar. You can make searches for, say, journaling software, or freeware diary software, or free calendar software on the Internet.

Please be careful about how you store your personal information, though. My suggestion is to not use a system where your data is stored on the Internet itself.

One of the purposes of keeping a personal development journal is to work on the most personal things imaginable (including revealing your darkest secrets). You don't want those lying around on an Internet server.

On your personal computer you might even want to password protect your file (provided you're the type who can remember passwords!)

What Do You Write in a Personal Development Journal? (Angle no. 1)

You can write anything you want, of course. But as the name suggests, you'll probably want to focus on your development.

I'll give you two different angles on the same subject - journal writing ideas. Depending on your preferences you may prefer no. 1, no. 2 or neither.

Here's angle no. 1 on what you can focus on in your personal development journal:

- who you are
- how you like being that person
- who you choose to be instead (i.e. what to change)
- how you get to be the person you choose (incl. what you've tried)
- where you failed and where you succeeded in your self improvement


- what your life is like
- how you like living that life
- how you choose to improve it (i.e what to change)
- how you achieve that (incl. what you've tried)
- where you failed and where you succeeded in improving your life

What Do You Write in a Personal Development Journal? (Angle no. 2)

I can also offer you a different way of viewing journal writing ideas / how to keep a journal of your self improvement and personal development. This is angle no. 2 ...

Basically you'll want to write about two big things:

a) You as a person
b) Your life as you experience it

Perhaps you could go about it by (for each of those two main subjects and any subjects that they entail) this simple seven step template:

1) Status (what are you and your life like right now?)
2) Reflection & Evaluation (what's great and what sucks?)
3) Wants, Visions & Goals (what would you really like to change?)
4) Show Stoppers (what's limiting, hindering and stopping you?)
5) The Break Dance (break those show stoppers - they're NOT real & true!)
6) Action Steps (what to do to get where you want to go)
7) Progress & Results (is it working?)

The above seven step template is actually a brief and simplified version of one part of a huge system I've made for myself and which I use in my coaching practice.

Being the type I am, I've pretty much thought everything through and field tested it until I've come up with what works for me and my clients.

Perhaps, one day, I'll write a book about it ... :-).

Total, Relentless, Unfailing Honesty

Here's the most important other thing about using your personal development journal:


Total, radical, ruthless, relentless, unfailing honesty.

You need that. You really do. There's no way around it.

Most people have secrets. Dark things they're not proud of and want to keep hidden.

I used to, too, but I dropped that. (No, I no longer keep secrets. Not a one, but that's another story).

Well, if you want personal development those secrets are something you're going to want to let go at some point, and the best place to start is in your personal development journal.

Why you need that radical honesty is a long story (for another time). Right now, just trust me: You will want that total, complete honesty in your personal development journal.

7 Great Advantages
of Keeping a Personal Development Journal

Some of the wonderful things about a personal development journal are:

1) You get to play with ideas and possibilities, wants and needs, dreams and visions.

This is all all very positive stuff, because the journal is all about making yourself and your life BETTER!

You want to eliminate a bad habit or to switch to a much more satisfying job (or even become self employed)?

Great, note it in your journal, set a goal, consider what it takes, and then start taking action. Note your mistakes, failures and successes (i.e. the ongoing results) in your journal.

2) You get a huge relief from being able to vent and reveal your darkest secrets.

Recording all your REALLY personal stuff - like what your greatest weaknesses (and strengths) are - and 'what you did last summer' that you regret and are now going to make up for is like having a 'shrink' for free.

3) You get to tell some really interesting, personal stories.

My personal development journal, for example, contains a record of some pretty outrageous things I've tried. When I felt that my personal growth was too slow I'd test out new self improvement techniques or personal development methods - or go meet a spiritual teacher of some sort.

Sometimes this would lead to very interesting things.

On one self help seminar I met my love partner, which was not only a pretty fascinating story in itself, but also a totally life changing event for me.

Another example is my notes about some of my inner journeys - to me they're like reading a fascinating science fiction novel - where I am the protagonist.

4) You get to notice habits and patterns plus evaluate and reflect on things you've never reflected on before.

This really deepens you as a person and gives you the perfect opportunity to improve your life.

For example: When was the last time you reflected on the effect that being bombarded with useless information is having on you? You know, so-called 'news' on the TV, on the radio, in newspapers, in magazines, in commercials, in your work, in your e-mails, in letters, on the telephone, with your friends and family, etc., etc.

Alvin Toffler (researcher and writer, particularly writes about trends and the future) coined the phrase 'information overload'. Back then he was primarily speaking about the future. Today, that's what most people have. Information overload makes them stressed out, clouds their minds and muddles up their judgement. In other words: Information overload makes you stupid and weak.

Did you ever think about that? If you use a personal development journal you might, because one of the things you get to do is evaluate all sorts of influences in your life.

5) You get to LEARN from your journaling.

What you're keeping is really a reflective learning journal. You learn a lot when you start recording your personal development initiatives, and the results of them, plus noticing your patterns and habits.

Over time you'll discover cycles in your life, and when you do, you can start to improve your life based on you new knowledge.

For example, by keeping my personal development journal over a number of years I discovered that every time the season changed from autumn to winter my energy levels dropped drastically and I would have a much harder time being joyful, outgoing, social and productive. I'll get back to that in a moment.

6) You start to take yourself and your life BOTH more seriously AND less seriously!

Does that sound strange? It isn't. If you are like most people, you actually have both tendencies.

For instance most people tend NOT to take their own happiness (the pleasant, 'good' things in life) seriously enough ...

... and they also tend to take their unhappiness (the unpleasant, 'bad' things in life) TOO seriously.

Both behaviors will tend to make you much more miserable than you have to be.

Keeping a personal development journal will alert you to both tendencies and give you the opportunity to do something about them.

Essentially by keeping a personal development journal you are creating a hotline of communication to BOTH your subconscious AND your superconscious (your intuition, your creative self, your bigger self, your higher self, your essence, your soul, life itself). That's one HOT line of communication to have!

7) You get to improve your life in general and yourself as a person.

Obviously this is by far the most important reason to keep a personal development journal (or, if you prefer: self improvement journal).

To continue the example mentioned above (from my personal life) the seasons are quite varied in Denmark, where I live. During the winter there's not that much actual daytime, and on top of it being dark most of the time, it's often nastily cold. This affects me and my life a lot.

Years ago, every time we reached Christmas, I would be depressed and drained of energy. Not so cool!

Eventually, by looking over my entries in my personal development journal, I noticed this pattern.

I immediately started trying out all sorts of things to change it, and after approx. three years of experimentation and steady improvement I learned to manage my energy levels much more efficiently.

Today those winter depressions are a thing of the past for me.

You can do the exact same kinds of things in your life. If you start keeping a personal development journal. :-)

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