A reflective journal can be a very useful tool as you work on improving yourself and your life. It is similar to keeping a personal diary. In a reflective journal you often focus on the issues or learning that you are working on. On its own you may not see a lot of change, but as part of a programme of personal development it can be a very powerful tool.
How to Write a Reflective Journal
First of all you need to get yourself a notebook and pen, or if you prefer you could use an electronic means of recording your thoughts. The advantage of the former is that not only is it normally easier to pick up quickly and scribble something down (although electronic devices are pretty close to this now) but you can also flick back through your writing and quickly spot patterns in your thoughts and behaviour, which is not quite as easy in an electronic file.
When choosing a notebook I prefer something close to pocket sized, without being too small – A5 tends to be a good size. Look in low price goods shops (e.g. pound/dollar stores) to pick one up relatively cheaply. The important thing is to decide on what you feel most comfortable with and what will be the easiest for you to use.
The next step is to prepare yourself to actually write.
Time for Reflection
The best way to learn how to write a reflective journal is to just give it a go. Is there a specific time of day when you can grab 10 to 15 minutes, ideally at the end of the day so things are still fresh in your mind? Start by trying to write every day. Enter the date as a title and just offload your thoughts and feelings about the day. If there is a particular aspect you are trying to change, such as weight management then reflect on your eating habits today along with your moods and behaviour patterns before and after. This is your journal and it is not about good writing, but is a tool to allow you to learn more about yourself and how you respond to your world.
After a while you may find it difficult to write every day. That is OK. Try to write at least once a week while you are progressing through change.
Reflect on Your Reflection
The final point to note is to remember to reflect on your reflections! After a while, maybe a few weeks or even months, you can look back to see if and how you may have changed. Is everything still the same? If so, it may be time to take another look at the methods you are using to improve your life and consider changing them as they don’t suit your needs. If things have changed you will be able to congratulate yourself on your personal journey and feel motivated to continue on forwards.