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A Journey of Self-Discovery Through Journaling

Journal Prompts for Self-Discovery 

How well do you know yourself? In an age where self-discovery is associated with backpacking, hosteling and shagging your way around a different continent to ‘find yourself,’ we may have lost touch with genuine self-discovery.  The deep solitary work that reveals truths about our behaviour, the cards we've been dealt, and our potential for personal growth.

Human beings are often surprisingly bad at knowing themselves. This is exemplified by the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias where individuals with limited abilities tend to overestimate their competence, while those with high abilities underestimate their competence. A bias particularly common among amateur parkour enthusiasts and reckless drivers. Various factors contribute to the Dunning-Kruger effect, including the lack of reflection. Without introspection, meaningful self-discovery becomes nearly impossible. The most effective method we've found for consistent reflection and self-discovery is journaling.

How to discover yourself through journaling

Journaling has a multitude of benefits. One that is incredibly powerful is how it can help with self-discovery. 

Journaling can be used to work out your goals and your vision for the future. As Seneca said, ‘If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable’.  Thinking without writing doesn’t bring with it the same level of clarity. By writing things down, they become more tangible, and you will get a greater sense of their importance.

Writing down your goals makes you more likely to achieve them. 42% more likely, in fact, when you write them down daily. If that’s not interesting enough to make you want to try it then give up now. 

How to use journaling to set goals?

In the Evolve Journal, we guide you through setting your goals by reverse engineering your desired future. In the onboarding course, you’re prompted to journal about your ideal future in as much detail as you can in 20 minutes, then your ideal realistic future within a given timeframe. From there, you can extract common themes, things that are undoubtedly a priority, and stuff that vibrates your cockles with excitement.

Once you're clear on what you want to achieve, you can start turning them into goals. In case you haven’t heard of them, SMART goals (give it a little Google if you need) will make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for failure, and you have everything in place to make your goals happen.

What to journal for self-discovery 

While setting and achieving goals is essential, it's equally important to enjoy the journey. When people tie their identity to goals and make sacrifices that make them miserable, this can be a recipe for further upset when the goal is achieved. This is to say the process is just as important if not more than achieving the goal itself.

Gratitude journaling for self-discovery.

Stopping to smell the roses, to be present, to appreciate the moment connects you to your experiences and stops your life flashing before your eyes before you really get to dial in and enjoy it. 

Journaling can enrich our experiences and when paired with the big G. Gratitude

When journaling, write down what you are grateful for. Doing this every day trains the brain's positivity muscle and starts to rewire your perspective. You will naturally, over time, increase your sense of appreciation and your ability to view the upside of even the toughest of experiences. 

I break the rules and get high on my own supply every day with my Evolve Journal. Naughty, I know. Here, I have a gratitude practice in the morning and one in the evening. For me, it always felt a bit corny to use prompts like ‘What am I grateful for?’. For some reason, this just restricted my answers and added friction. So, in the morning, I answer the question ‘Why am I smiling?’ This forces me to not only smile even in my darkest times but to start every day with at least a glimmer of positivity. What I write here varies massively from day to day and really tends to cover all parts of my life: past, present and future. Big and small. 

In the evening, I close out the day by writing the highlight of my day. This is the best thing(s) that happened that day, including a thought or a feeling during the day. Practising this daily also turns my journal into a time capsule, giving me the chance to look back through my highlight reel in the future. This practice has positively permeated into every part of my life, and I owe a great proportion of my daily happiness and well-being to it.

Journaling and habit tracking

Using your journal to track your habits can also help with self-discovery. It can help you see your blind spots and make sense of patterns of behaviour that would otherwise happen almost automatically. 

Using your journal as a habit tracker will help you to spot trends you might have otherwise missed. For example, imagine you’re a biscuit junkie, bourbons, hobnobs, custard creams, in tea, with milk, dry. You’re not fussed. You recognise they aren’t the best for you, and you want to kick the habit. Besides other science of habit stuff, your journal as a habit tracker will help. By tracking it, you will notice when you fail, and you can look at the reasons why and put in preventative measures. Perhaps you cracked around in the afternoon because you didn’t get much sleep the night before or because you forgot to pack a healthier alternative. 

Discovering yourself through journaling 

It is almost overly simplistic that simply taking time to reflect by writing down your goals, thoughts and practising gratitude would have such a crazy positive impact. But I can speak from personal experience. Journaling daily has helped me consistently set goals and achieve them. This is, in a way, how the Evolve Journey was formed out of a desire to be better tomorrow than today. When setting goals, I always found that there was nothing more tangible or concrete than a goal with a timeframe written down on paper.  

Where to start with self-discovery 

I think self-discovery and a journey of self-improvement sometimes come with some resistance. It involves opening a few boxes, some that have been really hidden away. It also comes with a need to accept that you’re flawed and that you and those you care about most stand to benefit if you are willing to put in the work. 

I got into self-development myself to address some of my own insecurities and, in many ways, to prove my self-doubt wrong. To silence the inner bitch within and to learn to be kinder and more patient. I am not professing to even be close to mastery in any of those areas, but I think the differences I see in myself now since I began daily journaling are night and day when compared to before.

It has taken many years of daily practice and consistent action in self-improvement to realise its not about learning a lesson(s).  Its about practicing lessons. 

To start the journey of self-discovery, you’ll need some time each day to form a consistent habit of reflection. A pen and plenty of paper to give you the space to shoot the shit. 

Some starter pack prompts:

  1. What is your ideal life 5 years from now?
  2. What is your realistic 6 months from now?
  3. Why am I smiling? 
  4. What was the highlight of the day? 
  5. What can I do today to make tomorrow better?
  6. What would me tomorrow want me to do today?

With these prompts, your trusty journal, and a few books to help you along the way, you're all set to embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery and personal growth.

"In the journal, I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself." - Susan Sontag

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