Try These Journaling Tips to Help Achieve Your Goals

Learn about a few different types of journaling tips to help you track progress, gain insights, and overcome obstacles to reach your goals.

By bonneville on May 18, 2023
Closeup of girl writing in her journal
Photo: Adobe Stock

Try These Journaling Tips to Help Achieve Your Goals

Though computers rule our lives, handwriting in a journal can be a way to release your thoughts and remember different events. It’s also a great way to stay organized, set and accomplish goals, and come up with new ideas. Celebrities from Lady Gaga to Emma Watson and Jennifer Aniston all keep a regular journal, citing it as one of the ways they manage their success.

Exploring your thoughts and feelings and expressing yourself can be a great way to set and achieve new goals. There are a lot of different journaling techniques that can help you do this. We outline a few below, though many others exist. 

These different techniques will work better for some than others. Experiment with the different types and try other approaches until you find the best one that works for you. Finding the one that works best may take some time. Be patient as you learn how to express yourself and explore your thoughts. 

How can different journaling techniques help you reach your goals? 

Journaling can help you identify your progress, obstacles, or challenges that you might be facing. Reading through old entries can help you develop strategies to overcome them to help you achieve your goals.

When you write your goals, be sure to explain them in a clear and specific way. SMART is an acronym to help you frame your goals, which stands for:

  • Specific 
  • Measurable, 
  • Attainable 
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound 

When you write SMART goals, you can refer back to them as you progress and see if you’re still on track. 

Regularly reviewing your goals can help you see how much progress you’ve made and keep you motivated. It may also give you insight into an area you might be falling behind in to try and get you back on track. 

Being realistic about your capabilities can be a humbling experience, and it’s OK to re-evaluate your goals and set new ones that are more achievable. The trick is to find the right balance between goals that are not too easy but not too difficult that they discourage you. 

A few different types of journaling tips

Concentrated serious Hispanic man in eyeglasses thinking and taking notes while sitting at table with laptop and smartphone in tropical cafe

Here are a few different methods to practice as you write in your journal and set new goals. 

Free Writing

As the name suggests, this is a free-form exercise where you write whatever comes to your mind. Refrain from worrying about grammar, punctuation, structure, or subject matter. Even if your mind is blank, you can write “my mind is blank” until something else comes up. Writing anything helps you get your thoughts and feelings onto paper and can help you clear your mind. 


You might have more help guiding your writing with a prompt. Prompts help you focus your writing and explore different topics. Here are a few that might help you get started: 

  • What was the best part of my day?
  • What am I most grateful for right now? 
  • What is one thing that stuck out to me this week?
  • What can I work on to improve myself? 


Gratitude Journaling

Gratitude journaling can improve your mood and generate more optimism. This type of writing can profoundly impact your health and well-being. You can list a few things you are grateful for every day or reflect on the past week, month, or year to reflect on what you’re thankful for.

Mindfulness Journaling

Like free writing, this technique involves becoming present and writing your thoughts without judgment. It is an excellent tool for awareness of your moods and can help you prepare for meditation or other mindfulness practices. 

Reflective Journaling

Reflect on a particular moment and write about it, using your thoughts, feelings, and senses to guide the process. Looking back can be a good way to process and recall different experiences when reading your old entries. It can also help you gain insights to apply to your life. 

Working through obstacles

Journaling can also help you identify obstacles and challenges you face. This method can help you gain insight to understand why they’re happening or help you strategize ways to overcome them. You can then write an action plan to help you move forward and direct your life. 

Challenges are sometimes a good thing. Seeing challenges as opportunities for growth can help us get through difficult moments and come out of them stronger. Some goals might intentionally challenge you to stretch your limits, but you should also understand when you’ve reached your limit. 

Overall, using journaling to help you work through obstacles involves regularly reflecting on your growth. Keeping track can help you to stay focused and motivated as you get closer to achieving your goals.

Different areas of life deserve different goals

Set goals in different areas of your life so your goals are more specific. Your career goals will look much different from your relationship and health goals. You can also set goals for creativity or hobbies, such as learning a new skill or language. These help you round out a well-balanced life. 

How to measure your progress 

Create a plan to manage and achieve your goals as you set them. You can break down these goals into smaller steps, set deadlines, or put aside a certain amount of time each week to focus on them. 

Give yourself some adaptability to adjust your plans as needed. You might find that your steps could be more realistic or that you have less time in the day to focus on progression. Adjusting will help you make steady progress toward achieving them. 

In summary

To sum it all up, make sure that your goals are specific, achievable, and measurable. You also want to ensure that different areas of your life have specific plans. Experimenting with journaling can help you keep track of your progress, gain insights into challenges, and help you strategize ways to overcome obstacles. By journaling this way, you can succeed at whatever you put your mind to! 

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