5 journaling ideas for personal development

The list of benefits we can derive from keeping a journal are numerous and have been documented for years.

It helps relive stress

Makes you more creative

Heal trauma

The list goes on and on but you get point? keeping a journal is really good for your health — both mental and physical. If like me you’ve struggled or continue to struggle with journaling and end up staring at a blank page not knowing exactly where to start or what to write here’s my

5 best journaling ideas for personal development


One of my favourite and most used methods of journaling is what many people call ‘stream of consciousness’ journaling. This is actually a popular method used by counsellors as the act can be therapeutic. Especially if used in between sessions to record to reflect on your actions and look at yourself objectively.

Stream of consciousness journaling is best when:

  • You’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious
  • You’re stuck on a problem
  • You want to gain new insights into your thoughts and behaviour
  • You want to increase your self-awareness

Here are some guidelines if you want to start stream of consciousness journaling:

  • Use pen and paper
  • Let your thoughts flow freely – do not censor yourself or make your thoughts more positive or more grammatically correct than they actually are
  • Write down your thoughts the way you hear them in your mind, without analysing or judging them or improving them (you’re trying to transcribe exactly what’s going on in your brain)


Bullet journaling is a method of journaling and note-taking that uses bullet points as the main structure. Bullet journals are notoriously beautiful and honestly, that’s the reason I don’t personally have one. Even though the idea is SO appealing to me, I find that I struggle to stick to journals when they need to look perfect all the time. But that’s just me!

Bullet journaling is best when:

  • You need a system to stay organised with your to-do lists, goals, habits and tasks
  • You want everything in one place
  • You want to be creative with your journaling
  • You love lists, bullet points, stationery and pretty pens (but who doesn’t?!)

Here are some guidelines if you want to start bullet journal:

  • Any journal will do but generally a high quality blank, dotted or grid notebook is best
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make it too perfect or elaborate as it will be hard to maintain it – especially when you go through those busier times in life


Something that’s become very popular lately is keeping a gratitude journal. And it’s exactly what it sounds like – a gratitude journal helps you to focus your mind on all of the things you have to be grateful for (since these can be surprisingly easy to lose sight of).

Gratitude journaling is best when:

  • You find you tend to focus on the negative aspects of each day and lose sights of all the things that are going well
  • You feel stressed or anxious about life
  • You want to train your brain to focus on (and look for) good things each day
  • You want a daily habit that will put you in a positive and productive frame of mind

Here are some guidelines if you want to start a gratitude journal:

  • Keep it simple – find a notebook that will be your gratitude journal and write 3-5 things you’re grateful for each day
  • Consider your health, your relationships, your family, your resources, your education, your possessions, your job, your money, your surroundings, your culture, your life lessons, your misfortunes, your experiences… the list goes on
  • Briefly elaborate on why you’re grateful for each item on your list as this will increase the gratitude you feel
  • If you’re struggling to find things you’re grateful for, bring it back to the very basics or think of what life would be like without certain things
  • The days this is the hardest are the days that it’s the most powerful – don’t reserve your gratitude list for ‘good’ days, aim to do it everyday no matter what happens


I have only recently been keeping a dream journal to keep track of recurring dreams I’ve been having and the meaning behind them.

Dream journaling is best when:

  • You want to remember more of your dreams
  • You’re interested in learning more about dreaming
  • You like deciphering the meaning of your dreams and looking for themes and patterns in your dreams

Here are some guidelines if you want to start a dream journal:

  • Keep your journal next to your bed so you can write your dreams down as soon as you wake up
  • Write down your dream in as much detail as you can remember
  • Keep track of your sleep patterns alongside your dreams – such as where you’re sleeping, what time you went to sleep, woke up and the quality of sleep you had


I feel like everything on this list will help you become a better version of yourself, but if you’re like me and you LOVE personal development then you might like to have a specific journal that you use for all of your personal development work (I personally keep all of these ideas in one journal as I find it more likely I’ll keep on top of it)

A personal development journal is best when:

  • You consume a lot of inspiring books, videos and podcasts episodes but you’re not applying what you learn
  • You tend to focus on the progress you haven’t made, rather than the progress you have
  • You love creating goals and plans to improve yourself
  • You want to increase your self-awareness and identify patterns in your behaviour
  • You want to become the best version of yourself that you can be

Here are some guidelines for if you want to start a personal development journal:

  • When you read a book, listen to a podcast episode or watch a video, do the exercises or assignments that they recommend in your personal development journal

Other journal options available

5 minute journal is best for complete newbies who are not sure where to begin. Five minute journal uses daily prompts to inspire your content. 

Book journal Maybe you read a lot of books that help with your personal development? You could write how they’ve helped or not

One line a day journal just as the name suggests just writing one line a day; one complete sentence is also just as beneficial.