One of the greatest assets anyone can have when they set out to change the direction of their life is also one of the simplest; a journal. It can be as simple as small, spiral notebook or as complex as a password protected program on your computer. But the benefits of a record of your thoughts and ideas and your growth can not be overstated.
Several teachers of thing such as the Law of Attraction recommend writing various things down. It is often said it is very important to record exactly, in the present tense, what your dream or goal is and how it’s attainment makes you feel. In dealing with anger, resentment, and cases of a lack of forgiveness it is beneficial to write down the name of the person and then write positive thoughts about them, either pointing out positive qualities or wishing them well. When we are exploring ways in which we can give, thinking of people we can help and writing them down, along with something we can do for them (and a fixed period of time in which we will do so) is often recommended. And a positive exercise that helps to build gratitude is to write down each morning, in the present tense, ten things that we are thankful for.
These are all great uses of a journal, and should never be discounted. But we should also not forget the benefit of recording our thoughts and ideas as we grow and progress. As you read a new book or explore a new topic, make notes about what ideas or revelations occur to you. Write down important quotes or passages that speak to you. As you uncover things about yourself, make notes about them. Write down questions that occur to you. And especially as you make breakthroughs and discoveries you want to save what you learned and the train of thought that got you there.
There are two benefits to doing this. One is that the act of writing things down cements them more firmly in our minds. What may seem a great realization may slip our minds when we become distracted and be lost forever. Wise words we read in a book will be more firmly planted in our minds after we write them down. And ideas that seem nebulous and hazy tend to take more definite form when we must express them in words.
The second major benefit is that once we face an issue and resolve it, by writing it down we have access to the thoughts that helped us with our resolution. Then if a similar issue crops up later, we need only go back and review where we have already been and see if the application of the same solution will work for the new problem. In this way we can save ourselves from having to fight the same battles over and over.
A journal is like footprints in the sand. They help us to see where we have been and help us trace how we have gotten to where we are. They help us follow how our understanding has grown and evolved, and if we find ourselves off track can show us where we went wrong and help us find our way again.