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What To Include In Your Journal

January 16, 2013

by Kerry Kilpatrick

“My most essential possession is a standard sized school notebook…I write down all the comments made to me, notes of all telephone conversations and meeting, drafts of letter and list of calls to make.” from the book Richard Branson – Losing my virginity

You begin to see certain recurring elements while reading the journals of the greats. When they are used to pave the way to greatness they contain much more than a recap of the days activities. The list below is certainly not exhaustive but it is a great beginning for anyone who wants to keep a journal but doesn’t know what to include in one:

  • Dated entries – always include day, month and year for a chronological record that is invaluable upon later review.
  • Questions – writing out the questions on your mind is often the first step to getting them answered.
  • Affirmations – start with “I am” and then insert a positive statement or trait about yourself. For example: “I am learning new skills daily.”
  • Thoughts – they evolve as you learn and grow and it’s fascinating to watch their progression upon subsequent review of your journals.
  • Ideas – no matter how silly they may seem, write them down. With ideas quantity equals quality. It’s hard to develop high quality ideas if you’re not generating lots of ideas. If only 1 out of 100 is a great idea, you still have to come up with the 99 that are not great.
  • Action steps – if you want to get something done, write it down.
  • Observations – as you write what you observe about your life and thoughts, you will notice yourself becoming more observant – a powerful trait!
  • Notes – from any meetings, lecture or readings.
  • People – who you met, their contact information, any pertinent personal info like spouse’s name, hobbies, etc.
  • Books – their titles, author, ideas inspired during reading, a short recap or critique, character names. When you review this at a later date it will cement the book more firmly in your memory.
  • Inspirational quotes – great way to rekindle your passion when you’re having a down day.
  • Important facts – what you write down you remember more clearly.
  • Goals – successful people have written goals – period!
  • Desires – be clear about what you want in life
  • Appreciation – what are you thankful for TODAY!
  • Morning thoughts – when your conscious mind takes a break during sleep, your subconscious mind continues to work freely. Capture any resulting ideas before you do anything else or they will be forgotten.
  • Brainstorms – as you nurture your creativity with journaling you will often find yourself having a rush of ideas. Trap them as they occur and judge them later.
  • Legacy information – what’s going on in your life today? When one of your ancestors reads your journal the things that are humdrum to you will be very interesting to them.
  • Announcements – list any births, marriages, deaths or events that took place.
  • Milestones – what did you achieve today?
  • Goals met – celebrate when you meet your goals. Recognize your achievements!
  • Mind Clears – the thoughts that are on your mind can distract you. Trap them in your journal and then move on with a clear mind and better focus.
  • Drawings – exercise your right brain – draw something!
  • Illustrations – help develop your ideas by illustrating them with a graphic, a matrix or a diagram.
  • Explanations – make known what you were thinking or why you did something. It will help you understand yourself.
  • Problems – listing a problem is often the first step in solving it.
  • Vision – what do you see in the future for your job, career, family or life? Powerful visions propel!
  • Appointments – where you need to go, who you need to see and what you need to do. Your chances for success greatly increase when you write things down.
  • Reminders – your memory will improve and you won’t forget that which is important enough to write down
  • Thought flashes – trap it instantly and analyze or build on it later. Don’t let it become lost, it may change your life!
  • Idea building blocks – ideas are often not complete until, like links in a chain, they are fitted together with other small ideas and become powerful!
  • What you learned – what became clear to you today? What do you know now that you didn’t yesterday?

Do you have a journal success story? Please share it with me at


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