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Uses and benefits of journal writing

Journal writing as an instructional or learning tool in adult education has gained cogency during the past three decades. As early as 1965, psychologist Ira Progoff and his colleagues began seeing the value of personal journals in enhancing growth and learning. Progoff believed what he called an “intensive journal process ” could “draw each person’s life toward wholeness at its own tempo. . . It systematically evokes and strengthens the inner capacities of persons by working from a non-medical vantage point and proceeding without analytic or diagnostic categories” (Progoff, 1975, p. 9).

There are a number of potential benefits for learners in maintaining some type of journal, diary, or log. For example, enhanced intellectual growth and development is achievable by most learners, especially as they gain more experience with the writing or recording procedures. However, as a teacher I have been pleased with how these learning tools can help learners in their personal development and ability to examine new knowledge in critical ways.

Personal Growth and Development.

Perhaps most important for the adult learner of all the benefits is the enhancement of personal growth and development. Journaling can help with such learning goals or expected outcomes as integrating life experiences with learning endeavors, allowing for a freedom of expression that may be inhibited in a group setting, stimulating mental development, enhancing breakthroughs in terms of new insights, and even planting seeds in terms of future study or research. Basically it is an investment in yourself through a growing awareness of personal thoughts and feelings.

Intuition and Self-Expression.

Another outcome, and one that is not always expected, is an enhanced ability at self-discovery. Learning to trust that inner voice and interpret new thoughts or even dreams can increase self-confidence not only in the classroom but in many other settings, too. For me there is almost nothing more satisfying than seeing learners tackle new topics because of their growing ability to personally reflect on changes taking place and integrate such new knowledge in an ever enhancing personal capability.

Problem Solving.

Utilizing a journaling technique often helps in the solution of problems. Writing down and imagining your way through a problem via personal insights and reflections on life experiences can be very rewarding. Often an epiphany will emerge that might not have been possible with some other problem solving technique. I recommend to my students engaged in one of the journaling procedures that they allow adequate time in their reflecting processes for new perspectives to emerge.

Stress Reduction and Health Benefits.

There is considerable evidence that journaling can improve various aspects of personal health. Bruce (1998) describes research with subjects who wrote thoughtfully and emotionally about traumatic experiences and most of them generally experienced improved physical health. Adams (1998) also talks about journaling as therapy for enhancing psychological healing and growth. Most adult education students may not need psychotherapy or medical recovery assistance, but some can use whatever helps them to release pent-up emotions, counter anger or frustration, and overcome or reduce the stress so typical in today’s busy work world and lifestyle.

Reflection/Critical Thinking.

This benefit has been discussed in various ways in prior descriptions of journaling procedures. However, it is important to make explicit the value of journaling in helping adult learners increase their ability to reflect critically on what they are studying or learning. The resulting outcomes from values clarification, finding meaning in what is being examined, and developing wholeness as a professional through critical judgements enhances not only the professional but also the profession.

Kilde: Hiemstra, Roger. "Uses and benefits of journal writing." New directions for adult and continuing education 2001.90 (2001): 19.

The Psychology Of Goal Setting

Goals play a dominant role in shaping the way we see ourselves and others. A person who is focused and goal-oriented is likely to have a more positive approach towards life and perceive failures as temporary setbacks, rather than personal shortcomings.
Tony Robbins, a world-famous motivational speaker, and coach had said that “Setting goals is the first step from turning the invisible to visible.”

Studies have shown that when we train our mind to think about what we want in life and work towards reaching it, the brain automatically rewires itself to acquire the ideal self-image and makes it an essential part of our identity. If we achieve the goal, we achieve fulfillment, and if we don’t, our brain keeps nudging us until we achieve it.

Psychologists and mental health researchers associate goals with a higher predictability of success, the reasons being:

Goals involve values

Effective goals base themselves on high values and ethics. Just like the S-M-A-R-T-E-R goals, they guide the person to understand his core values before embarking upon setting goals for success. Studies have shown that the more we align our core values and principles, the more likely we are to benefit from our goal plans (Erez, 1986).

Goals bind us to reality

A practical goal plan calls for a reality check. We become aware of our strengths and weaknesses and choose actions that are in line with our potentials. For example, a good orator should set goals to flourish as a speaker, while an expressive writer must aim to succeed as an author.
Realizing our abilities and accepting them is a vital aspect of goal-setting as it makes room for introspection and helps in setting realistic expectations from ourselves.

Goals call for self-evaluation

Successful accomplishment of goals is a clear indicator of our success. We don’t need validation from others once we have achieved the goals we set for ourselves. The scope of self-evaluation boosts self-confidence, efficacy, self-reliance, and gives us the motivation to continue setting practical goals in all subsequent stages of life.

Kilde: Roy Chowdhury, BA , M. (2019, 2. Maj). The Science & Psychology Of Goal-Setting 101.

Goal-setting: A Case Study

About two years ago, I taught Positive Psychology at UCLA to some eager and some (initially) bored undergraduates. Most of the 30 undergrads in my class were not psych majors. As a teacher, I had my own goals–the foremost being to increase students’ self-awareness, critical thinking, and successful pursuit of well-being.

Written Goals

The one resounding truth I knew, from my own study and disciplined practice was: being happy takes work. I explained to my students that there would be two positive interventions they would individually have to engage in each day–no matter how much they did or did not want to do them. This strict requirement was one I was choosing to force upon them for their own benefit–my own goal as their teacher being that they would learn how to make these interventions a regular part of their lives. They were instructed to begin these daily interventions the very next morning.

Each week I measured the students’ achievements. I came to find that students who set specific, difficult, and achievable goals which they believed were important, and who were also diligent about giving themselves feedback regarding the progress toward their goals achieved their goals 92% more often than those students who set unspecific, easy, or extrinsically motivated goals and/or did not check-in each night to record the progress they had made.

Goal-setting Works

I have been using an Intention Journal for 8 years–and it has worked wonders for me. Additionally, since the completion of the UCLA Positive Psychology class almost two years ago, I have received 24 letters from my former students. In each letter there was a mention of how setting specific, difficult, and attainable goals that were important to them had become a way of life–for they had experienced such positive results by being “forced” to record intentions for themselves each day.
The students seemed to realize that happiness does, in fact, take work and that achieving goals was an important factor that contributed to their happiness.

Kilde: VanSonnenberg, E. (2011, 3. Januar). READY, SET, GOALS!.