How To Use Journaling To Create Goals

Author - Mari L. McCarthy
Published - January 13, 2017

By Debra Eckerling

Deb Headshot 2016.jpgAre you having trouble honing in on your goals for the year? Try what I call directed journaling.

This is when you ask yourself specific questions and answer them via free-writing in your journal. This process works with just about any situation. It’s much easier to figure something out when it’s on paper … and outside of your head.

Here’s how to do it:


  1. Schedule several (five to seven) 15-minute journaling sessions over the course of two weeks. Put these in your electronic calendar so you get reminders.
  1. During these sessions, make a running list of personal and professional goals. Put everything you want to achieve in the same notebook or computer document. These should be long-term, short-term, easy, stretch, dream goals, and everything in between. They can be in any order and it’s totally okay to repeat yourself.
  1. Do not read any of your entries.
  1. Once you have completed your sessions, read your lists straight through and note common themes. What goals do you keep mentioning? Are there any you put in all caps and underline? Is there something in there you have always wanted to do and keep putting off?
  1. Now, write down your top three to five long-term professional and personal goals.
  1. Underneath each long-term goal, write a few short-term goals that will help you achieve it.
  1. Take out your calendar and assign deadlines for your goals. Give yourself tasks each week that will help move you forward. You can even note rewards you will receive after you reach certain benchmarks. 
  1. Schedule time each week to put toward your goals. Even an hour a week – one hour-long appointment, two half-hour appointments, or four 15-minute appointments – will add up at the end of the year.
  1. Post your goals somewhere you will see them every day, or at least once a week. This will help keep you motivated and moving forward. 
  1. Re-evaluate your goals monthly – or at least quarterly – to see if you are on track. Adjust if necessary.

January is the most obvious time to set goals. However, you can go through this process whenever you feel the need. You constantly evolve, and your goals can and should evolve with you.

What are your goals for the month? For the year? Please share in the comments. You can also post and report on weekly goals on the Write On Online Facebook page. Good luck. And, remember, you can do it!

Project Catalyst Debra Eckerling works with individuals and small businesses to strategize, set goals, and manage their projects. She is the creator of Write On Online, a website and community for writers. Debra is the author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. She is also the host of the Guided Goals Podcast, an editor for Social Media Examiner, and co-producer of #140conf.

If you want to learn how journaling can help you tackle life's challenges and achieve your goals, please download the free eBook, The Journaling Guide to Manage The Stress and Strains of Life 

Do you ever feel like you're just spinning your wheels and not getting anything done? Our self-paced journaling course, Goal Getting in 7 Days,  will help you nail down what you want, determine the steps you need to take to get to where you want to go, and get motivated to work on achieving your dreams every day. 

Goal Getting in 7 Days - Self Paced Journaling Course

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