How to use journaling to track your self improvement goals

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We may all love the idea of self improvement, to become someone we are not, a slightly better version of ourselves. But without concrete goals, the idea of self improvement stays just that, an idea.

Setting goals for your own self improvement and then tracking those goals is an essential way to achieve any change that you want to see in your life.

Journaling is an excellent way to write for your self improvement

This blog post outlines ways in which you can create your own self improvement plan. Once you have created the plan you can decide on any time frame you want.

Self improvement doesn’t have to take years, you can set yourself a much shorter time frame if you want to. Just get going, create your own plan and see how your life can transform.

Here, then is a simple framework which you can use to create your own self improvement plan.

Adapt it for yourself, personalise it in whatever way you need, and enjoy!

Before you get going you may also like to read other blog posts that we think you will enjoy if you like this one. Here are a few:

10 Health benefits of journaling and easy exercises to try

How to journal your way to success by creating goal affirmations

How to transform your life with 144 thought provoking journal prompts

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A great big think aka brainstorm

Think about what you want to improve and what kind of self improvement you want to see. That’s obvious. But don’t put yourself under pressure.

Try and catch yourself thinking. So you could go for a walk and just think about anything … and then realise that what you are thinking about is how you love your job but you don’t want to work 5 days a week and actually you are quite bored of what you are doing and would like a new challenge. Now you have something worth working on.

Don’t brainstorm and write down goals you think you should want to aspire to. Self improvement is about improving yourself, not someone else. It could be as simple as, “I only want to drink coffee in the morning, I want to stop drinking coffee all day”. Use your ‘big think’ time to work out what you really want rather than what you think a magazine would write about what you want.

For example ‘I want to get running again because when I make the effort I love being outside and moving my body, I just need to find a way that actually gets me outside.’ That’s an idea that’s personal to you. You don’t have to have ‘run a marathon’ as a goal when what you really want is ‘develop a habit to run without talking myself out of it’.

Start yours self improvement plan with journaling

The start of your self improvement plan journal is to write everything down. Before you even think about the plan, write down all the thoughts from your great big think. Do as many great big thinks as you need, until you really feel like you are developing some ideas for yourself that are personal to you.

You can also use journaling to think. Just get writing. Use journaling prompts to get your brain thinking.

Don’t limit your thoughts

At this stage don’t limit your thoughts. Just keep thinking and writing.

Using journaling to take you from an idea to a plan

Once you have spent time working out what self improvement means to you, and you have journaled those thoughts and have them written down you can move on.

But make sure, before you move on, that you have spent enough time really addressing what it is that you really want to improve, because if that goal isn’t strong enough and personal enough you won’t achieve it.

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Create categories

Go through your journal and write a list of areas that you have identified for self improvement.

Can you divide those areas into categories? Are some of them work related, some of them home related, some of them sports related, some of them creative related? List them out in category format.

How to prioritise your self improvement ideas

You won’t be able to work on all areas of your self improvement at once. So, review your list and pick one, maybe two at the most, topics that you are going to work on now.

Don’t think that you can sneakily address all elements at once. Pick the one that attracts you the most, the one that you really want to work on.

Decide on your time frame

Having picked your self improvement goal, let’s get more specific about it.

In your journal, write out all the ways, for example using a mind map, that you can approach this self improvement goal.

For example if it is a weight loss goal write out all the different types of diet you could undertake, write out foods you definitely want to eat, food you don’t want to eat. Write out how you want to feel while you are losing weight, journal mantras and affirmations that you want to think while you are losing weight.

Journal what you are going to wear when you have lost the weight, how you will be different when you have lost the weight and how you will be the same.

This is an important step because you will use these thoughts to return to when the going gets tough and you want to throw the towel in and eat doughnuts, drink hot chocolate and veg out in front of the tv instead of exercising.

Create an individual self improvement plan

Now that you have your self improvement goal and you have identified all the thoughts around that goal, you can create your own plan.

Use your journal to create tables, calendars, time sheets, day charts that will be personal to you and help you to achieve your self improvement goal. If you have picked an exercise goal, create an exercise table and tick off the day each time you perform your exercise.

Create a daily journal section specifically to journal around your exercise routine. This will help you understand yourself so much better. After all the purpose of self improvement is to get to know yourself better.

Monitoring progress

In your journal, once you have set your goal, create space to monitor progress. Weight loss is an easy one to monitor. You can create a graph of your weight loss or a list of each week and what you weigh. If you have chosen a goal such as learning a new language you can monitor what stages you reach and when eg are you learning one chapter a week from a book?

Are you learning 20 new words of vocabulary each week? Are you learning to write in another language and can you monitor how many words you write each week in that language? Whatever it is that you are doing, decide how you will monitor it and create tables and charts in your journal that help you monitor better.

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Arriving at your destination

Achieving any form of self improvement is a great milestone, so congratulations when you get there.

Use your journal to spur you on to your next goal. Now that you have a written record of a personal self improvement journey you can move on to another goal knowing that you know yourself better, that you have a better understanding of how you face challenges, how you deal with boredom and how you use different tips and techniques to motivate yourself to stay with the program.

Equipped with both a successful goal attainment plus a written record of how you achieved that goal you can now set out and achieve a new goal. Good luck!

It might be interesting to see how other people create self improvement plan systems. Here is one from the Glass Hammer:

Additional resources

Below are 3 different self improvement plans from different writers/websites that you can incorporate into your own plan

1. 7 steps to writing your own simple self improvement plan

This list is courtesy of the Glass Hammer.


Divide goals into categories

Review goals

Focus on a single goal

Find the ‘how’

Take stock of your situation

Take action to actualise your goals

2. 7 steps to writing your own simple self-improvement plan

Here is a 7 step plan from The Facile Things.


Analyse your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities (that sounds dull)

Clearly define your goals

Prioritise your goals

Set milestones

Design an action plan

Review progress

3. Self-improvement: Your ultimate guide from Tony Robbins

Finally here is a list of how to create your own self-improvement guide by Tony Robbins

Define areas of self-improvement

Identify objectives

Establish your purpose

Break down your limiting beliefs

Set smart goals

Track and celebrate your progress

Get inspired

Master a new skill

Themed journals for self improvement

Don’t limit yourself to just writing a straight journal. You can write themed journals for self improvement which can prove really effective. Examples of themed journals you can create are:

Goals journal

Daily journal

Gratitude journal

Stress, fear, pain, anxiety journal

Problem-solving journal

Plus don’t forget self improvement journal prompts

Prompts are an amazingly simple way of being able to immediately engage you brain. Examples of prompts for your self improvement journal are:

  1. What are your goals?
  2. What energizes you?
  3. What is your best habit? Your worst?
  4. What are your biggest time wasters?
  5. Did you do something nice today?

For further reading we recommend:

10 easy journaling ideas that will take you 5 minutes

How to improve your executive function: 10 journal organization ideas

Work bullet journal spreads: How to achieve any goal

Finally, let me tell you a little bit about Wardrobe Journaling. It is the process I have created that helps you understand yourself better through journaling and through thinking about the clothes you wear and your own unique personality. There are lots of Wardrobe Journaling blog posts available on this site. There is also the entirely unique Wardrobe Journaling course. If you want to take a step further into your own self development and self care this is a great, gentle but powerful course to take.

Have a great day!


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