Keeping a journal is a wonderful activity for your personal growth and an excellent tool for spiritual reflection. It forces you to reflect on your life regularly. It becomes more obvious where your challenges lie when you have to put your experiences down on paper, and be mindful of your thoughts and actions.\r\n\r\nQur'an journaling has taken off in a big way where key meanings and lessons are broken down in a visual mind map or artful way in order to revise and learn efficiently. Similarly, a life journal can also help evaluate the key lessons of your life and make sense of the chaos around you, unpacking the meaningful moments of life. As Muslims, Allah has told us that we should help ourselves by making an active effort in reflecting on our own selves, our lives and our surroundings with a view to better ourselves.\r\n<h2 style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>\u201cVerily Allah will not change the condition of a people as long as they do not change what is with themselves."<\/strong> [Qur'an 13:11<\/em><\/h2>\r\n \r\n\r\nIt can also serve as a great way to record your life and see how you\u2019ve grown over the years. You might be surprised three years from now when you look back on today.\r\n\r\nIt can be tough to get started: what do you write about? Should you use a notebook, word processor or something fancy like a leather-bound journal?\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n<strong>These tips can help you get started:<\/strong>\r\n<ol>\r\n \t<li><strong>Choose your medium. <\/strong>It really doesn\u2019t matter where you record your life; all have their advantages and disadvantages. Just choose something that works for you. Notebooks do tend to be a better choice. Many of us spend all day typing away on our computers. Journaling in a notebook gives you a chance to manually write something. It seems more sacred to write with our own hand. Computers can also be distracting; you might sit down to do your journaling and end up surfing the Internet.<\/li>\r\n<\/ol>\r\n<ol start="2">\r\n \t<li><strong>Keep it short.<\/strong> Of course, you can write as much as you want. But if you keep it short, you\u2019ll be a lot more likely to do it regularly. Even just a few bullet points can be enough to capture the essence of what happened in your day.<\/li>\r\n \t<li><strong>Set a schedule.<\/strong> If you use a notebook, keep it by your bed or the coffee pot; that way you won\u2019t miss it. Set a reminder on your computer. It makes more sense to do it at the end of the day as you reflect on your day, but any time is better than never. Choose a time and stick to it.<\/li>\r\n \t<li><strong>Never miss more than one day.<\/strong> Things come up, and it\u2019s easy to miss a day here and there. If you miss more than one day in a row, you might wind up missing five days before you know it. Be consistent. It can be difficult to go back and fill in the blanks at a later date.\u00a0If you do forget and skip a couple of days, rely on your records. You can look back at your calendar or planner and your emails to jog your memory about how the days were spent.<\/li>\r\n<\/ol>\r\n<ol start="5">\r\n \t<li><strong>Track your progress toward your goals.<\/strong> List the things that are most relevant to you at the time. For example, if you\u2019re trying to lose weight, mention related victories, missteps, and your weight fluctuations. If you\u2019re trying to earn an extra \u00a31,000 this month, keep a running tally of your progress.<\/li>\r\n \t<li><strong>Keep your journal private and secure. <\/strong>If you believe that someone else might see it, you might be hesitant to be completely open when writing in it. This is one area that computers really shine; with a decent password, it would take the CIA to get into your journal. A simple locked drawer can work well, too.<\/li>\r\n<\/ol>\r\nBefore you know it, you\u2019ll have a shelf full of your journal entries. Consider that writing just half of a page each day would be over 3,000 pages in 10 years!\r\n\r\nJournaling is an excellent way to record your life and track your progress. Think about how interesting it would be to read your current entries 10 or even 50 years from now. You might even want to give your journals to your children someday. Begin your journal today. A life worth living is a life worth recording!\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nAlongside keeping a record of your life, it can also be useful for helping to find solutions to life\u2019s challenges.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n<b>Consider these benefits of keeping a journal, especially in preparation for Ramadan:<\/b>\r\n\r\n \r\n<ol>\r\n \t<li><strong>A journal creates focus.<\/strong> Few of us really take the time to examine our lives. We commonly feel that we either don\u2019t have the time, it won\u2019t be beneficial, or it\u2019s simply too uncomfortable. By regularly making an appointment with yourself to work with your journal, you can create the necessary focus to make positive changes in your life. You can list all the areas you want to improve for your self, your acts of worship and how you can create the peace you need.<\/li>\r\n \t<li><strong>A journal forces you to see the truth.<\/strong> We\u2019re all amazing at fooling and distracting ourselves, but when the truth is right before our eyes in black and white, there\u2019s no place to hide. When you put pen to paper, sometimes it's like the pen has a mind of its own and the truth comes pouring out. This is the first step to awareness and spiritual healing.<\/li>\r\n \t<li><strong>A journal releases stress.<\/strong> There\u2019s something cathartic about getting your thoughts on paper. Reducing your stress also creates a more effective state of mind for solving challenges. Writing can be a huge relief, diffusing negative energies and letting out any doubt, worry, anger or anxiety. This will then lead to focussing on the positives and becoming more productive.<\/li>\r\n \t<li><strong>A journal provides a means of measuring progress and growth.<\/strong> Have you ever seen a friend\u2019s child and noticed how much they\u2019ve grown? You wouldn\u2019t notice the growth if you saw that child every day. Our own personal growth is similar. Reading back, you can see how and why certain things happened and the connections between them. It gives you insight into the patterns of your life and relationships, giving you a birds-eye view of your life. Small changes aren\u2019t noticed when you\u2019re exposed to them daily. A journal provides a way of looking back and seeing just how far you\u2019ve come.<\/li>\r\n<\/ol>\r\n \r\n<h2 style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>\u201cAnd on the earth are signs for those who have Faith with certainty, and also in your own selves. Will you not then see?\u201d<\/strong> [Qur'an 51:20-21]<\/em><\/h2>\r\n \r\n\r\n<strong>Use your journal to solve challenges:<\/strong>\r\n\r\n \r\n<ol>\r\n \t<li><strong>Record your thoughts about the challenges you\u2019re facing.<\/strong> Find a quiet place. What is the fundamental issue? How does it make you feel? How would your life improve if you were able to get this challenge fully under control?<\/li>\r\n \t<li><strong>Keep a list of possible solutions.<\/strong> Over the course of several days, your mind can provide dozens of possible solutions. Record them for future reference. Avoid being judgmental. Simply record the ideas that pop into your head.<\/li>\r\n \t<li><strong>Develop an action plan.<\/strong> Eventually, one idea will stand above the rest. If you find yourself torn between multiple options, do whatever it takes to make a decision. Even flipping a coin is better than remaining indecisive. Start your action plan with small steps that are simple and easy to accomplish. A little momentum can be invaluable.<\/li>\r\n \t<li><strong>Record your progress.<\/strong> Record the actions that you took each day to overcome the obstacle in your life. Also record your thoughts and feelings about your progress. If you can make yourself feel good about the process, success is much more likely.\u00a0Acknowledge improvement, no matter how small.<\/li>\r\n<\/ol>\r\n<ol start="5">\r\n \t<li><strong>Look for dissonance.<\/strong> Everyone is self-sabotaging to varying degrees. Record your thoughts and behaviours that are creating resistance to your progress. For example, if you need to lose 12 kilos but you\u2019re eating ice cream every day, that\u2019s a behaviour that\u2019s not supporting your goal.<\/li>\r\n<\/ol>\r\n<ol start="6">\r\n \t<li><strong>Make journaling a daily habit. <\/strong>It\u2019s easy to let things slip through the cracks and create even bigger challenges if you don\u2019t write in your journal each day. Take advantage of this easy way to keep your life moving forward in a way that pleases you.<\/li>\r\n<\/ol>\r\n \r\n<h2 style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>\u201c...And has subjected to you all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth; it is all as a favour and kindness from Him. Verily, in it are signs for a people who think deeply.\u201d<\/strong> [Qur'an 45:12-13]<\/em><\/h2>\r\n \r\n\r\nA journal can be an effective way to create positive change in your life. Even if you\u2019re skeptical, give journaling a try for a few months and measure the improvement in your life. It is especially useful just before Ramadan, where you may reflect on the year passed and plan how you can use the month of Ramadan in preparation for a spiritual awakening, reconnecting your relationship with Allah by being mindful every day.