Take Ownership of Your Goals: Goal Journaling for Overthinkers

So, you would love to take your personal growth efforts up a notch and achieve some amazing life goals, but you don’t know where to start? Goal journaling is the perfect way to get organized and stay on track.

If you’re an overwhelmed overthinker who has a sneaking suspicion that success just isn’t meant for you, I want to assure you that’s definitely not true!

In this post, we’ll discuss how to use goal journaling as a vital part of your approach to goal achievement. This goes right along with my tips for powerful goal-setting — which are pretty much all written for people just like you (and me)!

Text take ownership of your goals with a goal journal on white background over faded image of open journals and coffee cup on wood table.

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How Overthinking Can Interfere With Goals

You know that feeling of being stuck in your own head and not being able to move forward? Overthinking can make it hard to decide on ANYTHING when it comes to goals. 

Overthinking causes us to second-guess and question our decisions, throwing us into a spiral of doubt. Instead of taking decisive action, we get stuck in a loop of constant thought. We’re unable to stop thinking and start doing.

In fact, you may even be hesitant to TRY setting goals because you’ve never been able to achieve any success.

Instead, we spend our time endlessly planning or doing inefficient busy work without getting any closer to achieving our goals. Lack of clarity means we remain stuck in a cycle of indecision and stagnation, often with a sad dose of negative self-talk thrown into the mix.

This makes it difficult to achieve any real progress.  

Understanding Goal Journaling

First, it’s important to wrap your head around the idea that there are four quintessential elements of success when setting and pursuing your goals: clarity, strategy, execution, and resilience. When you put a plan in place with all of these things, even overthinkers can move into action — AND achievement.

There are actually several parts to successfully achieving a goal:

  • Goal setting (what + why) = Clarity
  • Goal planning (how) = Strategy
  • Motivation for action = Execution
  • Overcoming challenges = Resilience

You may feel overwhelmed just looking at that list. Your brain might be going into overdrive and telling you that you could never make it through that entire process.

OR — you’re so excited that you spend an entire day doing ALL of the things to completely plan out a BUNCH of goals to work on at once.

And then it’s all too much and you don’t do any of it.

That’s where goal journaling comes into the picture!

What Is Goal Journaling?

Coffee with heart design and open journal on woodgrain table with a muted, calm feel.

Goal journaling is a great way to focus your thoughts and set yourself up for success. It’s a strategic approach to working toward your goals by helping you clarify what you truly want, prioritize what takes precedence, and craft a plan of action.

Through goal journaling you can create specific objectives, determine which are the most important TO YOU, break them into smaller tasks, and even give yourself deadlines. Plus you can use it to write about and track your progress over time.

Goal journaling provides much more than just writing down your dreams on paper — although that IS important, since studies have shown that people who describe their goals in great detail are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to succeed.

Taking the time to practice goal journaling encourages reflecting on your personal values and deciding what YOU want to achieve in life. It can also help build resilience to keep pushing forward even when you face adversity or roadblocks along the way.

Benefits Of Goal Journaling For Overthinkers

By using goal journal prompts to gain clarity on your goals, break them down into manageable steps, and focus on positive thoughts and forward progress, you’ll be better equipped to move past your overthinking and take control of your future.

Plus, writing things down is a great way to organize your thoughts and stop them from swirling around in your head quite so much. Once they’re in front of your face, it’s easier to decide whether to discard those thoughts now or save them to look back at later for motivation or inspiration when needed.

Finally, goal journaling can help you feel better about the goals you choose to set because you’ll consider the ‘why’ behind each objective.

If you’re an overthinker looking for a way to get unstuck and reach your goals, this might sound really ‘nice’ — but you’re not sure whether or not it would actually work for you.

I get it! It can feel intimidating, but keep reading because we’re going to talk about how to make it all work…

How To Get Started With Goal Journaling

Vivid illustration representing an open goal journal on multi-color background.

Honestly, there really aren’t ever any rules when it comes to any kind of journaling. You can just grab a notebook and start writing or making lists. But if you’re completely at a loss about how to begin, we’ll cover a few basics:

Choosing The Right Type Of Journal For You

Choosing the right goal journal doesn’t have to be complicated. By trusting your own instincts and preferences, you can easily find a product that will work best for you.

Remember, this doesn’t have to be a permanent choice! You can always change your goal journal as you get more comfortable with the process of goal journaling and how you want to personalize the experience for yourself.

Think about what would be most beneficial to you – do you want bullet points or space for large blocks of text? A lined journal or blank pages? Preprinted prompts or infinite creative possibilities? Ask yourself what would help keep your thoughts organized and inspire creativity.

Consider how much information you want in one journal. If you’re aiming to just get the hang of this and want to practice for a while, a medium-size, inexpensive notebook may be best. But if your goals require longer-term tracking, opt for something larger with plenty of pages.

The design of your journal should reflect your personality and bring joy to your goal-setting journey so choose colors and materials that make you WANT to use it. 

My suggestion is to NOT choose a very expensive journal that you’ll be afraid to ‘mess up’ at first. It’s better to start out with something simple like an inexpensive composition notebook than to buy a beautiful journal that you’re afraid to use.  

Whether you decide on a standalone goal journal or decide to practice the process in a notebook or your current daily planner, there’s really no wrong way to start. Whatever helps keeps the focus on achieving success is right for you!

Tips For Successful Goal Journaling 

I have an entire set of goal journal prompts that are perfect to start out using in your goal journal. They provide a powerful way to get clear about what you want to achieve and how to move forward with your goals. 

But for overthinkers, sometimes it can be difficult to use them without overthinking the prompts themselves — or giving in to the temptation to spend more time journaling and planning than DOING.

To avoid this, here are some tips:

  • Start by committing to goal journaling every day — but always set a timer before you even pick up the pen. Once you get the hang of things, it’s best to spend only about 5-15 minutes doing this type of journaling each day.
  • Take some deep breaths before writing anything down. This helps clear your mind and set your intentions for your journaling session.
  • Keeping the goal journal prompts simple is key. When trying to avoid overthinking, focus on one prompt at a time and answer it as directly as possible.
  • Think of the goal journal prompts as more of a guide than an end-all-be-all document. Use them to get inspired, but don’t feel like you have to stay completely within the bounds. Your goal journal is YOUR tool to use in whatever way helps you the most.
  • Keep your answer relevant and straightforward. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but should still provide enough information for you to take action based on what you’ve written down.
  • Use action words in your responses. Don’t just make a list of ‘shoulds’ — you might find better success with a single ‘I will…’ statement.
  • After each journaling session, you should come away with one clear action to take.

The idea here with starting a goal journal is to break down big tasks into smaller steps. But not ALL the steps for ALL the big tasks for ALL the goals at once. Focus only on each step at a time, so it’s feasible for your brain.

In the next section, we’ll dive into more details about what to write in your journal so you can get started with confidence!

What To Write In A Goal Journal

Coffee and open journals with pen on woodgrain table.

Writing in a goal journal can keep you focused and motivated on achieving your goals. Of course you’ll want to start out with a lot of brainstorming about the things you want to do, your core values, etc.

As you move through the process, you’ll begin creating a roadmap for each goal, making an action plan that evolves as you work toward success.

But goal journaling doesn’t just end there. It’s a place to record your progress, noting successes, failures, and improvements. Note what works for and against you, the lessons you’ve learned, and how these can be applied to the next attempt.

Chart your personal growth and reflect on any changes — from the forces influencing change outside of you as well as changes within yourself.

By periodically reflecting on your own journey in writing, you become less likely to forget important events or key details — allowing you to trust that ALL of those thoughts and ideas are documented somewhere safe and you don’t have to worry about carrying everything around in your head.

A goal journal is also an excellent place for writing out inspirational and motivational quotes or thought-provoking questions to truly get a better understanding of where you want to direct your energies.

Your goal journal should become something that feeds your soul AND gives you insight into your future success.

When starting out, I like to work with my goal journal prompts. I’ve broken them down into four sections — goal setting, goal planning, motivation for action, and overcoming challenges.

They’re great for giving structure to the goal process, and next we’ll briefly talk about why it’s important to write about each of these areas in your goal journal…

The Purpose Of Goal Setting Journal Prompts

Goal-setting journal prompts can help you consider what personal goals and professional goals you want to set and the ‘why’ behind each goal. This is the ‘clarity’ element.

Not all goals are created equal… and that’s okay!

Some goals just might be harder to achieve than others. Your ‘why’ will help you decide how to prioritize your goals and determine your reasons for choosing which goal to focus on at a time.

Sometimes you’ll want to focus on challenging goals, and other times you’ll decide to knock out a good list of micro-goals.

Keep that in mind as you work through the goal setting process.

Now, let’s look at goal planning…

Why You Need To Plan Your Goals

Illustration of open journal and pen on bright multi-color background.

Writing down your goals is a great way to make decisions about what goals to focus on and why. But how do you make sure that you’re taking steps to reach those goals?

That’s where goal-planning journal prompts come in! They help you determine a strategy for how to approach working toward your goals.

With goal-planning, you can identify specific actions for each step of your plan that will eventually create a roadmap to reach your desired outcome.

By breaking down bigger goals into smaller tasks, goal-planning can make it easier to focus on what needs to be done and stay on top of your progress.

But what about overthinkers? Remember to keep things simple and basic! Plan out actions for a single step at a time and don’t expect to complete everything in record time.

In the next section, we’ll look at journaling for staying motivated…

Journaling To Stay Motivated

If you’re an overthinker, it can be tough to stay focused and motivated as you work on the execution of your goals. Journal prompts for motivation can help you get back on track if you get lost in the weeds of overthinking or self-doubt.

This kind of journaling includes goal tracking, analyzing what’s working, etc. 

You’re much more likely to remain motivated on the road of reaching your dream when you have a full understanding of exactly where it’s leading you. Plus, being able to look at past successes and timelines from within your journal will give you the confidence boost needed to stay focused and reach the finish line!

Now, let’s explore how goal journaling can help you overcome the challenges you’ll encounter on your goal progress…

Overcoming Goal Challenges With Journaling

If there’s one thing I know to be true, it’s that there are ALWAYS challenges on the road to achieving goals. And being an overthinker, it’s really easy to let those challenges — or often, just the THOUGHT of all the things that ‘could’ go wrong — stop my progress.

While I’m not always successful at first with busting through those brain blocks, I’ve learned a lot over the years about using this part of goal journaling. It’s a way to build resilience that keeps me going even when things aren’t progressing the way I had hoped.

Goal journaling can help you anticipate and prevent some of the usual issues that have stopped your goal progress in the past. These prompts can also help you work through your thoughts and feelings about challenges AND come up with intentional thoughts and actions to keep you moving forward despite those obstacles.

In addition to my own goal journal prompts for building resilience, I also like to spend a couple of minutes every day working through a CTFAR self-coaching model for any goal-related resistance I might be feeling. I consider it to be part of progress journaling that is an absolute must for successful goal journaling.

More Goal-Getting Inspiration And Resources

The Goal Journey Annual Goal Planner — This printable goal planner is designed to streamline your goal-setting process, allowing you to focus on one goal at a time and adapt as life evolves. Get the extra stuff out of your head, let go of the regrets and ‘should-dos,’ and start accomplishing the goals that really matter to YOU.

The One Focus Method — This book contains expanded versions of my most inspirational posts on goal setting and achieving. It also helps you work on building the motivation to follow through on completing projects in short periods of time.

Living An Intentional Life: 7 Powerful Steps to Make It Happen

Productive Things To Do Over the Summer: Make Your Goals a Reality

How to Use a Dreams and Goals Worksheet to Begin Goal Setting {Free Printable}

Concluding Thoughts…

Goal journaling for overthinkers is an incredibly powerful practice that allows your unfiltered thoughts a chance to breathe and explore. It gives you the time and space to assess different approaches to your goals while providing tangible insight into the actions you must take in order to achieve your long-term goals.

Whether you’re hoping to reach milestones on a personal or professional level, goal journaling can help you develop a trackable plan with achievable end results.

To get started with goal journaling, start small and don’t hesitate to change up the approach if something isn’t working the way you want it to. With each journaling session, notice the changes within yourself — the clarity, confidence, and strategic direction that comes from taking the time for yourself each day.

Goal journaling for overthinkers is about so much more than simply recording aspirations — it’s about embracing self-growth and intentional action as you Build Your Best Life.

You’ve got this!

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