Personalized Journal or Diary

The use of a diary or journal by adults to enhance learning is not a new phenomenon. However, until the past couple of decades it has been confined primarily to people using the activity in conjunction with professional writing, for religious, psychological, or meditative reasons, or for personal pleasure. Beginning in 1965, Ira Progoff, a psychologist and therapist, and his colleagues began seeing the value of personal journals in enhancing personal growth and learning. He has written several books related to the topic of personal growth, but the one most directly related to the journal writing activity is entitled, At A Journal Workshop (1975). Christensen (1981), Gross (1977), and Rainer (1978) also talk about the diary as a learning tool for adults.

Journal or diary writing usually involves the regularized recording of personal feelings and reflections on a topic. Typically there are no set rules for writing the journal with the content, structure, and style left up to the writer. You are encouraged to look on the personal journal as a resource which facilitates your growth of self-awareness and self-reliance. Within the solitude of the blank page writers "can reflect on their life experience, contemplate future directions, and come to trust more deeply their own answers" (Christensen, 1981, p. 4).

It also is suggested that you use Progoff's book as a guide if you decide to work on a personalized journal. His method involves more than just a straight forward recording of thoughts about the subject or a set of readings. It calls for active dialogue and feedback by the journal writer in reflecting on what is being currently written as compared with what was written earlier.

A facilitator or mentor can be very important in the early stage of diary or journal writing. It is then that you may need someone off which to bounce ideas or to provide encouragement. In later stages a journal may become more personalized, maybe even personal, and you may be less desirous or in need of outside feedback. Simply regard this as a sign of personal growth.


Christensen, R. S. (1981). Dear diary -- a learning tool for adults. Lifelong Learning: The Adult Years, 5(2), 4-5, 23.

Gross, R. (1977). The lifelong learner. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Progoff, I. (1975). At a journal workshop. New York: Dialogue House Library.

Rainer, T. (1978). The new diary. Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher, Inc.

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