In the most technical sense, a journal is a log of events in chronological order. Students, professionals and individuals keep journals. For the professional they are used to keep track of their progress. For the student it may be simply for a grade. Journals hold many items such as ideas, notes, thoughts, emotions and details of events. Dreams and hopes are often recorded in journals. This is why there are so many different types of journals.
Personal journal writing is the most intimate of all types. Inside a personal journal one would find emotions, hopes, disappointments, frustrations and events to name a few. Some call personal journals diaries so they are easily distinguished from other types of journals. Diaries are mainly an account of daily activities and personal experiences during those activities.
Similar to a diary, the reflective journal documents experiences and events but that is where the similarities diverge. A reflective journal goes much deeper than just writing. There is a point to reflective journals. They are used to gain understanding and growth within the experiences. Self-reflection and self-exploration are key components to a reflective journal. Learning how to gain greater awareness through our experiences by observation, contemplation and writing these thoughts out in detail.
Many times family stores are recorded in a reflective journal because these experience prompt thoughts and emotions not normally recorded in an average diary. Instead of writing a daily chronicle that outlines activities you would write about what happened at some earlier point in your life. You could even write about what happened to someone else or something you witnessed so as to explore you thoughts on those issues.
Bottom line is reflective journals are meant to provide hindsight and feedback an experience you have had. They are intended to assist you to grow and learn. When we strive to understand ourselves we find a greater understanding of others.
The beginning of a new year is a great time to begin a reflective journal because we are all remembering the past year while making new years resolutions for the upcoming year.
Focused journals are just that. . .focused. Some types of a focused journal would be a prayer journal, an art journal or a food journal. These types are for specific purposes. They are useful for obvious reasons, but are also very detailed journals.
Many journal writers tend to incorporate all types of styles in one journal without even knowing they are doing this. A journal does not have to be one specific type, but many do use different types at the same time. Do not limit yourself when you sit down to journal. Just sit down and write and enjoy the journey.