I love journals. Any kind of notebooks, really. And planners. I buy journals all the time, even if I don’t need them. I can always find a use for them. I currently have about 4 different journaling projects going — not counting notes for actual writing projects — and it’s great having a separate journal for each one. So if you also love journals, or are just looking for some journaling exercises for self improvement, try the ideas below.

1. Keep a gratitude journal. This is a great practice for so many reasons. First of all, if you’re looking to manifest more of what you want in your life, the best way to do so is to project an attitude of gratitude for what you already have. When the universe sees that you’re projecting gratitude, it will send you more things to be grateful for.

Also, keeping a regular gratitude journal really opens your eyes to the abundance around you and helps make you truly grateful for what you have. My husband has a tendency to say that we’re broke, and I always try to correct him. There are so many people in the world who would look at what we have — a beautiful home, cars to take us to work and school, food in the fridge, a savings account and retirement plans — and think that we are truly rich. And we are. One of my very earliest blog posts from 2008 contained this quote:

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep … you are richer than seventy-five percent of the people in the world.

If you have money in the bank and in your wallet and spare change in a dish … you are among the top eight percent of the world’s wealthy.

Try it. Take a few minutes at the end of every day and write down 5 things you are grateful for. You may be surprised at what a difference it makes in your outlook.

2. Write down your goals. I cover this at length in my post, How to set (and achieve goals). Writing down your goals daily programs them into your subconscious, so your brain can work on them even when you’re not consciously thinking about them. Try it. You’ll be amazed at the opportunities that present themselves.

3. Keep a brag book. This is one you might not write in as often, but it’s great to have on hand. I started keeping a record of my accomplishments a few years ago, and it’s a great tool to help give you a boost when you’re feeling down or you’re doubting your abilities. For mine, I included comments from my college writing professors, feedback from clients, and accomplishments from both college and my professional life. Sometimes it’s easy to forget everything you’ve done and how awesome you are. Give yourself a reminder.

4. Create an imaginary bank account. This is an idea I got from the book Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires, which is all about, well, manifesting your desires. This is a great book but the freak factor might be pretty high if you aren’t already familiar with the concepts of metaphysics. The first half of the book is all about the law of attraction and the second half is a bunch of exercises, or processes, that you can do to attract more abundance into your life.

This one is a process they call the Prosperity Game. On the first day, write $1,000 at the top of a page in your journal, and then write down all the ways you would spend this $1,000. Go ahead and spend it all, because on the next day, you’re going to deposit $2,000 in your imaginary bank account and spend it. Every day, double the amount you receive. In doing so, you will exercise your imagination and send positive vibrations and thoughts of abundance out into the universe.

Know of any other great uses for journals? Leave a comment! And go find yourself a cute journal on Etsy.