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Obianuju Ndaguba: How Journaling Changed My Life



I realized I haven’t gone through the content of this article, that I might as well add the clause “changed my life’ to the title, and if you keep reading, you will discover why, and how you too can change the way your life is going for the better.

I am no expert on psychology, neither will I categorize myself as an overachiever (at least not yet), but here is information for someone who for a while has been unsatisfied with his/her life and for another who has been thinking of how to live deliberately.

A few years back, in 2010, I had just gotten admission to study for my first degree. On one occasion, I had overheard someone speak about how she had accomplished 10 things she had written in her journal. What caught my attention was when she made this bold statement which I now understand. She said, “I am on the driver’s seat of my life!” That day, I bought my very first journal without truly understanding the purpose of it.

It was a mix of green and yellow and had a lock like those diaries we kept as kids to hide information we hoped no one would see. On the first page of the book, I wrote:

Dear Journal (or should this be written as dear diary)
Today, I bought you because I heard a girl talk about her accomplishments and how she had written them down in her journal years back and they came to life!!
coooooooooollllllll innit?
She sounded confident, like she knew so much but she looked like my mate if not younger.
And so i’m determined to start journaling everything I want to see in my life.
All I hope for is to be committed to accomplishing, but we will try right?”

This was how my journey into journaling began. I wrote deep stuff as well as dumb stuff but I never stopped writing. I exhausted all the pages of my journal, but I learned a huge lesson, how to write down my thoughts, my dreams and aspirations.

My next journal was more mature. It was a brown book, no padlocks and no keys, because I had become more confident in writing. This new journal reflected who I was evolving into. My life experiences were beginning to change because I was reading more in other to write more. One day, I wrote a journal entry:


I will deliver a TED TALK one day

That was all I wrote. I was inspired after watching a series of TED TALKS. I, too, wanted to grace the TED stage. I remember, one day, thinking of when it would happen Would I be living in Nigeria or abroad? How old would I be and what would I have accomplished? What in the world would I speak about?

February 2017, I delivered my first TED talk on “How Community Radio Can Change Rural Communities.

What are the odds that TED had decided to host an Idea Search in Nigeria and Chris Anderson (yup, the TED guy) was there. I had written it in my journal and so I thought about it a lot and it happened. Although, it happened 6 years later, but it happened.

It seems quite cheesy when I think about it now, but I wrote back then without thinking things through:

Married at 24! (it wasn’t even a proper Journal entry and had no date to it)
Complete BSc @ 20,
Complete Nysc @ 21
Msc 21-22
Started working at (………..)

To be frank (whoever he is), judging by the NYSC calendar, my school usually sent us out for NYSC in October, and if that happened, I would have gone for masters at 22, which meant waiting a whole year till September, which would have disrupted my plans. But guess what, my set was and still remains the only set that went for NYSC in August, and so by 22, I had finished MSc and was heading out to pursue plan no 4.

I met my husband at 19 and we got married at 24; when I think about it, we got married at the right time for both of us. Wait until I tell you how he easily ticked the boxes of what I had written down that I wanted in a husband, and how I didn’t even know this till I was neck deep into the relationship. I was careful not to call him my dream husband. I wanted him to be a realistic human that if you spoke with him, it wouldn’t have been hard to figure out why he had to be my partner.

The point of my story is simple, I had learned that you are very likely both consciously and unconsciously to channel your energy into the things you have written down. Somehow, your mind is alert and you are exposed to information that will lead you into achieving the goals you have set for yourself. Journaling should be as important as eating, it should be a key part of your life that it would be almost impossible not to write down what you were thinking.

You may ask, so did I accomplish everything I wrote down in the past? Well, no. But I can tell you that I understand what it means to be on the “driver’s seat of your life.”

My latest journal is one that has quotes on every page, so even if I have nothing to write at the moment, I still am inspired by a quote. Journaling also made me realize how much I wanted to write on other platforms where people all over the world would be able to read. I also wrote about how I wanted to write for BellaNaija and here we are.

The beautiful part of journaling is referring back to what you wrote recently or years back. I do that very often. It also makes me evaluate my life experience. It shows me how much I’ve grown and it makes me wonder what I was thinking when writing some unimaginable things.

My friend and I had a thought-provoking conversation with Wadi Ben-Hirki of the Wadi Ben-Hirki foundation recently. While we were talking, she brought out her journal and wrote down whatever she was thinking and said to us, “This might just be a million dollar idea.” Further down the discussion, she spoke of how she wrote down all she was learning from voluminous reading, watching documentaries, all the Holy Spirit was ministering to her, and deep thinking, and its no surprise to see her experience the world beyond limits.

Want to change your life? Start writing! You really never forget what you’ve written down and constantly refer to.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Obianuju has growing experience in Communications and PR. She has worked in communication across different industries. In 2017, Obianuju delivered a TED talk on "how communities can improve through radio". She writes about business, communication and gender-related issues.


  1. Jennietobbie

    November 12, 2018 at 12:03 am

    This is so powerful and I am a big fan of journaling. Started journaling 16 years ago and i still cannot believe it. My then “class husband” gifted me a Barbie journal and I have never stopped writing. It’s therapeutic for me. I have also evolved from just “I went to school today blah blah blah” to intentionally writing my dreams, goals and my journey with God,People and life. I have a new found love now for prayer journaling. It’s budding and I love it. I have also grown as a writer. The only thing I have to do that I learnt while reading this article is that I have read my journals. I don’t. It’s like a taboo for me ???because I don’t want to edit my thought when I write. But I look forward to digging up my many journals and basking in the pixelated words that reflect the different versions of my becoming ❤️?

    NB— I am always thrilled when I am gifted a new journal. Beyond excited like a cool kid in a candy store. ??‍♀️

  2. Tim Maudlin

    December 20, 2018 at 7:01 am

    I have seen the positive effects journaling had on my son this past year while he was away from us. It was important component of his therapy. I’ve been sharing his story to encourage others to give journaling a try too.

    Your story is very inspiring. I shared it with my community. It’s good for them to hear another voice. Thank you for being so authentic.

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