Gaining Clarity Through Intentional Journaling
Is your interest piqued about the concepts I blogged about last week? Did you crack open a notebook and take a crack at Journaling? If you haven’t yet, you could begin with famous journaler Julia Cameron’s approach— writing 3 pages longhand about anything that comes to mind. You could set a timer and proceed with a brain dump, where pen doesn’t leave paper. Or, if neither of these vague ideas suit, you could start with more intentional journaling.
If you’re fired up to start journaling and gain some life/career clarity but don’t know where to start, consider this handful of targeted and intentional journaling methods, and choose one that’s appropriate for you.
The Gratitude Journal
Gratitude is a powerful state of mind and of living. But how does one become grateful when the boss is at your back, your kid is sick, your client load is making your head spin, and you just pulled your hamstring, breaking your streak at the gym?
A gratitude journal is the simplest tool ever recognized for living a more fulfilled life. Merely writing down 3 things you’re grateful for each day enhances your spiritual energy and sense of wellbeing. Take on the challenge for two weeks, trying not to repeat the same gratitudes. Then, notate how different you feel, especially as you read back over what you’ve written.
Still in need of motivation? Link to this Shutterfly article about Gratitude Journaling. And consider this quote by author Melody Beattie:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
The Confidence Journal
Confidence is a common denominator in two aspects of one’s professional self: It’s the most named important characteristic found in successful leaders, and it’s what most of us struggle with, in the form of resistance from within when we attempt to present as powerfully accomplished. Remember, you’re not alone in this respect. Some past DRIVEN clients considered exuding confidence as boastful, bragging and immodest. But such thinking is like an energy drink for your Impostor. Here’s a helpful reframe: Instead of thinking, “Yes, I helped my teammate solve the problem, but that’s just part of my job”, think, “Yes, and I’m good at it. I have an expertise and I’m contributing.”
Confidence Journaling is potent. Not only does it force you to recognize how much you truly do and are capable of, but it serves as a living document— a running history of your growth, stumbles and challenges, and how you’ve overcome setbacks. When reviewed, the journal has the power to build your confidence.
Here’s how it works. Each day, record three things you did the day before that positively affect your goals— personal, professional, or a specific goal. After a week of journaling, take five minutes to thumb through. Good stuff? If it all adds up, how does that make you feel?
The Celebration Journal
Exponential growth comes when you incorporate a celebration practice into your daily routine. This is taking your confidence journal to the next step. After each daily entry, take a moment to give yourself a fist pump. It sounds a bit corny, but it’s science! I offer the challenge in more detail here.
The Done-It journal
A great differentiator of successful leaders is the time they devote to long-term planning and goal setting. This type of documentation can take place in the form of a journal. You can do this at the turn of a year to look back and look ahead on a yearlong horizon. To keep on-track, get into the habit of a weekly entry. A tool that many clients resist at first, but later boast about the benefits of is a Week In Review— or as author and women’s advocate Cheryl Benton calls it: The “Done-it List”. When you reflect back on big wins, growth, lessons, network interactions, challenges, and the emotional states you’ve encountered over the week, it’s a potent self-awareness builder.
Then, take a couple of minutes to ask how you’ll make the coming week ultimately successful. After just a few weeks you’ll begin to intuitively clarify what is most important to focus on and which situations feed your positive emotions. You’ll notice patterns that bring you either closer or farther from your aspirations.
The Project Plan Journal
I, for one, am constantly grabbing my colored pencils to journal about client projects or programming ideas. The colors give the project dimension, and seem to tap into a different part of my brain. This “mind mapping”, combined with the able care of Jessica Levin at Seven Degrees LLC, made the project of creating DRIVEN’s new website much easier to execute in minimal time.
A colorful image goes a long way toward forming a digestible representation of a concept, idea or experience. Although I can’t draw very well,
As artistically challenged as I am, I’ve found myself effectively doodling captioned notes in my journal to document a client’s progress. If you have an aspiration to be artistic, get yourself a set of colored pencils and add some flair to your journal!
I love how my good friend and colleague Lyn Christian of Soul Salt creates eye-catching imagery in her journal. She uses her illustration skills to draw her ideas instead of writing them down, turning her journal into communicative art containing everything she needs to reflect back upon.
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