Elisabet Hearn and I wrote this article for 2020visionleader.com
Don’t fall into the busy trap. There is great value in pausing to reflect, as it provides an opportunity to recognise what’s going on, evaluate results and consider options going forward.
And journaling is a great way to do this, because it also adds the power of the written word, putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. As thoughts are captured in a visual way (or auditory, if you prefer to record your thoughts) they deepen further in our consciousness than if just thought or spoken. By looking back at them from a distance we can get a new perspective on those thoughts.
The best leaders are great self leaders.
They reflect on their own leadership and the impact they have and journaling is one way of doing this. And it’s often combined with executive coaching where those reflections can be shared out loud and the coach can add their observations and offer insights as relevant.
Many of our clients go through a bespoke journaling process before each coaching session to focus their mind and recognise what they need to reflect on out loud and talk about in the coaching session.
Make journalling and coaching part of your continuous leadership development strategy.
Some of the opportunities and benefits of journaling
- Time out
- Slow down, hit the ‘pause’ button
- Reflection & self feedback
- Look more objectively at what you’re experiencing
- Self awareness
- Bring order to perceived chaos
- Insights & learning
- Better decisions
- Stress relief
- Creative thinking
Examples of Questions you could ask yourself in your journal
- What’s happening right now?
- How am I feeling?
- What’s going well?
- What are my/our challenges?
- What are my ideas?
- How am I using my leadership to make the most of challenges and opportunities?
- What are my strengths and how are they helping me?
- What’s around the corner and how do I need to prepare?
- What have I learned, and how will I use this going forward?
OUR TOP SIX TIPS
1. Journal each day
Create a habit of journaling. It doesn’t have to take more than a few minutes. Choose a time of day that suits you, morning or evening are popular alternatives.
2. Find a good place
Make sure you can be undisturbed and at ease.
3. Find a new place
If you feel stuck and need new inspiration, find a new place for that day. Go outside, sit on a bench, on the beach, in a cafe.
4. Put yourself in a reflective state
Close your eyes for a moment and just reflect on the day, week, month – what comes up for you? Pay attention to what comes to the top; what do you really need to focus on? Stay in a reflective state and allow yourself this gift of time.
5. Let go of any specific expectations
Don’t push yourself to solve specific issues as this can block or limit your thinking. Just start writing and see where your thoughts take you.
6. Decide on a list of questions
If you find questions helpful to prompt your journaling, create a set of questions that work for you (see examples above).