The single most important discipline that I have ever picked up is journaling. Over time the journal has become a friend, a cheerleader, a correctional facility, a teacher. It is faithful and loyal, listens without judgement.
Honestly there is so much written about journaling I don’t know why you wouldn’t just put one by your bed or bath and throw some lines down whenever you can. I journal daily and have for decades. It has helped me build back up my confidence after knocks, and powerfully. Self-love is not indulgent or narcissistic. It is a survival technique.
On the comeback journey, aside from talking things through with friends and associates, the journal was my go-to and how I arrived at my mind map of the dream job. I recorded the tiny victories each day as I needed them to spur me on on the search. I noted who I met and how my ideal /target role was changing as I networked and could articulate more. I noted what was working and what was not, and ditched it. I also made a note of anyone that I was helping/encouraging. Bringing someone else along the way is empowering.
It was also a way of acknowledging what was going on with my inner critic and coming up with counterarguments to silence
If you don’t believe me, take it from science. Writing goals, for example, signals to your brain, “this is important”. Your reticular activating system (RAS) then flags relevant opportunities to achieve that goal.
the RAS seeks information that validates your beliefs. It filters the world through the parameters you give it, and your beliefs shape those parameters. If you think you are bad at giving speeches, you probably will be. If you believe you work efficiently, you most likely do. The RAS helps you see what you want to see and in doing so, influences your actions.
Some people suggest that you can train your RAS by taking your subconscious thoughts and marrying them to your conscious thoughts. They call it “setting your intent.” This basically means that if you focus hard on your goals, your RAS will reveal the people, information and opportunities that help you achieve them.
This is science, not woo-woo. You must know that feeling of when opportunities appear to have landed in your path. It’s likely you were more intentional about it than you realise. Don’t you want that when you are looking for a fulfilling, purpose-filled vocation?
I have shared a free download a version of the daily log I use now in the subscriber area. I can be feeling quite flat, then force myself to write down seven things that I’ve achieved that day and my mood will lift. Journals are proven to improve levels of dopamine. There is a raft of research on the quite stunning physical benefits of journaling.
Reasons I journal
- Clarity and congruence –I want my whole life to line up so what are the areas of inconsistency and stress where my values aren’t being honoured? And what are the themes that keep coming up over time, that I need to do something about
- It gives me a sense of achievement and then I can build on my own success
- Motivation – it spurs me on and encourages me to to do more/take more risks
- I discover more about my passions; values; what interests me.
- Empties my mind – I like doing at the end of the day and helping my brain to do the mental sorting that it does subconsciously as I sleep
- Helps my memory of events and therefore I have a healthier perspective on concerns
I posed a question on Instagram recently: “Do you ever find that when you focus on sorting ONE thing some other worry fixes itself? When you journal your successes, you will see how true this is. Some things will just fall into place for you.
On the career comeback, it is where you record who you have added to your network, what opportunities opened up that day, any tiny wins, motivational thoughts/writing, musings about what how your ideal role is changing as possibilities emerge. Sometimes you will come up with a great line from a meeting you want to use again or put into your elevator pitch.
IN this TED talk Julmar Carcedo talks about journaling to happiness. He says it conquers his inner self critic and we need this too in the career comeback. “By journaling, we ourselves compile all the good stuff that happened in our lives so that we accumulate so much positivity that it eats out the negative …(until we’re) overflowing with happiness.” He goes onto quote the Guardian research on journaling and a further study. Participants became more “optimistic, happier and less emotionally unstable” from journaling.
Some practical tips: Ideally don’t do it on a screen, especially if you are doing last thing at night. Also, keep it short. It is not supposed to be burdensome and being succinct focuses the mind further. If you keep it easy to read, you can flick back through old posts and see where you have come from. That is where the magic is.
It is really a great way to sort out your priorities, perspectives, take the sting out of anxieties and look back on how well you have done. Have a try and give me some feedback!
I have made a downloadable .pdf journal with accompanying video – for the free download, along with other exclusives, all you have to do is sign up to my mailing list!
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