Guest post by Selena Rezvani (learn more about Selena at the end of this post)
Increasingly, journaling is a core component of leadership classes and related training programs. Why? Journaling is an effective technique for reflecting on one’s strengths or areas of weakness, or in response to a significant incident that shaped you in some way. Journaling is a process of self-development that aids progress and is helpful when used alone, in a group setting, or with a trusted advisor. Many women executives I interviewed suggested keeping logs or diaries of career successes and lessons learned to reflect upon. The concept of a professional diary fosters accountability and progress, and represents an organizational system for documenting your talents. Alexandra Miller, Chief Executive Officer of Mercedes Medical, Inc., encourages young women to use concrete strategies that encourage goal setting. She advised, “Focus like a laser beam on what you want. Set goals, and timelines on how you’ll achieve them.”
Documentation has a practical use as well; it becomes handy in hiring, promotion, and compensation conversations. Whereas many of us are used to engaging in verbal dialogue about our careers, journaling converts it to a tangible medium, thereby increasing our chances of accountability and effectiveness in meeting goals. Your journal can also be a reference that you consult to help substantiate how you have improved in an area.
Journals can be used in many forms; below I have listed some of the methods with which creative journaling can be most useful:
- Reflect on an area you are struggling with.
- Reflect on an area where you are thriving.
- Take time to daydream about your loftiest aspirations, documenting what the dream looks like. Consider how realizing your aspiration could change your life.
- Reflect on a single event or situation from a 360-degree perspective, taking into account multiple people’s perceptions.
Create a goal workbook with specific time limits for reaching your goals.
- Develop positive scenarios. Ask yourself questions that start with, “What if . . . ?”
- Write about the first business idea that comes to you and give yourself time and space to brainstorm in your journal.
- Consider engaging a journaling partner where you can have a dialogue and build upon each others’ ideas.
- Keep a collection of pictures, quotes or symbols that inspire you. If you are so inclined, write about your reactions to these.
- Develop a list of pros and cons regarding any situation.
- Create a table where you write key ideas or events in one column and your personal reactions to them in another column. (The Double Entry method has long been used in education to help students separate fact from emotion.)
- Consider journaling as a means for creating a knowledge base or memory bank. As you continue to accumulate knowledge, you can organize, file, and sort your knowledge inventory, a job that is easier when your journal is electronic.
You can also ask yourself simple but provocative questions that stimulate your journaling experience. Below are some examples taken from Journal Writing for Teachers and Students.
These questions can be used following any experience:
- Descriptive—What happened?
- Metacognitive—What were your thoughts, feelings, assumptions, beliefs, values, attitudes?
- Analytic—What were the reasoning and thinking behind actions and practices?
- Evaluative—What was good or bad? What are the implications?
- Reconstructive—What changes might be made? What are plans for future actions?
About the Author
Selena Rezvani is President of NextGenWomen, LLC. This article is excerpted from Selena’s book, The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won’t Learn in Business School (Praeger Publishing). The book will be released on 12/31/09 but is available now for pre-order on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble online. For more information, visit: www.nextgenwomen.com.