I keep a journal because it allows me to examine my life, evaluate what I am learning, and think about the future that I can create. I started keeping a journal when I was in high school. That was more than three decades ago.
Keep a journal. It will profoundly change your life.
Reasons why I keep a journal.
I keep a journal because writing allows me to capture what I am thinking and feeling. A journal is not a record of my life, like a diary. It does not have to be about me. It can just be about anything. I once kept a bullet journal to become more productive.
A journal is meant to be written every day. But you are not violating anything even if you fail to write for a month or a year.
I am about to add another journal. I will write about what I am learning about procrastination and the manana habit. I will interview people and explore how they address their procrastination challenges. Once I am done with this project, I will be done with the journal.
I will share my four reasons why I keep a journal, and tell you a bit more why it is safe.
It keeps me thankful.
I learned about a gratitude journal from a friend. She told me that a gratitude journal allows her to focus on what works and the positive things in life. Each day, there are dozens of things we should be grateful for. But we easily ignore them because some of us are swimming in negativity.
Journaling is another way of counting our blessings.
One time, a churchmate told me that she appreciated that I was doing well in life. She came to that conclusion because every time we pray (aloud), I always have many things to thank for. It was common in that church to pray for forgiveness and express faith that everyone will get provided by God. It was always like that every Sunday evening.
There was no secret in my prayer. I have just verbalized what was written in my gratitude journal. Being thankful for our blessings, I believe, is a prayer.
But more importantly, a gratitude journal reminds me of the responsibilities I have for forwarding the blessings I get.
It helps me learn.
I have a TIL journal. I don’t write on it every day as I store some of the things I learned in Evernote. I have notebooks for brainstorming and article drafts. TIL stands for Today I Learned. This journal is my way of capturing stories and new ideas that excite me.
I read a lot of books, many thanks to Scribd.com. I watch an hour of Youtube videos each day. I write about the interesting ideas I learned. No, I am not writing about the contents of books or videos. I can go back to each if I want to remember the content. I write about what I think about it. And when I encounter new tools, I consider how to apply each in my life.
Journal writing is important to learning. It provides us an avenue to examine our actions so we learn from our successes and failures. It helps us also pause and think before we proceed to our next actions.
It helps me think of opportunities.
I have another journal I named 1000x. It is inspired by Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World. I referring to the scroll that shows us how to increase our value a hundredfold. To challenge myself to think bigger, I am looking at a thousandfold.
The journal helps me find ways to create and innovate. I do not always know the tenfold, hundredfold, or thousandfold strategy. But this journal is an important tool to continuously add value to happiness and contribution to the world.
For example, the other day I was thinking of how to reach out to businesses that are struggling because of the pandemic. Simply asking myself a question like “What can I do to help business owners reach more clients?” will lead me to answers I have not thought out before.
Yesterday, I was thinking of ways to educate voters so they’ll choose the best candidate for the country. I also explored ways a good leader can win an election by helping them form and build their campaign teams. It is amazing what one can discover in these explorations. I may not be able to execute them all, but I am always willing to share what I cannot do because of limitations.
A journal is private.
You may keep your journal private. Your journal is a truthful and honest appraisal of your life. If you don’t like to share your journal with others, that’s okay. If you want to use a separate notebook, that is okay, too.
Find a quiet place. The writing of a journal begins in stillness. We close our eyes, breathe, and reach into ourselves.
Give yourself a bit of conversation practice, and write out a complete dialogue between yourself today and your younger self.
Talk about your answers to these two questions:
1. Who am I?
2. Why am I here?
8 Kinds of Journals You Can Start
I believe that journaling isn’t just a one-size-fits-all practice. In fact, there are several types of journals that you can explore to help enhance different aspects of your leadership. Let me walk you through eight of these.
First, there’s the Leadership Reflection Journal. This is your space to ponder on your daily actions, decisions, and their effects. It’s like having a personal dialogue about your leadership journey. You’d be amazed at the insights you can gain about yourself in the process.
Then there’s a Decision-Making Journal. It’s a place where you record all those crucial decisions you’ve made, your reasoning behind them, and the outcomes you expect. It’s like a time capsule, enabling you to look back and refine your decision-making over time.
A Gratitude Journal, as the name suggests, is where you list what you’re thankful for. It’s a fantastic way to cultivate positivity and resilience, essential attributes for leading others effectively.
Next up is the Vision Journal. This one is all about your long-term goals, aspirations, and plans. It keeps you focused on your mission and motivates you to keep pushing forward.
A Learning Journal, on the other hand, is a place to note down new knowledge or skills you’ve gained. As leaders, we’re always learning, and this type of journaling helps cement that learning and encourages continued growth.
If you’re in a mentoring role, a Coaching Journal can be quite handy. It’s where you reflect on your coaching experiences, consider how to better serve your mentees, and plan your coaching strategies.
Then there’s the Emotional Intelligence Journal. This is a space for understanding your emotions and their influence on your actions. It’s a great tool for boosting your emotional intelligence, which is crucial in effective leadership.
Lastly, a Feedback Journal allows you to record the feedback you receive. By reflecting on this feedback, you can uncover areas for improvement and track your progress.
So there you go, eight different types of journals for you to consider. Try one or try them all, and see the difference it can make in your leadership journey!”