“We write to taste life twice: in the moment and in retrospect” so wrote Anaïs Nin.
Certainly the practice of journal writing, offers a beautiful and valuable tool to leaders and learners alike.
It is a wonderful conversation we can have with ourselves.
For it is a method to capture our thoughts, reflections and ideas on the events and experiences in our life. Whether that be day-to-day happenings, our work, a development workshop or 1:1 sessions with our coach.
Journaling helps us to tune into what we notice, sense check and give meaning to our experiences. It enables us to think critically about root causes of complex issues. And connect theory with practice. One of the most significant ways we can enhance our self awareness, it provides a means to recognise and identify patterns of behaviour. And can therefore transform our learning and reformulate our perspectives as we realise how our perceptions of the world may be constrained by our particular values beliefs and assumptions. It builds our confidence through an explicit recognition of our abilities and gives us greater clarity about our areas of development. Inevitably it relieves tension and allows for re-energising and renewal.
Whatever methods works for you
Find whatever method works for you, to have the conversation you need to have with yourself in your journal.
The process of writing may involve jotting down a few notes to longer prose.
You can be systematic. And create a specific log to record events and explore what went well and what could have gone better. Or what you have learnt. You may want to just capture interesting points. Or focus on the content. Perhaps just the process. You may want to reflect on relationships and group dynamics. Or skills demonstrated. And feelings which emerged.
And you may also want to go deeper to tap into your intuition. By accessing your unconscious, through free-flow journaling. Here we set our intention to what we want to write. And literally keep writing. Not lifting the pen from the paper, for say, a number of pages. We don’t edit nor judge. But just keep a continuous flow of words.
And then is the time when we step back from our journal. And reconnect with it at a later stage. To see what we have written and ask ourselves:
What patterns/ insights/have emerged?
How am I evolving?
What am I learning about myself?
Is there an action or commitment I need to take?
If so, we take it.
- Thanks to Sarah Thomas, for her inspiration from her “On Reflection” (August 2003) paper submitted as part of a MA Individual and Organisational Development, University of Westminster, which she kindly lent me.
- Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash