For many people the act of reflectively writing about life’s daily lessons is strangely close to that of having a root canal. Suddenly, all coherent thought evaporates as the memories of lessons learned become lost in the vacuum of space. It’s probably what professionals call “writer’s block.” Whatever it is, it’s like nature is conspiring against us in our efforts to learn from our experiences so that we don’t have to take another miserable trip around that old worn-out mountain. You know the one I’m talking about.
HINT: A journal won’t write itself, so just start writing something – anything – to get the ball rolling.
Why should I do that, you ask? Good question, my friend, so let me share some thoughts with you.
First, writing helps us focus our thinking, and for some of us (me especially), staying focused on ANYTHING for very long can be quite the challenge. It also creates a record of our musings that we can come back to when our memories have gotten twisted or faded over time. Trust me; it happens more than we realize.
More importantly, keeping a daily record of lessons learned about ourselves and our experiences in working with other people raises our self-awareness unlike any other single activity outside of Divine revelation.
Self-awareness is the key to emotionally intelligent decision-making and relationship development, both at the personal and professional levels. Journaling helps us to get clear on our own emotional state, wrestle with root causes of our own undesirable and unhealthy behaviors, and unlock our potential to do good in the world.
Add to that the benefits of being able to vent reflectively, thus reducing stress and releasing creative energy to resolve conflicts, heal relationships, and think more clearly about who we are and why we do what we do.
Journaling can, in fact, help you find the positive meaning and purpose in your life that sometimes gets blurred in the day-to-day chaos of busyness.
Let me leave you with my personal testimony. Back in the “olden days,” before everyone had their own personal electronic devices and about the time of the emergence of widespread personal computing, I was encouraged to keep a daily journal about what I was thinking, feeling, and experiencing in life, and why. So with a loose-leaf binder and pen in hand, I began to write daily about my life. I wrote to reflect and understand. I wasn’t writing TO anyone else, but to and for myself.
One day over lunch as I read my entries spanning the previous six months, I began to see a pattern emerge that helped me see that the job I was doing at the time was killing my zest for life and stealing my dream. I hadn’t seen it before, and I don’t think I would have seen it in time any other way. That revelation gave me the impetus – that day – to make a drastic change in the trajectory of my life. It empowered me to take a chance and make a choice that would soon lead me into a world full of promise and unbridled joy that I could not have found anywhere else.
Today, my family and I are still the beneficiaries of that small practice of reflective writing that began nearly 40 years ago. Such a small sacrifice of time and energy; such a large return on the investment.
But don’t take my word for it. Try it for six months yourself and see what happens. You won’t want to go back to “the good old days” once you discover the hidden power within you that journaling can unleash.
Best wishes for a more exciting and productive YOU!
John Trombley is The Village Business Institute's Consulting & Training Manager and also serves as an Organization Development Consultant and Trainer. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a Master of Management degree from the University of Mary, Fargo where he serves as an adjunct faculty member. He is a motivational speaker with over 18 years of experience in providing training programs and consulting services in a wide variety of organization development scenarios. John is registered with the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota as a Qualified Neutral mediator under ADR Rule 114, and is also certified in Internal Investigations by the Council on Education in Management.
Previously, John served as a Command Pilot, Squadron Commander and senior staff officer in the USAF and Air National Guard, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 6,200 flying hours.