Writing in a notebook

How to journal your way to a new career

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn”

Anne Frank

As a non-fiction book coach, I’m a big believer in the benefits of journaling. From helping you to de-stress to sparking creativity, scribbling your thoughts into a notebook can keep you centred and committed to writing your book. 

But journaling is not just useful for would-be authors. It can also help to focus your mind in life and in your career. 

Teachers and academics often use reflective journaling as a means of prompting critical thinking in their students. By probing their response to or understanding of particular topics, students can discover new things about themselves – their strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs.   

In the same way, reflective journaling can help you figure out where you are now and where you want to be in terms of your work and overall career. For example, right now as you’re reading this you might very well feel that your job sucks and that you’d ditch it in a second if you didn’t have bills, dependents, and an all-consuming pen fetish (it’s a thing!)

But by taking a moment to write out and assess all that you’re experiencing at work, you may discover that you actually like your job. What sucks could, in fact, be your new boss, or colleague, or the mountain of projects piling up on your desk. 

Or it could turn out that you’re not energised or inspired by your work any more. If that’s the case, you may need to chat it out with your boss or business coach or write some more to explore the next steps you want to take. 

The point is, reflective journaling can help you clear away the mental clutter that’s masking the real reason you’re feeling frustrated at work (and possibly prevent you from acting rashly too.)

It can help you analyse what’s really going on, and what control you have to improve the situation.  

Reflective Journaling = Safe Space to Grow 

But using a journal as a space for reflection can support you in gaining important inner feedback on how you feel at any time in your work and your career. 

‘Reflection,’ is the key word here. That means, as author and business consultant, Marilyn W. Daudelin, defines it, engaging in: “the process of stepping back from an experience to ponder, carefully and persistently.” 

In other words, your private journal is not just your go-to dumping ground when you need to vent about your co-worker’s nails-down-a-blackboard bad manners. Rather, it’s a safe space in which you can grow and learn. Use it, then, to:

  • Check in on how you feel about new projects and responsibilities.
  • Examine specific experiences you’re having in the workplace – challenging experiences as well as energising ones. How are you handling them? What do they tell you about yourself?
  • Document how you are developing in your role and what you’re learning about your responses to different work issues. 
  • Try to spot trends over time. When are you most positive? What tasks excites you? Where are your strengths, and how could you improve your weaknesses? 

I direct authors to journal when they’re defining what their book is about, or even battling their way through writer’s block. But it’s a useful tool for anyone who needs to figure out where they are and where they want to go. 

The more you write, the more you’ll see the path you’re on. And the more you’ll also see the kind of contribution you’re making to your current career. 

Not only will you gain great insight into who you are, and the skills and talents you have to give, but you’ll be guided onwards to use that knowledge to show up and shape the best possible career for you.  

Siobhan Colgan

Siobhan Colgan

Siobhan Colgan is a writer and book midwife. She helps women entrepreneurs, coaches and creatives birth the books that are inside them. Find out more and book a call.

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