Salvador Dali spent his life with canvases and colour. Keeping a journal has had some hidden benefits for me….not least, striving for more imperfection and reflection. I have used journaling as a professional coaching tool for many years but how does it make my daily life more productive? Most recently it has helped me to slow down in the busy post-pandemic world we are now in. It is a discipline, a routine, a habit.
So, what is journaling?
It is not about sitting and starting a page with “Dear Diary”. Journaling has evolved into a creative and therapeutic way to explore your potential and measure your progress towards a coaching or personal goal.
Reasons for journaling fall into several categories and can include:
- Memory keeping
- Creative exploration
- Reflection and evaluation
- Goal setting and self-growth
- Progress mapping
- De-cluttering the mind
Set your intention
Whichever category you choose (and you aren’t limited to just one type!), it’s essential to have an intention so you remain focused. For example: I want to get a promotion at work. I want to move job. The choices are limitless. Set your journaling time into your daily routine, and write down your thoughts and feelings, ideas, frustrations, contacts, reflections, problems. Consistency is key. Don’t filter your pen with your thoughts.
The idea of a fresh start with limitless potential is incredibly motivating. We tend to welcome a new year with well-thought-out resolutions and a determination to keep them. However, research has shown that new year’s resolutions are short-lived, and many abandon them by week two or three. In addition, we lose our motivation and determination to reach higher levels of productivity, creativity, and lifestyle balance. In the long run, self-esteem can take its toll, as well as the ability to motivate and inspire others.
Journal writing is crucial to success in coaching and is an effective tool in personal and organisational spheres by encouraging problem-solving and personal growth.
How does journaling increase performance?
We’re visual and tactile creatures. Seeing your thought processes in written format helps you to be more analytic. Thoughts are less overwhelming on paper. Writing stimulates you to reflect through events and thoughts. Your organisational skills improve. The brain is an extraordinary organ; it engages fully and reactivates previously neglected parts.
“Journaling is an act of courage”
The act of writing also calms a racing mind and anchors you in the present. As you delve further into your journaling, you might start experimenting with fountain pens, colour inks and paper variations. This phenomenon is part of the organic process because journaling will and open up a world of exciting possibilities!
Exploration Versus Perfection
Salvador Dalí , the Spanish Surrealist painter and printmaker, was famous for exploration over perfection in his subconscious imagery. Arguably, his most famous painting is The Persistence of Memory (1931), depicting limp melting watches. He used canvas to project his own psychological conflicts and phobias onto art. When we journal, we let go of perfection and just put thoughts and feelings onto paper without judgement. It is an exciting pathway for exploration and awakening.
Journaling and Coaching
Personal growth strategies, such as journaling, have many concrete applications in change and development. A written record of events, feelings and ideas helps you to clarify your thoughts and aids in classifying your actions and emotions. We can also map our progress when we feel “stuck”.
Working with a coach and discussing your journey is an effective way to create self-awareness. Journaling makes room for ideas and solutions. It also provides a record of your actions along the way. These written records give your invaluable coach insights into your thought processes and help her offer you the best steps to help you achieve your goals.
For me journaling is a vital component of our development, summed up in the powerful quote from Flannery o’Connor:
“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say”
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