Awhile back, I wrote about the value of having a career journal and discussed some of the ways that I used my own journal. I'm a huge proponent of reflective practice and a journal is a critical tool for that work.
A lot of people think of journaling as a "nice to do," but as Harvard researcher Teresa Amabile has found, a career journal, especially for anyone who does creative work, is really more of a "must have." It becomes a tool not only for managing what's going on today, but for thinking about the future and gaining perspective on the past.
The video above is a synoposis of what Amible and her colleagues have found in their research on keeping a daily work diary. (Hat tip to Idealist.org for the find, btw) They identified four key benefits:
- Celebrating small wins, which helps people see overall progress in their work. Much of resilience is about seeing the positive, so celebrating small wins is a way to do that. (see more about the Power of Small Wins here)
- Planning next steps. If you don't make the progress you wanted to, your journal can be a place for thinking through and planning next steps. What do you want to try tomorrow? What could you do differently?
- Nurturing personal growth. This is HUGE for developing resilience because it's a way for you to work through challenges and problems and to find your own inner strength and resources. You can see patterns of behavior or reactions you may want to work on. You can also re-frame experiences so that you gain new perspectives and insights into what happened.
- Cultivating patience. This is also big for resilience, which requires persistence in developing new habits. And you can see that in the past, you were able to solve various problems or issues, even on days that may have been worse than today.
The video is definitely worth watching. The examples and discussion offer even deeper insight into how people are able to use a journaling practice to stay in touch with themselves and their deepest and most personal goals and values, even in very turbulent, rough times. You may also want to check out this HBR post on Amabile's research into journaling.
I admit that there are days--even weeks--when my journaling suffers. I will write sporadically or not at all. But I inevitably return to my journal, often when things begin to feel unmanageable. I need to find a way back into the work and into my motivation for doing it and my journal is one of my most reliable practices for making this happen.
I've also found in working with the idea of resilience that journaling is one of the best ways to support the four key patterns of Clarifying, Connecting, Creating and Coping. It's a tool that can help you reflect on your experiences and gain insight into which patterns might need shoring up or just some attention for you to keep making progress.