The first assignment I give my career coaching and consulting clients is to go out and purchase a journal. Not because I want to hear about what they made for dinner, but because I know they’re about to encounter a lot of information and emotions they’ll need to get out of their heads. For someone exploring career change or starting a business, a journal is one of the best (and cheapest) investments they’ll ever make
Here’s how journaling can guide you through career and business growth:
1. Visualizing and journaling is a solid first step towards making a career change or developing a business plan. It helps clarify and prioritize that which you want to concentrate on next. Ari Weinzweig of the wildly popular Zingerman’s company in Ann Arbor, MI states, “To be clear, a vision is not a strategic plan. The vision articulates where we are going; the plan tells us how we're actually going to get there.”1
2. Through journaling you can hone your business’s vision/mission statement that will guide you and keep you focused. (See links below for help writing a vision statement)
3. Putting pen to paper engages a physiological creative process that allows you to brainstorm even greater possibilities and solutions to problems. As I tell virtually every one of my career coaching clients, “Get your thoughts out of your head and onto your paper.”
4. Creative processes make your business stand out in a competitive environment. More and more people are attracted to businesses that have a unique story behind their success. These businesses attract both innovative employees and loyal customers.
5. Journaling about your career or business goals helps release confusing and overwhelming thoughts so you’re better able to concentrate on your wants and needs. According to Psychologist James Pennebaker, “Writing about one's life goals may [also] be beneficial because it can reduce goal conflict.”2 Reducing goal conflict makes the path forward that much clearer and will likely make goals feel more attainable.
A career or business journal doesn’t have to look like a leather bound diary with a silky ribbon bookmark hanging from the spine. Tap into your own personal style so that it works for you and keeps you motivated to come back to it. Maybe it will be a blend of writing and scrapbooking. Maybe it will be a giant notepad on an easel in your office. Set yourself up for success: if you don’t like the process, you’re less likely to stick with it and reap its benefits.
Try to develop a regular writing habit. If you get stumped for a topic, consider these writing prompts:
- What small or large step(s) did I accomplish today towards my business growth?
- What have I accomplished over the past month?
- What excuses have I been using and how have they interrupted my forward movement?
- What strengths have I spotted in myself?
- What are my core values that motivate and ground me in my work?
- How have people praised my strengths and abiliites?
- What will I accomplish over the next year? The next 5? The next 10?
- What gifts do I possess that the world will see as a result of my bringing them into my business?
- What obstacle(s) do I currently need the most help with?
- Whether they’re family, friends, former co-workers, professors, or merely acquaintances, who are the people in your support network? Who would want to see you succeed and can serve as a source of advice or encouragement?
- What am I grateful for?
- How can I serve or how can my busines give back to the community?
Suggestions for additional reading:
“The benefits of planning really, really far ahead” CNN Money (A recent story about Zingerman’s vision writing process.)
"Creating A Business Built on Purpose" Zingermans
“The #1 Productivity Tool You Aren't Using” Forbes
“Create A Business Vision” Queensland Government
“5 Rules For Making Your Vision Stick” Fast Company
“Developing Effective Mission and Vision Statements” Inc.
“Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing” Advances in Psychiatric Treatment
Journal cover image source
Brad Waters, MSW provides career-life coaching and consultation to clients in Chicago and internationally via phone and Skype. He helps people explore career direction and take action on career transitions. Brad holds a Master's degree in social work from the University of Michigan and Master's certification in Holistic Health Care from Western Michigan University. Brad is also a personal development writer whose books are available on Amazon and BradWatersMSW.com
Copyright, 2014 Brad Waters. This article may not be reproduced or published without permission from the author. If you share it, please give author credit and do not remove embedded links.