Recently, I was going through some boxes in storage and I stumbled upon an old diary of mine. Of course I got sidetracked and had to “go down memory lane” and read most of the entries. It was a diary dating back to my sophomore year in high school. The diary was the red gingham book I used first as a prop when I was Anne in my high school’s product of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Reading the contents was entertaining, illuminating, and hilarious! I wrote about my hopes and dreams, things that I thought were inspiring, funny or sad.
Going through this exercise reminded me of a talk given by Teresa Amabil at the 99% Conference last spring about the virtues of keeping a work diary.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably written in a journal at different points of your life. I have boxes of books where I’ve jotted down ideas, to-do lists, inspiring quotes, people, doodles, songs, thoughts and dreams. While my red gingham book may have been more personal in nature, work journals can be very revealing too.
Benefits for keeping a work journal.
Keeping a work journal allows you to recognize and celebrate the small wins. For example, my first ‘real’ job out of college was as a marketing assistant. Part of my job required that I answer the phone and interface with clients. I know this seems like a very little thing, but representing the company and talking to strangers gave me quite a bit of anxiety. After a few weeks, I conquered that hurdle and found myself actually enjoying talking to people on the phone. Writing down my thoughts about why this experience made me feel nervous helped shed light on what I could do to feel more confident when I picked up the phone.
A work journal can help you plan your next steps. Think of your daily thoughts and ideas as dots on a paper. Over time, these individual dots can be connected to reveal a picture of your bigger plan.
Recording your ideas and thoughts is a good way to nurture personal growth. Over time, you will start to see your strengths and the things that need improvement. Do you tend to lose focus? Is your tone often pessimistic? Do you lack the ability to empathize? Do you like to talk to people? Are you curious and eager to learn new things?
A work journal cultivates patience, because you are taking something that is abstract and making it more ‘real’ by writing it down.
Ms. Amabil suggested the following tips to help get you started:
Start small. If you start small, you’ll be more likely to follow through.
Target a time. Choose a time to record your thoughts. Set aside a few minutes at that time everyday.
Find your medium. I use a book, you may use your iPad...use what works for you.
Write, sketch, or doodle. I’d also add recall art, music, nature or anything that you may have found inspiring that day.
Join me and jot down your progress, setbacks, clear moments, hassles or whatever. You’ll be glad you did.