The Power of Journaling

The Power of Journaling and How to Make it Work for You

Why should you care about journaling? And what benefits will really count for you? If you’ve never considered journaling, now’s probably as good a time as ever to start! Because this is the time of the year when we usually re-set goals and expectations; both of ourselves and others! What great power could this simple activity possibly have? More than you can ever imagine.

 Journaling offers Clarity

When I wrote about Mindfulness and Art, I shared the terrifying experience of sitting in front of a blank canvas with no awareness of where and how to start. Similarly, a blank sheet of paper, MS-Word doc or an EverNote file can be just as daunting. However, what’s empowering about the is that you get to choose what you create.

Because you get to choose everything you write, it helps you focus, think, and develop greater clarity. Journaling has played a big role in my commitment to blog at least once, weekly. It offered me clarity on who I am and why blogging was important for me, personally. When I first talked to Mark Schaefer, a leading marketing influencer and an amazing teacher, one of the first questions he asked was around why I wish to blog. Beyond the realm of monetisation of content and services, it was a critical step in helping me understand why blogging was meaningful for me.

Helps leverage Patience as Strategy 

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

It’s an era of instant everything. From instant likes to instant, on-demand gratification of everything we seek, patience almost seems like a long-forgotten thing. The power of journaling begins with learning (and leveraging) patience as a long-term strategy. You can’t rush words and thoughts, especially when you’re trying to do the opposite of scroll past on your news feeds.

I first heard about patience as strategy through an Instagram clip of Gary Vaynerchuk. I’ll be honest: there’s so much cussing going on in Gary’s videos that it actually distracts me from his main message but I loved his lesson on patience as strategy! You can have the greatest talent on the planet. And the deepest hunger ever known to succeed. But if you don’t have patience, it’s hard to find and sustain success, in the long term. This is true of successful entrepreneurs, champion athletes, and even ordinary people with extraordinary success stories. The difference between good and great is the ability to reaffirm your commitment to staying committed. Mindful journaling teaches you patience, day after day after day. And don’t forget: patience is a powerful, mental tool.

Empowers you to be Innovative

One of my go-to frameworks for better work-life integration is Stew Friedman’s construct of Total Leadership. The 3 tenets of the practice of Total Leadership is to Be Real, Be Whole, and Be Innovative. The behaviors outlined in the third tenet include being curious, engaged, and optimistic. Studies and research continue to inform us that we need to be more mindful than ever before in order to thrive in a creative space.

When you consider the pace and magnitude of change that comes our way, every day, the need to Be Innovative is not a nice-to-have. It is a necessary, life skill. What journaling does is create the quiet space to be more mindful and deliberate in how we choose to be and what we decide to do. It is powerful and meditative. The pre-requisite to journaling is not to be an expert in English or any other language that you’re comfortable. It is to merely make the time to write consistently. From this practice will emerge ideas that may never have come to the surface before!

Journaling builds the Attitude of Gratitude

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My favorite part of the day is when I sit down to write 3 Things I’m Grateful for Today. They’re not always extra ordinary and special. Some days, it could be as simple as:

I’m grateful for:

  1. my body that supports me 24/7.
  2. the friend who made me laugh today.
  3. my gift of singing

This powerful ritual has given me much strength to get out of bed on many tough days. It takes me less than 3 minutes. There is no judgment or shame. There is only deep acknowledgement of all my blessings. I can vouch for how it’s kept me going, even in the face of death.

So, if journaling helps:

  • offer clarity
  • leverage patience as strategy
  • empower you to be innovative and
  • build the attitude of gratitude

How can you make it work [for you]?

I hope you are inspired to start journaling from today. If you’re already journaling, I hope you’re able to share this powerful practice with all the significant, stakeholders in your life.

If you have set the intention for what you wish to create, how do you go about making this work for you? Here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Write everyday – Volume and scale are irrelevant. Consistency is the only thing that matters. And you may stumble upon the most incredible insight in a single line, most unexpectedly rather than pages of journaling.
  2. Consider different mediums – In addition to pen and notebook, you can also consider other digital options like The Bullet Journal, PenzuDay Oneand of course, Evernote.  I regularly use Evernote and now, I also find Penzu easy to use. Also, they care enough about privacy to keep my data safe.
  3. View as Systematic Investment Plan – Many people invest a percentage of their income in a SIP. They are savings as well as back-up for a rainy day. SIP is not protected from market volatility but if invested for a long enough time, it evens out and you’re more likely to gain than lose. I look at journaling as a long-term investment in my personal growth.
  4. Remember that It’s less about the doing and more about the being – Master Certified Coach, Jan Marie Dore wrote an incredible post titled: Who Am I Now?, Jan recommends a writing exercise that requires your willingness to be in a state that is not driven by goals and purpose. Instead, she encourages you to evaluate who and where you are now

What journaling techniques work for you? What is your experience of sharing best practices with significant stakeholders in your life? As always, I’m curious and engaged to learn and grow through your stories!

Anitha Aswath is an HR Consultant and Strengths Coach of Leader Success in the Leadership and Team Intelligence Practice Area at Cisco. She has the unique privilege of meeting Cisco clients from all over the world to serve, teach, and enable the success of their teams.


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