Journalling for Personal and Professional Growth – 7 Reasons to Journal
The most common recommendation I offer coaching clients to support the coaching process is to start journalling.
I first started writing a journal when I was 22 and left New Zealand to travel. I still have that journal in a precious box full of old journals. I took so much time over that journal – sticking on train tickets, entrance tickets and even some pressed flowers!
My journal now is a mostly just lots and lots of writing.
Until 5 years ago my journalling was sporadic. I wrote when I needed to think through a decision or when something difficult had happened and I needed to process it. I had heard about the idea of the morning pages but didn’t really apply it.
Then Julia Cameron’s famous book – The Artist’s Way came into my life. Julia proposes that writing every morning is a way to process what is going on in our lives, to access our own wisdom and intuition and to think through intended actions.
Journalling is a way of decluttering your mind in order to become clear.
Since then journalling has been an integral part of my business and personal life. I credit the process with better decisions, a calmer emotional life – and even our accredited coach training wouldn’t have come about without my morning pages.
About 6 days a week I write in my journal in the morning. Some days I write pages, and other days, 2 or 3 lines. I start with whatever comes to my mind and flow from there. Occasionally I start with a question or a journalling prompt.
I write for myself and no-one else. I write uncensored. Many times it is simply a stream of consciousness.
I write knowing I may never read it again. And yet I keep it. There are so many full journals living in my life!
What are the benefits of journalling?
- Improve your writing skills – Writing every day reconnects us with our ability to write. Even though no-one will read our writing – I have seen my own writing improve slowly and steadily over the years. I notice my vocabulary being tested and stretched in my journal.
- Increase your confidence – Because our brains are so wired for negativity bias, we often need to interrupt this. Putting pen on paper externalises our thinking and enables us to step back and look at it dispassionately. This in turn helps to work out what is a fact and what are the stories we are making up. We can see our own wisdom emerging.
- Reducing stress – Writing down our thoughts and emotions is a good way of processing them. This enables us to work out where our stress points are and to make decisions which will help us to move to more equilibrium.
- Make better decisions – When we are thinking about our decision we are caught up with our own internal thinking. Talking a decision through with someone can help us to external it and evaluate it more effectively. If we aren’t able to do this – a journal acts as a proxy coach.
- Accessing our intuition – It can be hard at times to know, to really know, what our intuition is telling us about a situation. Simply writing down the question – what does my intuition say about this? And what else does it say? And what else? Can help us to connect with our inner guide.
- Increasing our Creativity – Julia Cameron’s book is called The Artist’s Way – essentially written to help artists access their creativity. I’m not an artist – and yet my creativity has definitely increased with the help of the morning pages. I can play with ideas, test them out on myself and explore them – and no-one will ever know until I am confident enough to share.
- Pattern recognition – When we are journalling regularly, we begin to notice themes that come up time and time again. This might be that you are struggling with the same issue or notice that one work relationship seems to come up time and time again. Noticing this enables you to make choices about how to change the pattern.
Writing or typing?
For me it’s my pen and paper. I love the way writing by hand helps me to process what is happening. My journal travels with me. I used to love the first act after sitting down in a plane of pulling out my journal.
How do I start? – Journalling prompts
If you are new to journalling, a good way to start is with journalling questions. There are thousands of ideas for journalling prompts on google. Here are a few I find helpful
- Looking back at yesterday my best moments in the day were?
- When I think of my day ahead how would I like to be?
- What did I learn in the last few days?
- How am I feeling this morning?
- What have I woken up worrying about?
- The one thing that will make today a good day is….
About the Author
Jean Balfour is Managing Director of Bailey Balfour and Programme Director of our ICF Accredited Coach Training Programmes. Jean is passionate about helping people to have good conversations both at work and at home. She believes that coaching is a life skill and that you never regret learning to coach.