Should Professionals Start a Journaling Practice?

Should Professionals Start a Journaling Practice?

Growth is one of your key values, and you make time to constantly seek out new opportunities to invest in professional development so you can avoid stagnancy and better yourself in any way possible. Would a journaling practice be a good addition for you?

Recently, you heard a mentor of yours mention that they had a journaling practice. In fact, they credited regular and consistent journaling for their massive growth throughout the years. They claimed it gave them clarity and helped them move through decision-making quicker.

Really? When you heard this, you honestly weren’t sure how it made you feel about turning to a journal as a form of professional development. It isn’t that you’re against journaling. It’s more that the idea of using it as an effort to grow brings up a lot of questions for you. What are you supposed to write about? What if someone else reads your journaling? What if you can’t be consistent in your efforts — is a journaling practice still worth it?

Here, we’ll discuss whether journaling is something that will be beneficial — or not — for your personal and professional growth.

Yes — starting a journaling practice is a great idea

Journaling is a great activity for anyone who wants to process or document their thoughts. In an interview for this article, we checked in with Dr. Jennifer Nash, Fortune 50 executive coach, and CEO of Jennifer Nash Coaching & Consulting who agrees that journaling can be beneficial.

Nash says, “At the Temple of Delphi, Socrates suggested: ‘Know thyself.’ I couldn’t agree more and recommend to all of my executive coaching clients that they spend several minutes journaling each day.”

Best of all, there are many options for journaling in this modern world. Sure, buying a beautifully bound book with empty pages to be filled can be motivating for some people, but others may do better with digital tools. For example, there are many journaling apps or websites, such as DayOne or Penzu. And a regular Word or Google document will work well, too. 

Nash continues, “Regardless of how you choose to journal, the benefit is in what I call the ‘popcorn moments’: those small, and sometimes not so small, insights that pop up when we turn our attention inwards and be present with ourselves … In a noisy, crowded world, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important to us, how we want to show up, who we want to be, and what we want to achieve. Carving out a few minutes to journal and explore your inner world helps you ‘know thyself’ and gain clarity on your life, leadership, and career.”

No — a journaling practice might not be the best idea

There’s a lot of ways to grow professionally — and not all work for everyone — which is why journaling may not be the best approach for you. If you worry that you won’t be consistent or make the effort when you do have time, you might want to try something different.

Writer Peter N. Nelson says, “​​I might change my mind if aging begins to affect my memory, but I have never been an advocate of writing down every idea you have, in fear of forgetting. You’re supposed to forget stuff.” He continues, “Let it go and make room for the next idea. If something you let go of returns, that’s how you know it’s a good idea.”

Here’s something else to consider: It might be smart to try journaling if it’s something that’s new to you — but give yourself permission to quit if it doesn’t work. 

In my opinion, it’s not the best idea to encourage people away from trying out personal and professional development options. You can’t know something isn’t for you if you don’t try it. But, I also don’t recommend sticking with something long-term that doesn’t feel good. You want a journaling practice to push you forward toward growth, not to feel like a chore.

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Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila is a content strategist and writer who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform — and even transform — its intended audience. Reach out to her on Instagram at @ErinOllila, or visit her website erinollila.com.