Journaling became a staple for me in 2021. I must admit I was dubious, and I sincerely doubted my ability to stick with it, or should I say for writing to hold my imagination and keep me interested. I’ve never been a good writer and my handwriting is awful! Yet I have always been a fan of the written word, I have tens of notebooks which are all full of personal and professional plans, programs, ideas and thoughts. So I figured it was time to pick up the pen again and give it a go.
The Mind Journal came so highly recommended that I bought myself a copy and set to work. The beauty of a well-structured journal is that it guides you through how to write and takes the challenge away from getting what is in your head, onto the page. I had some really interesting things happen as a result of consistent journaling and I actually extended my writing to regular blog posts and finished up the year sending out a whole bunch of handwritten letters to people (which was greatly received).
This is a post about some of the hidden benefits of the written word, ones that I have experienced personally, and I am really happy to share with you.
Getting my thoughts out
Thoughts come and go, flicking back over previous entries is a testament for me. I would write something I truly felt at the time, then look back sometimes as soon as finishing the page and realise that was one huge emotional rant!
But it was what I needed to do at that moment, and it helped me align my thoughts, potentially avoiding emotionally charged interactions with others and be a bit more rational.
In 2021 I got creative with my writing, mostly blog posts and opinion-based articles in my area which is Practitioner Well-being. I found my voice if you like and pushed out a lot of content, some flopped, some flew. But my point is that it all stemmed from journaling, it unlocked a door for me and gave me the confidence to not just write, but publish my words for all to see.
There are always at least 2 solutions to every problem. Sometimes neither option is that appealing, but they are still there! For me, journaling about these issues and other things helped me to gain clarity, solutions to some pretty big decisions simply presented themselves to me and I knew the direction I needed to take.
Without writing and seeing things in black (or blue) and white I was confused and procrastinating.
Writing appeased my emotional brain
I alluded to this above in the getting my thoughts out section. But this warrants its own section because I started to become aware of when I was thinking emotionally and the impact that can have on me and my decision making. From the identifying stage, I then started to do my journaling then or as soon as I could to that point in time. This had a huge impact on me. For the times it required more than the space the Journal offered I would jump over to an A4 page and go nuts! 9/10 I would screw it up and then continue with my day.
Writing opened doors
I should say that the written word opened doors. As I mentioned I wrote personal handwritten letters to several people I really respect, admire and have been positively influenced by in 2021 and before.
The impact was huge, I didn’t write to receive, I wrote to share my thoughts and say thank you. But the reality of the written word is that it has meaning. You can see through the hand-scribed words (barely legible in my case) that thought has gone into each word and that the person genuinely means what they are saying and has the confidence to say it in a way that is very personal and thought out.
Calmed my busy brain
I am a very visual person. So, seeing the words and the finished paragraphs and pages were visually very appeasing for me, I am not sure of the science and the neural circuitry involved in this but for me, it felt a bit like paying off a debt, depositing some money in a savings account, having a tough conversation go well which you were dreading. Once it was on the page, it was done.
What Journals did I use?
I have filled in my own copies of The Reflective Practitioners Journal 3 times now, so that was 9 months of journaling. I completed each one back-to-back and got really efficient with knowing and understanding what type of reflection was having a positive impact on me. It was fascinating to fill out my own journal, and apply the guidance from me to me.
The Mind Journal is the other Journal I have used to get a bit more in tune with who I am as a persona and as a man. Maybe the appeal was that it is a Journal specific for men, or maybe it was the endless recommendations I received. Either way, these 2 Journals have helped me to re-establish what I like to call my bumpers at the bowling alley by nudging me back in line when I get confused, overwhelmed or lost.
The written word is very powerful indeed. It has also given me the confidence to put my fingers to the keyboard and write you articles like this. You can start with one of the Journals I have recommended above, or you can start with classic pen and pencil. Either way, writing has some amazing results you will more than likely not see coming. I certainly did not.
What is coming next?
As always the Performance Practitioners Well-being Facebook community will remain the cornerstone of the well-being movement and is going to grow and grow in 2022. Great to have you on board.
The Practitioner Wellness Guy