To Journal or Not to Journal

Katy Montgomery

Katy currently serves as the Global Director of the Career Development Centre at INSEAD where she manages career services professionals across three campuses: Abu Dhabi, Fontainebleau, and Singapore. Katy previously served as the Associate Dean for Student Development at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

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I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

Oscar Wilde

In a chart titled The Success Indicator, MaryEllen Tribby outlines the traits, characteristics and behaviors of successful vs. unsuccessful people, and not surprisingly, one of the items on the successful people’s side is “keep a journal.” A journal is essential to professional and personal growth because it allows you to:

  1. Express/explore your feelings in a safe and private way. Your journal entries are yours alone and only seen by outside eyes with your explicit permission. Journaling can give you a chance to reflect on the day, to remember what you are grateful for, and to ponder on an idea without criticism or input from anyone.
  2. Sharpen your creativity. Writing can take you places you never imagined visiting and urge you to contemplate on the smallest observations. The practice permits your brain to bask in innovation, imagination, and inspiration, all of which can make you a more flexible and inventive business person.
  3. Practice your writing skills. I don’t know of a single writer who is not constantly growing as a writer. Writing well is a skill and if you don’t use it, you will lose it. Writing a little bit a day allows you to grow your vocabulary, consider word choice, and understand the importance of punctuation.
  4. Focus on goals. Those who actually write down their goals are more likely to accomplish their goals. In a study of the 1979 Harvard MBA program, students were asked to write down their goals and only 3% actually did so. Researchers then found that later in life, that 3% earned, on average, ten times as much as the rest of the class. Writing down goals and revisiting those goals throughout the journaling process can help you stay focused on the ultimate prize.
  5. Review accomplishments. No one has 365 perfect days in a year. Taking a break to read past journal entries can remind you of accomplishments or bring back visions of a really productive period. There is no better pick-me-up than remembering good times and great success.

With the above in mind, what are you waiting for? The first step to keeping a journal is to buy a journal. Some write online in the form of blogging or use an application for their cellphones like Day One, Momento, or My Wonderful Days. Others use a blank journal that appeals to them. For me, I need more structure and have found the following journal with daily questions useful to keep me motivated and focused on writing just a little bit a day.

One you have determined how you want to journal, the second step is to commit to writing something every day. Even if only a few lines. Trust me, it is worth it.

Two steps. That is it. Start journaling now and find that you are more relaxed, creative, and a better writer!

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