5 Ways You Can Start Journaling Today

5 Ways You Can Start Journaling Today

Journaling is an incredibly useful tool for developing self-awareness, practicing creativity, managing your emotions, planning, organising, and more.

Journaling can also help to manage anxiety, reduce stress, and cope with depression.

I have used a journal for as long as I can remember, and am a big advocate for keeping one regularly. Journaling helps me gain clarity, calm my mind, pump myself up for the day ahead, gain insight through reflecting on the day that has passed, and even stretch creatively!

If you’re new to journaling – you may not know where or how to start, and that’s okay! The great thing about journaling is there is no right or wrong way to do it. It’s not an assignment, nor a presentation. It’s for you, so it’s okay if it feels a bit awkward when you first start!

Below are the five different techniques I’ve used when journaling.

1. The Ask & Answer

I’m going to start with the one that’s a bit woo woo, but please bear with me!

If you have something you’re unsure about, write about it as if you were asking someone for advice.

Be honest, and be direct about the problem and your feelings surrounding it. Don’t hold back. Then, conclude it with a question like:

“What’s the best route to take?”
“What would be best to do in this situation?”
“What’s in store for my relationship with X”

Avoid asking why, too much introspection can be counterproductive.

Then, close your eyes, and take three deep breaths, or sometimes I get up, get a glass of water, etc. then come back. The point is to give yourself a bit of space between you and the problem you just spilled onto the page.

Once you’ve created some space between yourself and the journal entry, come back to it and re read what you have written.

Then, write down your response as if it wasn’t you who wrote it down. Write as if you were speaking to another person, maybe a friend or coworker who you are giving advise to. Or (here’s the woo woo bit) channel your higher self or intuition to speak to you.

The most important part of this is to not hesitate and just write what comes out naturally. Try not to overthink it.

I do this often when I’m feeling really strongly about something and need a bit of help making sense of it.

2. The Reflection

Contrary to the ask and answer, the reflection is more similar to a fact finding exercise.

You may have specific questions that you want to ask yourself and reflect on every day such as:

“Was today a good day?”
“Did I do my best today?”
“What was the best and / or worst parts of today?”

OR you can just write down any strong feelings that you had and reflect on what prompted those feelings.

You’ll get the most out of the reflection by leaving the emotion out of it. It shouldn’t be used as a tool to beat yourself up or build resentment against other people. It’s just a way for you to look at your reactions, what prompted them, and what needs to stay the same or change.

I do this in the evening or right before I go to bed as a way to wrap up the day.

3. The Brain Dump

The brain dump has so many uses.

What you do is put your hand to paper and you put everything in your brain onto the page. It’s that easy.

This can be done anytime of day, and can be used for anything! Having strong feelings about something and need some clarity? Brain dump. Have a lot on your plate and need to make sense of it all? Brain dump!

The brain dump is also really useful for lists, organising your thoughts or a task, making notes, or prepping for a meeting.

Brain dumping can also look like just…writing. Write anything and everything that comes into your head. You don’t have to worry about punctuation or structure or if it makes sense, you can literally write the same sentence ten times, it doesn’t matter, it’s just about clearing the cobwebs from your brain. Usually the first couple sentences or paragraphs are pretty shit but then I get into some really juicy stuff and either connect with something that I didn’t know I needed to connect with or some really good ideas come up that I probably wouldn’t have thought about otherwise.

Remember, it doesn’t need to be punctuated, and it doesn’t need to be structured. It doesn’t need to look like anything! It’s literally called a dump for a reason. I do this most often like right when I wake up in the morning or if I have a lot of energy and need to put it somewhere, I free write and see what comes up.

4. The Hype Journal

This is probably my favourite technique and probably the one I go to the most.

The Hype Journal is just a space for your to tell yourself what you need to hear. A space for you to hype yourself up!

Things like:

“You can do this.”

“You got this.”

“Keep going.”

“You’re almost there.”

“Who cares what they think!”

It’s a space for you to back yourself. The things that your mom, or best friend might say to you – you can say these things to yourself!

If you’re having a hard time on starting – I would recommend making a list of all of the things you accomplished. Start from the beginning of your life and acknowledge every single thing you have been able to do. Even the little things. Afterwards, you should feel proud of yourself, and that is the energy you can carry to your hype journal.

Another way you can look at this is to picture your best friend, sister, or the person you love the most and reframe this as if you’re talking to them. Would you tell them how amazing they are? How much value they offer the world? How funny, beautiful, smart and kind they are? Of course you would! So, why not tell yourself the same?

5. The Visualisation

There’s a couple ways of doing this one.

If you have a specific goal in mind, imagine your mind and then write out the exact moment when that goal is achieved, or where you will be when that goal is achieved. Get into the details, if you can. What are you doing? How do you feel? Where are you? What are the people around you saying? If the specifics are hard to imagine, then just focus on the goal being achieved and how you feel about it.

You can also write out a scene from your future – where will you be in one / five / ten years?

I do this when I’m feeling demotivated, because let’s be honest, just because you have goals, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to also have the motivation to do the thing that’s going to help you get there. By writing out the scene, as if I’m already there, I feel more motivated to take action.

Another way to use The Visualisation technique is to write out the day ahead.

Write exactly what you’ll be doing, who will be with you, what you’ll wear, eat, etc. Get specific on details and don’t hold back. It can be useful if you’re feeling anxious in the morning and need to ground yourself.

Don’t forget, journaling is meant to be used as a tool for you to connect with yourself, so be kind to yourself when you’re doing it and don’t be afraid to dig deep. You never know what you will find!

Hey, I’m Courtney.

I really appreciate you taking the time to read this post.

I’m always looking to connect with like minded people, so please say hi and let me know what you’re working on and if I might be able to help.

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Be Self-Aware. Practice Self Care. Lift Others.

Be Self-Aware. Practice Self Care. Lift Others.

Smart Style Leadership encourages leaders, both fresh and skilled, to connect to themselves in order to truly connect with others.

It’s my belief that without this basic form of self-love, the connection and acceptance of ourselves, we aren’t able to lead those around us effectively or authentically.

SSL’s values are simple.

Self-awareness invites us to step back, and observe. It requires honest reflection, action, and is the first step to growth and connection. Unless we can understand our own motives, triggers, strengths and weaknesses, we run the risk of developing disingenuous relationships, and unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Self-awareness is our ability to notice and monitor our inner-world – our thoughts, feelings, emotions – but also how others are receiving us.

Self-awareness is vital in leadership because it is the first step to change. With awareness comes the ability to consider different choices, and different choices will present opportunities for a different outcomes.

Self awareness can look like taking responsibility and apologising, setting a boundary and committing to it, being present, challenging your thoughts and actions, reflecting, pausing before responding, acknowledging and celebrating your wins, asking for help, getting an outside opinion, making changes, working harder, or learning something new.

Being able to dig deep, connect to yourself and be aware of who you are brings you the chance to truly care for yourself.

Self-care is trusting yourself, protecting yourself, and tending to yourself. Put on your oxygen mask before helping another person with theirs. Keep filling up your cup and let the overspill fill up others. Know and accept yourself so you can care for yourself fully.

Self care can look like hot baths, scented candles, face masks, but it can also look like paying that bill, eating the salad, shutting your phone off, going to sleep, cleaning your room, calling your mom, sitting in silence, getting up early, or sleeping in later. It can be as simple as speaking kindly to yourself. It will look different every day and for everyone, and this is why self-awareness is important to help you navigate what is it that you truly need – not what your ego tells you – not what your friends, boss or mom tells you – but what, based on honest reflection and loving awareness, is going to be the best for you.

Live well, lead well means caring for ourselves so we can care for others. It means connecting to ourselves so we can connect to others. It means fighting for ourselves so we can fight for others. The reason we do this is to shine the light for others. Whether you are a manager looking to engage your team, or a student wanting to show up more for those around you, leadership is a lifestyle, and lifting others is the reason why we do.

Lifting others can look like showing gratitude, offering to help, giving a compliment, giving your time, being useful, making it about them, removing yourself from the narrative, asking what they need, holding a safe space, listening, encouraging,or supporting others.

We willingly and relentlessly practice helping and guiding others. This is how we stay humble, stay present, and keep learning. This part may scare you, but leadership wouldn’t exist without the people around you. It’s really about them, and once you’re self-aware, and practicing self-care, you will be strong enough to lift others too.

And this is how we lead x

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Thank you for taking the time to read this page.

I’m Courtney, and I write about leadership. I love connecting with like minded people, so please reach out and let me know what you’re working on or how I might be able to help. You can also say hi in the comments below ❤

Speak To Yourself Like This

Speak To Yourself Like This

How often do you speak negatively to yourself or about yourself? 

How often do you speak positively to yourself or about yourself? 

Which question was easier to answer? 

My sister used to say something whenever I said anything mean about myself. It usually went like this:

Me, “I look ugly in this shirt”. 

Her, “Don’t talk shit about my sister like that.” 

The first time she said it, I had to pause and think about what she had said. Then I laughed. Whether she realised she was doing it or not, very subtly she was bringing my attention to the words that were coming out of my mouth. I was “talking shit” about myself without even realising. Would I let someone call my sister ugly right in front of me? Hell no – but look how casually it could creep out my mouth about myself. 

We live in a world where #selfcare is translated to lush bath bombs and face masks (and not that there’s anything wrong with that), but there’s more we should be doing to take care of ourselves

Speaking kindly to ourselves and about ourselves will make more of an impact on our mental health (plus it’s free)!

Why do we let those words slip out of our mouths in the first place? 

Is it a defence mechanism? I’ll say it before they do. 

Is it fear? I’ll say it because they’re probably thinking about it anyways. 

It is just familiar territory? I’ll say it because it’s comfortable to believe it

Most of us probably don’t even notice it. It’s likely just the reaction born out of an interpretation our brain has created of an event that has happened.

Or more simply put, Event —> Interpretation —> Emotion —> Response.

Using this framework, you could see how this would happen:

Event – You completed a work assignment and submitted it to your boss who then asked you to redo it because it wasn’t done correctly.

Interpretation – All of your hard work was for nothing because you have had to redo it. Your boss doesn’t think your work is good enough, so you must not be capable of your job.

Emotion – You’re frustrated with yourself because you now have to revisit something you thought was finished. You don’t feel confident in your ability to do the task because you tried and were rejected.

Response – You say, “I’m horrible at this, I’ll never be able to get it right.”

Whether you believe it or not, it all stems from low self worth. And the way to change it starts with the voice in your head. Start paying attention to this voice, and work to change the message to something more kind, and more realistic. 

Using the example above, just because your boss has asked you to redo something does not mean that you’ll never be able to learn how to do it. In fact, studies show you will learn more from failing than from succeeding.

So what should you say instead in this scenario? What about, “I’m upset that I have to redo it but I’m still learning.” 

You can also work to change your negative self-talk by viewing it from another perspective. 

“I’m grateful my boss is giving me a chance to redo this. If it’s not correct, I want to learn how to do it properly.” 

Change your negative self-talk by being more objective. 

Below are some examples of how to flip the script in your head from negative to objective. 

“I’m never going to be able to do this.” -> “I’m struggling to do this and could use some help.”

“I’m so stupid.” -> “I do struggle with math, but will try my best.” 

“I’ll look disgusting in that shirt.” -> “That style usually doesn’t suit me as well as others.”

It is a process to notice and start correcting these patterns, but awareness is the first step towards change. If you’re struggling to see it in yourself, start with paying attention to the way other people talk about themselves. You’re likely to see a pattern with those who are confident and self assured vs. those who are not – the more fragile their state is, the more likely they are to have negative self-talk happening.

Remember, if you wouldn’t let others say it about your best friend – don’t say it about yourself.

Self care = self esteem.

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