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.

More On The LW/LW Blog…

Coaching Your Team 101

Coaching Your Team 101
Coaching has not only become a sought after skill among individuals but has grown rapidly as a career for many in the recent years. “In simple terms, coaching is an interaction between two people…and is aimed at developing the performance of the coachee in some aspect of their life.” (Stewart and Rogers, 2017 pg. 202) 

Coaching in the workplace is most likely to take place between a manager and their direct report, but can take place in any capacity such as between coworkers, or between an HR team member and an employee. 

Myles downey developed the scale of directiveness which shows us how our actions as the coach can show up on the ends of two different styles – non-directive and directive. 

Non-directive coaching actions can look like listening (to understand), reflecting, paraphrasing, summarising, asking questions (that raise awareness). However, the more you start to put your own view, expertise and advice into the process, it will start to look like more directive style coaching. These actions include, making suggestions, giving feedback, offering guidance, giving advice, instructing and telling. 

If a key purpose of coaching is to develop a coachees ability to take responsibility for their own decisions and selection of activities, then you would expect the coach to take a more non-directive approach.  

If you’re a line manager wanting to implement coaching into your 121s with your team members, it’s important to ensure there are clear boundaries with the feedback given. Coaching is not a substitute for performance management. When giving feedback, be clear on whether it’s being given in order to correct a performance issue or for performance development. 

The GROW Model was founded by Graham Alexander and gives the coach a useful process to keep the conversation flowing with the coachee in a way that is productive and useful.

Goals – what does the coachee want to achieve and why? Be specific and agree on how success will be measured. Know when the goal wants to be completed by, who else might have influence in this, and what are the consequences of not completing the goal.

Reality – what is happening now? Understand the issues that may need to be factored in, the helpful and unhelp factors, what has been tried previously and what have been the results previously. 

Options – what are the possibilities for moving forward? To stimulate new ideas, think about what the options would be if time, money, resources, energy was unlimited. Try viewing the problem as if it belonged to another person and then ask what their options are. What is possible? 

Wrap Up or Will – what are the best options and what specific action will be taken? Think about the obstacles that may be encountered and how they will be addressed. What support is going to be needed in order to stay on track?

Using the GROW model as a framework with your coachee will help you to guide the conversation, and agree on actions that will get results. 

More tips on how to be an effective coach include:

Get better at active listening. You can do this by eliminating distractions, showing your concentration physically (with your body language), avoiding interrupting, summarising and reflecting to ensure you’re understanding your coachee correctly. 

Start asking questions. Draw out the information by asking open questions. Questions like “How are things going?” or “Tell me about X.” are examples of open questions.

Ask questions to Inspire deeper thinking:

“Why did you choose that particularly?”

“Can you tell me a bit more about what X involves”.

Ask questions to clarify thinking:

“Where would that be on a scale of 1 – 10?”

Ask questions to consider different viewpoints:

“Why do you think they have responded that way?”

Ask questions to reflect back thinking:

“So, you feel they did that intentionally?”

Ask questions to challenge assumptions:

“How can you know for sure X feels that way?”

Get creative with your questions:

“Has this situation occurred before? How was it resolved then?”

“If you could do anything you wanted to do in this situation, what would you do?”

“How would (mentee, hero, person admired) deal with this?”

Ask questions to extend thinking (especially when stuck):

“Can you think of one more option?”

“If there were any other possibilities, what would they be?”

“If this didn’t work, what would be your Plan B?”

When coaching, it may be useful or necessary to provide feedback. The BOOST model will help give you the appropriate framework:

Balanced, include both strengths and development points in your feedback. 

Observe, base the feedback on what you have observed.

Objective, check for and avoid any biased, or personal agenda.

Specific, give specific examples.

Timely, give the feedback as soon as possible and is beneficial after the event has occurred. 

The coach, coachee and the organisation are all likely to benefit from an effective coaching relationship, with the benefits including an increased connection with team members, to increased confidence, motivation, engagement, and enhanced staff competence. Like any skill, it requires practice to develop, but will be well worth it. 

References

Stewart, J., and Rogers, P., (2017) Studying Learning and Development Context, Practice and Measurement. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

More Posts Like This One:

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.

Read This If You’re Feeling Ungrateful

Read This If You’re Feeling Ungrateful

I wrote this while journaling one morning. I was feeling lost, but not sure why. Everything was exactly as it had been (thank you lockdown), but my mind still managed to wander somewhere else. My motivation had hibernated and the joy I thought I had once cultivated for good had disappeared – the mandela effect in action. I could have sworn it was here a second ago…

When I feel like this, I know it’s best to write.

You may have heard of “brain dumping” or “morning pages” or “free writing“. I basically just put my pen to paper and keep going until I can make sense of it. Or of something. Sometimes, what comes out is the same thing that came out the day before. My fears, my schedule, a gratitiude list, a resentment, my hopes for the future, an idea I have, affirmations (journaling is a great tool I use to hype myself up) – but sometimes, what comes out is something more powerful. Something really helpful. Something I had no idea was in me, and when I finally stop and read it back I think, ohhh that was what I needed to connect with today.

If you’re feeling ungrateful, put your hand to the paper and ask yourself what you need. Then write, and listen.

Wednesday February 24th 09:45am

Let fear counsel you in what you can conquer.

Allow judgement and anger to guide you to what parts of yourself you still need to love.

Doubt can be your signal that you need to connect with others, with yourself, or with your intentions.

To know oneself, and love oneself, is to know and love everyone else too.

Let your thinking brain take some time off. Just osberve. Zoom out.

Look around at all that is happening, and take a moment to acknowledge how amazing it is that you are here. That the people in your life are here. That we have all gotten to this point.

There is such beauty in moment to moment living and you can see it if you choose to.

Existence is a miracle that I cannot comprehend, so I sit in awe instead.

The sensational warmth of feeling the sun on my face.

The sound of people I do not know, but can recognise, because we are all the same.

The feeling of my chest expanding as I breath, unconciously, because my body works by default to keep me living.

The wind on my cheek that I cannot see, or hold, but somehow can feel and hear.

The colours. Hundreds of shades before me. Shapes, textures, spaces, all showing themselves to me.

Senses. All working simultaneously to give me this moment which is my life. My experience.

And this moment is all that exists. The now. For the rest of my life.

How I Take Action When I’m Overwhelmed

How I Take Action When I’m Overwhelmed

I love the feeling of dominating my to do list. When I am organised, taking action and achiveing consistently I feel unstoppable. I know I’m not the only one who’s heart flutters when a tick box is able to be ticked, or a task can be crossed off, and I’m sure I’m not alone when I say “productive” is not and has never been permenant state of being for me.

So the question for me has always been, why is motivation inconsistent? Why do we conquer some days and hesistate and procrasitinate on others? How can we manage the indecisvness and the paralyses when they quickly blind side us so easily? When we’re overwhelmed, how do we still do the things and tick the boxes and cross of the tasks?

I have no idea (anticlimactic I know, I’m sorry), but I have found a way to trick myself into taking action when I am feeling this way. When the youtube video below popped up on my explore page, it was a game changer.

The method Jessica describes in the video is below:

Step one:

Write down everything you need to do. This part is easy. It’s your classic to do list. Get everything that’s poking around in your head onto a peice of paper. Don’t leave anything out.

  1. Walk the dog
  2. Call mom back
  3. Finish first edit of research paper
  4. Finish passport renewal application
  5. Mail passport renewal application
  6. Fold laundry
  7. Buy friend birthday present
  8. Look into hotels for holiday this summer
  9. Go grocery shopping
  10. Go through closet and discard old clothes

Step two:

Grab 3 markers (or coloured pencils, crayons, etc.) and colour code the tasks on your list in terms of urgency.

Red tasks are the priority. These tasks cannot wait and must be done today.

Yellow tasks need to be done within the next three days. You may want to get them done today, because they are important, but it’s vital to be realistic about the deadline. Could you delay this to a few days from now if you had to? If yes, it’s a yellow.

Green tasks do not need to be done within the next couple of days. Maybe these need to be done next week, the week after, or next month, but they don’t have a real urgency at this moment.

  1. Walk the dog
  2. Call mom back
  3. Finish first edit of research paper
  4. Finish passport renewal application
  5. Mail passport renewal application
  6. Fold laundry
  7. Buy friend birthday present
  8. Look into hotels for holiday this summer
  9. Go grocery shopping
  10. Go through closet and discard old clothes

Step three:

Rate each of your tasks in terms of the effort it’s going to take you to complete them. I like to think of effort as a combination of time and concentration.

5/4 stars are the hard ones. These are likely to ones you procrastinate the most. It’s the stuff that will take at least a couple of hours of your time and your concentration.

3 stars will take either less time or less concentration, but will be heavy on the other. (For example, going to the store to get get some food probably doesn’t need a lot of concentration, but may take a fair amount of time.)

2/1 stars are the things you could do in your sleep. For me this looks like mindless activities that are boring: folding laundry, doing dishes, etc. (If I can do it while watching tv, it’s probably a 1 or 2 star. If it will take me less that 5 mintues to do, it’s probably at 1/2 star.)

  1. Walk the dog (* * * 2 Stars)
  2. Call mom back (* * 2 Stars)
  3. Finish first edit of research paper (* * * * 5 Stars)
  4. Finish passport renewal application (* * * * 4 Stars)
  5. Mail passport renewal application (* * * 3 Stars)
  6. Fold laundry (* 1 Star)
  7. Buy friend birthday present (* * * 3 Stars)
  8. Look into hotels for holiday this summer (* * * * 4 Stars)
  9. Go grocery shopping (* * * 3 Stars)
  10. Go through closet and discard old clothes (* * * * 4 Stars)

Step four:

Now that you’ve got some more information on what you need to do, how urgent each task is and how much effort is required for each task, you can decide on a plan of action.

There’s no right or wrong way to tackle this. If you have a lot of red items on your list, then you know you need to do these things today, so it might be easiest to start with the one that’s going to require the least amount of effort to start building momentum. Or maybe you want to start with the task that’s going to take the most amount of effort to get it out of the way, and then you’ll know everything gets easier from there.

The point of this is to clarify what you need to do, acknowledge the urgency of each of the tasks, and being reasonable with your efforts. I’ve used this exercise through periods of depression when it can be really difficult to do even the smallest things, like taking a shower or calling someone back. It also helps me to be realistic about the timelines of tasks I might be worried about. As soon as I write it down and color code it, I realise that actually none of the things I was worried about were urgent, and the anxiety lifts allows me to be present in the day. This is also how I keep the small, mindless tasks at bay and not allow them to overload us by consistently checking in.

Whatever you think will work best for you, probably will, as long as you decide on a plan and then take action.

I’m Courtney and I write about Leadership and Self-Awareness. Thank you for taking the time to read post.

If you would like to connect, please don’t hesitate to reach out via instagram or email.

Drop me a line
hello@smartstyleleadership.com

Let’s hang out

Your Priorities vs. Your Actions

Your Priorities vs. Your Actions

During lockdown, I feel like I’ve gone through every emotion under the sun. Every feeling, every thought, and ambition has washed over me as I continue to ride this roller coaster that is “the world being paused for who knows how long”. During the first lockdown, I was determined to use this time to my benefit. I’ll finally be able to do all of the things I want to do, but don’t have time to do. Very quickly I realised that no matter how much time was available to me, I did not want to clean, or do life admin, or be productive every second of every day. 

Now, on my third lockdown, it is still tempting to plunge myself into a pool of expectations. My brain goes there naturally, especially when I’m feeling out of control, but I’m learning how to balance this. I’m learning how to be kind to myself, and realistic with what I am going to be capable of, regardless of the amount of time I have available to me. 

This time has also allowed for a lot of reflection.  I’ve been contemplating my priorities recently, and not only is it interesting to observe what I instinctively say is a priority, but then how I act because of or despite these ideas. 

There’s an exercise I’ve tried recently which has helped me to make more sense of my priorities vs. my actions. 

To start, name the top 5 priorities in your life right now

These should be as specific as possible. Instead of saying “family”, for example, you might say “to nurture my relationship with my children” or “to contribute to my family by being a supportive wife”. You might say “to be able to do 50 pushups in a row” or “to stop drinking soda” instead of saying “to get healthier”. The more specific you make your priorities, the better. 

If you’re having trouble pinpointing what your priorities are, think about what goals you currently have, what you want to accomplish in the future, or what is good in your life right now that is important for you to maintain. 

An example would look like this:

My Priorities:

  1. To save money in order to move house
  2. To run a marathon in 2022
  3. Spend more quality time with my husband
  4. Finish my L & D qualification
  5. Spend less time on devices and more time being creative

Now, think about how you spent your day yesterday. 

What did you do for the first hour after you opened your eyes? What did you do after that? And after that?

Start from the beginning and write down exactly or as much as you can remember of how you spent your day. 

An example:

My Actions:

08:00 – 09:00 woke up, made coffee, watched the news

10:00 – 11:00 scrolled through instagram, called a friend, made breakfast

11:00 – 12:00 worked out, took a shower, answered emails

12:00 – 13:00 got dressed, went to the post office, picked up groceries 

13:00 – 18:00 did some work, made and ate lunch

18:00 – 19:00 watched tv, spent time with my husband

19:00 – 20:00 cooked and ate dinner, watched more tv

20:00 – 21:00 finished up more work, cleaned the kitchen

21:00 – 23:00 got ready for bed, scrolled through my phone, went to bed

Now compare the two. 

How much of your time yesterday was put towards the things you say are a priority in your life? 

In the examples above, “spending less time on my devices and being more creative” was a priority, but what is reflected is there are no actions backing that up. “Run a marathon in 2022” is also listed as a priority, but there aren’t any actions showing that is more important than watching tv, for example. 

If you have found an inconsistency with your priorities and actions, what needs to be questioned is whether or not the things you wrote down are actually a priority. What I love about this exercise is that our actions do not lie and ultimately, how we spend our time will show us what our futures look like.

If your priorities and actions are not aligned, you have two choices: You can either get realistic about your priorities, maybe dropping or swapping a few, or you can start putting more action in towards them.

Let it go or make it work.

Maybe you really want to make something a priority, but you’re struggling with making time for it. I get it, but what I would suggest is finding 15 minutes a day to put towards it. If something is actually a priority in your life, surely you can find 15 minutes per day to focus on it. If you can’t find 15 minutes, I’m sorry to say, you need to take it off your priority list until you have time to focus on it consistently.

(Don’t think 15 minutes per day is enough time? After one year, that’s 5, 475 minutes – which adds up to about 91 hours, almost four whole days of focus on a single priority!) 

Allow this exercise to give you room for some gentle, honest, adjustment and reflection. 

If you are consistently in a place where your time is spent in alignment to your priorities, you will undoubtedly be making progress on them or maintaining them. With discipline, there is freedom.

I do want to stress that the point of this exercise is not to berate yourself but instead to open yourself up to your truth. It may require a frankness with yourself that you are not used to, but alignment between your thoughts, beliefs and actions are an important step for living an authentic and successful life. 

Try this exercise, and let me know how it goes in the comments below! 

Did you find any inconsistencies between your priorities and your actions? 

What adjustments do you need to make and what will you continue to work towards?

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