7 Great Reasons for Executives to Journal

If you are a leader in any capacity there are typically many balls to juggle, people to lead, strategies to develop, problems to solve, and opportunities to tackle.  The pace is often fast and the demands are unyielding. Unfortunately, carrying so much weight on your shoulders alone can feel like a lot of pressure and cause intense physical, emotional, and intellectual strain leading to overwhelm, exhaustion, frustration, and poor decision-making.

In circumstances where the responsibilities are great and the stakes are high, it can be extremely valuable to slow down, take a breather and collect your thoughts. A ‘time out’ will help you take a step back and examine the direction you are heading and assess your progress.  This kind of mental break will allow you to figure out what you want and how to get there. 

The question is – what does an effective mental break look like?  How can taking time away from the workload, actually provide relief?  

The most effective executives turn to journaling as a powerful tool to help them work through some of the challenges they face and use journaling as a mechanism for efficient and rapid personal growth.  

Here are the reasons why and the strategies they use for journaling:

Reasons for Executives to Journal #1- To Unload

With so much on your mind, so many people to lead,  so many projects on the go, and so many challenges to deal with, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You may feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and that you have no appropriate place to lay down such a heavy burden. Perhaps you are feeling stressed about one particular problem and are not sure where to turn for assistance.

Whatever the reason, unloading your thoughts in a journal is extremely useful. Pick a starting point and release all that’s pent up.  What has been frustrating you at work? What is going on at home? Who is aggravating you and why? What problem are you facing? What wall do you keep bumping up against?  Dump it all out in writing.

Describe what’s been going on and how you feel about it. Write about why you feel the way you do and how it’s impacting you.  Express yourself without holding back – let it rip. 

And then when you think you’re done, keep going until you have expressed every thought – no matter how insignificant. You’ll be surprised how much there is to write. 

Feel the relief, knowing that you’ve gotten all that you can out of your system. 

Now take a breath. Reread your journal, and then take a moment to think forward and write down your plan, your solution, your vision, and your intention.  End your journal by taking the time to redirect your thoughts and your emotions – leaving you in a more hopeful place than when you started. 

Unloading all the thoughts that have been building up inside can be the first step to regaining emotional calibration which is valuable for making important decisions and planning a strategy forward with more clarity and objectivity.

Reason to Journal #2- To Problem Solve

As executives, we are faced with problems that require unique solutions and creative resolutions on a regular basis. Playing the role of the sole problem solver can certainly take its toll and leave you reaching for quick and easy solutions that are not always optimal or don’t always leave stakeholders feeling satisfied. 

Taking the time to journal will help you to truly define the key problem and identify a wide range of possible solutions giving you the time to really understand the likely outcome of each. Journaling in this manner can help you broaden your scope, explore more options, and come up with solutions that more effectively meet the needs of all relevant stakeholders. This method of journaling will invite you to consider more points of view, and will push you to think in terms of creating win-win scenarios.  

When problems seem tenable or difficult to solve, taking the time to explore ideas in writing provides the space to think without external pressure, opinion, or influence.  You will feel it in your gut when you’ve come up with a winning solution.

Reason to Journal #3- To Plan

There is much in life that can benefit from a good, solid plan. Maybe you’re taking on a big project, looking to replace an employee or launching a brand new venture. Before taking massive action, taking the time to plan out your next move can ensure that it’s a successful one.  

Planning and journaling go hand in hand. Your journal is a fantastic place to map out how you want to execute your plan, what steps will be needed, what obstacles may be in your way and what you want the ultimate results to be. 

This will give you a chance to explore all your concerns and feel confident that you will know how to address them when the time comes. It will allow you to explore the who, what, where, when, why and how of your plan so there’s no confusion. And knowing what you want the end game to be will significantly increase your chances of achieving it.

Seeing is believing ─ once you see your plan in front you, you’ll be able to believe that you can execute it. 

Reason to Journal #4- To Sort Through Preferences

There are unlimited options at our disposal at all times − picking just one can be tough. Whether you’re looking for a new job, looking for a new hire or looking for love, it can be hard to know where to start. We recommend starting by exploring your personal preferences.

This journaling strategy lends itself well to lists. Begin by listing what you already know that you don’t want. In a new hire, for example, perhaps you don’t want someone who needs to be micromanaged, someone who get distracted often or someone who consistently makes careless mistakes.

Next, leverage the contrast of what you don’t want to illuminate what you would rather have. For example, you may want to hire someone who takes initiative, someone who works well independently, someone who is laser-focused on the task at hand and someone who reviews their work to ensure it is error-free. 

Sorting through our preferences allows us to recognize what we really want, precisely when it’s right in front of us. Click here to learn more about decision making and sorting through preferences.

Reason to Journal #5- To Define a Vision

Executives tend to be visionaries by default. Their unique skill is coming up with grand ideas and communicating them to their team members so that they can implement them. Unfortunately, these big initiatives can get lost in translation. Ensuring that you team truly understands your vision means getting so clear on it yourself that you can convey it effortlessly. 

Journaling about the ins and outs of your vision will give you clarity. Ask yourself, how did this vision come about? Is there an example of it that you can find? Do you have a story that will describe your vision simply? Who will be involved in implementing it? What actions are required? What do you hope to achieve? How will you measure whether or not it was a success? 

Writing down all the details of your vision will make it easy to communicate, will increase its chances of success and, in a pinch, you can even share this journal entry with your team!

Reason to Journal #6- To Set Goals

The first step to achieving any goal, big or small, is to put it in writing. From breaking a bad habit, to losing some extra weight to landing a big client − if you don’t document precisely what you want to achieve and when, it’s easy to put it on the backburner, procrastinate or forget about it entirely.

Journal about your goal like it’s something you have already achieved. Write about where you are once you have achieved it, who you are with, what you did to get there, and how it feels.  Write about the indicators of success and describe the interactions or conversations that reflect your achievement. Look back on this journal entry often to celebrate your progress and to ensure you’re still on track.

Journaling in this way is a tool to keep you accountable to yourself.

Reason to Journal #7- To Dream Big

A journal is not just a place to document the minutia of our everyday lives ─ it’s a place to explore the BIG, crazy, awesome, fantastic things that we want to experience! We don’t always need to live in the world of realism and fact. If there were no obstacles, imagine what we could achieve!

What would be the most amazing thing that could possibly happen to you? What insane idea do you have that is going to take the world by storm? What would the perfect day look like to you? If you were to have the best possible conversation with someone, who would it be with and what would they say?

As you write about these outlandish ideas, you will start to notice that maybe these ideas are not so crazy at all. Maybe they could actually exist in your life, every day. 

Dreaming big has never been so easy. It starts with putting your dream into words.

One More Thing…

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