This entire abecedary of reflection is 100% about journaling. I must first credit a professor, Dr. Ian Pumpian, with the big idea. In our first class, in the first semester of my doctoral program, Dr. Pumpian encouraged all of us to start a leadership journal for our own personal/ professional reflection. Our class with him was entitled Rethinking Leadership, and we did a lot of reflecting throughout that semester. The picture below is the beginning of the first entry of the journal I created (in Evernote) that day in class.
I continued the journal after class ended because I enjoyed the reflection on leadership and my work and I found it valuable to be able to look back at my previous entries. Using Evernote, as opposed to the hand written, leather-bound books of my adolescence, makes it easy to search for key words or phrases when I’m trying to refocus my reflection or rethink my leadership.
Regardless of the type of journal you keep, I encourage all leaders and learners to journal is some form for themselves. Some of my journal entries lead me to ideas for future blog posts. Others are so personal I would not choose to share them on my blog (or anywhere!).
Journaling, for me, helps me slow down and reflect. I think at warp speed and find it hard to slow my thoughts down if I just try to meditate or reflect by thinking. When I journal, especially now that I use an electronic system, I can type 90 words a minute, capturing the many thoughts swirling around my head all at once. I can also force myself to slow down and capture the key ideas by rereading my initial reflection and then focusing in on one specific point.
I also use journaling to help me practice crucial conversations ahead of time and to reflect on those conversations after the fact. It is so beneficial to anticipate the direction a conversation may go and then look back to see if I covered the issues that arose.
There are so many uses for my journaling and ways that it helps me be a learner.
Reflective questions to consider:
- Do you journal? Why or why not? How?
- How might you use journaling as a tool for reflection?
- What other strategies/ tools do you have for ongoing reflection?
In this post I wrote about creating a reflective habit through journaling.
2016 update: I STILL continue to journal, personally and professionally. At the beginning of each school year, I start a new Evernote file for my Leadership Reflections. While I don’t write every day, I write enough that the habit has remained.
Abecedary of Reflection: