I just asked my 8 year old “do you know what a journal is for?” and his answer was “for writing your secrets in”. Kind of a stereotype from movies about teenage girls but maybe he’s not that far off.
I recently had the privilege of hearing Eric Dillon share some insights about leadership and the one that stuck with me the most is “how can you know what you don’t know?” Sounds like a secret to me. But seriously, how can we get ourselves to a higher state of self-awareness to find out those things we don’t know but need to? Well, personally I walked away from that retreat with a promise to myself that I would start journaling (or return to it since I haven’t journaled since I was one of those stereotypical teenage girls).
So, on the spot I started to document what was happening around me, how I was feeling and things I wanted to remember for the future. By putting pen to paper, journaling immediately helped me to get my emotions and perspectives in check. Put more focus on things that are actually important, and breeze past the small things that sometimes get more time/thought than they are worth.
So, easy-peasy lemon squeezy, right? WRONG! Turns out after a few days of real life, journaling turned into another task on my to-do list. Please know that I have HUGE respect for lists but somehow my entries just turned into a documentary of the tasks I completed instead of creative thoughts and goals. That, or I completely forgot to write anything. In order for me to really grow I knew I had to dig deeper to make this journaling journey meaningful.
But then I remembered something a friend of mine (a real live friend, not just a Facebook friend) shared on Facebook a few years ago. “The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own – populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness” from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig. With so much going on in the world around us, each person will have a different journey to self-awareness and essentially if I was choosing journaling as my own path I would do it my way.
So, I carry my journal with me so I can write in it whenever I have some down time. I try to avoid distractions like the ‘ding’ that comes from that computer everyone carries around in their pocket (credit to Justin V of Team CU By Design). I journal about work, family, emotions, goals, values, jokes…really anything that comes to mind in the moment. I try to be honest with myself and impartial rather than making judgments. I try to stay humble; taking time to appreciate the people in my life, the things I have, and the places I’ve gone. I don’t put a time or length expectation on my entries. And I flip through old entries, not to focus on the past but to hold myself accountable for the things I have written down and keep myself grounded.
Am I an expert on self-awareness? Far from it! The internet is full of great information and lots of bloggers that can shed more light to this subject than I. However, I do think that journaling is the first step for me, and as I enter into this personal journaling commitment (and share it with the world wide web…bye-bye comfort zone), I challenge you to do something similar. Find a hobby, or space, or outlet that can help you slow down and reflect on your values and ambitions. Your feelings are your own, they are unique and never wrong but if you ignore them, you could lose sight of your goals and where you want to be.