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Leadership Lifestyle

How to Use Directed Journaling to Make Decisions and Embrace Change

Journaling is more than a self-care technique. Try these strategies to help you make the best decisions for your career and your company.

Journaling is traditionally used for jotting down what’s going on in your life – tracking your actions, activities and emotions. One of my favorite tools is to use directed journaling for decision-making and problem-solving.

And who couldn’t use a little help figuring out your next steps?

As an example, we’re getting closer to the next phase of “the latest normal.” You may need to make a significant decision regarding your career.

Should you:

  • Go work in an office?
  • Find a new hybrid or work-from-home job?
  • Or explore a completely new path like entrepreneurship?

Whether you’re pondering a career change or dealing with a personal matter, you may find yourself mulling it over constantly… and sometimes to no avail. When you take pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – you’re much more likely to come up with an effective solution.

The benefits of directed journaling

To gain more clarity about your future, try my directed journaling technique. Directed journaling involves stream-of-consciousness writing spurts, focused on a specific theme, issue or problem.

Here’s how it works:

In your electronic calendar, schedule between three and five 15-minute sessions over a few days. Be sure to set a reminder.

When you get the alert for your appointment, set a timer for 15 minutes and start writing. While there are many benefits to writing by hand, if you’re more likely to complete the process by typing on a computer, go for it!

During each journaling session, focus on the challenge at hand.

Ask yourself questions, such as:

  • What’s the problem?
  • How can I resolve it?
  • What are all the possible solutions?

To call back to our earlier example and look at your job:

  • How do I feel about going back to the office?
  • What’s my ideal job situation? Is that a possibility in my current position?
  • Is there a way to grow in my current company, or do I need to explore other options?
  • What are my other options?

When you do your journaling, think outside the box. Be as logical and as extreme as possible. Your journal rants are for your eyes only. And don’t worry about repeating yourself. The trick is to get everything out of your head and onto the page.

Here’s the trick

Don’t read any of these journal entries until you have done the process several times.

Once you’ve exhausted your thoughts on the subject, then you can read the journal entries.

As you go through them, note the ideas you repeat – those are what you are most drawn to. You may also come up with solutions that seem to come from left field. That’s what happens when you allow yourself to babble on paper.

Reflecting on your writing

When you open yourself to all possibilities and look at them objectively, you are more likely to come up with a successful solution or comfortable decision, along with a feasible plan. When you have a plan in place, it’s much easier to face and embrace change.

Good luck. The power is in your hands. You can do it!

What’s your journaling style? Do you use pen and paper? Do you type your thoughts? Or have a voice journal? Please share in the comments.

Editor’s note: this article was originally posted on LinkedIn.

About the author

Goal-setting expert Debra Eckerling is the creator of The DEB Method, a system of goal-setting simplified. She is also the award-winning author of “Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning, and Achieving Your Goals.” A corporate consultant, workshop leader and panel moderator, Eckerling is on a mission to change goal culture in and out of the workplace. She is the host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat, #GoalChatLive on Facebook and LinkedIn and The DEB Show podcast.