For many years I have journaled. Early in my adulthood, the journaling focused on inner development. When my HR career began and time became limited, I shifted from journaling to “To Do” lists. Sometime about 10 years into my career, I recognized there was a void or an imbalance in my work life. I was getting things done and moving up the “ladder”, but my personal and professional life were not in alignment. This was about the time when I discovered a professional development book called, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. In that book, the author Stephen Covey talks about writing your personal mission, identifying your values and the roles you play and strive to play in every day life. Then, taking that information and incorporating it into actionable items through use of a planner and journaling, which he combined into one. Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way”, also uses this technique, in what she calls, Morning Pages. A place and time to reflect on your beliefs and values and set intention about how you want to live in all of your roles, chosen or not.
To be honest, my morning pages are very very short. I spend no more than 5 minutes each day. When I feel like writing more, I do. But there is no pressure to. Without fail, I write them because I only allot for 5 minutes and it is now a part of my ritual, to make sure those professional goals are infused with my personal values. When I reflect back and find they are not, I have a record to help me identify where I need to shift. And as part of the process, I rewrite my values and goals in my daily planner at the beginning of the week, so I can check back on them easily as needed.
An avid follower and teacher of Covey and Cameron’s works is Darsie Beck, one of our collaborative partners. He writes several pages daily. Below, he explains his process and how it relates to the elusive Career Path.
1. Tell me a little about you and why you decided to do this type of work? (keeping a morning journal)
I am an artist, author and teacher. Over the years I have developed a personal daily practice of beginning my day writing in what I refer to as my morning journal. Three pages long-hand of whatever comes to mind - stream of consciousness – dreams, ideas, what’s working, what’s not. The idea is to clear my head of what otherwise might be distracting me from what really matters most in my life.
I have also developed a personal mission statement that clearly states what I believe I am meant to do. My statement begins by stating I am an everyday artist, creatively inspired and inspiring and it goes on to state things that matter most to me. Writing my missions statement first thing each and every morning helps me design my day in alignment with the things in my life I am most passionate about.
An indispensable tool in my morning practice is my daily planner. Here I address important areas in my life from art to family, friends, community, health etc. What do I want to accomplish in each of these roles this day?
2. What is one of the personal rewards you receive from working with your clients who do keep a morning journal?
Writing is a way of addressing our deeper self. It is mindfulness and meditative at the same time. One cannot engage in the process of writing without developing a deeper sense of our essential nature. Knowing I have helped someone begin this process is reward in itself.
3. How can journal keeping help someone who might be struggling with their career?
Over time, the practice of daily journal writing enhances one’s ability to develop a dialog with self. What is it I really like/don’t like about the work I’m doing or what kind of work would I like to be doing? Where would I really like to live? Is it compatible with where I want to work? Does what I want to do really what I want, is it realistic, how can I go about moving in the direction of this career? Who do I know who can steer me in the right direction? Allowing yourself time each morning to write questions you want to ask yourself and then to follow through by answering in writing is a very powerful process and often with profound results.
4. Based on your experience, what is one step a person can take to help them get moving or motivated on their path?
Talk to people who are doing what you want to do. Research everything you can about the work you believe you want to do and then write yourself into the experience of actually doing it. Write, write, write your life script. Then do it!