Whether you are just starting your career, or thirty years (or more) into it, a personal development journal has many benefits. Until last year, I never logged my development. Sure, I had several moleskin notebooks for note taking in meetings. But my personal development, the thing that occupies my life’s focus, had little more than whatever annual reviews I completed that were dictated by the company I worked for. I knew my Compa-Ratio, seniority level, weekly status goals, overall training plan, etc. But I never had anything printed out and tracked daily like I did when I was training for big physical goals. There has never been a reminder to reflect deeply consider my behavior or the quality of my thinking on a daily basis. When I was training for something big, I would cross off each day as I narrowed in on my goal. But when it came to developing myself, it felt more like I was at the mercy of a benevolent manager, enough promotion budget, or the politics of the organization.
Here are the top 3 reasons I have adopted and continue this practice with myself and my clients:
1. Goal Setting
Aiming for and working towards good goals that motivate you helps keep things interesting. It helps you to continue to improve and take charge of your growth. Once you reach one goal, set another. Push yourself, maybe even more than you want to.
Feeling discouraged? Do you not notice improvement? If you are keeping a development journal you will be able to look back and find what may be holding you back. On the other hand, your development may be going great! If so, you can go through your journal to see what is working for you and keep it up. Logging progress can also help you to determine future goals.
Having a development journal can help to keep you dedicated when you’re having one of those ‘I don’t wanna think about it’ days, and we all have them! On days when I don’t feel like reflecting on myself I will read though my journal. Remember that day you had a great meeting or won over a skeptical stakeholder? Or the long, all day session where you presented material several times and nailed it? All of this info should be in your journal. Your ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of developing will all be there too, and it isn’t going anywhere. It will be right there waiting for you to complete it. It is like having an accountability buddy with you!
When I didn’t see a development journal that I would use or recommend to my coaching clients, I wrote one. It is 12 months, undated so you can start page one at any time of the year. It includes everything from development tips to quizzes, to note taking sections to take all the information in. You have pages dedicated to your goals and to your upcoming milestones (i.e., a meeting, a speech, a difficult conversation, a key deliverable, etc.). It focuses on offering a holistic framework for you to get the most out of your development journal as possible.
You can write directly in the book. Highlight different activities in different colors, or use symbols to quickly communicate your progress. It’s not meant to be a tome, and trains you to be succinct.
Do you log your personal development? If so what do you include?