Here at Legacy Magazine, we are passionate about helping individuals gain clarity around their personal, professional, and relational lives. With a million competing priorities and “to-do’s”, it is easy for us to get caught up in the daily grind and lose sight of who we are and what our unique purpose is. One way to counteract these chaotic forces is to intentionally invest time into connecting with your inner thoughts and feelings through reflective journaling.
Reflective journaling is an extremely powerful, curiosity-sparking tool. Karl Weick summed up the benefits of reflection perfectly when he famously said, “How will I know what I think until I hear myself say it.” When you write something down -or say something out loud- you interact with your thoughts in a completely new way. In fact, we believe that if you adopt a systematic approach to reflective journaling, it will change your life!
We aren’t the only ones that believe in the power of journaling. Here are just a few of the proven positive effects of reflective journaling (thanks to Huff Post):
After reading that list, is there anything the reflective journaling can’t do?!? Seriously though, reflective journaling is an extremely powerful tool to add to your daily self-care arsenal. And yes, we said arsenal. Everyday we are bombarded with overloaded schedules, demanding personalities (toddlers, we’re looking at you), and negativity from news sources and social media. We owe it to ourselves to step out of the chaotic pace of the world and cultivate confidence by connecting with our internal thoughts.
Why is it so important to connect with our internal thoughts? Scott Snook of Harvard Business School likens the reflective process to crystallization. “In the physical world, crystallization refers to the process whereby a previously worthless stone or liquid hardens into a precious gem. A similar transformation takes place during the process of reflection. As we reflect, previously unformed ideas or feelings take shape and become fixed; they become “crystal clear.” Through reflection, we gain clarity, not only about ideas and concepts, but also about ourselves.”
Snook’s model for development (Readiness + Experience + Reflection = Development) lays out a roadmap for us to explore personal, professional and relational growth. Although it is easy for us to “get” that experience is crucial, what we typically undervalue is reflection, which is absolutely crucial to learning from experience.
As Military spouses, it seems as if we have a lifetime of “experiences”- we have experienced more moves and extended periods of time away from their spouse in ten years than most people face in an entire lifetime. But these experiences alone don’t have the power to refine our character; it is these experiences coupled with self-reflection that truly cultivates confidence and growth. Deployments alone don’t make us stronger individuals, but reflections on those lessons learned during a deployment certainly provide great sources of strength.
Reflective journaling is also important for our development as caregivers. We spend so much time “doing” life that we have little time to reflect on what it is we are actually doing, if we even like what we are doing or how we could do things better! But when we pause and dig deeper into our thoughts, we can gain the clarity we need to positively impact those around us. Generation after generation, new mothers are told to “enjoy it while it lasts” because children grow so quickly. And generation after generation of new mothers have rolled their eyes at this saying because the first few years can feel like an eternity when a screaming baby is attached to you twenty hours a day! Instead of automatically dismissing this good-natured advice, let’s seek to apply it by making sense of our experiences through reflective journaling. By taking ten minutes out at the end of the day to reflect on the positive events (baby first smile, etc.), vent about the frustrating aspects (reflux, need we say more?) and learn from our experiences (always, always, always pack a change of clothes) we can create awareness and intentionality within the daily grind.
Reflective journaling is also a necessary practice for those who seek to create a career outside of the home. How can you properly convey your value and worth to an organization if you don’t know your own value? By taking the time to iteratively reflect upon both your successes and lessons learned, you will have an amazing source of information to prepare for your next job interview or yearly evaluation. Additionally, managers/business should seek to create a reflective culture within their organizations. Encouraging employees to journal and (when appropriate) sharing personal insights gleaned will ensure that creativity and connectedness are a part of the fabric of the organization.
We want to challenge you to spend three minutes (yes, just three minutes) everyday for the next three weeks journaling. Some people prefer to have a prompt while others like to open up the floodgates and see where the experience takes them. We are less concerned with what you are journaling about and more concerned that you are taking the time to invest in yourself and connect with your inner passion and purpose!