Use Journaling to Enhance Your Career

JournalateHQ   •   February 21, 2017   •   0 Comment

As the world has grown more complex, so have our jobs. The decisions many of us have to make on a daily basis can have enormous consequences for our companies and the stress of sometimes rocky professional relationships and the need for personal performance can cause a range of emotions within us.

Have you considered journaling as a means of advancing personal accountability and emotional maturity in your career as well as your life? It doesn’t have to take a large amount of time, perhaps no more than 20 minutes a day. What kinds of things could you journal about? What benefits could journaling bring you?

Very often we are unsure how we feel about changes in our lives, but we never stop to sort through these feelings and we pay for that in ways we never even realize. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, once told a class of Harvard students: “You all know about IQ and EQ. Your IQ’s are all high enough for you to be very successful, but where people often fall short is on the EQ. It’s something you develop over time. A lot of management skills are EQ, because management is all about how people function.” People are complicated creatures and increasing your ability to manage them is probably not going to be related to your raw intelligence, but how in-touch you are with your own triggers as well as your ability to relate to those around you.

Abraham Lincoln was one of the most emotionally mature leaders that the world has seen. He made a practice of writing letters to others in the heat of conflict, but declining to send them and instead filed them away in a “never sent” drawer. What Lincoln was essentially doing was using journaling to improve his relationships. A famous example was the letter he wrote to George Meade following the battle of Gettysburg. The Union Army had won the battle, but Meade could have pursued the Confederate Army and likely destroyed it had he been willing to take action. His failure to do so infuriated Lincoln and may have delayed the end of the War by two years. Here are Lincoln’s own words:

“…My dear general, I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee’s escape. He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with the our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely. If you could not safely attack Lee last Monday, how can you possibly do so South of the river, when you can take with you very few more then two thirds of the force you then had in hand? It would be unreasonable to expect, and I do not expect you can now effect much. Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasurably because of it.”

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Ouch! Could you imagine reading a note such as this from your boss, let alone the President of the United States? Lincoln had enough self-awareness to know that while he needed to express his feelings in a tangible way it was better to wait until he was calmer to decide what communication should be delivered to General Meade. By that point, he understood that Meade was not the leader he needed and the following year he would find that person in General Grant, but in the mean time destroying what confidence Meade had left served no benefit and General Meade never read these words.

Do you find yourself saying things to others in frustration that you later regret? Consider journaling your feelings and reflecting on them before expressing them to others.

Another means that journaling can help your career is in the setting and attainment of goals.

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As Yogi Berra famously said, “If you don’t know where you’re going you may not get there.” It is critical for all of us to set goals for ourselves and purchase the time to regularly consider whether the actions we are taking are drawing us closer to our goals or further from them.

Good luck in your endeavors to better yourself. If you need any help in your journaling, we’re here to help at