The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen.
– Lee Iacocca
As you become more mindful of yourself and your world, begin to awaken to your true nature, and formally reflect on the gaps between what you wanted to happen and what really happened, you will have a lot of “ah ha” realizations. Some will stay in your head, but most won’t – especially as you get older.
Keeping a journal will ensure you capture those brilliant sparks of wisdom. Record the plan, what actually happened, the factors causing the gap, and insights from your reflection. This same process can be applied to team meetings, family meetings, and mentoring or counseling with individuals. As part of your reflection, consider past experiences and insights that have been documented in your journal. Do patterns emerge? How do those patterns change awareness? What will you do about it?
Electronic journals have become the rage, and I’ve tried many devices and apps, but they just don’t work for me. Instead of having to open my iPad, turn it on, select the right app, and then start writing in a somewhat clumsy manner, I just open my Moleskine and start scribbling. As I’ve discussed, the act of writing creates ownership and understanding.
I start a new journal each year, writing on the first few pages the results of an annual end-of-year reflection where I think about goals – personal and professional – for the year. I’ll tell you more about that reflection process later on.
Each morning before I start work I write down my top three tasks, my Three Things, for the day and I take a moment to record some gratitude – it’s amazing how that creates focus and changes your perspective and outlook. During the day I’ll take notes on calls, ideas, and to-do’s. And at the end of the day I’ll review and reflect – hansei – on my top three and day overall to see if I accomplished what I set out to do, and if not then why not and how I’ll improve.
I’ll also jot down action items, notes from phone calls, and questions to follow up on. Roughly once a week I’ll review previous pages, putting a check mark in the top corner of each page that no longer has open items – a visual cue. Every month or so I’ll do a more thorough review, copying over action items and issues to a new page so I don’t have to skim through the journal.
Seems cumbersome, right? Could this be done more effectively electronically? Probably for some people, but not for me. Writing by hand is powerful for me. Experiment and discover what works best for you – the important concept is recording and reviewing, however it is done.