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Published on January 6, 2021

How to Start Journaling for Self- Development (6 Simple Ways)

How to Start Journaling for Self- Development (6 Simple Ways)

Self-development is something we all strive for, but we often don’t know where to start. Have you been looking for a way to finally reach your goals or improve areas in your life? Journaling can be an outlet that helps you pinpoint where you’re struggling and how you’ve grown. It’s also a great way to purge the mind of negative thoughts and document positive feelings and accomplishments.

When you journal, you’re putting aspirations and frustrations into words. Once you begin writing these moments down, you will find yourself on the road to achieving your dreams. Here are 6 tips to help you get started with journaling for self-development.

1. Set Your Intentions

The first step for starting a journal is to decide why you want to begin writing and what you hope to get out of it. Maybe you would like to have a memoir-style diary where you document your feelings, tasks, or daily activities. Keeping a daily log is a quick way to jot down thoughts and get things off your chest. Or perhaps, you are beginning a new chapter in life and want to keep a record of how things started and progressed, like a fresh relationship, new job, or health journey. Journaling with the intention of recording your growth can be extremely eye-opening.

Finally, you might consider starting a journal to give to someone else. If you’re a new mom or dad, consider keeping a diary of what it’s like to be a parent and family life, then gift it to your child when they’re grown. Whatever your intentions for journaling may be, it’s important you begin the writing process with a clear purpose. This ensures you will stay motivated to journal and work on self-development.

2. Choose Your Medium

When you document your thoughts, it does not always have to be in a traditional lined notebook. You might find it easier to express your feelings when you speak out loud, so using a recording device as your diary may be more beneficial. Or perhaps, you’re the type of person who has long trains of thought and would rather quickly document them on your phone or computer.

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If do you stick to a classic notebook, finding one that you’re excited to write in will push you to journal more consistently. You might also consider starting a video journal, where you record messages and document significant life memories. Talking to a camera can be a great outlet for expressing your feelings, and it creates a project you can always look back on.

After you are confident in your purpose for journaling and what medium you plan to use, you can then begin documenting your feelings in ways that will allow you to work on self-development.

3. Find a Schedule That Works for You

If you’re trying to journal for self-development, then you want to avoid it feeling like a chore or a burden. This can happen if you don’t set aside the ideal time of day to write or record. The best journaling session time will be different for everyone.

Maybe you’re the type of person who is most focused early in the morning with a cup of coffee, and this is the time when you can really put your thoughts into words. Or perhaps, you’re someone who is always on the go and rarely has a moment to yourself. If so, you might find using a recorder and talking things through on the drive home from work is effective. It’s all about finding the right time to journal that fits with your lifestyle.

If you try to force yourself to write every single day but find you’re too busy with meetings or taking care of kids or a pet, then aim for journaling once a week. It’s perfectly fine to just write a recap of your week or touch base every few days. Even journaling once a month can still provide measurable results.

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No matter how often you journal, you will instantly feel lighter after every session. You do not have to write for an hour as you may have thought when considering journaling. It can be a quick check-in that is as short as 5 minutes just to jot down your emotions. Discover how much time you can truly commit to journaling, form the habit, and you will feel more relaxed from the process.

4. Categorize Your Goals

Another aspect of journaling for self-development is writing down your aspirations. When you put your goals into words, you are more likely to achieve them. The key is to categorize your dreams into different areas of life so that they become more tangible. If you’re journaling in a notebook, you can divide it into separate sections for career, health, relationships, and life adventures.

In your career category, you might document achievements you’re proud of, or list out frustrations while brainstorming ideas to overcome them. If you want to lose weight, you might use the health section to keep track of your progress. It’s an opportunity to write down inspiring words that will encourage you to keep going.

For the relationships category, you can journal about your dating life and the excitement and nerves that come with a first date. You might vent about your parents always fighting, or how friends are getting on your nerves. Writing down aspects that do or do not work well will help you learn what is really important to you in life.

Finally, personal growth isn’t just about your career or relationships; it’s also about devoting time to your passions. That is why the life adventures category is so important. This is where you can journal about places you want to see or talents you want to develop. It’s your chance to openly write about dreams and put a plan of action together.

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In no time, you will be able to look back and see how much you have achieved. Dividing your aspirations into sections will allow you to concretely devote time to each area of your life.

5. Write About What Inspires You in the Moment

A journal does not have to fit a concrete outline. Although sometimes in life, we need to check a box or have firm expectations, in a journal, you can creatively let your feelings flow. In fact, the most effective journaling sessions will be ones where you write freely about topics that excite you at the moment.

You can write about your day and list things that happened, the activities you did, or tasks you accomplished. Or you might develop a mood journal where you have short daily entries about how you were feeling that day. This allows you to express your feelings in a safe place and talk yourself through emotions.

Another option is to start a gratitude journal. You might consider writing down 5 to 10 things you are grateful for every day or week. Pausing and taking a moment to reflect on aspects of life you are grateful for can create a more positive mindset.

The possibilities for journaling are vast, and it’s all about finding what comes naturally when you sit down to write. From there, you will be able to leverage journaling for self-development.

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6. Use Your Journal as Your Own Best Friend

The beauty of a journal is that it is a safe space for all of your thoughts. Journaling is essentially writing to yourself and being your own best friend. In the movie of life, your friends and family are all the supporting characters, and you are the main star.

Journaling is where you have the opportunity to really focus on yourself and make sure you continue to shine. When you journal, you can truly say anything you want. You can be brutally honest about your performance on a presentation or your excitement from meeting someone new. You can write motivating words to yourself that you can always look back to when you need a confidence boost. By venting frustrations, you might realize you were overreacting, as journaling helps to improve our perspectives.

There is also room to document any events or thoughts you might feel silly sharing with someone else but want to remember. Your journal is the ultimate keeper of your secrets and your loftiest goals. Having the ability to be your own cheerleader through journaling can be an empowering source for self-growth.

Final Thoughts

The hardest part of trying something new is actually starting it. Once you make it over the hurdle of writing your first journal entry, the rest will come easily.

Self-development is a never-ending process, and journaling is a way to document your growth. We are always changing and improving every single day, whether we are aware of it or not. It can be very enlightening to look back on journal entries you made a few months ago and compare them to more recent ones. You might find that you accomplished more goals than you initially planned or that your desires have actually changed.

Journaling can give you the deepest insight into your feelings, which is the path to becoming the best version of yourself. So, take these 6 tips on how to start journaling and challenge yourself to embark on a journaling adventure. In no time, you will be proud of how far you’ve come.

More Tips on How to Start Journaling

Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

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Nancy Solari

Nancy Solari is an accomplished CEO, life coach, and motivational speaker.

7 Ways To Expand Your Horizon And Push For New Frontiers How to Start Journaling for Self- Development (6 Simple Ways) How To Take Back Your Life When Things Get Out of Control How to Commit to Self-Development for Continuous Growth How to Find Joy in Life During Difficult Times

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Published on March 1, 2021

How To Find a Mentor And Make The Relationship Work

How To Find a Mentor And Make The Relationship Work

One of the fastest shortcuts to success in anything is to learn from someone who’s already done it. No matter what your goals are—from starting a business to inventing a new technology, from becoming a better public speaker to getting a promotion—there’s someone out there who’s done some variation of it. They’ve already faced the trials and tribulations of that journey. They have the connections. They’ve gained experience and wisdom. They know the pitfalls and challenges, and they know the shortcuts. If you want a higher chance of success, find a mentor.

Pick up a biography of any successful person, and you’ll quickly learn that there’s one thing they all have in common: they’ve all had mentors—people who came before who taught and championed and supported them, people who helped shortcut their path to success in their given field.

Mentorship Isn’t Exactly New

The recorded history of mentorship dates back to at least Ancient Greece.[1] In the Middle Ages, most skills and crafts were learned through apprenticeship.[2] And since the 1970s, mentorship has become a critical part of many businesses and enterprises.[3]

But it’s not just an enduring legacy—research backs its benefits up. People with mentors are more likely to get promotions, be more engaged, and even feel more satisfied at work.[4][5] In fact, a study at Sun Microsystems found that 25% of employees who took part in mentorship got a pay raise and were five times more likely to get a promotion.[6]

So, how do you take advantage of all of these benefits and find yourself a mentor? The good news is there are more opportunities today than ever before—from free to paid, from formal to informal.

How to Find a Mentor

Here are five ways to find a mentor and make the relationship work.

1. Start With Your Human Resources Department

If you work in a corporate setting, start with the HR department. They’ll be able to connect you with any company-sponsored mentorship programs or, at least, point you in the right direction.

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Even if you haven’t heard of a company mentorship program, it’s worth checking in because you might be surprised—71% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs, but only 37% of professionals actively have a mentor.[7]

If your company doesn’t have a formal mentorship program, HR may be able to recommend aligned organizations or affinity groups, or even help you set up an informal meeting with a potential mentor in the organization.

2. Join a Club, Organization, or Affinity Group

You don’t need to work in a corporate setting to join a like-minded group or club. If there’s an area you’re passionate about or if you’re looking for a mentor with similar background and interests, there are several non-profits, organizations, and groups that can help you meet a potential mentor.

Join a club or group in your area of interest and start networking. There are groups related to everything from skills like public speaking to fields like entrepreneurship or art, to celebrating and supporting your culture, background, sexual orientation, or identity.

If you start with your passions and values, you’re more likely to find a mentor who’s aligned.

3. Sign Up for a Networking App or Service

In the 21st century, networking can be as simple as a swipe on the phone or a click on the computer. There are plenty of networking and mentorship groups already in place, from SCORE, which helps small businesses connect with mentors for free, to Meetup.com, which helps people with similar interests to meet up, to even Shapr, which is known as the “Tinder for business” and helps you connect with other professionals in your area.

The ultimate social networking tool for business, of course, LinkedIn, can be a powerful asset in helping you to find a mentor or be introduced to one through a mutual contact if there’s a specific person in your field that you’d like to meet.

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Most of these services are free or low-cost, so do some research and join the service that makes the most sense to help you meet a mentor.

4. Pay for a Mentorship Program or Mastermind Group

In addition to the numerous free resources, you can also pay to be connected to a mentor or a mentorship community. Some high-level leaders actually sell formal mentorship programs. There are also paid groups, organizations, and masterminds that span every industry and area of interest.

If you’re interested in a paid program, do some online research on potential mentors, and ask people in your field if there are any mentors or programs that they’ve hired themselves or heard about. Though a paid relationship does change the dynamics of a classic mentorship, it can be extremely beneficial if you’re looking for specific structure and results or access to a very prominent person or group of people.

5. Reach Out Directly to People Who Inspire You

You can try to reach out directly to people who inspire you or potential mentors. Do your research and find people who inspire you or who have achieved success in your area of interest, and then contact them directly to ask for mentorship.

Of course, if you have the opportunity to be introduced to them through mutual contact (check LinkedIn first to see if you have any in common), you may have a greater chance of a positive response. But many prominent mentorships started with just an audacious e-mail asking for mentorship. So, don’t shy away from reaching out directly if there’s someone you really want to connect with.

Get the Most Out of the Mentorship

A mentor-mentee relationship is different than almost any other relationship you’ll ever have. It’s not exactly a friendship, but it’s not exactly a boss-employee dynamic, either (unless your mentor is your boss). So, it’s important to set up the right structure to make sure you both get the most out of the mentorship.

Here are five ways to get the most out of mentorship.

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1. Get Clear on Your Goals

Before establishing a mentorship, get clear on why you want a mentor. What are you hoping to get out of the relationship? What skills do you want to learn? Where do you hope this relationship will help you get in the next six months or a year? How much time do you want to dedicate to this mentorship? How will you know if the mentorship is a success?

Once you’re clear on your goals, you’ll be able to better assess who is the right fit for you, where to find this person, and how to communicate so you’re both on the same page.

2. Set Clear Expectations and Boundaries

Any good mentorship starts with clear communication and upfront expectations and boundaries. Right away, clearly decide how and how often you’ll meet, what your goals and expectations of each other are, and what boundaries you have around the relationship.

For example, some mentorships meet monthly but text in between meetings. Others only meet quarterly and check-in via e-mail a few times in between. Others still have no correspondence in between meetings. A little work upfront to be clear on things like where you’ll meet, how often, what communication is acceptable, and what issues are within the bounds of the mentorship can go a long way to making sure it’s a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship.

3. Keep It Consistent

Once you’ve ironed out the details, keep them consistent. Try to schedule out meetings at least 3 to 6 months in advance so that there are no misunderstandings. For example, you may choose to meet on the first Friday of every month, unless otherwise discussed.

Try not to cancel meetings unless something truly unavoidable comes up and, if e-mail is customary, be sure to consistently check in via e-mail in between. The biggest threat to mentorship is the lack of consistency. Over time, saying, “I’ll e-mail you when I’m free next month,” withers away into two or three months without any communication, and then a failed mentorship.

We all get busy, and things are bound to come up, so if the mentorship isn’t on your calendar and prioritized, it may fall apart after a certain point. Make a point to keep it consistent!

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4. Be Open to New Ways of Thinking and Trying New Things

The mentorship will challenge you and may ask you to try new things. You don’t necessarily have to agree with and resonate with everything your mentor says, but try your best to keep an open mind and try new things on for size—you might be surprised.

Your mentor likely has a lot of experience in your interest area, and they may have new ways of thinking about things from all of that experience. It doesn’t mean you have to accept their advice long-term, but being open to trying their advice shows your mentor you appreciate their wisdom and also opens you up to new possibilities.

If something isn’t a fit after you’ve tried it, talk to your mentor about that, and you can work together to find the right fit. But show up, do your homework, listen, and be open to new ideas and approaches. That’s the whole point of the mentorship, and it shows your mentor that you take the relationship seriously!

5. Be Grateful and Give as well

Jumping off that last point, be grateful. Especially if it is an unpaid relationship, your mentor is donating time to support you. Express gratitude and appreciation whenever you can, and take the advice and homework as seriously as possible. And don’t feel like it’s only a one-sided relationship. Your mentor gets so much out of the relationship, from appreciation to celebrating your successes to even the future networking and connections you can share with your mentor.

So, don’t forget to celebrate your wins and recognize that this is a mutually beneficial relationship. The better you feel about the relationship, the better it’s going to go.

The Bottom Line

Mentorship is an amazing and invaluable asset that can accelerate your growth, success, and even fulfillment. Finding the right mentor and getting the most out of the relationship can mean the difference between wasted time and connection, wisdom, and a shortcut to your goals.

So dive on in and reap the same benefits that successful leaders have been accessing for the past 3,000 years. Find yourself a mentor.

More Tips on How to Find a Mentor

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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