Updated: Nov 17, 2022
I was never much of a fan of journaling. I felt it was a bit pretentious, writing my thoughts down on paper. Who'd want to know? Why waste good paper?
Bad enough that you had all these thoughts, all day long. To have to see them in writing was - surely - not going to improve matters?
That was, until I read Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. And read about creativity.
You see, I'm hazarding a guess. That you feel totally stuck. And that - if creativity was on one end of the spectrum - you currently feel on the total opposite of that.
Journaling is one of the ways of getting you unstuck. At feeding and unlocking your creative side. At helping you become playful again. And curious. And yes, creative.
Because when you are stuck in your career that's what you need. Creativity. Playfulness. Curiosity.
Because it is your creativity that will help you find solutions to the problem of what (the hell) you're going to do next in your career.
You see, the reason you're stuck is twofold:
Your emotions are all over the shop. You're unhappy. You're confused. You feel stuck. You're angry. You're frustrated. And half the time you haven't got a clue why.
You can't see a way out. Because you don't know enough. Because you can only see your own little world. That corner of the room that you've painted yourself into. You can't see a solution to your problem. You need (say it with me), yes, creativity.
So, how to go about this?
Well, for me I decided to start doing what I was told (for a change, is what my partner would say). I decided to step over my hesitation to write whatever came in my mind. I started writing 'morning papers'. Every morning. In the train.
And what I found was amazing:
Writing morning papers became an outlet. For a good old rant. For just writing what came in my head. For giving a voice to what I was feeling. And for - over time - reading that the same issues kept coming up, over and over again.
And what's more: over time I started playing. I started to make little drawings. And write with different colour pens. Make it look pretty. Make up little stories.
I started noticing little things around me. The sun appearing from behind the clouds. The little flowers on the side of the rail track. Things I never noticed before.
And after a month of doing this I started to notice changes in myself too! I got out of the train lighter. Happier. More ready to accept whatever the day was going to throw at me.
My mood lightened. My emotions cleared.
And that's when I learned:
Writing stuff down is not vain, or pretentious. It's a much-needed and safe outlet for your emotions. Over time it will help you get calmer and clearer and it will help you recognise patterns in your life and work.
And no, no one needs to read it. Not you. Not anyone. (In fact, I threw my first full notebook away in a bin, outside the station!)
But that is only the beginning!
With clearing your mind comes a new calmness and focus. Which you can use to find a - creative - solution to your career change problem.
Which is where Julia Cameron's second tip comes in.
Be kind to yourself. Go and do things you love. Go to a gallery or a museum. Take a long walk in a beautiful space (or even your local park). Look around you at what's beautiful and what sparks your curiosity, or your admiration, or even makes you laugh or smile.
And also: be curious. Go and read that book on that topic you always wanted to learn more about. Listen to a podcast. Watch a video. Attend a webinar.
Because for you to be creative, you've got to have something to give. You can't run on an empty tank.
For you to be creative you need to fill your soul. By being kind to yourself. By doing the things that you love. By looking after yourself. Physically. But definitely also mentally and spiritually.
So, yes, from a non-believer. From a person who didn't believe in journaling. Who thought it was vain, and pretentious. To a person who believes that journaling and doing things you love is the key to unlocking your creativity.
Go on, why not give it a try yourself?
Tineke Tammes is an ICF credentialed Career Coach, who supports professional women in making successful transitions to careers of Freedom, Flexibility and Fulfilment! Besides that she is also a lifelong feminist, part-time portrait artist, never-only-read-one-book-at-any-time reader, and obsessive doodler. Oh, and she knows a bit about change management too.
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