Six Ways to Use a Career Journal for Peak Performance

by Sara Gallagher | January 28, 2021

Are you ready to achieve peak performance? Becoming your best self is difficult to do unless you’ve established a regular habit of self-reflection. The easiest and cheapest form of professional development available, journaling is a powerful tool to process what you’re learning, capture new ideas, formulate plans, and connect with your intention. Struggling with how to get started? Here are six simple ways to use a career journal for your professional development.

1. Get Perspective on Your Current Situation.

Facing a difficult decision or situation at work? Try using a structured method like Six Thinking Hats or OODA Loops to process it and determine a course of action. Journaling through specific situations can yield both clarity and resolve, but you can also use your career journal to process your career more generally. For example, perform a SWOT analysis of your career or complete a leadership assessment tool to capture your strengths and needed areas of development.

2. Record Your Hard Lessons.

When you make a mistake or misstep at work, it can be tempting to try to block it from your memory—but processing mistakes in writing can remove their ability to permanently influence your mood. Over time, recording your lessons may also help you better apply them and assess whether you might have blind spots holding you back.


3. Write Down Advice from Mentors.

Make the most of coaching and mentoring relationships. Record impactful advice or best practices gleaned from those with more experience. But don’t stop there—go a step further and analyze how you can apply this advice to your own professional practice.

4. Record Your Achievements.
It’s important to document your lessons, but it is equally important to note your achievements and growth milestones. Not only is it motivating, but it will help you later if you’re faced with a performance review or job search.

5. Design Experiments.
Risk-taking is a necessary part of growth, but small personal experiments in one way to take risks intelligently. For example, if you’re overworked and you need to practice saying “no,” frame it as an experiment. Try saying “no,” in a more limited context, and record the results. How did it make you feel? How did the person respond? What was the political blowback? Now continue performing experiments until you have found the right balance for you.

6. Extrapolate Your Vision.
Everyone should have a personal mission and vision (“what does success look like for me?”) But it can take months or years to develop one that resonates. Use your journal to jot down key phrases, thoughts, or intentions that can be used to build your own.

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