Keeping a Journal

Dear diary….

Just kidding!!

As a child, I always enjoyed writing down my experiences and my thoughts. As a professional and as a teacher-in-training during my Undergrad at Mcgill, we were required to keep journals. Journaling has always been present in my life and I believe that it has contributed to my success throughout the years.

 What is a journal anyway?

My answer is that a journal is whatever you want it to be!

Have you ever been gifted those little blank notebooks with fancy covers? Have they been accumulating in a drawer somewhere? Some professions require you to engage in plenty of self-reflection to improve your practice and encourage you to use sites like WordPress to keep such reflections – But truthfully, writing thoughts down on paper is more effective and feels more meaningful than typing them out. If you’ve got at least one of these notebooks lying around somewhere, then dust if off and open it up! You’re off to a good start.

Many of us just don’t use this empty books properly or just don’t know how to make good use of them. When you find yourself working with people– and you most probably will – it is a good idea to evaluate yourself regularly. Simply put, writing thoughts down will facilitate the reflection process and get you started on becoming more self-aware. This is a skill that many find difficult to accomplish on their own. this kind of awareness allows you to be more present with others and make better choices with much more clarity.

I use a journal to write down anything I come across during a given day that either resonates with me, inspires me, or really gets me thinking about something. The purpose of writing these things down is so that I can refer to them later when I need a little boost in morale. or some reassurance. I bring this up because when it comes to making big life choices, like accepting a job offer, or rejecting one for that matter, it is helpful to have somewhere to turn. Sometimes just flipping through this book will teach you something about yourself but become uplifting. I encourage you to get into the habit of writing even when times are great for you! Write down what you’re thankful for, something you enjoyed in your day, or an accomplishment– no matter how small it may seem.

Sometimes you forget what you’ve written down, and it can be enlightening to revisit those thoughts. You may ask yourself: “Why did I put this quote in here?” Maybe it no longer resonates with you, maybe it’s even more true today than it was yesterday. Ask yourself how you’ve grown since you’ve written a particular thought down. Are you happy with where you’re headed? Maybe this journal keeps you grounded and helps to bring you back in times of crisis. Voila, your very own counselor… But on a serious note, if you need a counselor, you should seek that support without shame. McGill offers services for mental health that are readily accessible if needed.

Here’s a tip to start writing.

When you catch yourself suddenly day dreaming from something you’ve heard, or something someone said, write what you’re thinking into that journal. Write what you’ve heard and what you were thinking afterwards. Almost as though you’d be speaking with a friend. You can also draw rather than writing. Sometimes you may come across something interesting an course reading that you think would be useful to remember in the future for your career. Write it down! Other times, you can just write about how tired you are of everything! Anything goes. This is for you, by you. You make the rules.

Keep note pads all around you. I find myself often alone when I get a thought that I think would be great to share with someone. I keep paper and pencils in the places I most commonly hang out in the day so that I don’t have to look far or go out of my way to search for materials to write something down. Sometimes, I have lots of thoughts at night before bed– Which is really annoying!!!! Luckily, I have placed a notepad by my bedside and I don’t hesitate to write down any ideas, concerns or lists of responsibilities going through my mind at the time. In doing so, you liberate your mind of the burden of having to ruminate over these thoughts for fear of forgetting them by morning. I often find that I fall asleep immediately after having written something down because I feel secure in knowing that the information will be there for me in the morning.

Lately, I have been reading lots of books – Books on all sorts of topics, but mainly informative books, self-help books, and career-oriented books. As a McGill student, you are lucky to have access to an incredible wealth of ebooks if that’s how you like to read. Personally, I enjoy ebooks. I am almost always inspired, confused or amazed by something I read in a book. And I will take the time to interrupt my reading to immediately write down what is going on in my mind. Often, I come across similar information I have read in other books and I like to draw the connection between books for future reference. Doing this kind of exercise not only reinforces what you have been reading, but it also gives what you have been reading greater meaning. You can definitely read for enjoyment, but I believe that there’s always something worth noting even if you’re just reading to relax. Thinking is an active process. Reading should be too.

There is so much you can learn from yourself and use that knowledge for your own career improvement and for improvement in school.


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