Editor’s Note:  John is taking some time off this month from writing his weekly blog and hosting the podcast.   In his absence, we are reposting some of his more popular offerings.  This blog originally ran on Oct. 31, 2017.

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Keeping a career journal can be a meaningful addition to your career management plan.

I have long extolled the benefits of career journaling. Some of the nation’s leading executives keep records of each day, their major decisions, and their reflections on how they could have done better. There are also some very practical reasons:

  • At some point in almost every executive’s career, losing a resume is a fact of life. Having a career journal will enable you to accurately recreate your career history and avoiding embarrassing memory lapses in employment dates.
  • Having a career journal that incorporates some of your important accomplishments will only strengthen your candidacy. Over time our memories fade. Having a journal loaded with important career accomplishments can strengthen your candidacy in an important executive search interview. I cannot tell you how many times I have had executives tell me they could not remember accomplishments from earlier in their career.
  • It can be an important leadership development tool. Using a concept called reflective thinking, executives use their journals to review decisions they have made over the past week or month. Similar to replaying a game film in their mind, good executives use this information to challenge themselves on how they could have improved their decision-making performance.

Recently, however, I have come upon another reason for keeping a journal. For me it seems to be a game changer.

Journal gratitude. Life Coach Johnny Parker, a speaker and author, says he starts each day listing those things for which he is grateful. He argues that getting into the practice of journaling gratitude can be a life changing ritual.

I think he is on to something very important. Mr. Parker was a speaker at the recent National Association of Health Service Executives annual conference in San Antonio. The idea resonated so I have been trying it.

It works. Journaling each morning those things you are grateful for sets the tone for the day. I have noticed that when I express my gratitude, I begin and end the day with a positive attitude and a renewed sense of optimism. The one day I did not begin with a daily plan or an expression of gratitude was a disaster. As a former crime writer, I have a fairly big dictionary of inappropriate words. On that day I used most of them two or three times and even created some new combinations. By the end of the day, I was agitated and, to say the least, exhausted. When I tried to sort out what had happened, I remembered that I started the day without a plan or any expression of gratitude. Bad move.

This is now a tool I will be sharing with executive clients in our Career Transitions outplacement practice. If there was ever a time when we need all the help we can muster to be positive, to keep moving ahead, it is when we are between jobs.

But there is a caveat. Writing stuff down without the spirit of belief and an attitude of wanting a better day will not produce any magic.

In the end, being grateful requires sincerity and an open mind.

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Other blogs on Journaling

Recreating Your Resume From Memory

Bad Answer for An Interview: I’m Sorry I Don’t Know

Good and Bad Ways to Look Back