Here's Why You Should Start A Career Journal

Updated: Jun 4, 2021



My first introduction to journaling (not the good old dear diary) was through a friend. A young man who didn't just journal but was so thorough, he kept completed journals and could refer to them from memory. We would be right in the middle of a conversation and he would say something in the vein of “Oh I experienced that 2 years ago", grab a journal off his bookshelf and show me whatever lessons he learned from said experience.

Brilliant.


I didn't make any real effort at consistent journaling until I found myself navigating career, marriage, self discovery and other dynamics. What started out as a cry-me-a-river journal evolved into a career journal which has helped me in the following ways:


Take back control

Journaling helped me feel like I was in charge of my career. It stopped feeling like I was reacting to someone else's whims and caprices. Journaling helped me feel like I was steps ahead.


Keep track of achievements and set boundaries

I used to be great at underestimating my contributions and overworking myself to prove something. Journaling helps me realize when I’m falling back into this "place" and how to enforce my boundaries. It’s also great for updating my resume.


Explore opportunities for career investment

Following up on mentoring, certifications, meetups, or conferences that I find and seeing how they fit into your career plans.


Interviewing

Journaling about my interview experiences has helped me spot my strengths and weaknesses. Thanks to my journal, I realized that I had a deep-seated worry about how bias could affect me getting a job. It also emphasized that one of my strengths is actually panel/group interviews because of this, I could focus on what part of single person interviews made me uncomfortable and steps I need to take to improve.


 


In case you’re wondering what I write about in my career journal, here are a few entries you will see:


  1. Career mantra (what problems am I solving + what do I offer)

  2. Career wants (for visualization purposes)

  3. Great career/life advice and suggestions from mentors or bosses. What happened when I applied it at work?

  4. General career moves I’ve made and the impact they had on me.

  5. My career goals - 1yr, 5yrs, 10yrs and steps I intend to take to get there.

  6. Mistakes I’ve made at my job (Yes this too!)

  7. Interviewing lessons I’ve learned.

  8. One of my fun to-dos is the Dream Job tracker. Every year, I write my idea of a “dream job” and it’s helpful to see how the dream changes as priorities shift and life happens. If I had written a Dream Job entry for April 2020, it would have read something like this

"allows for remote office hours and consideration for childcare in the earlier weeks of homeschool and call-less weekends. It’s amazing how our idea of a “dream job” usually depends on what our Life’s about. Sometimes it's not the organization that’s keeping us from having our dream job, it's us.


After the George Floyd tragedy, I journaled about microaggressions I've experienced but never knew what they were and how I could highlight the realities of this in my spaces.

It’s safe to say that my journal will continue to evolve as I transition into new phases of my career so I like to stay flexible with my entries.

For 1st Gen immigrants, journaling is essential because we might struggle with figuring out why we do what we do - is it a sense of duty or are we really interested? What is our motivation and what’s fueling that?


What are your thoughts and journaling and would you be willing to try journaling? What kind of journaling appeals to you, individual or group?


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