If you attended a Don Meyer Coaching Academy, some of the most valuable thoughts came away from the court when Coach would talk about anything from finances to time management to raising your family. During this time, he would always talk about the value of keeping a journal. He would talk of it's importance, always saying: "You're not keeping a diary. Don't write down what you did. Write down what you learned."
The concept of a journal had never been explained to me in those terms and I purchased my first one in Nashville before I left town. I have kept one every since -- I'm on my eighth one now (shown in the photo with my Coach Meyer bobblehead). Not only does writing something down commit it more strongly to memory but helps provoke thought. I sometimes go through my old journals to review lessons learned. It is often a great form of therapy.
Michael Hyatt, whom by the way is a must follow on twitter, recently gave seven benefits to journaling.
1. Process previous events. What happens to me is not as important as the meaning I assign to what happens to me. Journaling helps me sort through my experience and be intentional about my interpretation.
2. Clarify my thinking. Writing in general helps me disentangle my thoughts. Journaling takes it to a new level. Because I am not performing in front of a “live audience,” so to speak, I can really wrestle through the issues.
3. Understand the context. Life is often happening so quickly I usually have little time to stop and reflect on where I am in the Bigger Story. Journaling helps me to discern the difference between the forest and the trees.
4. Notice my feelings. I understand feelings aren’t everything, but they also aren’t nothing. The older I get, the more I try to pay attention to them. They are often an early indicator of something brewing.
5. Connect with my heart. I’m not sure I can really explain this one, but journaling has helped me monitor the condition of my heart. Solomon said “above all else” we are to guard it (see Proverbs 4:23). It’s hard to do that when you lose touch with it.
6. Record significant lessons. I’m a better student when I am taking notes. Writing things down leads to even deeper understanding and, I hope, wisdom. I want to write down what I learn, so I don’t have to re-learn it later.
7. Ask important questions. A journal is not merely a repository for the lessons I am learning but also the questions I’m asking. If there’s one thing I have discovered, it’s the quality of my questions determine the quality of my answers.
Hyatt's seven reasons were part of a blog post on journaling that you can read in its entirety here.