With the world changing at a faster pace annually, there are times when many of us think and feel as if we were treading water and not learning. And when we look back at our accomplishments, we can’t clearly define what behaviors, skills, knowledge, and traits helped us to achieve our goals.

One key trait extraordinary leaders have is the desire and ability to continuously improve and learn, allowing them to adjust to the changing global economy. Learning is ongoing and incremental, with each increment often being so slight that we really have to be looking for the learning.

Why Journal?
A learning journal, when implemented on a consistent daily basis can help us to capture our learning by creating a time to be self reflective of the days’ experiences and connect them to specific learning that took place, however small and seemingly unimportant.. It can provide an awareness of our learning by knowing that at the end of a day we will be taking time and energy to add to our learning journal.

By writing and tracking our progress, we are able to review our progress at any point in time. This is a great tool when you may be questioning your progression. Journaling can also help you to focus on your strengths, and determine what limitations, you are improving that will have a positive impact on your performance. And, you will begin to see trends on how you best learn and develop so you can incorporate the right learning opportunities into your day.

As the days, weeks, and months of journaling come together you will be able to identify behaviors that work and don’t work for you as it relates to your work performance and personal life. As your capacity builds, you will be able to take on new and bigger challenges which will provide the development situations to increase your effectiveness.

How do I start?
Journaling is a commitment, a daily commitment which need not take a lot of time. And like any habit, it will take 21 days to build before it becomes a natural occurrence.

There are many methods you can use to implement the journaling process. For some of us a dedicated time each day to journal fits with our personality and preferences while for others having a small note pad or PDA to jot down thoughts and feelings around an experience immediately after it occurs will work better.. The key is to keep trying and adjusting your method of journaling until it works for you.

Tips to Journaling
Remember this journal is about you and your development, not the people around you.

Be alert to your feelings during the day. What made you excited, inspired, challenged, frustrated, fearful, angry etc? These feelings are a clue to a potential learning moment .

The journal is written for you and by you, so don’t worry about spelling, grammar, punctuation etc. As long as you can read it later to see progress and trends, as well as plan for the future, is all that counts.

Keep it short so it easy to review later

Questions to Ponder
Throughout the day and while you journal, here are some questions to help you start your learning each day:

What experience was challenging today? And what feelings did you have during the experience?
What specifically did you learn during the experience, perhaps a piece of knowledge, new skill, or technique?
Did you notice a behavior linked to your feelings either positive or negative?
If positive, how can you use this behavior more? AND if negative, how can you adjust your behavior next time?
What learning did you have today, that you want to expand upon to make you a more effective leader in the future?
What next steps do you plan to take to implement this new learning in the future?
Who can you ask for help with these next steps?

Final Words
The professionals who get ahead today are the ones who stay ahead of their competition. They take control of their own development and embrace continuous learning. Journaling your learning costs nothing to implement except time and energy.

Image Credit: The Stock Exchange (www.sxc.hu) User: ba1969