How do you keep track of your personal development and career goals?

I developed the Becoming Personal Development Journal as a way to keep my milestone goals, progress, and overall thoughts on my own development in one place. Sure, I have my blog to do that, but after inadvertently deleting my blog of ten years when I switched to a web site, I realized the impermanence of ideas. Plus, writing something by hand requires discipline and it’s discipline that comes into play when you are trying to achieve a bold goal.

Through this journal, I wanted to inspire my clients to stay motivated and maintain their momentum as they were rolling off engagements with me.

I started using early versions of the Journal two years ago. I had quit my job to finish my doctorate, was fresh out of my final defense with my committee, recovering from some very painful surgery, and felt a bit rudderless. Because I started this process for myself in August 2015, I made the journal undated. Change starts the day you decide it starts. You do not have to wait till January  to get started. In fact, it’s almost better if you do start at an odd time of the year since you are not distracted by three months of holidays. I noticed that my clients felt a bit overwhelmed with papers and information I had pointed them to during our time together. Many didn’t have a system for keeping their learning in one place. I experimented with PowerPoint and worksheets, with varying degrees of success. There are several worksheets inside the Journal that will help you get organized, focused on your goals, and really learn about yourself as a catalyst and leader. These are informed by both my research and my experiences coaching.

Using the Becoming Development Journal
I make it easy to get going with this journal. I Set up your weeks starting on Mondays and ending on Sundays. Each week, you’re prompted with a question to make you think about your goals and how you plan to get them done. You have space to write the things you are working on (like noticing your attention in meetings or with certain people, noticing your decision making and the quality of your thinking, and even noticing how you felt that day). Some people might develop symbols for some of these concepts. Smiley faces makes a good one for mood. A numerical rating system can also quickly denote how your day is going. I provide example entries to help you get started.


One of my weekly entries from one of the prototypes

There are a lot of extra sections in this journal, including different approaches to managing stress, avoiding burnout, and a lot more. Over time, see if you utilize the whole journal or only focus on specific sections.

Why Journaling Works
It’s been said that writing down your goals makes them more concrete. Pysch Central has a great article about the benefits of keeping a journal. I noticed that as I logged my goals and the milestones to getting there each day, I learned more about myself, what I do well and where I struggle. I became an effective coach to myself at a time when I couldn’t pay anyone to care. More importantly, the things I want to avoid altogether are there, staring me in the face. I become my best accountability partner. Here, I can be completely honest with how I’m doing and notice trends along the way. Friends are great, but they are soft on us. Managers are great too, but when given a choice to talk about the status of the business v the status of you, they will opt for the business. They generally have extremely limited bandwidth for deep conversation on your personal development. We all have those times in our lives when we need support coupled with an accurate reflection of where we are at.

Using this journal has been helpful for me and my clients. While I love writing about concepts related to coaching on the blog, it’s so much easier to flip a few pages through the journal. A few weeks ago, I had spike in networking activities. Thanks to the Becoming Development Journal, I was able to pinpoint that it happened as a result of being asked to write an article for a local newspaper, which resulted in an invitation to speak on a panel. From there, several meetings sprung up, and in one of them, I received some valuable advice that gave me something to think about in terms of my approach to getting business.

What are your development goals for the coming month? Do you use a journal or a similar method to log your progress?


3 Reasons you should be logging your personal development

1. Goal Setting 

Aiming for and working towards good goals that motivate you helps keep things interesting. It helps you to continue to improve and take charge of your growth. Once you reach one goal, set another. Push yourself, maybe even more than you want to.

2. Progress

Feeling discouraged? Do you not notice improvement? If you are keeping a development journal you will be able to look back and find what may be holding you back. On the other hand, your development may be going great! If so, you can go through your journal to see what is working for you and keep it up. Logging progress can also help you to determine future goals.

3. Accountability

Having a development journal can help to keep you dedicated when you’re having one of those ‘I don’t wanna think about it’ days, and we all have them! On days when I don’t feel like reflecting on myself I will read though my journal. Remember that day you had a great meeting or won over a skeptical stakeholder? Or the long, all day session where you presented material several times and nailed it? All of this info should be in your journal. Your ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of developing will all be there too, and it isn’t going anywhere. It will be right there waiting for you to complete it. It is like having an accountability buddy with you!

When I didn’t see a development journal that I would use or recommend to my coaching clients, I wrote one. It is 12 months, undated so you can start page one at any time of the year. It includes everything from development tips to quizzes, to note taking sections to take all the information in. You have pages dedicated to your goals and to your upcoming milestones (i.e., a meeting, a speech, a difficult conversation, a key deliverable, etc.). It focuses on offering a holistic framework for you to get the most out of your development journal as possible.

You can write directly in the book. Highlight different activities in different colors, or use symbols to quickly communicate your progress. It’s not meant to be a tome, and trains you to be succinct.

Do you log your personal development? If so what do you include?