I started a journaling series the other day, and one of the themes that’s going to keep coming up as I continue is reflection. That’s because without reflection, journaling is little more than a brain dump. Helpful for clearing out short-term memory so you can continue to function, but not so much if you actually want to accomplish anything.
But journaling shouldn’t be about clearing up mental capacity; it should be about recording, reviewing, and improving. Reviewing and improving are where a journal’s true power lies, because it’s in that reflection that we find answers, possibilities, and more interesting questions. We can see where things went wrong, and then make plans to fix them. We can see where things went right, and work toward creating those conditions again. We can see the patterns of successes and failures and use that to make better plans for how to handle things in the future.
The benefits of being reflective, of taking a few minutes to just stop and analyze what’s happened, affect not only our personal lives, but everything else we do. In fact, being reflective can make us a better learner. When we take time out of our learning, regardless of our learning setting, we give the material time to sink into our heads and to become part of our tacit knowledge. We also give ourselves a chance to find where we’re strong (or strong enough) and to find those weaknesses and gaps that need to be addressed to help us get where we want to be. And once we’ve identified all of that, then we can take charge of our own development and become the person we want to become.