5 Unique Journaling Ideas to Facilitate Client Progress
Asking a coaching client to journal in an online journal has immeasurable benefits. However, when it comes to journaling, there is no one ‘right’ way to go about the task itself. The beauty of journaling is its inherent capacity for individual interpretation and creative input. Further to this, there are many different methods and approaches to journaling depending on the interests of a coaching client along with the pathway objectives at the time.
Essentially, we don’t have to stick to a ‘dear diary’ approach, there are many imaginative ways to go about writing a journal in order to provide the many benefits journaling offers. These include personal clarity, reflective opportunity, increased consciousness, routine cultivation, and personal growth measure.
5 original ways to journal that every client can benefit from:
The classic ‘to-do’ list is a very easy go-to for journal users and planners of all kinds. It’s easy to sit and jot down a list of things that need to be done, including chores and similar. The problem with these types of lists is that there is never a satisfying end as life offers more and more tasks to get done. What is more useful from a personal development perspective, is to create a ‘to-don’t’ list, whereby the individual can journal what negative habits or routines they would like to free themselves from. Though this approach may appear simplistic, it is a highly effective way to encourage reflection on what is no longer working. As the list develops within the journal space, it becomes easier to identify what no longer serves purpose in order to move forward in a positive direction.
Instead of asking your client to follow a typical ‘dear diary…’ approach to journaling, invite them instead to become a detective in their own existence. Encourage them to describe their daily experiences within the safe space of their journal. This is their opportunity to explore how they really think and feel about what’s happening in their lives. For example, they might notice that when they return from work, they are regularly agitated or reactive. When this note is made several times over a period of time, a pattern can be identified. In this way, the journal offers the same reflective value as a food diary would for a nutritionist or dietary health professional. These are clues to discovering the true behaviors of the client in order to help them progress.
For those clients whom writing is not a natural activity, it can be useful to use cues to provoke thought. During coaching sessions, suggest and discuss self-interview questions that your client can use while journaling between appointments with you. Such questions may include, “What was the best part of my day and why?” or, “What are the three things I did today that prevented me progressing towards my goal?” or, “What could I do tomorrow that would get me where I want to be in 3-months from now?”. Having cues to prompt thoughtful responses can help clients to feel at ease with the process and further encouraged to use the journaling platform on an ongoing basis.
When we practice the art of gratitude, no matter where we are on our personal journey, we draw consciousness to the positive elements that are present within our life. Using a journal space to write down what we are grateful for can encourage fresh perspective on each situation. Elements a client feels grateful for will vary from minor to major yet each one is significantly valuable. For example, a person might feel frustrated with their place of work but discover through journaling that they feel grateful for the staff team they have worked with. Or they may identify gratitude for their health, the weather, or even the coaching process itself.
Cathartic release is fundamental to moving on from negative past experiences. In order to maximize success potential, each client must free themselves from the weighty anchors of their past. Letter writing can be a useful framework to help clients to release past frustrations in order to leave space for greater clarity and more positive thinking going forward. They may find that once the first sentence is written, the rest naturally follows, allowing them the opportunity they may not have had before to voice their feelings and emotions.
Journaling is inherently a creative self-development practice. It is a personal activity that involves a certain measure of vulnerability. As coaches, we must appreciate how courageous it is for a client to journal to any extent or capacity. It demonstrates commitment to overcoming obstacles, a willingness to grow, and a dedication to the coaching process. Not only that, it is a further time commitment beyond each appointment which can only be celebrated!
Each client has a unique set of skills, experiences and qualities to share with the world. Great coaching will encourage the very best parts of who they are to rise to the surface and journaling is a great way to help that happen. Use this simple but highly effective approach to support your work with each client. It could be the lightbulb switch you’ve been looking for.