Career & Entrepreneurship: Fighting career fears through journaling & artful planning.

We’re all afraid sometimes. The ancient Greek author, Aeschylus, who is often described as the father of tragedy, once said, “There are times when fear is good. It must keep its watchful place at the heart’s controls.” The fear of being yourself can be damaging to your ego and cause you to feel guilt and a sense of losing your identity.

At work, when one can tangibly feel they are making a substantial difference in the world, being untrue to oneself is sure to cause self-doubt and confusion to creep in. Their sense of self and ego slip away, and their enthusiasm decreases until they are finally a shadow of who they were and who they wanted to be.

And don’t think that this is just about your productivity at your job because, trust me, that is not nearly as important as your mental wellbeing. If you are true to yourself, you will enjoy yourself more at work and increase your wellness and self-esteem even more. This rings even more true for those who are living with mental health issues — the process of becoming your best, authentic self at work is crucial.

Being honest in your reflection journaling — even when you feel uneasy, helps you build interpersonal skills. We’ve discussed reflective journaling some episodes ago. The process of writing about yourself helps you better understand what you dislike about yourself, what you can and can’t change, and what you should start trying to accept about yourself.

When you write a reflective journal entry, for example, a letter to your younger self, what you are doing is meeting two people: the person you once were and the person you someday want to become. Learning how these two interact, how they conflict and how they harmonize can teach you a lot about how you can adopt their character traits for yourself and ultimately grow towards becoming better.

If you’ve ever had trouble connecting with people or are shy and unable to socialize, reflective journaling can help. Learning to communicate with yourself teaches you all the critical skills which come together as the vaguely named act of “socializing”. If you’ve been searching for a way to be more connected with your coworkers at your job, reflective journaling is a great tool.

It is, of course, helpful in other spheres of your life as well. Writing about past relationships helps clear the path of obstacles for future ones. Learning about your flaws enables you to accept the weaknesses of those around you. Friendship, love, camaraderie all stem from your perception of yourself, which you can influence via reflective journaling.

Planning helps you delegate. Interpersonal relationships are not the only reason why journaling might help you. Many of us who the technology bug has bitten are now serial procrastinators. Some of us are admittedly lazy. Some struggle with mental disorders, making it almost impossible to act, even if they have the screaming desire to do so in their minds. Here’s where planning or bullet journaling helps. Routines are helpful to all of us who struggle with accomplishing tasks. Through the act of writing out which tasks you need to complete and which ones you have no trouble doing, which ones you enjoy and which ones you don’t, you can make a timetable or to-do list that is ideally constructed to meet your own needs.

If you are a meticulous and organized person, plan your day out to the minute, schedule everything (including casual outings) by “pencilling them in” in your planner, and track habits that you would like to build into a healthy routine.

If you are more of a spontaneous, unstructured soul, give yourself a loose list of tasks to accomplish and note down important meetings — give yourself a box to tick if you perform a habit instead of making a dedicated tracker. Your preferences in this regard, of course, can be discovered through reflective journaling.

Delegation in a work context can also be very easily accomplished through the use of planning. There are loads of websites and applications dedicated solely to optimizing team collaboration. Some of these include Slack, Trello, Dropbox, Notion, and even Google’s built-in Docs, Sheets, and Slides applications. Through regular meetings, appointed deadlines (with time allocated to manage failsafe and double-checking), delegating tasks to team members becomes a breeze. Paper planners are suitable in jobs where there is no Work from Home element present at all. Make sure the types of lists and timelines being constructed are suited to the temperaments of everyone working on the project — this includes you and your coworkers.

Digital collaboration tools, or a well-thought-out paper system, can be helpful even in less pressing situations. Grocery shopping becomes twice as fast when each household member has a different section of the list. Budgeting and paying bills are extremely simple if you keep track of deadlines. If you plan ahead, the most impossible of tasks become simple.

Aim to be kind when journaling and planning. Understand the difference between nice and kind. Being kind to yourself and being nice to yourself are two completely different things. You can be nice while you journal — using respectful language, being polite. You can also choose to be kind when you journal — you can work, with good intentions, on actively improving your flaws — being nice (polite, agreeable) and being kind (wanting the best, being benevolent) are not the same. When journaling, be brutally honest with yourself. Is your goal too lofty? Are you really not as lazy as you fear you are? Journaling is a tool to embrace and work on these flaws — this means being careful to journal positively and kindly.

Everybody needs quiet reflection time.

In the end, a journal is for you and nobody else. Use it to draw little pictures and write poetry as a dumping place for all the ideas that come to you throughout the day — the possibilities are endless. Reflective journaling and planning are some of the most potent tools the working professional has in their arsenal, and I hope that I helped you make the most of them today!

Pursuing mindfulness in modern living.