To journal or not to journal—that is the real question!

Does journaling get you pumped or does the mere mention of the word send your eyes rolling?

For me, what seemed like an impossibility up to the age of 45, has now become part of who I am. In my younger years, I didn’t have time to journal. I couldn’t conceive how I would really use a journal in my professional life, let alone my daily life. What was the big deal anyway? I have (had, or so I thought) an excellent memory. Give me a stack of Post-its, and watch out! But I struggled to find a place to capture my business ideas, make my goal lists, and track the many odds and ends I wanted to monitor to see if I was making progress.

When I started my new job at Partners Federal Credit Union (the Walt Disney credit union), my boss (and mentor) handed me a leather journal and told me to get started journaling. I looked at him and thought, what does that even mean? So, I did what any good novice journalist does: I overthought every aspect of this new device.

Whether you’re considering journaling, a journaling novice, or a seasoned vet, let me share my learnings about how to use this valuable tool effectively.

First, don’t overthink it! I was so worried I’d mess up and make a mistake that I was nervous to write in my new journal. Turns out, it’s best to just start writing, doodling, drawing, scribbling, and/or taping things like photos, cards, and notes onto the pages! And give yourself permission to be messy! Your journal belongs to you and you alone. You don’t have to turn it into your boss, spouse, or the audit team for their review and approval. Make it fit your style and make it fun!

Second, I started putting my goal list in there, then I followed that with my health spreadsheet to track the majors from my annual physical (cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides, etc.) for a year-over-year look at how I was doing. I set up a monthly page for weight, hours of sleep each night, workouts and my prayer list. Financial notes, retirement planning ideas, and travel plans all went in there, too.

Third, and here’s the fun part. I started making notes of important conversations I would have with my team. I started dreaming about how we could start a new department or business line or what the organization chart should look like, including some new titles for folks and what they would be doing. Board meeting notes went in there, action items from my executive leadership team meetings went in there—you get the picture. And this is where the idea for my company, The Leadership Bet, and my website started. My journal became a great place to plan, “think on paper”, unload my frustrations. In a way, journaling became my meditation tool. A place to dream and think without worrying about execution for a moment.

I now call my journal my idea catcher. I would encourage you to give journaling a try if you are looking for a place to capture your ideas, track some of your goals, or simply put, have some quiet thinking time alone with your thoughts.

For me, the answer to the question of whether to journal or not to journal is YES! Journal! I’ve learned there’s quite a lot to gain from journaling and, if you give it a try, I feel confident you will, too.


Are you a new or seasoned credit union leader? Then you won’t want to miss the webinar, “Building High Performing Teams – The Impact of Coaching.” The 60-minute conversation takes place at 1 p.m. EDT on July 18 and is sponsored by The Leadership Bet and moderated by founder and CEO (that’s Chief Encouragement Officer) Bill Partin. Joining Partin is ACC Certified Leadership Coach, Kelcey Stevens, the founder of Coach, Lead, Inspire. Kelcey’s clientele includes Fortune 500 leaders and spans various industries, with an emphasis on credit unions. Click here to register for this free webinar: Building High Performing Teams – The Impact of Coaching.


Contact The Leadership Bet

Contact The Leadership Bet

Bill Partin

Bill Partin

Bill Partin is the Founder and Chief Encouragement Officer of The Leadership Bet LLC and former President and CEO of Sharonview FCU. He has 40+ years of experience in the ... Web: Details