If you ever question yourself in what to write, I suggest you start journaling. Before you tune this message completely out, words and musings don’t need to be elaborate or even eloquent. Just putting thoughts and feelings on a page starts the writing process. I have been encouraged to write my thoughts down through the years ever since high school and uncovering some of my writings is revealing in many ways. At this point, I am wondering if our kids will ever take the time to read some of my sketched out thoughts. There are actually some entries I hope they don’t read, but I have kept many of my writings and my personal journal books.
Recently, when cleaning out a cabinet, I ran across a small notebook I had penned ten years ago and I almost tossed it. But I’m glad I didn’t. It was interesting to find I was facing some of the same feelings today as I was back then. I was addressing my awareness of change in the market and changes in my career. I also found written out prayers for our sons and their futures as well as my personal feelings of inadequacy, which were unfounded in many ways, but were still honest feelings. I was able to watch, from reading the words on the page, how I was able to personally work through many of the feelings I had. Some of that process I was applying to my life at that time have carried over to systems I have implemented in my work to help others today.
Even if you have never spent time journaling, I’m going to cover four principles on what to write to spark your imagination. Hopefully this will help you to move forward not only in your ability to work through your feelings, but to move ahead in your life, getting out of endless roundabouts.
One: Write About Who You Are
It’s a worthwhile exercise to write out your core values and what you absolutely stand for. It’s also valuable to assess your strengths and affirm them. There are many online programs that will help you identify strengths, such as the DISC program or Strength Finder. However, you don’t always need an in-depth course to figure this out. If you spend some time writing out what you’ve done and some of your accomplishments, you will affirm some of the areas where you have either excelled or under-performed.
It’s been fairly easy for me to identify my strengths musically. I’m classically trained as a concert pianist and vocalist. But moving away from this intense focus classically took me to other types of venues and engagements and not toward orchestral and classical concert halls. The fact that I could also play by ear, compose and sing and play together took my career to different areas of concentration in performing shows. Though there are many who are more proficient in jazz, film and orchestral arranging I have worked for many years using my strengths.
Other areas have been more difficult for me to analyze and with growth and exploration, those areas have become more apparent through the years. This is where we can analyze what we are good at and hire out the rest. Evaluation becomes easier when thoughts and outcomes are written out and assessed. Good editors and help with research and content will always be valuable hires for me as an author. This has been very apparent as I’ve evaluated my strengths but I also realize the value of my creative process and follow-through in my work. I can’t hire that out—it is unique!
Two: Write About Your Feelings
After reading Teresa de Grosbois’ book Mass Influence, the phrase I am not enough hit me hard. I wrote those words in an entry ten years ago when I was expanding my career. I immediately could recall feeling those words, I am not enough in many areas of my life. Today, the phrase Imposter Syndrome is one we often hear. Feeling like a fake is a common occurrence in the arts, but I really wasn’t a fake. However, it was a feeling. I found those feelings were unmistakably there as I expanded my career as a speaker and author. So how did I overcome those feelings?
I wrote them out. Writing out thoughts, no matter how muddled, negative or confused helps to place some of the stress of those thoughts on the page. I read on of my musings and found I started outlining my process of working myself out of a funk. Out of a feeling that I was pushing an engine uphill. I started feeling some of the same feelings of release as I read my words and the process I had gone through years ago. I had actually used some of the illustrations that I wrote about in my speaking engagements. I had forgotten about that.
The affirmations of some of my work were also visible within the entries. I confirmed the time I had completed forty-two videos for my online course Change Your Life: Get Unstuck. After the thirtieth video, I had penned that I wondered what possessed me to do such a project! I have continued to have those same feelings through many subsequent projects and I had to laugh. Not much has changed in ten years!
Three: Write About What You Love
Even ten years ago, my entries mention our family and prayers for our sons. I have also penned words and principles of a deep faith, which has been a part of my life for many years. Those words come naturally because of my core values and they are regularly on my mind. It is why I’ve included a chapter in the appendix of my newest book Stop Circling on core values. Our core values create a strong foundation on which our purpose stands.
Re-reading our entries can be very revealing. I found there were themes mentioned multiple times and it was affirming for me to realize I have continued to pursue what I love and I’ve worked through many of my questioning thoughts. It took awhile to completely verbalize my focus in my writing, but the words that were penned on the pages even ten years ago provided insight for where I have arrived today.
Four: Write About How You Can Help Others
What has changed since I penned those words years ago is that I have both consciously and sub consciously taken some of my feelings and applied them to the products I continue to provide today. In fact, reading through some of the entries were so very revealing and helpful. I know my journal writings will continue to give me words to help others.
A huge takeaway for me was a feeling of gratefulness and this is a trait missing for so many. There is so much self-focus in todays’ world with selfies, social media influencers, and a world of so-called experts that the honesty most of us feel day by day is lost. Gratefulness and thankfulness take away the spotlight of self-focus and puts a spotlight on others to lift them up. And as we lift others up, we are encouraged, inspired, motivated and buoyed in our own responses and focus. Even though he was not the first to use the phrase, “A rising tide lifts all boats” is often attributed to former President John F. Kennedy in a 1963 speech. Boats rising up on a body of water is a wonderful visualization of a consequence of helping others. We inadvertently help our own boat rise. Whether intentional or not, it is a welcome and desired outcome.
Gratefulness and thankfulness take away the spotlight of self-focus and puts a spotlight on others to lift them up.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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