Tag Archives: goal-setting

Journaling for entrepreneurs

Last week I presented a 20 minute talk about journal writing to a group of 15 small business owners at a networking breakfast. They’re a great bunch with whom I network on a regular basis, and as they can be quite lively I was curious to see how they would respond to some quiet time to write reflectively.

Having explained a little bit about the power of journaling I then led them through 4 carefully selected journaling prompts – to break them in gently!

I was thrilled that for 10 whole minutes the whole group – most of whom were not accustomed to this type of activity – sat and wrote. The sense of mindful calm that descended upon the room was luscious – and something that I have become very familiar with, and fond of, when encouraging groups of people to reflect together.

In the spirit of reviewing and setting goals and intentions for the New Year, the prompts I suggested were:

I am grateful for..

It is a time of…

My accomplishments this week have been…

Next week I promise myself…

After the session there were a number of questions and comments, and a real sense that beginning the day mindfully was a positive thing.

I hope that more business owners will give journaling a try to gain perspective, test out ideas and tap into their inner wisdom, creativity and resourcefulness. After all this is the true spirit of the entrepreneur.

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Filed under Entrepreneurs, Goal-setting, Reflection

Get a coach? Or write a journal?

The last thing you want to do when you’ve hired an expensive coach is waste lots of valuable coaching time trying to identify what you want to be coached on. I’ve experienced hundreds of coaching conversations (some of which as a client rather than as the coach) where the whole thirty minute session has gone by and the closest we’ve got to articulating a particular goal has been “I think that’s what I want to do.”

It’s not because the client doesn’t want to be coached. Nor is it because the coaching is ineffective. It’s much more because the client hasn’t really done much reflecting of their own beforehand. They haven’t really got themselves COACHING-READY.

As a Certified Professional Coactive Coach I have worked with business owners, entrepreneurs, executives, educationalists, public sector workers and private individuals. I have also been coached myself, and I have found that across the professions and occupations people generally share similar progress blocks.

Often we say “I can’t do that” or “I don’t know where to start” or “What would people say if I did that”?

No matter what our circumstances or our personality, the things that hold us back are largely:

  • our confused view of ourselves, our experience and our potential
  • an inflated sense of the task ahead
  • our own ability to self-sabotage.

I’ve also noticed our reluctance to respond to questions like “What do you want?”, “What does success look like?”, “How will you know when you’ve made it?”, “What is your unique talent or skill?”

Coaches are very well-trained to coax out answers  to these questions. They are remarkably patient and compassionate human beings who want so much for us to succeed: they talk about championing and challenging us to get us to the next level, the place we wish to be. But the onus is still on us to make things happen, and if they aren’t the right things for us, they ain’t going to happen.

So before you think about hiring that coach and making all that investment…


And no, not just writing about what you did in your day, who nicked your milk from the office fridge, or how many times you changed your toddler’s nappy.

Journaling is much more about being able to reflect on your experience, your purpose, what’s important to you, what you want from life and work, and what’s the best way you’re going to go about getting it. The best way for YOU, that is.

Writing a journal is a fantastic way to get to know ourselves and to begin allowing ourselves to admit to our dreams and aspirations. It’s also an amazing way to build up our inner resilience, and to trust that deep down inside we do actually have all our own answers.

By spending a few pounds on an inviting notebook and a smooth-writing pen, and then by investing some time working through kick-off phrases, inquiries and journal writing exercises, you’ll be able to hit the ground running with your coach.  If you’re clear on WHO you are and WHAT you want to achieve, your coach can help you with HOW you’re going to get there, and you’ll get a lot more bang from your coaching buck.



Filed under Journal Writing

Birthday meditation – and an announcement

First my announcement.

After months of prevaricating The Journal Writer’s Handbook is now available on Kindle. Click on the cover image to go right ahead and buy it!

I don’t know exactly why I was prevaricating. Partly fear of getting the formatting right for electronic publication; partly loyalty towards ‘real’ books. In the end I realised that the Handbook would work well electronically, as all the indices could be neatly hyper-linked and navigation would be easier. Hurrah for giving myself a rational talking to.

So there it is. And the reason why this is linked to my recent birthday is because getting it done became my gift to myself. Completing it on time felt brilliant, and now I am resolved to set a target to achieve for each of my future birthdays.

Birthdays are times of new commitments to ourselves. They mark the anniversary of our first involuntary breath, and we can honour that every year with a special voluntary act of our own.


Filed under The Journal Writer's Handbook

Take a snapshot of 2012 in your journal

Before midnight strikes tonight I urge you to make time to take up your journal and cast your mind over the year just gone. What are your highlights? What are the things you’re most grateful for? What lessons have you learned? What are the things you’d rather not repeat?

This snapshot of your year will serve you well as you move forward. It’s less about making a new year’s resolution, and more about resolving the old year. It’s simultaneously grounding and inspiring, a reminder of what’s important to you, and what you want more of.

Paradoxically looking back enables us to plan better for the future. Have you ever embarked on a shopping trip without figuring out what you’ve already got in the store cupboard? Without doing a quick review you’ll often end up buying too much or not enough of what you need.

Making resolutions for the new year is just the same. Without appreciating where you’ve got to already you may end up giving up too soon or carrying on too long.

Earlier today I received a note from a reader who declared their new year’s resolution is to ask what will make them shrink or grow. I love this inquiry – it’s double-edged, though I would interpret it metaphorically, and would recommend this as a key question to ask ourselves as we make choices for the next 12 months. And of course we can only know whether we’re “shrinking” or “growing” in 2013 if we’re sure about how “big” we got last year!

So go now – do your review. Take a snapshot of your year. And this New Year’s Eve raise a glass to the graceful resolution of 2012.


Filed under Journal Writing, Reflective Writing Practice

Why I hate the question ‘What’s your goal?’

Well, hate is probably too strong a word. But the goal question really bugs me. I have my excuses, for example: I’m great at starting things off, not too great at finishing them; I’m great at moving my own goalposts so things could go on forever (if I had the stamina) or (more likely) just get abandoned; I’m impatient; I like the thrill of new things and I get a bad attack of the gremlins when things are a couple of months old.

There are other reasons why goals and I don’t get on. I don’t like football and I especially don’t like how football commentators scream goooooal when somebody scores. It elongates a word I don’t like very much and it makes a lot of noise.

What’s more, it occurs to me that whenever we set ourselves a goal we’re focussing hard on something that is outside us. Something far in the future or in a completely different physical place from where we are right now. It feels disconnected from us, and it takes a lot of energy and resources to keep it in focus and move towards it consistently. Beware, should you finally reach it, that it isn’t a mirage.

So here’s my problem. Goals tend to shift us out of Now, the present moment, the only place we can live. Instead they thrust us into anxiety and stress about what might or might not be. We become rigid and unyielding, telling ourselves we’re making sacrifices when really we’re missing opportunities. Whether or not we achieve our goals has become for many a much more important question than how we are living our life.

‘Surely nothing would get done if noone had a goal?’ I hear you say. It’s a valid point. But let’s stop claiming goals willy-nilly without properly understanding how committed we are to achieve them, or whether we truly intend to achieve them.

I’m no saint. I’ve got as much anxiety and stress as the next person and I’m constantly reflecting on how to live with greater ease. It’s just that I’m beginning to understand what’s helpful and what’s not.

And goals without an appreciation of real intentions and commitment ain’t.

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Filed under Self-Awareness