Journal, journal, journal. As a professional coach you will probably hear many people share how they use journaling as a tool for growth – but what should you write? And how often?

Reflective practice

Reflective practice is the process of reconsidering our work. Looking back over what happened, and what didn’t happen, and making sense of it. The overall aim being learning and ongoing development.

We have a new competency (Competency 2) within the revised ICF framework: Embodies a coaching mindset. This competency requires coaches to develop a reflective practice. While I’d always recommend working with a coach supervisor, we can do some of this work on our own. Journaling is a great way to capture your thoughts.

What to write?

This is the framework I share with coaches on my mentoring programmes:

1. The experience
Start with a quick summary of what happened. Remember this isn’t an activity log, just a memory prompt, take care about confidentiality and data protection.

2. Reflection
This is the juicy bit. What did you think and feel about what happened? What was the personal significance? Did it remind you of anything?

3. Analysis
What generalisations can be drawn? Are there any models or theories to help make sense of the experience? What does this all mean?

4. Action
And this is the key benefit of this kind of reflection. What will you do differently? How can your reflections deepen your coaching skills?

What if it’s not for you?

It’s worth remembering that using a journal is only ONE way of developing a reflective practice, there are others. If you aren’t a journaling kind of person, find a method that suits you better – setting aside specific times to think, working with peers, supervision etc etc.

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