Journal Yourself to Success!

Editor’s Note: We thank Catherine Hakala-Ausperk, Deputy Director of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library, our first Volunteer Editor, for finding excellent writers. Interested in becoming a volunteer editor? Contact jgrady@ala.org.

Professional development has a place for every employee at any level in any organization. Keeping your own professional development going is so important in today’s job market, where expected skills, knowledge and abilities can change so quickly. And, whether you are a new grad in your first job or at the top of your career ladder, the need for continued development is imperative.

Keep in mind that development opportunities can be acquired not only through formal training but also through your work experiences. The best career development environment is one where the employee is the driver, the supervisor is the coach and the human resources/organization provides the support system. In this structure, all three parties contribute and all three parties benefit from the employee’s development. If your organization does not employ a human resources or training specialist, you will have to take even greater responsibility in seeing that your learning continues. A good supervisor can be your advocate and support your learning activities.

But often, we forget to stand back, take a good look at ourselves and assess our own growth and opportunities. The acquisition of new skills is important, but our ability to articulate how we used these skills in the workplace is even greater. True development comes from actual work experience; including paying attention to our failures and successes. In order to capture your development and be able to talk about it, you should be keeping a record of your experiences. Some Career Specialists call this “journaling.”

In keeping this record, you can see your work experiences, continually re-set goals and measure your progress. In your journal, you should track completed assignments, work experiences, projects, learning opportunities and new skills acquired. You should also be recording advice and suggestions you may be receiving from mentors and coaches. In an article by Randall S. Hansen titled “Using a Career Journal to Further Your Career Development and Empower Your Job-Search,” he lists some of the benefits from keeping a journal. Here are just a few:

  • Increased awareness that can build self-confidence
  • Broader perspective that you can bring to your future and your job
  • Clarity of thought
  • Stronger sense of self

Your journal can be a quick inventory-type list or an extensive diary with more detail. You more or less are keeping your very own progress report. I find it to be an emotional event for me to look my journal. It’s fun, educational and satisfying for me to see my work experiences and identify the successes and failures. In keeping a journal you too may find that you will be much better at visualizing and then capitalizing on your past experiences. That is truly professional development.

Bottom line, developing yourself through journaling can allow you to gain influence in and increase your value to the organization. It will lead toward a high level of service and performance.


Laurie Marotta is Human Resources Coordinator for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library, Ohio.