Start Your Career Transition: Keep a Journal

Keeping a journal is a great way to get through a career transition. It’s an amazing tool to support yourself, work through problems, and get inspired.

When my tech startup crashed and burned in 2001 at the end of the dotcom bubble, I had no idea what I was going to do. Every morning, I would get up before everyone else in the household, get on my old stationary bike in the garage and write in my hardbound journal for about twenty minutes. The insights, inspiration, ideas and confidence (yes, confidence!) that I received from this process helped me figure out my next steps through the career transition, and led to a big breakthrough in my career.

This short video from chiropractor Dr. Sean McConathy is a wonderful distillation of the value of journaling, and how it is more than just a pathway to achieving more mentally. It is also an overall healthy way to balance our bodies as well as our minds.

Since that big career transition in 2001, I’ve continued to use the journaling process any time I come up against a career challenge.  These days, I like to sit in my living room and write my two longhand journal pages. I find that it takes about a week to get back into the rhythm of the practice, but then it begins to unearth perspectives and ideas that I never would have thought of without it.

Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, was the first person to turn on this journaling light bulb for me many years ago. She helped me to understand that creativity and the generation of ideas, plans, and strategies was not some random process of divine inspiration. There was no “muse” whom we had to coax out of her den to fill us with great ideas.  That muse was inside us, and most of us are likely ignoring her.  We just don’t know it.

The process of writing out a few longhand pages every day (Cameron recommends three, but I think you should do as many as you feel comfortable with – starting with one if that’s how you’ll get into it) is to prime the pump of the creative impulse, and tap into the well of knowingness that already resides in your consciousness.In addition to journaling, I advocate additional positive mental exercises, like creating an affirmation statement, but everything starts with the journal.

About John


John Tarnoff is a career transition coach, speaker and best-selling author who helps late-career professionals transition to meaningful second-act careers beyond traditional retirement.Following a successful career as a Hollywood film executive and tech entrepreneur, he reinvented his own career at 50, earning a master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology to focus on professional development and training.

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