Purpose: Guided journalling leads participants through a process of self-reflection and allows them to step into a deeper level of reflection than in an un-guided journaling process. It allows participants to locate their sources of energy, frustration, ways in which they may be holding themselves back, crystallise their vision of success, and identify concrete action steps.
Materials: Journaling questions for the facilitator. A notebook or piece of paper and pen or pencil per participant. Calm background music can be nice, depending on the venue. Don’t take photos of anyone during journaling
Time: 30 minutes for journaling and 30 minutes for solo time
Step one: Put on music if available, and invite participants to find a comfortable place to sit and journal for 30 minutes. Mention that this is a solo, quiet exercise and that they will not be asked to share their journaling with anyone else. While journaling can be a good lead in to solo time in nature, always make sure to mention that facilitators are available for participants to talk through anything that comes up in journaling.
Step two: Before reading through the journaling questions, discuss the concept of stream of consciousness, and that this guided journaling is supposed to facilitate a stream of consciousness rather than exact and complete answers to each question. Indicate that if a question doesn’t resonate or make sense to them, there is no need to struggle to answer it. Instead, invite participants to focus on what is coming up for them and to write out those thoughts, feelings and ideas - even if they are still coming up from the previous question.
Step three: Read through the guided journaling questions, adapted from the Presencing Institute’s Journaling Guide. Read each question, pause, and read it again. Give participants a minute and a half to two minutes to answer before reading the next question. Questions below.
Challenges: Look at yourself from outside as if you were another person: What are the 3 or 4 most important challenges or tasks that your life (work and non-work) currently presents?
Self: Write down 3 or 4 important facts about yourself. What are the important accomplishments you have achieved or competencies you have developed in your life (examples: raising children; finishing your education; being a good listener)?
Emerging Self: What 3 or 4 important aspirations, areas of interest, or undeveloped talents would you like to place more focus on in your future journey (examples: writing a novel or poems; starting a social movement; taking your current work to a new level)?
Frustration: What about your current work and/or personal life frustrates you the most?
Energy: What are your most vital sources of energy? What do you love?
Inner resistance: What is holding you back? Describe 2 or 3 recent situations (in your work or personal life) when you noticed one of the following three voices kicking in, preventing you from exploring the situation you were in more deeply:
a. Voice of Judgment: shutting down your open mind (downloading instead of inquiring)
b. Voice of Cynicism: shutting down your open heart (disconnecting instead of relating)
c. Voice of Fear: shutting down your open will (holding on to the past or the present instead of letting go)
The crack: Over the past couple of days and weeks, what new aspects of your Self have you noticed? What new questions and themes are occurring to you now?
Your community: Who makes up your community, and what are their highest hopes in regard to your future journey? Choose three people with different perspectives on your life and explore their hopes for your future (examples: your family; your friends; a parentless child on the street with no access to food, shelter, safety, or education). What might you hope for if you were in their shoes and looking at your life through their eyes?
Helicopter: Watch yourself from above (as if in a helicopter). What are you doing? What are you trying to do in this stage of your professional and personal journey?
Imagine you could fast-forward to the very last moments of your life, when it is time for you to pass on. Now look back on your life’s journey as a whole. What would you want to see at that moment? What footprint do you want to leave behind on the planet? What would you want to be remembered for by the people who live on after you?
From that (future) place, look back at your current situation as if you were looking at a different person. Now try to help that other person from the viewpoint of your highest future Self. What advice would you give? Feel and sense what the advice is and then write it down.
Now return again to the present and crystallize what it is that you want to create: your vision and intention for the next 3-5 years. What vision and intention do you have for yourself and your work? What are some essential core elements of the future that you want to create in your personal, professional, and social life? Describe as concretely as possible the images and elements that occur to you.
Letting-go: What would you have to let go of in order to bring your vision into reality? What is the old stuff that must die? What is the old skin (behaviors, thought processes, etc.) that you need to shed?
Seeds: What in your current life or context provides the seeds for the future that you want to create? Where do you see your future beginning?
Prototyping: Over the next three months, if you were to prototype a microcosm of the future in which you could discover “the new” by doing something, what would that prototype look like?
People: Who can help you make your highest future possibilities a reality? Who might be your core helpers and partners?
Action: If you were to take on the project of bringing your intention into reality, what practical first steps would you take over the next 3 to 4 days?
Step four: Invite participants to take another 30 minutes of solo, reflection time. Make the invitation to go outside, leaving phones and email behind. Explain the importance and necessity of white space in the innovation process. However, the invitation to take solo time after journaling should be seen as an invitation, and participants are encouraged to do whatever they need to in this time - including seeking someone to speak to if needed.
Step five: The transition from participants coming back from solo time into the next activity can be challenging as different participants will have had different experiences with it. Some participants will have really appreciated the white space and some will be feeling incredibly uncomfortable at having been silent and introspective for so long. If participants are coming back into the room to move into the next activity, ask them to enter quietly and let conversation build up gradually as more and more people enter the room. Having music on at this time can help with a transfer of atmosphere. Alternately, have this activity run into a break or lunch, and make the invitation that the break/lunch be a silent one. Participants will begin to talk to one another eventually and the silence will be broken naturally, but will allow those more introverted participants the time to transition back into a group space.
Step six: The debrief for this activity can be short. After participants come back into the room, or after the silent break/lunch, gather in circle and do a quick popcorn share. To get things started, pose the questions:
How was the process of guided journaling and solo time?
Did the process of guided journaling and/or solo time open up space for anything?
How does it differ from the way we usually work with challenges?