My friend Rachael O’Meara invited me to write the foreword to her new book, Pause the Journal: How to Use Intentional Writing to Create Your Dreams, which helps readers form new habits in taking daily breaks to read, write, and reflect. I share it with you here on my blog because I’ve become a big believer in journaling and meditation. In combination, these practices have helped me to create a gratitude practice, which helps me improve my mood, feel clear headed, and experience better focus in my work and family life. Let me know what you think.
During our information age we all suffer from some form of stress or feeling overwhelmed with social media updates, texts and news alerts on our smartphones, or simply juggling work, family and personal life. On top of that, it’s easy to become addicted to our to-do lists and the busyness of life.
To combat such feelings, I begin every weekday writing in my journal, followed by a brief meditation. The self-critical, workaholic voice in my head almost always chimes in, telling me to instead get to work, yet I know how important it is to maintain those habits.
The act of writing by hand slows my mind down. I reflect on what I’m grateful for as well as my larger goals, objectives, and dreams. And meditation gets me into a calmer mindset, enabling me to achieve a deeper state of concentration. Done in tandem, I feel happier, more present, and ultimately, I can get more done with a clearer head. In addition, journaling and meditation have helped me become a better listener and friend to those around me.
But this wasn’t always the case. During the Great Recession of 2009, I was laid off and found myself with the freedom to take a pause to do something that I’d scribbled on my bucket list: write a book. This sudden change forced me to stop and reflect and birthed my new life as a writer and consultant. Then it all happened again. Six months after I started in a new job, the advertising agency I worked at lost a few clients and laid me off. So, I decided to write my second book and incorporate my own marketing consulting company.
My two “forced pauses” made me take a break and helped me discover the power of journaling. But now I choose to pause and write in my journal every weekday.
In 2017, Rachael O’Meara invited me to share my experience in her book, Pause: Harnessing the Life-Changing Power of Giving Yourself a Break. I had previously met Rachael at Fordham Business School after which she had lived through her own Pause, as described in her book. While working at Google, she took a leave of absence after experiencing burnout and returned three months later to Google with a fresh mindset. She continues collecting Pause stories and speaking with experts in her Pausecast, an interview podcast series with leaders on the cutting edge of emotional intelligence, mindfulness, neuroscience, and transformation for human potential. Today, since leaving Google, she works with executives as a transformational leadership coach helping them to rise to their next level in their professional or personal lives.
When we allow ourselves the opportunity to create a space of calm for ourselves – in this case, to journal – we can intentionally shift our behavior, get closer to our dreams and ultimately live the life we want to live. This is the gift of Pause the Journal. Rachael teaches us the skills to ensure that our one precious life is filled with what you want in it. In journaling, we are sending a message to the universe that we prioritize our own dreams and goals. We’re investing in ourselves.
Pause the Journal: How to Use Intentional Writing to Create Your Dreams is now available on Amazon. Arianna Huffington calls Pause the Journal, “A powerful way to connect with ourselves on a daily basis, helping us to boost our well-being, lower our stress and achieve our goals.”