It’s time for the second instalment from our guest blogger and business tutor David James. In this blog he looks at the importance of your Journal Entries and the benefits you can gain from them:
As September arrives and we head towards the end of the year, each of us has an opportunity to finish 2018 on a high. So that when we look back, we know that we did the very best we could, in everything we did – in our professional, personal and learning lives.
A time for reflection
Ultimately, only you will know the true answer as to whether you gave everything you had this year. If you really went for it with an inspiring passion burning inside of you. Then at the end of the year, and many times in-between, we can pause and self-reflect. The end of the year gives us a chance to think about what we’ve learnt and what we could do differently next time – if anything.
All of us can choose to continually learn and develop in every aspect of our lives. Even if we’re one of the very best, there is always more. If we have our ‘L-plates’ on, then regular refection and development will soon pay dividends.
Here lies the biggest differentiator. The world, and every workplace within it, has many who talk about doing something. Who capably air their plans and ambitions. Many of those who talk in this way are the same people who share a range of reasons as to why their plans never happened. So great talk and no action…
There are no shortcuts to achieving success
This is where each of you come in. As students, you have all taken the decisive action to proactively self-develop by taking your degree course. You have committed to devoting time and resource to your education.
There will inevitably be sacrifices to make on the way. We know that at this level of study, deadlines come around very quickly and there are absolutely no shortcuts to achieving success. Nor should there be.
You should have no doubt whatsoever that your qualification will be one of your unique selling points (USP). But as well as your continued progress as you pass each module, there’s more…
Finding your unique selling points
This, I passionately believe, is the best bit.
Your learning through each module forms an integral part of your overall degree. But what you can make the most of are the core life skills you can choose to enhance with each passing day. These are self-reflection, reflective thinking and reflective writing. These skills are lifelong and can readily supersede any single module.
Should you internalise them, the skills can become further USPs in every aspect of your life – regularly and capably demonstrated only by a small minority in any workplace or social group. Hence the potential that these skills can offer each of you.
The lifelong benefits of your Journal Entries
You have ready-made frameworks to facilitate your development in these areas: your Journal Entries. Here you can develop a very powerful dialogue with your tutor. You can self-reflect in detail on how/where/why/when aspects how of your learning can be applied to each aspect of your life.
Of course, self-reflections must always be completely honest. In the very rare scenario where your learning is becoming a particularly grim experience, then here’s your start point to reflect on why this is so. This leads to what can be done to change things.
Your detailed self-reflections (ideally, they need to be very specific) can relate to your module specific learning. You can also reflect on how you’ve continued to develop your key learning skills and competencies (for example, your research and analytical skills) and how you’ve managed to accommodate life itself, whilst continuing to make positive progress with your studies.
Embracing your learning amidst challenges
In truth, as I read your Journal Entries and prepare to reply, I’ll sit in awe and admiration of how so many of you continue to embrace your learning amidst the daily challenges life brings each of us.
It is also brilliant to see you all develop as each module progresses. Sometimes I see initial Journal Entries, which for a range of very understandable reasons, are filled with doom. Then so many of these same students proceed and achieve a merit or distinction. How amazing is that!!!
Your personal development plan
From your reflections, over time, you may well see themes evolve or particular aspects of your development that keep appearing. What you may then decide to do is to take further proactive action. You can include these prioritised development areas as objectives in your personal development plan – which offers you another potential USP. Your plan should include your professional, personal and learning development, thus becoming a framework to demonstrate your adoption of lifelong learning.
When you graduate, you will have had the opportunity to evolve your plan and the supporting journal entries and learning log. These critical aspects of your sales pitch are there to continue being developed long after you’ve graduated. They can form part of your compelling evidence to demonstrate how good you are, what you can offer and to critically outline your specific plans to continue your development.
At job interviews and performance reviews, this type of evidence is compelling. How do I know? By feedback from students and colleagues, who regularly provide feedback and tell me they got the job!
I hope we can safely conclude that every aspect of your skills development in self-reflection, reflective thinking and reflective writing can be beneficial – throughout your degree and for the longer term.
Next time David will be sharing his tips on developing coping strategies in our ever-challenging mad world!
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