I hope you are enjoying the change of the seasons. Take some time to observe and savor the subtle transformations taking place around you. Does it stir any yearning for change within you? Are there any changes taking place outside of you that parallels movement within? I don’t need to remind you that LifeJournal is a perfect place to examine, express, and record these thoughts and feelings.
A few people have already purchased LifeJournal as a gift for Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 13th). I’m impressed that they are so organized and such good planners, as well as creative gift givers. LifeJournal is a great gift idea for mothers (and mothers-in-law) of all ages. It would be best to order by May 4th for the package to arrive in time (within the US) for Mother’s Day. For those who have a more last-minute style, you could order as late as May 10th for an overnight FedEx package to arrive by the holiday. And to all mothers, Happy Mother’s Day! Enjoy the day and take some time for yourself and write.
This newsletter is filled with tips about how best to use LifeJournal as well as other information of interest to journal writers. This month’s newsletter focuses particularly on the Daily Pulse Graph. I’m sure LifeJournal writers have developed their own creative ways to use this as well as other LifeJournal tools. Send us an email about innovative ways that you make use of the Daily Pulse Graph, and we’ll pass your ideas along to others in the LifeJournal community.
Chronicles Software Company
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Basics and beyond: Looking at the ups and downs on the Daily Pulse Graph
Last month our newsletter (www.lifejournal.com/newsletterarchive.html– March 2001) discussed how to enter values into the Daily Pulse and how to make use of the resulting Daily Pulse Graph to gather and interpret information about yourself. This is a continuation of that topic, offering more ways to use the Daily Pulse Graph.
At times, life becomes tedious and it may feel like you are caught in a rut that goes nowhere. Getting a bird’s eye view usually helps to lift you out of the trench and to propel you to new and higher levels of perspective. The Daily Pulse Graph is a perfect tool to help raise you up from ground level to help you soar. Open up your Daily Pulse Graph (go to the View menu>Daily Pulse Graph or click the fifth button from the right on the horizontal tool bar). Under the five vertically stacked buttons of Mood, Stress, etc. there are three smaller buttons with black squares that control the time interval that you can see on the graph. Clicking the smallest square displays a two-week time interval, the next square button shows a three-month time interval, and the largest square charts a year’s worth of daily pulse values. The longer you have been entering your Daily Pulses, the greater your ability to get a bird’s eye view.
Click the one-year interval and the average button to get a sense of the biggest picture. Do you see any patterns? Sometimes slightly un-focusing your eyes while looking at the graph helps you see a pattern. You can also stretch and shrink the X-axis (the width of the chart) by clicking and dragging the right edge of the Daily Pulse Graph window to get a new perspective.
Is there a general trend up or down? Are the values generally in one range-mostly at the bottom of the chart, in mid-range, or near the top? Is there a jagged up and down roller coaster quality or more of a gentle rolling movement to the line? Where are the peaks? The valleys? Do they appear in a rhythmic, cyclic way or does the movement seem random? If there is a rhythm to it, describe it. Does it coincide with seasons, financial quarters, academic semesters, vacations, or one-time events-such as a big work commitment, a family celebration, a birth, or a death? Do the patterns surprise you? Did you realize you were in a trough/peak while you were living through it? Write about your observations.
Go through a similar analysis for each of the different parameters–Mood, Stress, Energy, and Health–one a time. Which fluctuates the most? Which is most stable? Does this information tell you anything that you can translate into changes you’d like to make in your life? Do you see things that validate some progress that you have been working to accomplish?
To get a closer vision of what was going on during a particular time period, you can zoom in to the shorter time intervals by double clicking on the graph itself. The point on the graph where you click becomes the midpoint of the next graph that appears.
When you are viewing the graph in the two-week interval you have the most detailed information available to you. You can see whether you’ve written a journal entry that day by pointing (hovering in one place, but not clicking) your mouse to the line. A tooltip (a short message next to the pointer) appears, with the associated date and whether or not you have written a journal entry. If you have written a journal entry, double click on the point and the entry corresponding to that date opens. You may review your journal entries in chronological order, clicking the Previous and Nextbuttons.
Start from several weeks before the decline of values begins to help identify the triggering circumstances that started your slump. Also look at the Pulse Notes for more clues. (To view the Pulse Note, double click on the icon at the bottom of the graph [the dog-eared sheet of paper] that appears when you’ve entered a Pulse Note.) Can you see more clearly the factors that contribute to your lowered ratings? Write about your findings.
Can you anticipate when you are about to embark on a decline? Do you know how to prevent or at least lessen those factors? Can you develop a strategy–a series of concrete steps–to take to minimize repeating this problem? You might write a set of entries that you work on, for example, to decrease your stress. You may decide to start a meditation class, chose to set aside an hour a day for yourself in the course of a series of overwhelmingly busy days, make sure that you get enough sleep, etc. It may take a few cycles before you refine what the factors are creating the problem and to work out some solutions that will minimize the issues. But at least you know you are on the way to making a change–an accomplishment in and of itself!
The other side of the coin is looking for peaks in the Daily Pulse Graph. What attitudes, events, circumstances, or other factors were in effect when things were rosy? Can you learn from those times? Use similar tools to track down the factors that were in place when you were on a roll. Again, include these observations in your writing.
Remember that some factors are out of your control–the economy, health of a loved one, the behavior of co-workers, for example–but you can control your attitudes and reactions to them. Try to be compassionate with yourself, and give yourself lots of positive feedback for successes of all proportions.
An Interview with Adam Seaman, executive coach:
LJ (LifeJournal): I know that the practice of hiring coaches for professional and personal growth is a growing trend. Would you describe briefly what coaching is and what kind of work you do.
AS (Adam Seaman): Yes, coaching is an extremely hot growth industry. There are an estimated 10,000 coaches and an industry profession organization called the International Coach Federation (ICF at www.coachfederation.org) that has laid out a set of ethical guidelines and has an intensive certification process. Individuals may hire a personal or life coach for relationships, health, financial and education goals–to name a few of the uses of a personal coach. Businesses are increasingly using coaches to work with executives, managers and performance-level employees.
A well-trained coach can help a ready client achieve a great deal of personal progress. The reason is that it often helps to have the perspective of another person, especially one who will be honest, insightful, and committed to your success. It is important for people to find a coach they feel comfortable with and in whom they have confidence in their skills and ethics.
As a coach, I work with people on a personal level and in their business, depending on that person’s desired outcomes. I find that personal coaching often leads to focusing on career and business issues and that, conversely, what starts as business coaching often leads to self discovery and progress on personal goals.
LJ: How does coaching differ from psychotherapy?
AS: Since I am not a therapist, my responses may garner some correction from your readers who are. Coaching is often associated with psychotherapy because both professions work with an individual in a highly personalized manner around issues of deep significance to the client. The difference between coaching and psychotherapy is in terms of professional training requirements, the focus of the work being done, and the manner in which it is conducted.
Professional training is more intense for therapists than it is for coaches. Therapists must be licensed in the state they are practicing. Although therapy is still a relatively young profession, it is decades older than coaching and has withstood more “tests,” both legal and professional. A therapist and a coach often focus on different issues. Coaches are not qualified to provide therapy.
When I told a friend, who is a respected therapist, what a coach does he said, “Then 90% of what I do is coaching.” When I asked what the other 10% was he said “pathology.” (Defined by Webster’s as “any abnormal variation from a sound condition”). The therapist is trained to deal with issues of a pathological nature, and the coach is not. It is important to recognize the difference. For example, working on financial goals is not pathological but addiction to gambling is. Working on fitness goals is personal but not pathological. Working on eating disorders is. I once heard it said, and this is admittedly a drastic oversimplification, that if you were lost in the woods a coach would help you find a way out and a therapist would help you discover how you got there. There is much discussion in coaching and therapy circles about the difference between them, but no clear answer. Some therapists are against coaching as a profession and others have transitioned to become coaches. Still others do both.
Another difference is that therapy usually occurs in an office and the therapist does not partner with the client outside of the session. Coaching can occur in an office, at a bookstore (one of my favorite places) and over the phone (another one of my favorites). As a coach, I sometimes spend the day with the client in his or her environment to observe and provide insight. One time, I sat with a client in his office on a Saturday and helped him organize and set up systems to be more productive. That is not something I believe most therapists do.
Three colleagues of mine, Vicki Hart, John Blattner, and Staci Leipsic are trained therapists and coaches, and have written an excellent article on this topic entitled Coaching Vs. Therapy: A Perspective. The article will be published in the spring/summer edition of Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research.
LJ: How does journal writing fit in with your coaching practice?
AS: Journaling is an excellent complement to coaching because both activities are about self-awareness and growth. Journaling is a much more introspective process-it’s just you and your pen or keyboard-whereas coaching is very interactive. Journaling is less expensive and more convenient (especially with the help of LifeJournal; I’m a big fan). Personal coaching usually costs between $200-$500 per month. (Corporate coaching can be up to three to four times as much, and even more!).
Used in tandem, coaching and journaling are a powerful combination. Sometimes I keep notes when coaching over the telephone and send them to a client. (I serve as a sort of journal writer based on what they say). Other times, the coaching may reveal some topics that require further internal contemplation. For those that do it, journaling helps keep my clients on track and perpetuate the value of their investment in coaching.
Coaching parallels journaling in the sense that coaching sessions encourage deep introspection. Often conversations with another person spark penetrating personal insights. Coaches are trained to pose questions that can unearth powerful revelations. Often an invested and skilled journaler can ask him or herself such questions.
One thing that’s very helpful for growth is to have someone else observing. I know that if someone read my journals they would see patterns that are too ingrained for me to notice. In coaching, it’s much the same thing. I’m trolling for golden nuggets of wisdom for my clients, looking for patterns of behavior that they might not be able to see.
LJ: Do you keep a journal? What benefits do you enjoy from journal writing?
AS: Yes, I’ve kept a journal for about 10 years-with sporadic time off. I use my journal as a conversation with myself. I’m sure that different people have different mental “audiences” for their journal. When journaling, I record key events, struggles, and insights. I’ve come to realize that a good sign of whether or not I’m “on track” is if I am journaling. Journaling, for me, means that I’m attentive to what’s going on around me.
LJ: How do you, as a coach, enhance the client’s journal writing experience, and how does the journal writing enhance the coaching experience for your client?
AS: Most of my clients do not journal regularly. Even so, by the end of the session, I often recommend writing about the key topics that emerge. From a coaching perspective, I consider journaling as a form of self-research. Looking inside ourselves to define our goals and recognize the things hindering us requires reflection. Coaching is often just the start of a valuable realization process. Journaling provides the chance to complete the experience of self-research to discover important truths and values. Often I am stealthy in my approach to recommending journaling to my clients. I don’t use the word “journal” but I may say, “What if you answered this question and send me your response before out next session?”
Adam Seaman is a personal and business coach who also likes to work one-on-one with clients and launch other coaches through his 10-week program called The Coaching Course. For more information, Adam can be reached at Adam@SeamanAssociates.com and his website is www.SeamanAssociates.com.
Tips: How to customize the Topic List
The Topic List is a group of topics that can be assigned to your journal entries and to specific passages of text in your journal entry. The list is showing as a default when you install LifeJournal, but you can hide it by clicking on the close button (the X in a square at the top right corner). You can have the list reappear by going to the Viewmenu and selecting or deselecting Topics List.
The Topic List has several default folders initially: Dreams, Family, Feelings, Finances, Friends, Health, Home, Log, and Work. These default folders give you an idea of the kinds of topics that you might want to track. They are just a starting point, and you can remove or rename them all and start from scratch, if you’d like, or use them as a foundation to build your own.
Spend a little time thinking about the topics of your life. What are your interests, your roles, and challenges? The list may reflect both your interior and exterior lives. It makes sense to group the topics into well-organized categories, so that you can quickly find the topic that you are looking for. Remember, the main purpose for assigning topics to the list is to search and review so that you can retrieve the entry as well as look for patterns. If you create too many topics, it will take a lot of time just finding the one(s) you want. If you don’t have enough topics listed, you may not be able to focus your search meaningfully.
To make changes (remove or rename) to an existing folder, right click on the Topic Folder and select the command. If you want to add a new folder right click in the background of the Topics List and select Add Topic Folder to the List. A new folder will appear; you can type in the appropriate label. To add a Topic to the folder, right click on the Topic Folder and select Add Topic to Folder. Type in the appropriate label.
Here are some ideas for new Topics to add to the Topics List, but certainly decide for yourself what works for your life: Insights, Complaints, Strengths, Weaknesses, Passions, Dialogues, Memorable Moments, To Do List, Goals, Visions, and Vacations.
Think about what your purposes are for keeping a journal. What might you want to learn from reviewing your journal?
Writers might create a folder called Writings with topics including, poetry, short stories, conversations, essays, dialogues, ideas for writing, rough drafts, unfinished and published pieces.
Journal writers using the Progoff Intensive Journal® method can include such folders as a Period Log, Daily Log, Dialog Dimension, Depth Dimension and other categories recommended by Dr. Progroff
Mailbag: I accidentally assigned the wrong topic to an entry. How do I remove it from an entry? From a passage?
No problem! To remove a topic that has been assigned to an entry, open the entry and click on the topic in the Topic List that you wish to remove. The bookmark icon will disappear, signifying that the topic has been removed from the entry.
If you want to remove a topic from a highlighted passage, open the entry and select the passage that has the “wrong” topic. Click on the Remove Highlighting from Passage button on the bottom of the topic list. The highlight will be removed from that passage, but the topic will remain assigned to the entry. A bookmark icon will replace the highlight icon adjacent to the topic. If you want to remove that topic totally from the entry, just click on the topic name in the Topics List and the topic is no longer assigned to the journal entry.
End Quote:From playwright, Noel Coward: “My importance to the world is relatively small. On the other hand, my importance to myself is tremendous. I am all I have to work with, to play with, to suffer and to enjoy. It is not the eyes of others that I am wary of, but of my own.”
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Happy and healthy journaling!