I just concluded a professional development contract with a client I have been coaching for an extended period. At the start of our work, one of my recommendations was to get a notebook just for our sessions — lessons from our time together, reflections that occurred afterward, and prompts to remember scenarios that she wanted to discuss in the future. I did likewise, and in preparation for our last call, we both reviewed our notebooks. They provided tangible evidence of the progress that was made — reminders of things that used to be a struggle but now were not, enhancements that had resulted from some of the techniques she tried, and increased confidence overall.

Keeping such a record is a useful tool for almost any project. You may not think you are making progress on something, especially if it’s an intangible like professional development, onboarding, coaching, or parenting, but having something written down in a discrete format allows you to see the path your learning has taken. Just making a few notes about the issues of the day or your joys and challenges can go far in capturing a snapshot in time that can be compared with future moments.

It’s difficult to have a meaningful sense of time without everything blurring together. If something is important to you, dedicate a notebook to it. It doesn’t have to be lofty (I stock up on cheap spiral versions during the back-to-school sales), but keeping notes will become an invaluable tool for reflection and validation of your progress.

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