We live in a time where there are endless options for what you can do for work. And while that is a great thing, it also can make it complicated and challenging to figure out what work is right for us.
As humans, we form thoughts at 1,000 – 3,000 words per minute. And when we’re thinking about a topic as broad as what work we want to do, we have to sort through an exceptional amount of noise when thinking it through.
For me, I’ve found journaling to be a tremendously helpful way to process my thoughts and gain clarity on issues that I’m struggling with. And there’s one specific journaling method that I’ve found particularly helpful when it comes to discovering your best-fit work.
Throughout this post, I’m going to unpack how to use journaling to find your best-fit work and share a bit about my favorite journaling technique to help you discover your best-fit work.
What is Your Best Fit Work?
My favorite definition of work is from philosopher Dallas Willard who defined work as “the expanding of energy to produce well.” I like that definition because it goes beyond defining work as a career or a way of making money. It’s more encompassing than that. It’s the thing that you give yourself to produce good (i.e., a career, a stay-at-home parent, volunteering, etc.).
To build on that and further define best-fit work, I believe your best-fit work to be the energy you put forth to produce the good that you want to produce in the context that you want to produce it. Now there’s a lot to unpack there, but the context around your work basically means the way that your work fits into your life.
So if you can find work that produces positive good and fits into your life in the way that you want to, you have found a powerful thing to do with your life. But finding that work can be challenging, and takes lots of reflection and intentionality. And that’s where journaling comes in.
A Journaling Technique to Help You Find Your Best Fit Work
My favorite journaling technique to help you find your best-fit work comes from the famous business thinker Jim Collins, who is best known as the author of the book Good to Great
On an episode of the Tim Ferriss Show, Jim discussed his own unique approach to journaling that, after trying it out, quickly became one of my favorites.
Basically, Jim’s method helps you to track how you feel at the end of each day. The idea is that by rating and evaluating each day, you can establish patterns as to what happens when you’re enjoying your day vs. when you’re now so you can try to build a life that maximizes spending time on the things that you enjoy.
Here is a high-level summary of how the method works:
- At the end of each day, log in to a spreadsheet with one of the following ratings for the day:
- -2: A particularly negative day
- -1: A moderately negative day
- +1: A moderately positive day
- +2 A particularly positive day
- In a corresponding journal, write about what happened that day and the reason you gave it that score
How That Technique is Helpful for Discovering Your Best Fit Work
There are a couple of things that I find to be particularly valuable about that process.
First, after practicing this method for at least a month or so, you’ll be able to easily spot patterns. So if you find that most of your days are either moderately positive or moderately negative, that will trigger you to pause and evaluate that.
For me, if I found that most of my day evaluations were just kind of ok, I would want to be having more awesome days so that I would tell myself that I need to experiment more with my work or what I’m doing to try and foster a more engaging work and life.
The second thing that I find particularly valuable about the process is that outlier good and bad days are easily visible.
So for your +2 days, you can go and look at what you were doing on those days and establish patterns. You can see what you were doing, what you worked on, what your rhythm was, and try to find consistent elements that you want to be in your day-to-day life.
Based on those learnings you’ll have a better sense of the work context and routines that work best for you and the types of activities that you enjoy the most. From there, you can go out and search for work that fits that criteria, or create it for yourself if you can’t find it.
The Jim Collins journaling method is one of a few helpful journaling approaches that can help you slow down, organize your thinking, and gain clarity on your best-fit work. And of all of the different methods, it’s been the most helpful for me personally. Check out Jim’s book Good to Great
I’d encourage you to try it out and see if it’s helpful for you!
This article was submitted by Dan Slocum from Best Fit Work.