Since 1986, Psychologist James Pennebaker of the University of Texas at Austin, has published a number of studies that prove that if people going through a difficult or challenging time will simply write about their experience on a daily basis, they will deal with their emotional stress much better than those who don’t. These kinds of studies have even shown that this kind of journaling even boosts a person’s immune system.
Pennnebaker found that if people only write 15 minutes a day, their attitude towards everything becomes more positive. The immediate aftermath of these experiments created sadness and emotional distress. But over a period of time, Pennebaker found that 70% of the subjects said they understood themselves better and were more comfortable with the experience they wrote about. Since his initial study, hundreds of experiments like this have been done around the world and the results are that people who write about some of their most emotional experiences become more understanding about their experience and themselves.
What’s even more important is that people who have been laid off from their jobs who practice journaling about their experience deal with having to look for a job more easily and, most important, get hired more quickly. In one study, within three months of doing this kind of writing, 27% of the unemployed subjects had found jobs compared to only 5% of the subjects who had not done the journaling. By seven months, 57% of the people who had done journaling had found a new job, which was three times that of the people who had not done the writing.
Even Pennebaker admits that he’s not sure why this kind of journaling makes such a big difference in the attitude and results of people’s efforts. Apparently the act of writing about the emotional strain of looking for a job speeds up the ability to put the incident in perspective and deal with it more effectively.
In all of the books that I’ve written about finding a job as well as in my online program The Job Search Solution I have always recommended that people write about the experience they go through while they are looking for a job. But I have to admit that my discovery of Pennebaker’s studies have reinforced my suggestions.
There are 18 million people looking for work in the United States today. That’s a lot of emotions. The people that begin journaling and actually write about their experience are going to deal with the emotional strain more easily. And if Pennebaker and those that have followed him are right, they will find a job more quickly and easily. Up until now, my advice was simply anecdotal.
Bluntly, the why of this doesn’t matter. If it works, and I believe that it does, everyone looking for a job should be journaling every day.