This isn’t the first time we’ve sung praises about journaling. The practice has been proven to improve our lives in a number of meaningful ways, from improving our memory and problem-solving skills, to clearing the mind of stress and anxiety, to being a useful tool for all kinds of emotional healing. There’s also no better tool for holding yourself accountable while you travel along a self-improvement journey. Not to mention, if you’ve been journaling the pandemic, your great-grandkids are going to have some fascinating resources for their history essays. That being said, I know it can be tough to keep up the habit, and tougher to get into the habit in the first place, so I’ve compiled a lists of journaling prompts you can use to get the ball (point pen) rolling.
If you’re new to journaling and not sure where to begin, grab your journal and a pen, and work through the following questions first, one a day:
- What does my life look like right now?
- What do I want my ideal life to look like (in detail!) ?
- What can steps can I take to move my life in the direction of my ideal life?
- What’s troubling me these days?
- What brings me the most joy?
- What am I grateful for?
- What are my short-term goals and how am I making them happen?
This list is great for those who have been journaling for a while too, as it can remind you of where you’re at, and provide you with an updated version of some things you may have written about before – How has your life changed since the last time you wrote answers to questions like these?
Remember to be honest with yourself. You’re the only person who has to read this, so censoring yourself for any reason has no place here. Neither does style, spelling, or poetic flair. Just be true to yourself.
Maintaining the habit
To keep building a daily journaling habit, use some of the following prompts or inspiration ideas:
- Is there anyone you wish I could thank or apologise to? Why haven’t I?
- Who made me feel my best this week?
- Did I make any mistakes this week? What can I do better next week?
- What have I been doing that’s moved me closer to my goals? Further away?
- What lessons have I learned recently?
- If I could live anywhere I wanted, where would it be?
- If I could go back in time and change one things from my past, what would it be?
- How do I deal with my anger?
- What is the most prominent emotion in my life currently?
- What am I most looking forward to right now?
- What would I do if you knew I could not fail?
- What would I do if money were no object?
If you struggle to find questions to ask and answer, try free writing, working from prompts such as the following :
- keep a gratitude journal and write five things your grateful for every night before bed. Allow those five things to become the theme of that day’s journal entry.
- Find a quote that inspires you and write down any thoughts or questions that it raises.
- Create lists – of anything! Your favourite books, songs, movies, places to visit, goals, dreams – all are fair game. Allow these lists to get your brain working.
- Write letters. You don’t ever have to deliver them. They’ll stay right there in your journal, but the process of writing to someone you can’t speak to can be extremely cathartic.
- Write about your dreams – I mean the ones in your sleep. Did you do or see anything strange in your dream the night before? write about it.
- Use visual prompts. Look through old magazines or photographs and write about any picture that inspired you or triggers memories
When you begin your journaling habit, it can seem like you write so slowly, and your hand cramps one line in – but rest assured that with practice everything will become smoother, and soon you’ll find that your day is not complete until you’ve unloaded your stress onto the page. If you need more ideas to keep you going, or you just don’t like these, a quick Google search will bring up hundreds more journaling prompts to keep you motivated, like this list by Lavendaire.com.
When you’re starting out be sure to set time aside for your practice. Turn off the TV (calm music is ok), and avoid any interruptions for 20 minutes if possible.
Keeping a journal is a great way to change your life for the better (even if that’s just done by changing your outlook on some things, or working through grief) and I hope that working through these journaling prompts is as helpful for you as they were for me. Happy writing, readers.