Journaling is so underrated. I do think it has been getting more attention lately as the powerful life tool that it is rather than just a “here’s what I did today” personal record type thing. However, I don’t think I’ll be satisfied until everyone journals, haha, because I simply cannot imagine my life without it.
Why I started journaling (and kept it up)
So why did I start journaling? Well, I did it on and off in the beginning. I think I was in my early teens or tweens when I started (hehe, tweens, I still think that’s a funny term). I journaled because I wanted to record the memories of my life. I also wanted to be cute and artsy and have doodles and weather trackers and music playlists and lists and photos and tickets stubs… Which is all fun and good except these weren’t reasons that were ever able to suck me in and keep me going with the journaling habit. In no more than a few weeks, it would start feeling like a chore. I’d groan about having to expound on every last detail of my day.
At some point in high school, I picked journaling back up but in a totally low-pressure way. I returned to my journal when I had something I wanted to say. And then, I got hooked. I didn’t even have to remind myself to write. My journal was always in reach and I was consistently drawn to it because I wanted to get my thoughts down on paper.
As I developed a morning and an evening routine (which by the way have changed my life just as much as journaling has), journaling slotted seamlessly into them. I started developing a bit of a template for my writing, because I started to get a good idea of what worked. In the evening, I write down three “wins” from the day, three things I was grateful for, and one improvement I want to make the next day. In the morning, I write down three things I’m looking forward to and recommit to the improvement. In the main body of my writing, I discuss whatever I want. Sometimes it’s what I did that day, sometimes it’s just a random collection of thoughts, ideas, worries, self pep-talks, etc.
Guys. I know I get excited about a lot of things on this blog but I am not exaggerating when I say that writing these simple things is INCREDIBLY powerful. It basically reprograms your thoughts. You learn so much about yourself and how your mind works. You start and end each day positively.
Make journaling a habit
If you don’t already journal, please, please consider starting. You don’t even need a fancy notebook (although that can be a fun motivator if that’s in your budget). Start small and with minimal expectations so as to not overwhelm yourself. Perhaps a few sentences about how your day went and three things you were grateful for. Track the habit to create a pattern. Try “habit stacking”, which is basically tying the journaling habit to a habit you already do to make it easier to implement. For example, I incorporated journaling easily into my morning and evening routines.
Once you’re ready to write more, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I don’t just have you covered. I have you 100% SET. 75 prompts, all of which you could probably write anywhere from a few sentences to a few pages about. It’s all up to you.
Some of these prompts ask you to look forward to or look back at the day. But what if you’re journaling in the morning and the prompt is “what are 3 things you accomplished today?”. Just write about what you accomplished yesterday :) Make these yours, there are no rules!
I would also like to mention that a lot of these are great introductions to improvements you can make in your life. For example, one prompt asks you to reflect on what clothing in your closet you love the most and which items fail to inspire you. You can use that as a jumpstart to cleaning out your closet and updating your wardrobe! By taking a few minutes to journal and think hard about it, you are getting the hardest part out of the way, basically.
- Write down a few little memories from this week that made you smile that you would have otherwise forgotten.
- Write a letter to a person in your life that you have found to be draining of your energy. Avoid excessive negativity - simply say goodbye to them and focus on committing yourself to spending more time with people who give you energy.
- What is a task(s) you keep scheduling and rescheduling that you could just take off your plate altogether? Consider that if you keep not getting it done, it might not be of value to you.
- What is something you want to do but haven’t yet because of fear? Might you be over-exaggerating that fear? How can you overcome it?
- What do you wish you didn’t have to do today? Write about why it won’t be as bad as you expect it to be and how you’ll feel once you’re done.
- What are your absolute favorite items in your closet? Conversely, what are some items you find yourself rarely wearing or feeling uninspired by?
- When do you feel like you rush too much? How could you slow down and enjoy the process?
- What makes you feel cozy and safe?
- What qualities in other people bother/annoy you? How can you strive to make sure you don’t embody those qualities?
- What is something you are involved in (like volunteering, a side project, or an extracurricular) that doesn’t feel like work at all to you? Why is that?
- A good prompt for when you’re getting ready for bed, especially if you feel like you need to calm yourself before going to sleep: outline your bedtime ritual, write about how relaxed you feel, and how comfy you will feel once you are in your bed.
- What opportunities have come your way recently that you are grateful for? How did you open yourself up to those opportunities/take advantage of them?
- What is a goal that you are currently working on and who is someone who could help you with that? What could you ask them for?
- Make a gratitude list. The power of gratitude cannot be overstated, in my opinion. Make a list of 10 things, 50, a 100!! Go crazy.
- What is a challenge that you have overcome recently that you need to give yourself credit for?
- What are some skills you have always wanted to learn or topics you have wanted to explore?
- Who is someone in your life you appreciate at the moment? Write to them.
- What task has been weighing on your mind lately? Make a plan to prioritize it and get it done today.
- What are 3 things you accomplished today (or yesterday) that you are proud of and need to pat yourself on the back for?
- 3 things I am looking forward to today are…
- What is your fashion style? You might have a Pinterest board filled with clothes/outfits you like, but try summarizing your style in words. This could help you when shopping!
- They say you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Who are those 5 people for you and what qualities do you think you have adopted from them?
- How do you feel when you challenge your body? Really describe that rush of endorphins you feel, and the satisfaction at the end of a workout. Refer to this whenever you need motivation to exercise!
- What do you wish you could tell someone about how you feel? Write as if you are conversing with them.
- What would be your ideal location to live in? City, suburbs, or out in the country? House or apartment? Having to drive a car everywhere or being able to walk places? Where in the world?
- What are the most used apps on your phone? What value do they add to your life? What are the least used apps? How about the apps you use a lot but consider to be a distraction? Could you part with them?
- What are some comfortable aspects of your life that you sometimes take for granted? Use your writing to appreciate them fully.
- When in the day do you feel you are able to work best? When are you most motivated? How can you arrange your day to maximize those productive window(s)?
- What are some ways you could spend quality time with family and friends in the upcoming month? Brainstorm ideas and then commit to scheduling those.
- If you had unlimited money/resources/connections/whatever, what gifts would you give to the people you appreciate in your life? Get creative :)
- What topics do you feel like an expert on? It doesn’t have to be anything academic. Maybe you could talk for hours about a band you like, or about different kinds of eyeshadow. Celebrate your knowledge!
- Write down anything and everything you can think of to describe your dream life. What are you doing? What do you have? What have you accomplished? Don’t judge what you are writing down, just let the ideas flow.
- What is something you currently desire? (an opportunity, an experience, a material item, it really doesn’t matter) Get clear on it and ask the universe for it (yes, straight up ask, you might feel silly, but this is the basis of manifestation)
- Who is someone in your life you would like to spend more time with? What are some ways you could do that?
- When you think about your future, are you excited or scared? Which aspects exactly are you excited/scared about?
- Do you prefer being outdoors or indoors? Feel free to say “it depends” and list all of the conditions that would go into your decision :)
- What is something you would improve about how today went? Use positive language and don’t beat yourself up about it. Rather, find joy in anticipating a better day now that you have acknowledged that you have room for improvement and are going to make that change.
- Make a small list of things you are good at and/or passionate about and brainstorm ways that you could make money off of those things.
- How can you surpass your own expectations today? What are some ways you can go above and beyond what you have planned for yourself to accomplish?
- How would you describe your relationship with your phone/other technology in your life?
- What never fails to motivate you and get you pumped up? A certain song, a power pose, an inspirational video?
- How would you describe the mood you are in right now? Make a playlist for that mood. You can definitely do this quite easily on your phone but try to stick to paper to minimize distractions!
- Choose an affirmation that feels right for the day and write it ten times while saying it out loud to get it in your head.
- What is something you need to forgive yourself for? Write it down and leave it in the past.
- What are some ways you would like to serve your community in the near future?
- What are some areas of your life in which you are too harsh with yourself? Write down some loving statements to show acceptance of where you currently are in your life.
- What does having your “soul on fire” mean to you? What sets your soul on fire?
- What are some things you do simply because that is the “path” that is set out for you? Are those things really adding value to your life?
- What are 5 lessons you have learned in this past week? Life is full of lessons and it is helpful to write them down, no matter how small they may be. Looking through your journal can be helpful for finding these lessons.
- What are some habits you would like to incorporate into your routines? How would they improve your life and how could you get started?
- If you could only accomplish three things today, what would be the most important items on your to-do list? (setting priorities is a great thing to practice every day!)
- What is an area of your life that could use more organization? Ex. your closet, your bathroom cabinet, your photos and videos, your schedule, etc. Is there a time this week that you could dedicate to working on that?
- What is your favorite way to start the day? What makes you feel energized and peaceful?
- Make a travel bucket list. Describe the things you would like to see/experience in each place to make it feel more tangible and get you excited.
- What relationships are you looking for in life? Doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship. Maybe you are looking for a friendship that you feel is lacking in your life, or a mentor figure. Describe that.
- Write down a few things you appreciate about your parents, your siblings, etc. It’s easy to forget these because we usually have spent so much time with our families.
- What is something that makes you uncomfortable in a good way? How could you do more of that?
- Make a list of habits you already do and celebrate your commitment to those habits. How have they improved your life?
- What are your priorities? Do you think how you spend your days is in tune with those priorities? Challenge: The word priorities is innately an oxymoron. There can only be one true priority. What is your one priority in life, if you had to choose?
- Write a letter to someone you really admire. It could be someone you personally know or maybe someone you have never met, a public figure, perhaps. What have you learned from them? How have they inspired you?
- Do you consider yourself to be spontaneous or more of a planner? Would you like to be more of either?
- What are some compliments you have wanted to give someone but have been too shy to?
- What are your 3 favorite qualities about yourself?
- What is a big project that has intimidated you for a while and what is the one simplest step you can think of that will help you advance in that project?
- What 3 words would you use to describe your dream life? Explain. Write them down somewhere, maybe even set them as your phone wallpaper!
- Make a life bucket list. Don’t hold back. You can edit later if you want but let your imagination run wild for a few minutes.
- Where would you travel to if you had unlimited money and time? Describe the trip in detail.
- Choose a mantra that you want to keep with you for a while. This is great at the beginning of a new year or month but works whenever you decide to do it. For example, my mantra for 2018 is “err on the side of action*.
- What do other people admire you for? Do you accept those compliments or push them away?
- 5 things I am looking forward to this week…
- The age-old “get to know you” question that tends to make people nervous: What are your hobbies? Don’t worry, you are just writing this for yourself. What do you do in your free time that you truly enjoy?
- Write a letter to yourself in 5 years. Tell them about your life currently and express the dreams you hope to reach in 5 years.
- Describe your ideal day, from waking up to going to sleep.
- How do you undervalue yourself? In what situations do you ask for too little when deep down you know you are worth more than that?
- Do you prefer spending time alone or with other people? In what situations do you feel you gain energy? Does it depend?
Of course I had to make a cute printable out of this, hehe. So go ahead and download this PDF to keep the prompts handy with you. That way you won’t have to pull out your phone or computer to view them. Bam, distraction minimized.
There’s a version that is just a list, which you can print out and keep in a folder or tape straight into your journal. I also made a version with dashed lines so that you can cut out little slips of paper and make a journaling jar!
Do you journal? What do you find yourself journaling about, usually?
Wishing you the best of luck on your journaling journey! (wow, alliteration, such writing)