10 Journal Prompts for the New Year

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I’ve always kept a journal. I’ve not always written in it faithfully, but I always have a notebook with empty pages ready to be filled for whenever I need to process my thoughts. It’s a pretty well-known fact about me. In fact, a journal was one of the first gifts my husband gave me when we were first dating. A journal with a Dr. Seuss illustration and quote on the cover - “Oh, the places you’ll go”. It took me years of us dating to finally fill it, but I did.

I’ve since moved on to moleskin notebooks. They’re thin and small for carrying with me on-the-go, they’re lined (a must for me), and they look simple and professional.

Just in the last 6 months I have reignited my love of journaling.

See, I used to hold myself to an unrealistic standard of writing several pages for every entry. Of making each entry meaningful and full of substance. But when you’re chasing around 2 small children, working a full-time job, and managing a business, finding time to write like that is not really realistic.

So I gave myself permission to write for smaller chunks of time and to write whatever came to mind when I picked up my pen. It could be about what I’m doing in that moment, the top emotion that I’m feeling, or what my small and doable goal I’ve set for the day. It’s been fun. Having no expectations on the kind of entry I’ll write has freed me up to write whatever comes to mind and really analyze my daily thoughts and routines in a way that feels natural.

Having that practice also has reminded me that my journal is there whenever I do need to process the big stuff. Which I still need to do from time to time. Maybe I can’t process it all at once - that takes time - but maybe I can process it in small increments here and there.

What To Write About

One of the most helpful things for me is having a list of go-to questions or prompts to write about. If you’re not going to write about daily thoughts or routines, and you’re looking to examine and challenge some of the bigger picture questions that you have about your life, where do you even begin?

The new year is a great time to start a new practice and to think about what you want out of life for the coming year. But it doesn’t have to be the new year. Let’s face it, the new year is already full of goal-setting, resolutions, and unrealistic expectations.

These journal prompts, some of my favorite, are good for whenever you need to take a step back from daily life and just think. To challenge the way you’re doing things because you know, somehow, that it’s just not working.

These journal prompts are about hitting RESET.

Take them one at a time, as needed, or respond to several at once if the New Year is that time for you to think about the big picture. There’s no right or wrong answer and no appropriate length of response. Write without overthinking and without editing yourself. Read your writing back to yourself or don’t. The beauty is in the process of writing, nothing more.

My Top 10

  • What did you learn last year / What have you learned recently?

  • What relationships have meant the most to you in the last year (or recently)?

  • What questions do you have for yourself in the upcoming year (or in the next 6/12 months)?

  • Last year was a year of … / This year will be a year of …

  • What behavior, habit, or routine are you currently putting up with? Why?

  • What word or phrase do you want to eliminate from your vocabulary? What do you want to say more of instead?

  • Do you need a New Year to make a new change?

  • If you could spend more time doing one thing this year, what would it be?

  • What would your future self tell you about how you are living your life right now?

  • Your every day is your whole life. If that’s true, what does your whole life look like? What is it focused on?

We Should All Write

I think more of us should write. Even if only for ourselves, there is something about letting your hand tell the story of your mind that helps you see things you’ve never seen before.

Whether you have a consistent journaling practice, you want to create one, or you just want to write a little bit right now and not commit to anything, it doesn’t matter.

Take these questions, these prompts, and see where they lead. Whether they lead to more writing, or more insight into yourself and your life, it’s a win win.

And if you uncover something new for your life, I would love to know. Or if you have a favorite question or prompt, please share it with me so I can add it to the list.

Happy Writing!