Happy New Year! There’s no time like the present for some quiet introspection—taking the time to ask yourself the big questions about who you are, where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there. One great tool for this kind of self-reflection is daily journaling. By writing down everything that’s on your mind, you can give yourself a clearer picture of your accomplishments, goals, dreams, and concerns. I’ll help you get started with some easy journal prompts bound to inspire you.
New Year Challenge: Start a Self-Reflection Journal
If you haven’t written in a journal or diary before, it’s never too late to make this wonderful self-care activity part of your everyday life. As daily habits go, journaling for self-reflection is one of the best ways to take care of your mental health. By writing down what’s on your mind, you can bust through everyday stress and help reduce anxiety and depression. And, if you’re just getting started now, you can make journaling for mental health part of maintaining your overall wellness in winter. It’s a great way to stay energized and goal-oriented in a season that feels dark and gloomy for many. Even if you’re not a natural writer or are feeling skeptical, it’s worth a try.
It’s important to note that there are no rules about what you can and can’t write or how long your entries should be. You should record whatever you’re thinking about without editing yourself. Remember that no one else is going to read this (unless you want to share your work with someone important to you, of course).
You can use whatever journal you’d like for this practice. Some people enjoy purchasing specially-made diaries that contain helpful prompts, but any blank notebook will do. Feel free to decorate the cover if it makes the journal feel more personal and fun—this is just for you, so anything goes! Find a place to write where you’ll have quiet and privacy, since you’ll want to feel relaxed and uninhibited while you’re writing. You might spend fifteen minutes jotting your thoughts down—or you could write for a full hour. It’s all about what feels right to you.
Big Wins, Small Wins: Record Them All
Now it’s time to dive in and start writing. If you know how you’d like to get started, fantastic! But if you need a little help and inspiration, that’s okay too. Check out these useful new year journal prompts to help you reflect on the previous year.
- What were some of my biggest wins this past year? What did I do to make them happen?
- What were some of my smaller wins? Why were they important to me?
- What were some of the major challenges I faced? What did I do to cope with them? What lessons did I learn from them?
- If I could change anything about the past year, what would it be, and why?
- Who were the most important people in my life this past year, and why?
- What did I learn about myself this past year?
- What is my most important takeaway from the past year? What does it teach me about moving forward?
- What are my goals for this next year? What will I need to achieve them?
- What mistakes did I make last year? How can I avoid repeating them this year?
- What distracted me from my goals last year? How can I eliminate those distractions going forward? What can I do to help myself to stay focused?
- Are there things from last year I can let go of? What has become less important to me?
- Who or what can help me toward my goals this year?
Write as much or as little as you like. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to use your journal. This is an exercise that’s just for you, not an assignment. If there’s a question that’s too hard to answer, skip it! In the same vein, if you think of something else you’d like to write about, go for it. It’s all about what personally feels most helpful.
Journal Prompts for Introspective Writing All Year Long
Now that you’ve gotten a feel for self-reflective journaling, keep the momentum going and make it a daily habit. Check out some more prompts to help you write constructively about your day.
- What were my goals today? Did I achieve them? What did I do to get there?
- What were my challenges today? Did I face them well? What did I learn from dealing with them?
- What do I want to accomplish tomorrow? Are my goals realistic?
- What’s making me feel stressed or anxious right now? What can I do to make that better for myself?
- What’s something good that happened today? What’s something that made me laugh?
- What (or whom) am I thankful for today?
- How am I feeling physically today? Did I take good care of my body? What’s my game plan for tomorrow?
- What’s something nice I did for myself today?
- What’s one concrete action I can take tomorrow that puts me closer to achieving one of my big long-term goals?
Again, these are just some ideas. Remember that there are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions—they’re simply jumping-off points as you begin your journaling practice. If these don’t speak to you, please feel free to try others! Anything that helps you generate insight on how you’re feeling about life is great. What’s important here is that you take the time to reflect on your dreams and hopes, your concerns and worries, and everything that makes you who you are. All of these things can tell you so much about how to live your best life as you move forward. It’s a key part of taking care of your emotional health.
Happy New Year! Leave me a comment to let me know how journaling is going for you. Is there a prompt you’d add to this list? I’d love to hear it!.