And yet, because of how most of us have been exposed to journaling, it gets a bad rap. The most common image that comes to mind when folks think about writing down their thoughts in a notebook is that of a child keeping a secret diary. It’s something juvenile and inconsequential. Another common experience with journaling comes from schooling. It’s not uncommon for students to be assigned to keep a journal as a part of their assignment, creating an association between journaling and tediousness.
For those of us on social media, there’s also the representation of journals as works of art. Scroll through relevant tags on Instagram or Pinterest, and you’ll see page upon page of images of multi-colored bullet journals and calligraphic handwriting.
Combining these mental images creates an unappetizing picture of the journaling process. As a result, most folks feel that their time could be better spent doing something else. They often feel that if they do dip their toes into journaling, it doesn’t live up to their expectations, so they abandon it.
Yet journaling is neither tedious nor juvenile, and its value is akin to investing in stocks. The more you do so consistently over a long period of time, the more you’ll see in returns down the road. Aside from paying to work with a life coach (which I heartily recommend), journaling is perhaps the best self-paced exercise you can do to reframe, interpret, and strategize for your goals and progress toward achieving them.
To help you get started, I wanted to put together this guide. In my opinion, the best thing that you can do when you’re journaling is to be present and reflect on your experiences and expectations at any given moment. Yet, reaching the point where you’re comfortable doing that can take some time. So, here’s a blueprint you can follow for 30 days to build those muscles and make journaling second nature for you. I’ll be framing most of these prompts as questions; powerful questions are crucial for developing better insight into your own values and goals.
Personally, I recommend using journaling as a way to start your day, but there’s no wrong time of day to do it. There is a single definitive rule that I recommend following throughout this process: write what comes to mind for you. It doesn’t matter if the thing that pops into your head doesn’t fit the prompt for the day that you’re on. Just go with it. Follow it to its logical conclusion and then come back to the prompt.
30 Days of Journaling Prompts
What does your ideal day look like? What are the things that you would do and how much time would you devote to them if you had total control over how you spend your time? Be descriptive. Describe why you would do these things, what it is you like about them, and how your senses are engaged.
What would your ideal day look like five years from now? Consider where you hope to be in five years. What would need to change between now and then for you to get there?
When was the last time you entered a flow state? What was it that you were doing, and what was that experience like for you?
What is something in your life that consistently makes you happy? Why?
Do you feel like you have a healthy work-life balance? What does it look like to have a sense of balance there?
What is something you would like to learn more about? Is there a particular skill you would like to acquire, a topic you would like to master, or an area where you would like to become the go-to subject matter expert?
Are there things in your daily schedule that stress you out? How does your body feel when you interact with these things?
What books, podcasts, or blogs do you wish you had more time to consume? What is it about them that you find so satisfying?
What do you enjoy most about working with certain coworkers? What do you think they enjoy about working with you?
If money was not an issue, where would you like to travel? What would you hope to experience there?
What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you were fifteen?
What are ten things that you are grateful for today?
Do you feel like you’re efficient during the day, or do you feel like you are easily distracted or derailed?
Write about a time you overcame a challenge. What was it about you that enabled you to overcome it?
Who inspires you? Why?
What is the main goal you would like to accomplish in the next year? Write about three separate ways you could reach this goal. What’s a realistic way? What would be the best-case scenario? What would be a hilarious way to accomplish it?
What are ten words that you use to describe yourself? What are ten words your friends would use?
How has your outlook on life changed over the last year?
What did you want to do when you were a child?
If a genie offered to grant you a single wish– no limitations, tricks, or strings attached– what would be your wish? Don’t go for a cheap “more wishes” answer. Be creative.
What was the worst experience you’ve had with a boss or teacher? What did you learn from that experience?
How would you describe your learning style?
What excites you about the future?
What would you do with your free time if your work schedule got cut in half but your pay stayed the same?
How might you change your morning routine to feel more inspired throughout the rest of your day?
What is something you wish everybody else understood?
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
What is something you are secretly proud of? Do you do something really well that others don’t usually recognize?
What is something you can do in the next 24 hours to change your routine?
What specific goals do you hope to accomplish in the next 30 days?
About Blake Reichenbach
He/ Him/ His pronouns. Blake is a writer, gym addict, dog dad, researcher, and general life enthusiast. He's passionate about helping others reach their goals and live happier, more fulfilling lives.
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