I have a love/hate relationship with my journal.
And I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’ve been keeping up with a diary intermittently since I was a tween as a way to unleash the clutter from my brain and better understand myself and others. In some ways, I see my journal as a friend with whom I can share my goals, fears, and sometimes seemingly empty thoughts without judgement. It helps me refocus and regroup, and holds up a mirror to my headspace, revealing what’s really going on in my brain. But a lot of the time, I’ve seen journaling as a tireless chore that led to no real answers. Plus, my journals document an incriminating record of my deepest thoughts and feelings, sometimes in sharpie. No one needs to know who I had a crush on in 2003.
So despite my greatest efforts, I’ve tried, and failed, to keep a consistent daily writing practice over the years. I’d pressure myself to fill a page with something profound every day, and instead record patches here and there between long stretches of off-the-record existing. But those times I wasn’t journaling were also the times I felt the most estranged from myself. Times I was doing more existing than truly living. I’m not the kind of person who can process my emotions in my head right away, and often times I have to get them out of me in order to understand how I really feel. These days, instead of seeing journaling as yet another obligation for self-improvement, I see it is a necessary means to understanding myself. Plus, in this act of slowing down and being present, I’ve found that no thought or moment is too small to write down.
No matter what words fall onto the page, journaling can reveal the ongoing dialogue between your past and present self, out of which greater awareness emerges.
Whether you’re into journaling or not, the benefits are undeniable. Writing things down every day not only preserves memories to look back on, but leads to inspiration, self-discovery and stronger connections to ourselves and others. Even though being present with yourself can sometimes be uncomfortable, journaling has been credited as the single most transformative ritual of so many successful people. But building this daily habit starts with letting go of your inner critic and expectations. When you’re getting out of your own way, sometimes it helps to start with a prompt to get the ball rolling.
These 30 journal prompts are topics you can explore every day in just a couple of minutes, and help you discover a greater sense of self.
- What are five things you appreciate about yourself?
What are three great things that happened yesterday?
What are 30 things that bring you joy?
What are you looking forward to right now? If you can’t think of anything, what can you do to change that?
What is one thing under $100 that has made your life easier?
What are 10 things you’re actively enjoying about life right now?
Write about the most fun you had recently. What were you doing and who with?
- Name the top three emotions you are feeling at the moment. What are the emotions you want to feel today?
- What is the one thing you would tell your teenage self if you could?
- What is your body craving at the moment?
- What are 10 questions you wish you had the answers to right now?
- What do you know to be true today that you didn’t know a year ago?
- What are you scared of right now?
- What’s not working in your life right now?
- Write someone a letter with whom you have an unresolved issue.
- Write about someone you miss, what do you miss about them? How do they make you feel?
- What would your ideal day look like? Where would you be, what would you be doing and who with?
- Describe your perfect home – where is it, what does it look like and who do you share it with?
- When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up and why?
- What do you need more of in your life?
- If failure wasn’t possible, what would you be doing right now?
- If you only had one year left of life, what would you do?
- In another life, who would you want to be? Write out this character, what they do for a living, their personality traits, etc.
- What’s something you wish others knew about you?
- Who is someone you admire? What qualities do you love about them?
- Who is someone you envy and why?
- What distracts you from what’s truly important each day?
- If you decided right now that you had enough money, and that you would always have enough, what would you do with your life?
- When you picture yourself 10 years from now, what do you want to have achieved and experienced?
- How do you want to contribute your talents and passions to the world? Who could be touched by you and how would it affect them?