If someone has ever told you that journaling everyday changed their life, it likely wasn’t 365 “Dear Diary,” entries a year. As valuable as brain dumping may be, it can get boring and monotonous. Especially if you don’t have any pressing internal struggles to work through at the time, it may not benefit you to write down the mundane activities of your day-to-day life. Instead, try incorporating more proactive journal prompts that promote self-discovery. Whether you choose to journal everyday or not, it’s important to set aside time to get to know your ever-changing self.
- A list of energy takers and energy givers
Start by reflecting on what has been draining your energy lately. Maybe it’s social media, maybe it’s stressing over a minor conflict, or maybe it’s simply a lack of sleep. List it out and try to think about ways you can rid yourself of these energy leeches. Then, list out what has been giving you energy. This could be a positive relationship, a new hobby, something you’re looking forward to or prioritizing self-care time. The goal is to see what is dragging you down, what is lifting you up and figure out a way to balance the two.
- What does abundance look like to me?
If you’ve ever ventured into the world of tarot card readings or astrology, the term abundance comes up often. It’s generally in pretty vague terms such as, “Capricorn risings will experience abundance after this full moon.” But what does abundance mean? One definition offered frames it as, “overflowing fullness.” But, what kind of “fullness?” This is a question that is up to interpretation and may help you learn more about how you envision a fulfilling life. There’s no wrong answer because everyone's version of the dream life, the abundant life, is extremely different. Does this mean an abundance of close relationships? Money? Travel opportunities? Self-love? Take some time to explore how you’ve come to view abundance and why.
- All external pressures competing for my time aside, how would I spend today?
External pressures can mean academics, work, draining relationships or anything that you need to tend to on a daily basis. All of that aside, how would you spend today? Answering this question can give you a look at what you truly enjoy doing in your free time. It’s called intentional joy. Would you read? Go on a hike? Go to the beach? Hangout with a certain friend? What would you do just for the sake of making yourself happy? Then, if you want to get deeper, explore why that activity makes you so happy and how you can make more time to revel in it.
- Who are three people that inspire me? What about them sparks the admiration I have?
This could be people in your life right now, someone in the media you look up to, or someone from history. The important part is to break it down. Try this template. “I feel inspired by __ because they are __, __ and __.” Describe three or more personality traits these people have that you admire. Next, brainstorm some ways you can reflect these positive traits. This isn’t about comparison or changing who you are. It’s working toward creating the best version of yourself.
- What are three positive traits you would use to describe yourself right now?
This one is all about self-love. Having a growth mindset and trying to become a better version of yourself is praiseworthy, but it’s just as beneficial to appreciate who you are right now. If you want to go a little deeper, think about how you’ve accumulated these positive traits over the years.
- How has my daily routine changed in the past year?
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, self-care practically became a buzzword. As a society, we had more time to set aside for exercise, meditation, journaling, etc. But, as we ease into normal life again, think of some habits you’ve adopted that you may want to keep around. Just because the world is slowly opening up doesn’t mean we need to abandon all the work we’ve done to prioritize wellness. In fact, it is just as imperative now to check in with yourself as we adjust to the changes that are coming.
- What does my ideal day look like a year from now? Three years from now? Five years from now?
As many of us learned in the past year, having something to look forward to significantly impacts our happiness. This journal prompt may help you to realize that you don’t need to have a music festival or a vacation to Greece coming up in order to have something to look forward to. Especially as young adults, our lives are always changing. We’re moving to different cities, working toward our dream jobs, falling in love with ourselves and others, and experiencing so many things for the first time. Think about what your life looks like a year from now. You can choose a weekday or a weekend, but make it your ideal day a year, three years and five years from now. You may realize that you have more to look forward to than you originally thought.
Talking to your journal as if it’s a friend listening to you vent can certainly feel beneficial at times. If you’re battling conflicting feelings, just got done with a stressful day or need to make a difficult decision, it’s wise to do just that. But if you’re on the journey of getting to know yourself better and strengthen your emotional intelligence, journaling for self-discovery can have a deeper impact.