* Michelle Thoughts, Intentional Living

Reflective Journal Prompts for Intentional Living

I’ve kept a personal journal fairly regularly since grade school. Being a practical person, most of my journal entries have simply been records of what happened.

In high school, I tried a different approach. I bought a big, textbook-sized journal and began processing concepts, trying to grasp new ideas by wrestling them onto a page in my own words. It was something I referred back to often and enjoyed immensely.

Recently, I’ve kept up a personal journal to record significant happenings and check in with my own well-being. I average making an entry once or twice a week, but I try not to worry about the timing. I’ve also used a combination of real notebooks and Evernote on my laptop to take notes on the various things I’m learning from books, workshops, etc.

Then, once a year, Jedd and I take time to do some intentional reflection during our Annual Review. This takes place every December. We look back on the previous year to analyze what went well, what we could do better. From there, we plot out our goals for the year to come.

The Annual Review has become such a useful and impactful practice. I realized I was craving more of that deep reflection throughout the year. 

Even though I continue to journal fairly regularly, I haven’t actually been using the journal for deeper reflection. It’s been more of a quick record-keeping practice. As an introvert who processes thoughts internally, journaling is an under-utilized tool for better self-awareness and personal growth.

So I decided to be more intentional about journaling. I thought I’d share my new plan, in case it’s helpful to anyone else.

A Weekly Deeper Journaling Day

Sundays are already a day I’ve set aside from work. I’ve been trying to find different ways to make Sundays truly restful and intentional, so it made sense to combine my goal of reflective personal journaling with this Sabbath day.

I’ll continue to do my record-keeping journal entries whenever I have time and feel the need. But on Sundays, I’ll sit down for a longer period of time to think, reflect, and write on different prompts.

I have collected a set of journaling prompts to guide my reflections. These come from other bloggers, Pinterest, goal-setting and values workshops, etc.

Weekly Personal Journal Prompts

The following journal prompts are questions that can be answered on a regular basis. My goal is to choose a couple of them each Sunday to write on.

It may be that I end up coming back to the same weekly questions, or I may rotate through them, depending on how I feel.

  • How do I feel at the moment?
  • What do I need more of in my life?
  • What lesson did I learn this week?
  • What is going right in my life?
  • What am I grateful for? List 10 things.
  • When did I experience joy this week?
  • List my recent small victories and successes.
  • What is bothering me? Why?
  • What are my priorities at the moment?
  • What is draining my energy? How can I reduce it?

Reflective Prompts for Ongoing Lists

As I researched journal prompts, I realized that a number of them would be more interesting if I could compile answers in a cumulative list. To do this, I have created a page for each question in a Bullet Journal. Whenever something occurs to me, I can add it to the appropriate list.

This is another set of questions I’ll go over on Sundays to see if any new ideas come up. I suspect that my previous answers will tend to remain true but that I’ll continue to add to these lists the more I think about them.

  • When was the last time I felt truly alive?
  • What/who inspires me the most? Why am I drawn to those inspirations?
  • What am I really good at?
  • What is something I would love to learn? What hobbies would I like to try?
  • Where would I like to travel in the next 5 years?
  • What am I grateful for?
  • What traits to I admire in other people or aspire to cultivate in myself?
  • What are my greatest accomplishments?
  • If I could make a living doing anything, what would I do?
  • What quotes inspire me?

One-time or Periodic Journal Prompts for Reflection

These last set of reflection questions touch on things that likely won’t change from week to week. Many of them will take some heavy lifting. That’s why they’re questions that I may come back to periodically but not on a regular basis.

I will probably try to respond to one of these each week, depending on how much time I have and what I feel like writing about.

  • What is something I’ve always wanted to do but was too scared?
  • What can I do to take better care of myself?
  • When have I done something that I thought I couldn’t do?
  • At the end of my life, what do I want my legacy to be?
  • What was a time when I was at my best? Why?
  • What rules have I set for myself that I follow strictly? What rules have I made but find hard to follow?
  • What have been my greatest failures or things I wish I had done better?
  • When I wake up in the morning, how do I most want to feel?
  • What does my ideal day look like from morning to night?
  • What does success mean to me?
  • What do I most need to heal right now?
  • What do I want my life to look like in 3 years?
  • What do I need to forgive myself for?
  • What would I do if I wasn’t afraid of failing?
  • What do I need to stop doing to life a richer, happier life?
  • How do I/can I add value to those around me?
  • What desires do I need to surrender?
* Michelle Thoughts, Intentional Living

All is calm. All is bright: Advent 2018

“All is calm, all is bright.” It’s a delightful sentiment, though not typically how I’m experiencing the world these days.

That’s why I’m making it my motto for Advent.

Advent, the time leading up to Christmas, tends to hold a lot more anticipation and magic in childhood. These days, I struggle to find ways to make it special.

To me, Christmas has a “true meaning” indeed. It has nothing to do with Santa, giving or receiving presents, and it’s definitely not about shopping.

Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ. A real live baby boy who changed the world. God walking on Earth. The man who was persecuted, whose body couldn’t be found in his tomb three days later, and who appeared to hundreds of people – people who became martyrs in dedication to his kingship.

It’s world-shattering stuff.

Worthy of pause. Reflection. Introspection. Action.

Every year I struggle with how to do this.

I don’t particularly enjoy tradition and ceremony for its own sake. It’s too easy to go through the motions.

I want to be intentional about Advent. But how?

I heard of the idea of Continue reading “All is calm. All is bright: Advent 2018”

* Michelle Thoughts

Michelle’s 35 Things Update

It’s been an eventful year so far – we both turned 35 and celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary with an extra dose of travel. With roughly 2 months left in my 35th year, I wanted to take another look at my “35 things to do in my 35th year” bucket list.

I was able to complete most of the things on my list without a problem. But I found that there were a couple things I resisted. One thing I’ve recently learned about myself, thanks to Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies, is that I am a Questioner. That means I only meet expectations that I have rationalized to myself are important. So I expect that the reason I resisted the 35 thank you letters task is because 1) I’ve never really appreciated the tradition of thank you cards in the first place, and 2) it was a popular birthday activity for others that I felt like I should do even though I wasn’t excited about it, and 3) it was overwhelming to choose 35 people and write 35 letters.

So I may end up replacing that one if I can’t find a way to align it better to my own style and personality. There are a few others I might need to adjust as well. Here is my current progress Continue reading “Michelle’s 35 Things Update”

* Michelle Thoughts, challenges, Intentional Living

Turning 35: Michelle’s Birthday Bucket List

I promised myself that I wouldn’t actually be old until age 75. But turning 35 means I’ve left my “early thirties” behind, which makes me feel that I no longer fit in the “young adult” category. I’m doing my best to accept this shift in identity without dragging my feet.

I confess that one of my biggest fears about aging is that life will somehow go downhill. I realize that the physical obstacles will increase – I’ve had chronic pain and headaches since my mid-twenties, so I don’t have much hope of anything getting better in that regard. But my real concern doesn’t involve bodily functions.

I remember as a Continue reading “Turning 35: Michelle’s Birthday Bucket List”

* Michelle Thoughts, Intentional Living

When You’re Not Saving Money at That Sale

Sale prices. Who doesn’t like to save money and get big shopping discounts? You walk into your favorite store and see a bright sign above some nice T-shirts: “45% off today only!” You may think to yourself: “That sounds like a good deal; I don’t want to miss out.” But I wouldn’t be so sure.

Unfortunately, sometimes those sale prices aren’t actually saving us money.

Intentional Spending

Being aware of how we spend our money is a big part of intentional living. Continue reading “When You’re Not Saving Money at That Sale”

* Life Updates, Other Travels

Life Updates from J + M | Intentional Travelers

As you may or may not have noticed, we’ve been posting a bit less on this blog lately. We’re shifting our focus toward our travel blog (now travel business). We do plan to keep posting “simply intentional” reflections here but most of our travels and adventure updates will come from IntentionalTravelers.com, like our life update below:


 New Transformational Travel Business

As we’ve mentioned briefly over the past month or two, we are in the works of launching a business around transformational travel. We are passionate about seeing our culture grow in understanding and appreciation for the world we live in, and be inspired by its beauty and diversity to become more generous, responsible, passionate global citizens.

The primary aim of our business is Continue reading “Life Updates from J + M | Intentional Travelers”

* Life Updates

The Latest From J + M

In case you didn’t see the latest update on our travel blog, we have a few pieces of recent news to share:

  • A Worthy Peace Corps Partnership ProjectPhoto credit: Dreamspace CollectiveOur friend, Jordan, a Peace Corps Volunteer who is now serving in our same host community in Jamaica, is raising funds for a project at the community center where Jedd used to work. They plan to create a community garden and demonstration plot that will serve low-income neighborhoods. Learn more and donate here to support this sustainability project!
  • Where To NextOahu
    We’ll be traveling again soon! Our next adventures include Oahu, Vietnam, and Japan – our first time West of Hawaii – and we’re getting all our flights by travel hacking. The main reason for this extended trip (2-3 months) is to help Jedd’s parents make a big move from Hawaii to Japan! As many of you know, we take our freelance work with us on our laptops wherever we go and we’ve got a number of projects going on, so we expect to have our days pretty full this Spring.
  • A New Business VentureScreen Shot 2015-01-23 at 8.03.46 AM
    We’re in the process of forming a travel coordination/consultant business for meaningful, transformational travel. We’re operating under the umbrella of our generous mentor’s travel agency, Travel Team Brokers. Hopefully we’ll have something more solid to share soon, but in the meantime, we’re testing the waters of helping people book travel and starting a network of other travel professionals who are involved in intentional, transformational trips. If you need help booking a vacation of any kind, let us know. You can also help us get connected to people you know in the travel industry who might align with our mission.

Photo Credit (pictures 1 and 3): Ben and Connie of Dreamspace Collective

* Life Updates, Other Travels, Videos

2014: Year In Review Video

2014 was another eventful year, and we are so thankful for all the people and places we encountered! As usual, we’ve put together a short video of clips from our adventures. You’ll see footage from Peace Corps Jamaica, some road trips and National Parks, France and Switzerland, and more. We hope you enjoy!

* Michelle Thoughts, Things We Love

The Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

We wanted to share this recipe in honor of being back from our Peace Corps experience in Jamaica. It’s fun to look back on the pictures of us making big batches of these delicious treats for our Jamaican host sister’s wedding.

According to Facebook, many of you actually tried these out at home last year! For my family (Michelle), cinnamon rolls are a traditional part of our holiday celebrations, and I’m looking forward to sharing these rolls with my family in both Oregon and Hawaii this Christmas. I like to make the miniature-sized rolls for this recipe to counteract the generous helpings of cinnamon-sugar and cream cheese frosting it calls for.


Continue reading “The Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls Recipe”