* 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”

* Jedd Thoughts, Intentional Living

7 Things I’ve Learned in 7 Years of Marriage (updated)

Ten years ago today Michelle and I stood before family and friends and committed to being life partners. It’s hard to believe how much time has passed and yet, there’s always a newness in our relationship as we keep working on being better individuals, and working through challenges to grow closer and stronger as a couple.

3 years ago I wrote this post and upon revisiting it, a lot of the things I wrote still hold true. But to mark this anniversary I also wanted to add 3 new things I’ve learned from our 10 years of marriage. Here’s the original post with some new thoughts: Continue reading “7 Things I’ve Learned in 7 Years of Marriage (updated)”

* Life Updates, * Michelle Thoughts, challenges, Intentional Living

Will 2018 Be Your Year of Simple?

Seven years ago we made a life-changing decision to serve in the Peace Corps. We put in our notices at work, ended the lease on our apartment, and sold all of our furniture. We kept our winter clothes and yearbooks in storage with family and headed off to volunteer in Jamaica with the required maximum of two suitcases each.

Living with less was completely liberating. Not only did we have less stuff to keep track of, our weekly schedules in that rural Jamaican community were simplified, too. When we came home from work, we had time to read, journal, practice new recipes… In Jamaica, it was nearly impossible to get more than two real tasks done per day, so we became accustomed to a slower pace of life.

That simpler life was so much less stressful – it was something we vowed to keep in our lives moving forward. And we’re passionate about helping others do the same. Continue reading “Will 2018 Be Your Year of Simple?”

* 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”

* Jedd Thoughts, * Life Updates, Intentional Living

What Matters Most

Every year I write a birthday post reflecting on something I’ve learned in the past year about myself (and thoughts about getting older). It’s a great way to see where I’ve been, who I am today, and hopefully reflects the person I am working on becoming.  


I want to ask you a question: what core values drive the major decisions you make for your life?

In other words, what are the things you value the most? Do you know? Have you ever asked yourself this question? If you do know what matters the most to you, do you live your life in such a way that reflects these values?

This is the foundation to Continue reading “What Matters Most”

* Jedd Thoughts, * Life Updates, challenges, Intentional Living

2016 Annual Review Part 1: How Well Did The Year of Productivity Go?

For the last three years, Michelle and I have done a practice called an Annual Review. It’s an opportunity to intentionally reflect on the past year and think of the things that went well, things that didn’t go so well, and to take all that information and start planning for the upcoming year and beyond. We highly recommend this activity as an individual, as a couple, and even as a family. Don’t know how to start one? Check out this awesome free workbook from our friends at Live Your Legend and example posts from the Art of Non-Conformity


At the beginning of this year I made a pronouncement to make this the “year of productivity”. I even wrote a post explaining my plan here.

I was going to:

  • Learn Spanish (mind)
  • Get ripped and in-shape (body)
  • Grow in my faith (spirit)

How did I do? Well… Continue reading “2016 Annual Review Part 1: How Well Did The Year of Productivity Go?”

Intentional Living, Things We Love

You’re Invited to the World Domination Summit

Michelle and I want to personally invite you…

To one of the most incredible and extraordinary events called the: World Domination Summit (a.k.a. WDS). 

Mark your calendars and save the dates: July 11th – July 17th, 2017

Each year 1000+ amazing and wonderful individuals make the journey to Portland Oregon to think and respond to this central question, “how can we live remarkable lives in a conventional world”.

For the last three years, Michelle and I have Continue reading “You’re Invited to the World Domination Summit”

* Jedd Thoughts, * Life Updates, Intentional Living

To the First Cohort of the Wayfinding Academy…

There’s a good chance that when you read this post, 15 new students will have just finished their very first class at the Wayfinding Academy. It’s an incredible story of how a former college professor (and great friend of ours) put together a team to create a college from scratch that combats many of the current issues in higher education.

The main focus of the Wayfinding Academy is to help students discover and better understand who they are (based on their passions, skills, and interests), how they can serve our world, and determine what next steps they’ll need to live the life they want for themselves — not what others are saying they should do. Continue reading “To the First Cohort of the Wayfinding Academy…”

* 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”