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?