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Five Journaling Prompts That Will Change Your Life

Five Journaling Prompts That Will Change Your Life

Why you should pick up a pen and paper today

Journaling (also known as “expressive writing”) offers a multitude of psychological benefits such as the chance to release anger, to make sense of difficult or traumatic events by setting them down, and granting yourself a degree of psychological distance from personal problems.

It also gives you the chance to engage in some deep self-reflection, which can help you clarify your values, goals and overall life direction. Journaling has the power to be truly transformative if you take the time to analyze yourself. As the saying goes, knowledge is power!

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Why use prompts?

However, facing a blank page can be an intimidating prospect. What should you write about? Start with the following five prompts. They have all been designed to get you thinking about some of life’s deeper questions and to kickstart some serious self-reflection.

1. If I were given a year off work, I would…

This prompt will help you bring your most cherished dreams into focus. What would you do if you had a year in which you could do anything? Would you study, do some volunteer work, start your own business, or undertake some self-development? Writing out your answer to this question can help you redirect your attention to long-forgotten or deeply-held dreams and ambitions.

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2. If I had a time machine, I would…

This prompt can help bring any regrets you are carrying to the surface. Although you might not want to dwell further on what has gone wrong in the past, writing about what has happened can be a good step in working to overcome rumination. Use your journal as a place to examine where you have gone wrong but also what you can learn from your mistakes.

3. If I could give my younger self a piece of advice, I would say…

Making mistakes is a painful but inevitable part of life. On the plus side, making mistakes is one of the most effective ways of learning about ourselves, how best to relate to others, and the world in general. This prompt will help you realize that your experiences have made you into a wiser person. Furthermore, you will come to appreciate that even if you could go back and deliver advice to your younger self, they would still learn much more in making their own mistakes!

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4. The seven things I could never do without are…

This prompt forces you to examine your relationship to material possessions. What do you truly need to lead a “good life”? Do you suspect that you might be overly attached to certain items? Does the thought of choosing only seven things make you panic, or do you feel as though you will always be fine as long as you have friends and family around you? Answering this question can highlight dependency on money or status symbols.

5. If I could ask an omniscient being one question, I would ask…

If you believe in God, what question would you ask him or her? If you are an atheist, imagine that you have an audience with an entity who knows everything about the universe and those within it. Either way, this prompt will help you realize your most pressing concern about life in general and how best you can direct your energy.

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For instance, if your question would be “Will I ever find love again?” then this is a valuable indicator that you should consider investing more time and energy into refining your relationship skills and meeting new people.

How to make the most of these prompts

Take your time when answering these questions. Your answers are for you alone, so be honest. Allow yourself an hour for each. Quite often, when you grant yourself permission to write fully and honestly, you will be surprised by how much you have to say. If you are embarking on a journey of personal development, why not re-answer these questions every few weeks or months? This will allow you to track your progress as you move towards a more authentic, fulfilled life.

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Jay Hill

Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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