How To Start A Journal Practice For A Focused New Year

Great goal setting requires honest focus and these journal prompts are just what you need to plan a peaceful and productive year ahead.
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The end of a year can dredge up a lot of pent up thoughts and emotions, some that are hard to ignore. Coupled with the holiday season and the recall of the past year, you may find yourself taking stock of everything that went wrong as well as all the accomplishments you achieved. However, this thought process could lead you to reconsider your trajectory in life, making you question where you’re headed.  

Journaling is a powerful tool that can help you sharpen your focus and narrow your goals into actionable points. Not the same concept as a diary, rather a journaling practice consists of writing exercises that bring to the surface meanings behind unexplored thoughts and unreleased emotions. A daily practice of journaling has touted several benefits such as actualization of goals, stress reduction, physical and emotional healing, improved cognitive function, enhanced creativity, increased emotional intelligence and deeper knowledge of self.  

If you’re wondering how you’re going to find the time to write in a journal every day, remind yourself of your potential for transformation, waiting to be tapped into. This small change could lead you to the life that you’re dreaming of and what better time to start than the beginning of a brand new year? To help you get into the groove, we’ve put together 5 journal prompts that ensure a focused start to 2022.  

But before you start, it’s important to mentally prepare yourself. Think of the past year as a movie that you watched. Don’t indulge in attachments or judgments. Be a kind observer of the time gone by and write the answers that naturally come to you. Don’t force them, instead go with the flow with utmost honesty and compassion. Your journal is for you, it’s for you to find out what you want from this life of yours, do yourself the courtesy of telling the truth.  

1. Catalog your ‘yeses’ and ‘nos’  

Recall the past year, think of all the times you said yes to something, an impromptu plan, a request, a thought that you had. Then jot down the times you said no this last year. It probably happened a lot of times and you may have a hard time remembering but try and focus on how saying yes or saying no made you feel. This list will make you realize what you overcame, what you gave into, if you made a decision that added to your improvement or if you need to work on any changes going forward.  

2. 2021 experienced through your body  

You probably don’t need us to tell you that the past two years have been terribly rough on our bodies, from battling a global pandemic to trying to keep ourselves healthy in every way possible, the uncertainty of life has shaken us to our core. Take this time to think of a time when you felt strongest in your physical body. Did you run a marathon? Did you reach a personal milestone at the gym? Did you master a yoga pose you’ve been working hard on? How did accomplishing that feat made you feel? Put pen to paper and celebrate yourself.  

Download the ThinkRight.me app for a wonderful pocket journal you can use, anywhere, at any time.

3. Write a love letter to the past  

How many times have you heard someone tell you that the bad times will pass? The anxiety will pass, the misfortune will pass, time will heal, be patient. Being present in this moment today, you’ll realize the times that you spent worrying over things for no reason turned out just fine. And okay, even if they didn’t turn out fine, you are here today, you are alive and you handled the situation the best you could. Remind yourself of the lessons you learned, the strategies you practiced, the setbacks you overcame, all the while feeling like you’re not worthy enough or doing the right thing.

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Journaling brings to the surface meanings behind unexplored thoughts and unreleased emotions. Image | Unsplash

Right now is proof that you were, you knew what you were doing and you got through the obstacle, rising above stronger and wiser. Your past doesn’t define you, but it shapes you into who you are today. Those feelings from the past aren’t the same as what you’re feeling now because you’re a new person, with new sensibilities and knowledge.  

4. Write a letter to your future self 

Imagine yourself on December 31, 2023. Write a letter to the future you who’s celebrating the end of another year. What did you achieve in the past year? What did you learn? Who or what did you find meaning in? What books did you read? Reconnect with this letter as the year progresses, track your progress and understand whether you’re becoming the person you hoped to be. 

5. Write down the best (and worst) words of 2021  

We often don’t realize but our words have more power than we perceive. The way you speak with others defines who you are as an individual. Do you use kind words, or do you use harsh and blunt words? Do you think before you speak, or do you speak what’s on your mind? It could even be the words people spoke to you. What stood out? What are the feelings these words invoked, any thoughts, memories or emotions? What words would you like to use more of in the year ahead?  

Find the power in words with the help of these affirmations for self-healing.

To manifest the year you’d like to have, end the practice with gratitude. Write down who, what, where and when you felt gratitude. Once you’ve got a list of people, things and situations to be thankful for, add a “why” to all of them. Remind yourself of all the reasons you feel grateful. Then brainstorm new ways in which you can pay this gratitude forward. Try and add to someone else’s gratitude list and watch your good fortune unfold.   

Read more: 6 Happiness-Boosting Things To Do For A Wonderful New Year

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