Journaling ideas aren’t the magical cure to what ails you. They won’t cure your anxiety, banish your depression, or make you more money.
They can help you discover great ideas. Or get to the bottom of a problem that’s been troubling you. The right journaling prompts can help you make sense of the busy day ahead of you and make you more productive. I like to balance my journal prompts by threading in bits of gratitude, reflection, and living purposefully.
Journaling ideas onto paper (or in Google docs) keeps my mind decluttered. It filters out my noisy inner critic and helps me stay focused on what’s truly important. It’s such a simple ritual that takes so little time but provides immense clarity and purpose to the day ahead.
Ryan Holiday wrote an excellent article on how the emperor of Rome, Marcus Aurelius, conquered stress, and anxiety. One passage, in particular, stuck out to me:
“Marcus Aurelius worked hard to be a good friend to himself. Although he was firm and strong and self-disciplined, he did not whip himself. He knew that it was inevitable that he would mess up. We all do.”
The idea of being a good friend to yourself feels strange. How often do you reflect on how you treat yourself? Deep down, we know what it feels like to be a good friend to others. But what about being a good friend to yourself? What does that look like?
A good friend would point out what you have to be grateful for and why today is an opportunity. A good friend would remind you of all that hard work you’re doing and celebrate the fantastic things that you’ve accomplished. They’d also point out where you could do a bit better. Not in a mean or demoralizing way, but in an uplifting and enthusiastic way.
Journaling can help you be that good friend to yourself. Not just once or twice, but every day. These journaling ideas are on heavy rotation for me lately:
- What are you grateful for?
- What amazing things happened yesterday?
- How can I make today better than yesterday?
- Are all of your obligations today real or are some imagined?
- How are my thoughts lately? Are they serving me or holding me back?
- What are the words you need to hear? What would a good friend say to you today?
- Why is today an opportunity instead of another day to get through? What will make today great?
- If you were forced to work for just one hour per day, what would you work on during that hour to be most effective?
My list evolves as I find new and exciting questions, ideas, and journaling prompts. Some months I’ll remove questions temporarily, and some months I’ll add a couple more.
I’ll leave you with a quote I’m taking to heart:
“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” —Jack London