Journaling is one of the best ways to inspire personal growth. It helps us uncover our thoughts, plan for the future, and stay accountable to the goals we want to achieve.
Unfortunately, sitting down in front of a blank page to journal is intimidating. It’s hard to know where to start, how to write, or what to write about. To lower the barrier to entry journal prompts are a great tool to help us get the pen moving on the page.
Most journal prompts are broad and ambiguous, but each prompt below is related to a specific idea or concept and focused on personal growth and development. In addition to the quotes included for each topic, the title for each idea is linked to a short essay about the idea to provide additional context and inspiration for your journaling.
My hope is that you’ll find a few topics that resonate with you and use the prompts and ideas below to journal about new ideas and work towards becoming a bit better each day.
Anyone who thinks they're important is usually just a pompous moron who can't deal with his or her own pathetic insignificance and the fact that what they do is meaningless and inconsequential. William Thomas
What was your last mistake or failure? How does remembering it make you feel?
Now imagine for a moment that this mistake/failure was completely inconsequential. How does this change how you’re feeling?
In which area of your life do you overestimate significance the most?
Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you're doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they're hiding out in the comfortable zone. When your uncomfortable actions lead to success, the organization rewards you and brings you back for more. Seth Godin
Where am I avoiding discomfort?
How can I make discomfort a part of my daily routine?
In what area of my life would I most benefit from consistent discomfort?
There are no shortcuts to excellence. Developing real expertise, figuring out really hard problems, it all takes time―longer than most people imagine....you've got to apply those skills and produce goods or services that are valuable to people....Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you're willing to stay loyal to it...it's doing what you love, but not just falling in love―staying in love. Angela Duckworth
Where do I keep going when everyone else seems to give up?
What rules can I put create to force myself to keep going when I want to quit?
How gritty am I right now? How can I become grittier?
When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier. Roy Disney
What are the 7 most important areas of my life? On a scale of 1-10, how would I rate myself in each of those areas?
Thinking of the activity where I invest the most time and energy, am I pursuing an end that is congruent with my values, or am I chasing something else?
For each role in my life (i.e. husband, wife, sister, brother, son, daughter, father, mother, lawyer, salesperson, entrepreneur, etc.) write one sentence to express what my values are in this area of life.
The conventional wisdom on career success—follow your passion—is seriously flawed… for many people it can actually make things worse: leading to chronic job shifting and unrelenting angst. Cal Newport
Would my employer panic if I quit tomorrow?
How can I become irreplaceably valuable to my firm?
When I become so good that I can’t be ignored how will I use my leverage to develop control of my work and create a meaningful impact?
Non-violent resistance implies the very opposite of weakness. Defiance combined with non-retaliatory acceptance of repression from one's opponents is active, not passive. It requires strength, and there is nothing automatic or intuitive about the resoluteness required for using non-violent methods in political struggle and the quest for Truth. Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer them with love. Mahatma Gandhi
What situation do I know I will face temptation or attack within the next 7 days? What does accepting that situation with compassion look like?
What are the internal values that I will revert to when faced with an attack?
Some people say life is short and that you could get hit by a bus at any moment and that you have to live each day like it’s your last. Bullshit. Life is long and you’re gonna have to live with the choices you make for the next fifty years. Chris Rock
What can I do on a weekly or monthly basis that will positively impact my life 10 years from now?
How often do I think about how my daily and weekly activities contribute to the next decade of my life? Do I need to do this more or less?
What is something I’ve been worrying about that will become completely trivial in one month?
People don’t have enough silence in their lives because they don’t have enough solitude. And they don’t get enough solitude because they don’t seek out or cultivate silence. It’s a vicious cycle that prevents stillness and reflection, and then stymies good ideas, which are almost always hatched in solitude. Ryan Holiday
Am I uncomfortable without having “something to do”?
How can I add intentional stillness or emptiness to my day?
What am I avoiding when I reach for stimulation in uncomfortable silence? How can I face that head-on instead?
The most important thing is to live an interesting life. Keep your eyes, ears and heart open. Talk to people and visit interesting places, and don't forget to ask questions… you need to drink in the world around you so it's always there in your head. Michael Morpurgo
What stuff do I want to do more of?
How can I make time every day to do stuff?
How do I feel after going through a day without doing any stuff?
My theory on life is that life is beautiful. Life doesn't change. You have a day, and a night, and a month, and a year. We people change - we can be miserable, or we can be happy. It's what you make of your life. Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
What is a small thing I can change in my bedroom to positively influence my sleep or the state I wake up in each day?
Am I actively influencing my trajectory in life? Or letting whatever comes up control my path?
Are there any people in my life that have a negative influence on the way I am changing?
Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow. Tony Schwartz
In what situations or environments do I find myself most at odds with the life I’m trying to live?
What’s the result when I try to force my idealistic lifestyle in difficult scenarios?
What type of situation or occasion warrants leaning into the circumstances and forgetting about the pursuit of growth?
We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we've established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile. Earl Nightingale
Do I ever do things at the end of the day to try and make the day worth it? Or indulge in something I shouldn’t to try and feel in control?
What is something meaningful I do that creates a genuine feeling of progress?
How can I do one thing at the beginning of each day that satisfies my natural craving for progress?
Discipline is not a one-time event. Self-discipline is like building your muscle. It’s like going to the gym. You cannot go to the gym today and build your muscle. You should get a program and go slowly by slowly—that’s the way to build your muscle. And that’s the way you can cultivate your self-discipline. Eliud Kipchoge (Marathon World Record Holder, 2:01:09 or ~4:37 minute/mile)
How can I “build volume” or slowly increase the frequency or intensity of something important to me?
What is something that seems insurmountable to me today? How did the people at the top of this field or activity start?
What kind of results could I achieve if I slowly built up my efforts over the next 6, 12, or 18 months?