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How to journal your way to making your new year goals a reality
2022 is upon us and with it brings the annual flurry of chat about new year's resolutions. Setting resolutions can feel overwhelming, especially if it is implementing something which is a big change and requires a lot of effort to fit into your already busy schedule. In fact, studies have shown that the majority of us give up just two weeks into January! So what can we actually do to turn our big new year's goals into the reality?
The trick is to make sure they are these two things:
Seems simple, right? But let’s think about it – if your goal is to go the gym five times a week but you in fact hate the gym, and you don’t have time to go five times a week, then you’re already setting yourself up for a fail. What if you pivoted this goal into something that you enjoy and is actually doable? Perhaps you love dance and you realistically have time to put aside to exercise three times a week. So why not change your goal to dance or Zumba class three times a week? You know you love it so you’re more likely to stick with it and you know you can make three classes happen, so you’re on track to fulfil and even smash your goal. Making your goals enjoyable and doable sounds so simple – but when you think about it, they are rarely at the heart of our goals.
So how do you go about breaking down your goal into something you’re going to take forward into 2022? The secret is putting in some inward reflection and brainstorming – and journaling really is great for that.
So what is journaling?
In the simplest form, journaling is the act of writing down your thoughts and feelings. You could say it’s a diary, but the difference is with journaling is there are various prompts and questions you can use to stimulate answers and a bit of self reflection. Journaling something you can keep private and therefore provides an automatic safe space for you to process thoughts and feelings.
How do I start journaling?
One way to start journaling is to simply sit down and write any thoughts or feelings that immediately come to the forefront. This could be absolutely anything, not even related to the new year. You might actually be surprised what comes out of it for you.
If you’re struggling to sit down and just write, we suggest trying one or two of these questions to get you going.
Journaling prompts to get you started:
- List three things you are grateful for today.
- Write down something that you are going to do for yourself today.
- Reflect on how you are currently feeling and how you want to feel today.
- Reflect on something you are happy about at the moment.
- Reflect on something you are feeling unsettled about at the moment.
These are great ones just to get the juices flowing. Remember – there are no right or wrong answers. This is your private place for exploration.
If you’re feeling like you want to go a bit deeper, you could try one of these more challenging and thought provoking prompts:
- What do I know to be true that I didn’t know a year ago?
- What have a learnt about myself over the past year?
- Where do I think I have room to grow this year?
- What mood am I in right this moment and why is that?
- Is there anything I can do to change my mood, from past experiences?
- What have I done recently which made me feel proud?
There are endless questions and emotions you can explore through journaling – these are just some thought starters. Through writing and processing thoughts and feelings, you may be surprised at what comes out on the pages. This may indeed inform you what your goals for the new year might be.
How do I use journaling to figure out my goals?
You may have noticed a theme in your journaling. Perhaps it’s related to how you feel about yourself, or your body, or perhaps something else. If there is a theme – take note. This might be a vehicle to figuring out what you want to achieve in 2022.
You can use these journaling prompts to delve deeper:
- What does XXXX mean to me and why is this a recurring theme?
- What do I want to change/enhance about XXX?
- Why do I want to do XXXXX? How will it make me feel?
- Why do I want to achieve XXXXX? How will I feel if I succeed? How will I feel if I ‘fail’? (Noted ‘fail’ is in apostrophes because there is no such thing as a fail – but noting this as this may be how we perceive it with ourselves).
- What can I do to make XXXX happen?
- How can I make XXXXX enjoyable and doable?
The last prompt ties it immediately back to the top two things all goals need to be – enjoyable and doable.
Here’s an example of using the journal prompts above:
What does eating well mean to me and why is this a recurring theme?
Eating well is important because I enjoy eating and creating good food and the way it makes me feel. It’s a recurring theme because this is something I know I love, but I have neglected it in recent months.
What do I want to change/enhance about XXX?
I want to eat more fruit and vegetables because I know from past experience it makes me feel better about myself. I want to explore new recipes and try new things as a means to enhance my cooking skills but also expand my palette.
Why do I want to do XXXXX? How will it make me feel?
I know I find cooking soothing – yet recently I have not given it priority. I will prioritise cooking and creating balanced and healthy meals in the new year.
Why do I want to achieve XXXXX? How will I feel if I succeed? How will I feel if I ‘fail’? (Noted ‘fail’ is in apostrophes because there is no such thing as a fail – but noting this as this may be how we perceive it with ourselves).
I want to find a way to implement cooking fresh meals into my life and feeling the benefits physically and mentally.
What can I do to make XXXX happen?
I will plan ahead on a Sunday and find recipes which inspire me. I will make one new recipe a week and find others that are familiar/quick, but put a healthy or new spin on them. I’ll batch cook where possible to fit in with my busy schedule and work life.
How can I make XXXXX enjoyable and doable?
I won’t put pressure on myself if one week I cannot fulfil my goal but I will keep it at the top of the list of my priorities. I’ll make it enjoyable by putting time aside to cook, play music whilst doing so and sharing my journey with friends and family.
Motivational journal prompts to continue your goals into 2022
You can also use the following prompts to help you map out your goal and continue it into the year. Journaling and goal setting is a continuous process, and something that evolves with you.
- Why did I make this resolution?
- How can I make it more manageable?
- What other ways could I achieve this?
- Am I being kind to myself? If not, why not?
- How will I track my progress?
- Notes from people who inspire me
Revaluate at the end of the month
At the end of the month, look back at your progress and give yourself a pat on the back. This is another key time to look over what you have done and ask yourself, is this really working for me? Am I getting to where I want to be? If the answer is yes, then brilliant, continue with all of the above steps to keep smashing that goal. But if the answer is no, don’t be afraid to revaluate and try another method to make that resolution part of the daily fabric of your life.
The brilliant thing about journaling is you can use it as a method to work through so many feelings and flesh out so many ideas. Journaling can be whatever you want it to be – it’s your space. Make it colourful, use stickers, draw, sketch, doodle – whatever feels right!
Will you be giving journaling a try?
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