I mentioned briefly in my previous blog post, 12 New Year’s goals and aspirations for travellers, and in Stress-reducing products for coping with anxiety on your travels that journaling is something that has gotten me through both some very difficult times and some ambitious times during 2020.
In short, journaling is the process of exploring your feelings, thoughts and goals through the written word. It’s to help you process events in your life whether they’re positive or negative and can be a very important method of self care and growth. Journaling comes in many forms. It could be doodling, an unconscious flow of the written word, a “dear diary” account of your day, manifestations or it could be thoughtful answers to guiding prompts.
I have found prompts to be the best method for me and so after using multiple journals over the last year (many only cover 3 months maximum) I started refining and writing my own prompts that I found most helpful for analysis of my body and mental health, reflection of my achievements and encouragement for setting goals for my life for 2021. Before the new year I gathered them all together and Michael helped me lay them out into my own diary and journal which I would like to share some of today.
I’ll break down the prompts into sections that cover a reflection of the year just gone, planning for the year ahead, daily self care, a weekly reflection, a quarterly check-in and travel specific ones so you can head to what you think you’ll find most effective for your self development.
Reflect on last year
This section is brief but it’s there to encourage you to look back on the self-growth you’ve already achieved before writing about what you can further do in the year ahead. Use these as a chance to analyse your behaviour so you can decide what you want to continue, improve on or change. Don’t just question what you’ve done for yourself, also look at what you’re doing for your community.
My top 10 highlights:
5 things I achieved:
5 good things I did for others:
5 things I’m grateful for:
5 things I learnt:
Planning for the year ahead – goal setting
This is a big one because if there’s one thing I’ve learnt – this comes from Andi Eaton, author, content creator, spiritual goddess and founder of Oui, We – it’s that you have to be specific with want you want from life/the universe/others and yourself if you want it to materialise. Give these prompts sufficient time so you can be clear with yourself and your page on what you want from this year.
These prompts cover everything from travel to mental health, everything is relevant for helping you to develop what you want to achieve by the end of the year.
What do I want to achieve this year (bucket list/manifestations)?:
What can I do to achieve these?
Top 3 priorities for the next 12 months:
Top travel goal:
Top career goal:
Top financial goal:
Top health goal:
Top relationship goal:
Top community goal:
Top environmental goal:
What are my biggest energy drainers?:
How can I manage my time better?:
What do I need to achieve my goals?
What is going to happen when I achieve my goals?
How will I feel and look when I achieve my goals?
How will others benefit from me achieving my goals?
Where do I want to travel to this year?:
What will be my first trip of the year and why?
Top 10 actions for the next 30 days:
Why are these actions important?
3 things I want to do more of:
3 things I want to do less of:
Habits I’m going to create or change:
Things I want to learn:
Daily check-in journal
If you want to make big moves in life, you have to start with yourself.
It’s all good and well to set the big goals but it’s the little things you do, think and feel every day that will help you progress towards them. Making a note of your sleep (sleep is high up on the list of underrated things that will make you feel better) and what you’re doing to get your body moving (this doesn’t have to be a full on workout, a simple walk outside for fresh air will have a positive impact on your mental health) will help you to keep track of moods. For example, when I was really struggling with a feeling of suffocation and restlessness in the evening I realised from my daily journal I wasn’t spending enough time outside. Likewise, I can also see that my most productive and calm self last year was when I was getting to bed early and rising early, I can see that from where I was clocking in my hours of sleep and what time I was getting up.
Next is to focus on your mental health by questioning and being honest about your feelings and what it is you need from yourself or maybe the day to improve or preserve your mood. It’s not to shame you on how you feel but to be honest with yourself. Goal and intention setting is invalid if you can’t first focus on where you are in the moments that will get you towards them.
Writing down at least one thing you are grateful for whether it’s the coffee that got you out of bed before midday or that the world has recovered from the Coronavirus pandemic and you can embrace people again.
Now that you’re conscious of your feelings and mood give yourself a mini pep talk in the form of your daily affirmation. This should be a positive statement that will help you to work through your negative thoughts and put you on the path of self-love. An example would be “I write interesting blog posts that inspire people to do more on and for our beautiful planet”. Repeating positive affirmations to yourself will encourage you to be kind to yourself, something I know all too well is very hard to do. If you’re struggling with what to write, I suggest logging when someone says something kind or positive about you or your actions that made you feel good about yourself and then using that as inspiration to write your daily affirmation.
The final prompts of the day are to write out the most important thing that you want to achieve that day. Pay attention when I say it doesn’t matter how big or small this is, it’s not an expectation of moving mountains, it’s just a space for you to put out into the universe one thing that will give you a sense of pride, accomplishment, self worth and/or purpose and trust me that can come from something as simple as eating a banana instead of a chocolate biscuit or a banana as well as a chocolate biscuit. “What did I achieve today?” is where I can acknowledge what I did and hopefully that includes what I wrote down as the one thing I wanted to achieve. Sometimes it isn’t though and that’s ok because I will have done something that day and this is my chance to be easy on myself and instead celebrate what I did do. Remember that you have the opportunity to learn something from the goals you don’t achieve, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing but just another part of self-growth.
Hours of sleep:
Wake up time:
Intention for the day:
How do I feel?
How do I want to feel?
What do I need?
Affirmation of the day:
What am I grateful for?
One thing I want to achieve today:
What did I achieve today?
This will provide a chance for you to look at the week you’ve just had and assess how you felt, what from the week affected your mood and explore what went well, what didn’t and how you can improve on that for the week ahead. It’s a chance for you to express your discomfort and find a rational response to them. Journaling a reflection of how your week went overall is important for leaving your stresses and worries on the page so that you don’t carry them within your body into the next week.
How did you feel this week?
What can I do to improve my mood?
What went well this week?
What could have gone better?
Is there anything I want to get off my chest?
Make a list of all of my worries:
Write down rational thoughts about my worries:
It’s important to celebrate the wins and the progress you’re making as the months go by. Remind yourself what you’ve achieved in the month and likewise analyse what didn’t go well and note what you’ve learnt from it then use these to realign your goals for the month ahead.
This month’s wins:
This month’s learnings:
I’m grateful for:
Focus for next month:
Quarterly goals check-in
Setting your big goals, dreams and intentions at the beginning of the year is great but without checking in on them and your progress, how can you be sure that you’re working towards them? That’s why I have quarterly check-ins to see where I’m at and refocus my trajectory towards my long-term goals for the future.
Top 3 professional goals for the next 3 months:
To 3 personal priorities for the next 3 months:
How will these help me to achieve my long-term goals?
Habits to focus on:
Things I want to learn:
For a few years before I started blogging which ultimately ended up being a travel journal of sorts for me – where I reflect upon my trip, highlight the good and the bad and share my recommendations – I had tried to keep a travel journal. I attempted to write everything I did and I attached ticket stubs, napkins, brochures and more in a scrapbook manner but I could never keep up with them. I didn’t recognise the potential of focusing on the important facts of feelings and saw it as something that was holding me back from adventuring outdoors so I never finished them.
Since then I’ve developed prompts to keep the information to the point so I don’t feel inconvenienced but reflective, so I have the chance to process my feelings and can jot down the information I might want for future blog posts or conversations. At the very least, this has proven so handy for when I need to recall travel destinations and dates for when I donate blood.
These pages can be filled out in the morning, evening before bed or whilst you’re flying home or to the next destination.
Where did you stay?:
How do you feel about where you stayed?
What was your favourite meal of the trip and where did you eat it?
What are your top 5 moments from the trip?
Did you try anything new?
How did it make you feel?
What from this trip would you recommend to someone else?
Did anything upset you on this trip?
Is there anything you can do to avoid this happening again?
Did you learn anything from this trip?
Would you come back to this place?
If you’ve already started journaling and goal setting, that’s great! Don’t feel like because you have set your goals you can’t add more. I’m constantly editing and setting new ones because my intentions and purpose changes as the year goes on. If I kept to the same manifestations then I wouldn’t have the opportunities I do now and I wouldn’t be true to my own self-growth.
I hope that you find these prompts helpful for refining what you want for yourself and that they will help you to keep track of your most meaningful travel moments. Wishing you safe travels for the year ahead.