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7 Best Ideas for Journal Inspiration

There are many inspiring ways to begin journaling and a variety of different journaling methods to try.

Change is hard.  Sustaining change is even harder. 

Journaling can be a wonderfully supportive habit and a great way to cultivate and sustain change.  But for some, the thought of journaling is uncomfortable and even a little icky or forced.

This blog post is dedicated not only to seasoned journaling folks who need a little inspiration to change things up, but also to those who need a more comfortable way to enter into the practice of journaling. 

I’m giving you 7 of the best ideas for some journal inspiration whether you are looking to get started or find yourself in a journaling rut. Plus, scroll down to the bottom of this post to get 50 free mindfulness journal prompts to help jumpstart your journaling today!

The journaling issue

Your mind is constantly racing with thoughts.  It’s clogged with the good, bad, happy, sad, confusing, clear and so on.  And most of us are perfectly content to just let those thoughts fester and run into each other upstairs in our brain cave.

But how’s that working for you?

Are you able to catch each one of those thoughts, address and sort through them and ultimately figure out which ones to cast aside versus which ones serve you best to support the change you want?

Chances are that the answer is no.  It’s just too hard to hard to process it all without diving down deep, cavernous rabbit holes.  One distraction leads to another and then it’s like you have a brain full of squirrels and…no change.

How journaling helps

Journaling provides an amazing opportunity for your brain to dump all your thoughts out.  Another great thing? No need for organization, no need for proper grammar or spelling and best of all no judgement.  The subject matter, words, phrases, drawings, run on sentences or manifestos are for your eyes only.

The struggles and challenges, the fears and doubts, the accomplishments and wins, or the goals and desires – your journal is your safe place to get it all out.  A place to sort through your thoughts and truly acknowledge them.  Your journal is the place where you decide what is worth holding onto, what’s not and why you even let certain things take up valuable space in the first place.

Different methods of journaling

The best way to approach journaling is to first recognize that it can be done in any way that feels right to you.  Even your to-do lists can be considered a form of journaling, true story!  The good news is that there are tons of journaling methods to help get you started and meet you wherever your comfort level lies.

Here are a few of the best ways to journal that deliver some great inspiration:

1. Bullet journaling

Whether you are experiencing writers block or just an aversion to penning a paragraph of your thoughts, creating a bullet journal can serve as a great alternative to traditional journaling. 

Bullet journaling can take the format of whatever your mind conceives.  Think of it as a next level sketch book, planner, and diary all in one.  It can serve as an inspirational and creative outlet as well as keep you organized.

Often filled with tasks, calendar items, colorful doodles, inspirational quotes, or anything else you may find motivating or grounding, bullet journaling is also a popular and effective way to stay accountable to your goals.

A bullet journal, or bu-jo for short, is frequently set up with groups of pages relating to a specific topic.  These categories, commonly referred to as spreads, are typically found in a two-page spread format, visible as an open book.  Typically these groupings are used for tracking goals or progress over a certain period of time such as weekly spreads or monthly spreads.

While a bullet journal can be an effective way to track or monitor things such as health and wellness goals like water consumption, daily steps or even sleep habits it’s also a helpful way to highlight patterns and potentially even make better sense of them. 

Mood trackers may sound a bit hokey at first but recording your daily disposition over time may provide valuable information on just how long you have been feeling a certain way.  This type of helpful and detailed accounting may shed light on potential mental health issues such as depression or seasonal affective disorder or, more simply, it can highlight patterns associated between your mood and other daily habits like sleep, exercise or eating.

2. Key word prompts

Even the journaling faithful can sometimes stare at a blank page not knowing where to start.  Having a brief list of key word prompts, phrases or questions can be a great way to ignite some journaling inspiration.

Journal prompts can also be useful to help slow down or collect your thoughts.  Consider making a list of statements or questions to tap into when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stuck.  Keep your list of journaling prompts tucked away in the back of your journal or somewhere you can easily reference. 

Here are a few key word prompts and questions to keep handy for quick journaling inspiration:

  • 3 good things about my day/week were…
  • My biggest challenge right now is…
  • Today I am feeling…
  • The things I value most in my relationships with others are…
  • My work does/does not feel important to me because…
  • What are my personal values?
  • The three changes I want to make to align my actions with my personal values are…
  • I trust myself the most when…
  • My loudest self-doubt is saying…

If you want to make journaling more of a habit but feel challenged by a lack of focus, prompts are a quick and easy way to redirect your thoughts and provide structure for your reflections.

3. Vision boards

If you don’t have a vision board, PLEASE go create one.

A vision board can be a very powerful tool to help remind you of your intentions, shape your thoughts and inspire your actions.  It serves as a daily reminder of your ambitions and goals while visually reinforcing how your achievements and desires will look.  The visualization of your goals can help you feel, and stay, connected what you want for your life.  

Not to mention, creating one is a fun way to express your aspirations!

The process of creating a vision board can be considered a journaling method in its own right.  Aggregating photos, cutting out pictures from magazines, collecting inspirational quotes and words are all ways of assembling and processing your thoughts.

The intentional process of gathering all those items is a great way to solidify and reinforce your objectives but if you simply cannot find the time then consider creating a digital journal board on Pinterest.  While it may not produce the same type of reflective moment as constructing a vision board, it will serve as a place you can reference quickly and often for a dose of inspiration.

When you create a vision board, you are effectively sorting through your thoughts and actively deciding which ones to focus on or pursue.  No matter the format, it is incredibly effective and powerful.

And while your vision board serves as a daily reminder of what you want for your life it can also be a very useful journaling prompt!  A quick glance at your vision board may be all you need to bring clarity, focus and a bit of inspiration to those blank journal pages. 

4. Mind mapping

Mind mapping, a process that I was familiar with from decades of corporate experience, had honestly never crossed my mind as a journaling tool – but after giving it a try I must say it’s a great way to help prioritize action, face reality about the reasons for procrastinating and most importantly, shed light on additional perspectives or options.

A mind map is a simple visual that helps organize your thoughts and ideas to gain more clarity.  Mind mapping is a technique commonly used in brainstorming or problem-solving sessions or even note taking and studying. 

You begin by writing a simple thought, word of phrase at the center of the page.  This becomes your overall theme.  From that one theme you draw several spokes off from it, each representing its own idea, concern, perspective or consideration.  Each one of those spokes becomes an opportunity to explore your feelings and evaluate if it deserves the space it holds in your mind. 

Think of it as taking a more complex situation or issue and turning it into a simple brain dump page, by creating a visual.

Say for instance you are going through a massive life change such as a divorce.  The word divorce may be at the center of the page and several spokes coming off may say things like – children, finances, housing, self-care, career, self-care, friends, intimacy, companionship.  Each one of those categories then has its own spokes with its own considerations, ideas and different perspective.

The process of journaling by way of a mind map may be comforting for someone who is feeling overwhelmed or having trouble coming to terms with the magnitude of a larger life change or big life decision.  Using a mind map to journal out your thoughts is a very thorough way to lay out your feelings and unearth additional perspectives you may not have previously considered.

5. Gratitude Journal

I started a simple gratitude journal when I was going through a difficult divorce.  To be honest, I had no idea that what I was doing had a label, but I knew it made me feel a little better and that was all I cared about. 

And no wonder.  Gratitude journaling has been shown through a growing body of research to not only improve mental well-being but also your physical health.  It’s positive impact is documented to help promote better sleep, lower stress and improve interpersonal relationships.  

The simple, yet effective way of practicing thankfulness begins to train your brain to seek out the good over the bad, very similar to how the consistent use of positive affirmations reprograms your inner thoughts. 

There are some fancy gratitude journals with pre-filled prompts out there but if that’s not your speed a simple way to get started is to just list out a few (I like three, personally) good things about your day. 

Don’t put pressure on yourself to “make” good moments.  Reading back on the old entries in my gratitude journal there were more small things like enjoying a great cup of coffee, hearing my kids belly laugh or an easier commute home that riddled the pages. 

What started out as more of a gratitude log of sorts ended up monumentally shifting my perspective.

That was a particularly challenging time in my life, filled with daily chaos, fear and anxiety.  My gratitude journal brought more peace and calm into my life without denying my reality.  It kept me grounded and focused on what was important. 

6. Habit Trackers

Similar to bullet journaling, habit trackers are a great way to monitor your progress with a specific goal or target.  They can help keep you on track, maintain accountability and provide a visual to support your motivation.

If you are new to the world of journaling, need new inspiration or are just looking for some new ideas, using a habit tracker can be a simple way to stimulate some creativity and spur a little bit of observation and note taking.

When it comes to using, or creating, a habit tracker there are tons of formats to choose from.  The most important thing is to pick one that works best for you.  If you hope to encourage some writing alongside your progress then a it is a great idea to pick a habit tracker with ample space for noting things like your wins, challenges and even your mood.

Good news: When you sign up, free, to become a member of the Robyn Marie Coaching Community, you have access to 25 printable habit trackers!

7. Create a bucket list

While journaling can be a very powerful tool for expelling emotion and a safe place to unload, it’s crucial to find balance and shift your mindset to more positive things as well.

Creating a bucket list, or wish list of achievements or experiences during your lifetime, is a great way to cultivate optimism and excitement about your future.

Better yet, the exercise of crafting your bucket list reconnects you to your personal values and what is most important or meaningful to your life.  It serves as a reminder of what matters most and can provide a source of motivation.

Final thought…

In addition to finding a method of journaling that fits you best, the key is to practice it on a regular basis so you can experience the full benefit. Some studies show that even writing journal entries for 15 minutes a day, three days a week, leads to increased feeling of well-being after just one month. 

Like most things, the hardest part is sometimes just getting started. With so many different ways to begin journaling, or continue writing, one of the best things you can do to support your journaling adventure is to keep it simple.

Your future self will thank you for investing in your well-being.

Get 50 Free Mindfulness Journal Prompts to help jumpstart your journaling now!

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