Journaling is one of my all-time favorite ways to reflect, get out my emotions, and learn about myself and the world. And when it comes to New Year’s, journaling has always been one of my essential tasks for reflection and planning.
If you think journalling might be a good choice for yourself as we move from 2023 to 2024, I’ve written out 20 New Year journal prompts that can help you figure out what worked last year, and what you might like to try or set goals for in the year to come.
How to Make a New Year’s Journal
Like everything in this world, there are multiple ways to do this. First, you can use the journal that you write in regularly and just add these prompts right into it. Then keep writing throughout the year and whenever the journal is finished, it’s done! Move onto a fresh journal!
Here’s what I recommend instead.
Purchase a journal specifically for your New Year’s prompts and questions. Then every year around New Year’s, crack open that journal and start a new entry where you focus solely on these prompts.
If you do this over a number of years, it will absolutely shock you just how you’ve changed when you go back and look over previous entries!
You don’t have to do the exact same journal prompts every year, but it is really interesting to read when you do!
What Do You Write in a New Year’s Journal?
We already know there are a lot of benefits of journaling, especially for our mental health. And what you write in a journal is personal and specific to your own needs and values.
But there are a lot of suggestions I have for what to write in a New Year’s journal.
Starting with recapping the previous year is always a good choice, especially when you write about the growth you went through. Sure, talking about vacations and birthdays and holidays is all well and good, but when you get into the meat of it, it’s more helpful to the future you if you write about the challenges you had over the year.
Write about what made you uncomfortable. Write about things you did that made you feel brave or proud of doing them. Write about people you struggled to find common ground with. Write about situations that made you feel embarrassed, or dumbfounded, or confused.
Then write about what you’d like to see happen in the coming year. This can be anything, from “I want to win a million dollars” to “I want to finally launch that company that helps mothers across the globe get the healthcare they need.”
There aren’t any rights or wrongs here. Below, you will find 20 New Year journal prompts, and probably three times as many questions, all of which will help you fill your New Year’s journal to the brim!
20 New Year Journal Questions and Prompts for 2024
1. Past Year Reflection
The first thing you may want to do with your New Year’s journal is to reflect on the past year. Some people say not to let the past impact your future, but when we analyze our past actions we can learn from them.
You might have done plenty of things you loved in the last year, and maybe even a few that you regret. But taking an honest, objective look at those things, will allow you to avoid doing those things you regretted and to enhance and repeat those things that brought you success and satisfaction.
If you want some ideas on how to reflect, try these 100 Reflection Questions for the Past Year.
Take a moment to reflect on last year and write down all the challenges you faced, as well as the successes you had. Can you point to what actions lead you to those successes or failures? Be honest and objective with yourself in order to foster growth.
2. Intentions for This Year
The next thing to consider is, of course, anything you’d like to achieve next year, whether they be aspirations or hard-set goals. Any New Year’s resolutions or alternatives that you are setting, be sure to specify your exact reasons for wanting those goals. (Even “I feel it in my gut” is a good enough reason.)
This way, when you move into the year and you reevaluate if you are making progress toward your goals, you can be reminded of what’s in it for you. What’s your muse, your motivation.
Write down all your goals, aspirations, intentions, and focus words for the coming year. What are your reasons for wanting to achieve those goals? Where do you want to go with these goals and dreams in the future?
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3. Finding Gratitude
Unconditional gratitude is a staple of a healthy life. Gratitude is the simple appreciation of the things around you, from the roof over your head, to laughing with your children as you play. You can even have gratitude for the challenges that life brings.
Use this New Year journal prompt to discover the things in life that you appreciate most, and don’t hold back. Gratitude is meant to be unconditional, which means that you don’t just appreciate it when it’s there in abundance, but all the time.
Write down what you are most grateful for. What kinds of things in your life, from the smallest most insignificant moments, to the largest successes, do you appreciate? What kinds of challenges or difficulties are you most grateful for?
4. Establishing Routine
They say, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” Whether you’re trying to achieve enlightenment or not, this quote is all about the routines in our lives.
Consider this: as you work toward your goals, you take small actions every day. Once you achieve that goal, do those actions just disappear? Once you’ve published your book, are you completely done? Once you’ve launched your company, is your work done, or is it only beginning?
Write down what routines you have or would like to have that will help you contribute to a healthier you and help you achieve your goals. How can you learn to be in the present moment during these routines? Make sure to choose routines and activities that will enhance your life, ones that you can continue once you achieve your goals.
When it comes to the New Year, self care should be at the top of your list. Self-care is usually thought of as bubble baths and wine, but really, self care is the comprehensive way that you go about your life that helps to balance everything, from finances, to health, to emotional health, to goals and professional development.
Write what kinds of self care you have participated in the past. How do you define self care in your life? Make sure you consider all kinds of self care (there are 8!). When you want to nourish yourself this year, what are some actions you can take that will help keep you balanced and healthy?
6. Career or Business
Careers, businesses, and climbing the “ladder” are typical focuses of resolutions. So for this New Year journal prompt, take a good, hard look at your career and where you see it going in the coming year.
Write down how satisfying your career has been in the past year. Is it exactly what you want to be doing, or does it leave something to be desired? What kinds of professional development or courses can you take to get yourself to exactly where you want to be? Think about things like taking on a mentor, or even doing the mentoring of younger people in your career.
7. Family/Home Life
Sometimes our family and home lives get forgotten about when it comes to our New Year’s resolutions and plans. But we rely so much on our families and homes as a support and foundation for our lives.
For this one, I want you to truly assess the quality of your family life in the past year and moving forward into this coming year.
Write about your family. How do they support you in what you do? How do you support other family members? What kinds of things do you together as a family unit inside or outside the home?
Relationships are another great aspect of your life to look at and compare. The people we bring into our lives should be those who are non-judgmental, supportive, and love us unconditionally.
Write about your primary relationship, as well as other relationships with friends and family members. Are these people supportive of you and your dreams? When things get challenging, do they show up for you, and do you show up for them? Who in your life is the best listener?
Many of these journal prompts were inspired by the Level 10 Life. If you want to do a Level 10 Life Assessment, just check out the download below. It’s totally free, and you don’t even have to put in your email! Enjoy! (And make sure you know how to use it… instructions here!)
9. Therapy/Overcoming Trauma
Especially starting during the pandemic, it seemed that everyone I knew got into therapy. This is such an amazing thing for the advancement of the human race. Overcoming our trauma, both collectively and as individuals has gotten a lot of press over the last couple years, and it’s worth evaluating in our lives.
Write about what kinds of struggles you had growing up and what kinds of traumas you have faced. Those people who perpetuated that trauma in your life, did they also suffer the same kinds of trauma in their lives? What kinds of actions in your life can help you move past that trauma and make sure you don’t continue the cycle?
RELATED POST: 60 Affirmations for Generational Trauma
10. Comparison and Judgment
Along those same lines of overcoming trauma, let’s take a deep dive into comparison and judgment. It’s a part of the human condition to compare ourselves to others and see when we’re “falling behind” or when we’re doing better than someone else.
But comparison is the thief of joy, and judgment only serves to sever our connections with others, rather than make them stronger.
Write about ways that you compare yourself to other people. Do you spend more time judging yourself for not measuring up or judging other people because you think they’re “doing it wrong?” What kinds of ways can you learn to let go of comparison and only compete with yourself?
11. Letting Go
When we hold onto things too tightly, they become a part of us in not so good ways. There are things… fights or arguments, trauma, worries, stress, limiting beliefs… that can prevent us from not only achieving what we want but also having the kind of satisfaction out of life that we desire for ourselves.
Write about some negative things that you’ve been holding onto too tightly. What kinds of things can you learn to let go of? Are you dictating exactly where you go and what you do in life? Or have you found a healthy balance of going with the flow and letting things happen naturally?
Forgiveness is something that can take a long time to find. It takes reflection, and courage, and a healthy dose of love… if not for the other person than at least for yourself.
Take a moment to write about who you need to forgive for wrongdoings? Is this someone you can forgive just for yourself, or is it someone who has apologized to you and you have not yet accepted their apology? What do you need to forgive yourself for?
Sometimes, the things like letting go or finding forgiveness are difficult for us because our mindset isn’t in the right place. Our mindset is how we see the world, our limitations, and our abilities.
Write about what kind of mindset you have? Are you an optimist, realist, or pessimist? What kinds of sacrifices are you willing to make for the things that you want? What are your values? How do you use the power of your mind to your advantage?
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14. Personal Accountability
Sometimes, we do the wrong thing. It’s not pretty, and no one really likes making mistakes, but it’s a part of this human experience. Whether big things or small ones, looking objectively at how your actions have brought you what you have in life is an important part of self-reflection. Even if it’s not your fault, it’s still your responsibility to move through it.
Write about how your actions have impacted your life. Do your daily routines match the kinds of things you want to accomplish? Are there bigger aspects of life, like your mindset or biases that you need to take a hard look at? How could accepting accountability change your life for the better?
RELATED POST: What is Personal Accountability
15. Body Image
The way we talk to ourselves is a crucial aspect to our lives, so I challenge you to examine the kinds of things that you say to yourself, especially when it comes to your body. You don’t have to accept body positivity, but a little neutrality goes a long way.
Write about how you talk to yourself. Are you kind in the things you say to yourself in the mirror? Do you say uplifting things about yourself in the presence of your children? Are you nurturing and encouraging of the kinds of body and health goals you have?
16. Health & Wellness
So many people struggle when it comes to health and wellness. Even those who are in great shape might have challenges with their dental health or mental health or gut health.
But good health is related to success in life, so it is… ahem… healthy to examine the kinds of good health you have as well as the kinds of ways you want to improve your health.
Write about your health. What ways do you have good health? What ways do you struggle with your health? What are some quick and easy ways you can add to your routine to boost your health in the coming year?
While I am not a religious person, I am a spiritual person, and even if you consider yourself neither, you can still learn more about how you connect with all of life on this earth. (Connecting to all of life and a higher power is, at their core, what religion and spirituality are all about.)
Write about your experience with religion and spirituality. What kinds of religious or spiritual practices do you have? What kinds of practices do you think would benefit you or enhance your spiritual experience on this earth this year?
RELATED POST: 16 Books About Spirituality to Read This Year
18. Volunteering & Contribution
Some of the most important work we can do on this earth is the work we do for others. Every single person is struggling with something or has trauma or issues to work through. The least we can do is try to be understanding, and the most we can do is to contribute a little of our time and wealth to benefit others.
Write about what ways you contribute to the betterment of society. What do you feel is an appropriate amount of time or money to give to others? How does your life’s work contribute to others? What are the primary ways or efforts you would like to contribute to?
Although we touched upon relationships up toward the top, friendships is another aspect of life that is very important. Our friend circles help us define who we are. They help us learn about ourselves and others. Sometimes they can be toxic, but other times they can be the most beautiful thing.
Write about what kinds of things you need from a friend group. Are your friend groups harmful to the life you’re trying to create? Or do they contribute to the beauty of life? What kinds of things do you want to do with your group in the future?
20. Fun & Leisure
And last, you can’t forget to have fun! Perhaps being a Millennial, I’ve never grown up, but they say that learning to play and laugh again as an adult has so many wonderful benefits. So in your New Year journal, you may want to consider taking a look at how much fun you have in your life.
Write about how you have fun. What are some leisure activities you take part in? What are the things that make you laugh? What kinds of fun things are on your bucket list that you’ve never done before and would love to try sometime?
If those New Year journal prompts aren’t enough to get you started, I don’t know what would be! There are so many different ways to make a New Year’s journal work for you.
Have questions of your own? Want more journal prompts like these?
Make sure you drop me a comment below and share your thoughts!
Want more New Year’s content? Here’s our Wild Simple Joy Resource Page for New Year’s Resolutions for your best self in 2024!