Inspirational journal writing prompts

Inspirational Writing Prompts (30 Ideas!) •

Inspirational Writing Prompts— We all experience writer’s block at times and can use some help jump-starting our writing, be it in our journal or elsewhere, and prompts can help overcome this problem.

Journaling is a great way to refine your writing skills and to express your deepest thoughts and feelings. You can keep your writings private if you prefer, or you can share your journal entries with others. If this idea excites you, I suggest that you make an online journal. They are free and very fun!

Whether you decide to write in a printed and bound journal and keep your writing private or to create an online journal, it is your choice. However you go about it… just get to writing on a daily basis. You’ll be glad you did!

And so, without further ado, here are thirty writing prompts ideas to inspire you. Enjoy and keep on writing.

30 Inspirational Writing Prompts

1. What is it that makes you who you are?

2. Would you rather dance or sing? What type of performances do you like to give?

3. Write about a time when you were trusted to do something important. How did you handle it?

4. What is the best party you ever went to? What made it so special?

5. What is your favorite memory of something that happened at school?

6. What is your favorite thing you did with your family this year?

7. Write about a funny story from your childhood that your parents have told you. Can you imagine yourself doing something like that?

8. Write about something you hate to do.

9. Would you rather have a few good friends or a lot of casual friends?

10. Write about something new that you tried recently. What was the experience like?

11. What is your favorite thing to do on the Internet? How much time do you spend on it?

12. What is your favorite book today? What do you like about it?

13. Why is it important to thank people for gifts and kind acts?

14. How do you think advertising on TV and online influences you?

15. What is the greatest responsibility you have? How do you fulfill it?

16. Have you ever gotten lost? What did you do?

17. What do you think the world will be like 100 years from now?

18. Write a poem about waking up in the morning.

19. What is the greatest gift you have ever received? Why was it so special?

20. Where do you see yourself in five years?

21. What is the best way to show love for someone else?

22. What is the best cereal box prize you ever found?

23. What is the best thing to do at the park? Why?

24. Would you rather lose your sight or your hearing?

25. If you could ask your favorite star, athlete, or celebrity a question, what would it be? What kind of answer do you think you might receive?

26. Write a story about someone your age who lives in the prairie days.

27. Would you rather eat only fruit or only vegetables for a day? Which fruits or vegetables would you eat?
28. Write a poem about fall’s leaves.

29. What is the nicest thing someone has ever done for you?

30. What is your favorite type of weather? How do you feel when you experience it?

More Writing Promts

  • Journal Writing Prompts Collection
  • 35 Topics for Journal Writing
  • Writing Prompts Aren’t Just for Beginners – How to Use Them and Why You Should

Until next time, write on…

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22 Powerful Journal Prompts to Increase Your Motivation, and Discover Your Unique Purpose | by Sarah Cy

Photo by Easton Oliver on Unsplash

Tired of being stuck in a meaningless slump or on a confusing plateau?

Want to take some time and think about it, maybe write it out in a journal, but don’t know where to start?

Journaling has been lauded for its ability to help people reach their goals, clear their heads, heal from trauma…and act like mental windshield wipers, cleaning the junk from our minds.

Taking the time to write can help us clarify what we truly believe, and maybe even figure out our life purpose.

The following journal prompts are designed to help you clarify your thoughts, perspective, and desires. They are organized into four overarching categories:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you want?
  3. What do you know/think you know/want to know?
  4. What is your unique purpose?

Each prompt or group of prompts also comes with a brief explanation of why it was included.

And at the end of this article, there are some suggestions on how to use/get the most out of these prompts.

So without further ado, I give you…

1. List the 5 people you spend the most time with, why, and how they’re affecting you — your behaviors, your thoughts, your life.

2. List the top 5 people you admire, and why.

3. Who is your favorite person in all the world and why?

You are a summation of the people you spend the most time with. So it’s important to be conscientious of who we choose to spend time with.

And “spend time with” includes the time we “spend with” people we watch on TV, people we read about, or people whose works (books, articles, youtube videos) we consume.

Who among these people do you admire most, and why? What are ways you can spend more time with the people you want most to be like? (For ex: Desmond Doss is one of my personal heroes because of his integrity, courage, and kindness)

4. What is your favorite song/musical piece and why?

5. Or: what music do you regularly listen to and why? How do you feel after listening to it?

Music is powerful. More than we realize. It affects your whole brain, not just part of it, and continues to have a hold on us even after we’ve lost other brain functions.

It’s important to consider what music you’ve been listening to, and how it affects you. Are your musical choices benefitting or hurting you? What does music mean to you?

6. List your top 5 favorite books/movies, and why.

According to writing coach, Lisa Cron, our brains are wired for story. So how do stories resonate with you? What books are you drawn to? What themes do all of your favorite books have in common — Redemption? Persistence? Overcoming obstacles? Something else?

The stories we consume affect the stories we tell. And we ALL tell stories — about ourselves, our lives, our world. How do your favorite writers see and interpret the world? You may find that it will greatly impact the way YOU see and interpret the world, for better or for worse.

7. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?

The famous Alcoholics Anonymous serenity prayer says:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

We can’t always change things about ourselves, but you might be able to change more than you think. What would you like to change about yourself? Why haven’t you done it yet? Is there some step you can take to bring you closer to changing it?

8. What was the most painful thing you ever went through? What did you learn from it?

Pain impresses itself on our memories more than pleasure does.

There’s a reason that C.S. Lewis said:

Pain insists on being heard. God shouts to us in our pain. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

Pain is often a teacher — for better or for worse. But if you’re anything like me, you don’t really like to think about pain that much. Still, you should ask yourself, at least once in your life, what was the most painful thing you went through? What did you learn from it?

Maybe you can figure out something that you learned, so that you do not waste your pain.

One caveat about this prompt: Do not spend TOO much time on this. It’s not healthy to dwell on negative things for long. Think about this question for a set amount of time, write down your answer, then move on.

9. If you didn’t have to worry about money or people’s opinions, what would you do with your life?

10. What was your childhood dream and why? What happened to that dream and why?

We often let fear get in the way of our potential. We don’t usually think big enough. Or we allow the wrong influences to sway us from what we are supposed to do with our lives.

11. What about your life makes you miserable? What do you know you need to give up?

Not everything we do or want is good for us. Sometimes we have to selectively give things up.

12. How do you spend your time? On a weekday? On a weekend?

13. How do you spend your money?

14. Create an ideal budget for your time and money based on percentages (Ex with finances: 10% donations, 40% to live on, 20% to support family, 15% taxes, 10% savings, 5% fun stuff, or something) Why is this your ideal budget?

What you spend your time and money on indicates what things are a priority in your life.

If you want to really get into this prompt, take a week and record (without changing anything) exactly how much time you spend on each activity. Don’t stop if it’s an “atypical” week. Do this for an extra week, if you like, and then look at your results. The answers may surprise you.

Same thing with your financial spending.

You may find that you’re not spending enough time/money on what you truly value. Alternatively, you may find yourself spending time and money on things you never expected, or you don’t want to spend time/money on anymore. In that case, cut those things out, and add the things you do want.

15. What is a book you wish someone would write?

Maybe you should write that book.

If you can’t write that book, why not? Are you not a good enough writer? Do you not know enough about that topic? In which case, should you be learning more about that topic, or about how to write? Do you need to take a class or find a coach to help you get started?? Which leads us to the next question…

16. What is the next thing you want to learn? And to what degree?

Stay curious. There’s so much to do with life. Besides, staying curious can help you stay healthy!

17. Define the following: Success. Wisdom. Love. Faith. Truth. Courage. Joy

In college, I once spent an entire philosophy class debating the definition of “wisdom.” Turns out, a lot of the words we use all the time and think we understand are not as clearly defined, even in our own minds, as we think they are.

Spend some time clarifying these terms in your own mind. Start with a lengthy definition that includes every caveat you can think of, then try shortening it into a pithy one-liner.

18. What do you think God is like?

If a relational God exists, your relationship to Him is the most important relationship in your life. Who do you want God to be? Who do you think God is, irrespective of who you want Him to be? What have others told you about Him? How has your vision of Him been impacted by your experiences?

The way you view God (whether or not He exists, whether or not He is good, kind, relational, loving, etc. ) will impact the way you see yourself, others, your life, and the world.

19. List all the things you think you SHOULD do, that you don’t want to do.

20. Or the opposite: what you SHOULD NOT do, that you do. Why?

Think about what you think you should/should not do, and why you feel that way? Is it culture or conscience that is giving you this message?

Or look at this question from another angle: what is keeping you from doing or not doing that thing? Is the block inside or outside of you? What can you do about it? What have you tried doing about it? Have you done anything about it so far?

21. If your house burned to the ground, what are the top 1–3 things you would want to save? (not including people — assume your family is outside already)

This question will tell you what you value, what material goods are important to you? And why?

22. Who can you serve? OR Who do you want to serve?

Life isn’t meant for selfishness. We all can and should help others.

But we aren’t all meant to serve everyone. We all have different gifts and callings.

A human body is composed of many cells. White blood cells eat foreign invaders. Red blood cells transport oxygen and CO2. Muscle cells contract so the body can move. Neurons (brain cells) pass electric signals through the brain and down to the body. They all do different, but necessary, functions.

Society is the same way. Different people perform different functions. When they all function at their highest levels, the world really will become a better place. It’s not one person trying to do everything, it’s every person doing something, and doing it to the best of their ability.

So take a look at your life experience, your talents and abilities, and who your heart feels touched or softened toward. Look at the opposite — messages you may have internalized about who you should care about, but you really don’t. Then, look for a way to start serving the people you are called to serve.

Pick a few of these prompts — the ones that resonate the most with you — and get started.

If you’re just a beginning journaler, or you’re not at all sure about all of this, I suggest you take 15 minutes and do one. If you have time, or want to challenge yourself more, take an hour and write more.

You can also try answering each prompt twice: Once using stream of consciousness, without censoring yourself. Then try it again, this time thoughtfully and deliberately — and erase or delete as you like.

Do you see a difference between the two answers? Is your subconscious telling you something your conscious mind doesn’t want to hear?

Or write on a prompt, forget it for a month, and come back and write again fromm scratch. Has your answer changed? If there’s a consistent theme, should you investigate or follow it?

Another thing you can do if you want to go deeper on any of these questions is to ask “how is this important to me?” and keep asking until you feel satisfied with the answer.

If at any point you start to feel hopelessly confused and distressed, cut bait. These prompts are designed to help you clarify your perspective, not mentally torture yourself. If it feels like torture, stop it.

Additionally, don’t spend ALL your time writing through these prompts. Maybe take a few hours one day and go through the prompts that you feel would be most relevant, then throughout the week or month, touch base with your written answers that you’ve discovered.

It’s not healthy to be overly introspective all the time. That’s called rumination. At some point, you need to take all you’ve thought about and learned, and put it to work — act, do, go!

However you decide to write, do your best to write honestly. This exercise is to help you. If you tried and don’t find it helpful, stop. If you’re only going to lie to yourself, stop.

But if you do choose to give it a try, give it an honest try. Burn your journal later if you have to, just get it out, at least once.

As Fyodor Dostoyevsky said:

Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love. — The Brothers Karamazov

Viktor Frankl once said:

Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her own life.

May these prompts help you find your meaning.

(And if you gave this a try, I’d love to hear how it went!)

I’ve created The Brilliant Writer Checklist to help you clarify your message, reach more readers, and change the world with your words.

Get the checklist here!

Learn How to Journal in 9 Steps • BUOM

By Indeed Editorial Team

May 6, 2021

Many professionals find it helpful to find ways to express their emotions and organize their thoughts. Journaling can be a creative and useful tool to help you set and monitor your professional goals and review your feelings on a regular basis. Depending on your personality, interests, and schedule, you can choose from several different journaling methods. In this article, we will discuss what journaling is, how it can help your career, and how to journal.

What is logging?

Journaling is the practice of recording your thoughts, emotions and experiences. It can help people to introspect, organize their thoughts, and set goals. Journaling does not have strict parameters and may look different for each person. It focuses on creative self-expression and enrichment through introspection.

Someone keeps a diary every day, and someone can keep a diary once a week. Magazines can be physical or digital and contain full sentences or bulleted lists. They are a valuable tool to help you organize and express your thoughts in a healthy and constructive way.

How can you use journaling in your career?

You can use journaling as a professional tool in the following ways:

  • Goal setting: You can use your journaling time to set short and long term career goals. Journaling gives you more time for introspection, which can help you plan for what you sincerely want to achieve.

  • Creating Accountability: Your journal can provide a measure of accountability for the required tasks and your professional goals. You can create a to-do list and a deadline that will remind and motivate you to be productive.

  • Information processing. Journaling can help you process difficult feelings and emotions and identify the reasons why you feel strong emotions. Your journal is a space for honest reflection that allows you to express yourself without censorship or judgment.

  • Record keeping: Your journal serves as a written record of experiences and events. You can log key achievements, important meetings, and performance reviews in one place that you can refer to for future meetings or renewal updates.

  • Idea Capture: You can capture ideas for future business, professional development, or projects. Keeping these ideas in one place can help you organize and implement those ideas.

  • Learn from experience. When you write about your experiences at work, you can use these ideas to guide your decisions and behavior in the future.

  • Memorizing tips and inspiration: Your journal can be a place to store helpful tips and inspiration you may receive from mentors, books, or other professionals. Refer to these pages when you need an extra boost.

How to keep a diary

Here are the steps to start a regular diary practice:

1. Types of research journaling

There are several different journaling methods and types of journals. Explore each strategy by reading blogs, reading books about journaling, and looking at examples of each type. You may need to experiment with a few different logging methods before you find a system that works for you. Logging methods include:

  • Journal Bullet: Journal Bullet organizes to-do lists, goals and schedules in one place and encourages people to reflect on their feelings at regular intervals throughout the day, week and year.

  • Keeping a stream of consciousness journal. Stream of consciousness journaling involves recording any thoughts or feelings that come to mind without editing or censoring them.

  • Art Magazine: The art magazine uses creative methods to explore your feelings, such as drawing, coloring, and painting.

  • Digital Journal: You can use a digital journal instead of a physical object.

  • List journaling: List journaling involves dividing your entries into lists to keep information coherent and concise.

2. Buy a journal

Once you have decided which journaling style you want to practice, you can purchase a physical journal or download a journaling app to your phone or computer. Find a magazine that suits your personality and suits your needs. For example, if you want to take your magazine to work or somewhere else, make sure it's small and light enough to carry around in your bag. You may also need a log with special features such as:

  • Writing of tips

  • Inspiring quotes

  • Burned or indistinguishable pages


Appoint the time for keeping a journal

To work regularly keeping a diary, think about it to allocate every day or week set time for keeping a diary. Schedule this time on your calendar and create a comfortable space with a minimum of distractions to help you focus. Choose the time that best suits your mood and schedule. For example, if you're tired when you get home from work, you might try journaling first thing in the morning when you have more energy.

4. Be consistent

Like any habit, journaling can take several weeks before it becomes part of your regular routine. Stay consistent in your practice, even if you only write a few sentences during each session. Consider joining an online or face-to-face diary group that will help you be accountable and stay engaged in the process.

5. Use prompts

If you need help understanding what to write about, you can use writing prompts when you first start journaling. You can search the Internet for clues related to your goals. For example, if you use your magazine for professional development, you might look for career writing tips such as:0003

  • What are my goals for this quarter?

  • What did I learn today?

  • What could I have done better this week?

  • When am I most happy at work?

6. Plan for the future

You can use your journal to plan for the future. Your journal is a space that encourages you to set ambitious goals and describe big dreams. You can think about your ideal job and the steps you can take to get closer to it. Consider setting a major goal for the year and using your journal to keep track of the small, practical tasks you complete each week.

7. Test different environments

Different environments can make you feel more creative and motivated. You can try different settings while logging to see where you feel most comfortable. For example, you might try journaling outside, in a coffee shop, or in your favorite room at home. If you want to focus your journaling on work, you may find it helpful to journal during your lunch break when your ideas and experiences are fresh in your mind.

8. Make it personal

Journaling is a private, private matter. Try to write openly and honestly, without thinking about what you have to say or what others might think of your letter. This may allow you to reveal your most sincere feelings and interests. Your journal doesn't have to follow a strict format or have perfect spelling and grammar. Try to write freely without judging yourself.

9. Review your records

Review your past records to identify trends in your mood and behavior. Reviewing your records can reveal your growth and areas where you can work to improve. You may learn about your personality or hobbies that will help you make decisions in the future.

how to keep a useful diary - Personal experience on

A system of notes that reveals a person from a new side and provides food for thought.

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Translation of the material by Sylvia Bastos for the Better Humans project was prepared by the Ideonomics publication.

Tracking and analyzing behavioral, mental, and physical data allows us to see patterns, identify problems and strengths, and make effective changes in our lives. This is great!

But what about data that can't be measured in numbers, symbols, or binary yes/no answers?

Imagine being able to easily access all of your past brilliant ideas, thoughts, and insights—which are now either forgotten or lost in a battered old notebook—and use them to make better decisions. Yes, you may not be able to collect data from the past, but today you can start collecting data for the future.

Why do we remember, track and learn things? Because we want to grow. Growth means becoming a better version of yourself every day, and learning means providing your future self with valuable data on which to make the right decisions.

So I came up with a system for how to do it. I call it the 5-Point Diary, and it consists of writing down five short answers each evening to the following question:

"What should I write about today to benefit me in the future?"

There are two important things to remember about this question.

First: the future self

This future self can be you two days from now, a month from now, or thirty years from now. Thinking about what is happening in terms of the future helps to appreciate the importance of what you are recording. Will it really matter to me to read this tomorrow/in a year/when I have grandchildren? If not, skip.

Second: 5 (or so) points

The bottom line is that there should not be exactly five of them - there may be a little less or a little more. Personally, seven is best for me, but I recommend starting with five to make it easier and then adapt it to your preferences.

The point here is to prioritize and choose only what is important. Prioritization has its own advantage: it forces you to think, to choose, and to realize what is really important to you.

If you could write down everything you wanted, important things would get lost and your future self would get nothing from reading it. If you feel that the number 5 limits you too much, that's great - it means you are full of ideas. Just write them down somewhere else and then choose the most important ones to keep in your diary.

As you can see in the illustration, I use symbols to represent each element depending on the type of information:

  • Inverted solid triangle for creative ideas
  • Regular triangle for big wins
  • Eye for clues and signs
  • Spiral for important findings and questions for reflection
  • A square (you can check it later) for the actions and experiments I want to take.

I will talk more about each of these categories in the next section. You can come up with your own character set or other categories if you like. These are the ones that work for me and you can use them to jump straight into practice and then eventually find the right ones for you.

In the rest of this article, we'll look at:

  • the types of information you can include in your journal;
  • how to improve the efficiency of memorization and processing of information;
  • how to make this system pleasant, attractive and easy to use.

What can be written in a diary?

"What can I write about today so that I can benefit in the future?"

How can the information you write down benefit your future self?

In my experiments, I have found that there are five categories of information that have the most impact on me when I reread my diary.

1. Creative ideas

Benefit: creation and inspiration

As a creative person, you probably have a lot of ideas for creative projects that you can implement during the day.

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, considered one of the most successful entrepreneurs in modern history, attributes much of his success to writing down his ideas.

I often write in my diary my ideas, as well as quotes, concepts, or inspirational sayings from other people. However, only a select few make it into my 5-Point Diary, and I select them by asking the following question:


Will an article come out of it? Book? Project? Will it inspire me to make a decision that will change my life? Change the course of my business? If the answer is yes, I include the idea.

Research shows that nurturing ideas and processing them unconsciously improves creative thinking. So take note of your idea, give it time, and let your future self decide when to use it.

2. Big wins

Benefit: confidence and achievement

My biggest problem in life is feeling like I never do enough. This is such a prejudice that does not allow you to realize your achievements and constantly makes you doubt yourself.

Therefore, I make sure to include "big wins" in my journal. I reflect on the past day and find 2-3 achievements that I am proud of.

It's nice even just to write down, but my future self gets the most bonuses. Whenever I doubt my worth and start asking, “What the hell have I been doing the last few weeks?” I just skim through the notes. This is a simple, no side effect remedy for the low self esteem I suffer from all the time.

3. Hints and signs

Benefit: Self-Awareness, Change, and Growth

Throughout the day, you may notice relationships, patterns, or areas of potential growth or change (especially obstacles).

In Paulo Coelho's book The Alchemist, the protagonist goes on a journey following his life mission or "personal legend". He eventually achieves this because he has a good understanding of signs - signals from the universe (people who appear in his life, changes in his environment, and even his own feelings) that help him make decisions.

Everything we feel, think, and experience is an opportunity for us to learn and grow. All we have to do is seize this opportunity.

Recently I have been feeling very unproductive. I wrote it down. Then I noticed that the reason was that I was distracted by various objects and the mess around. Because I shared a workspace with another person, I couldn't change anything. So I changed my own position - moved and renegotiated our arrangement. I continue to work with the same team on the same project, but since I listened to the prompts and dealt with the problem, my productivity skyrocketed.

Usually the most powerful signal for change is the obstacles we face, but there are other extremely informative signs:

  • Desires: Are you longing, longing or dreaming about something very strongly?
  • Emotions: Do you feel particularly angry? Consistency? Anxiety? What is the reason? Have you experienced any emotional highs or lows recently? Has anyone or anything made you feel intense?
  • Changes: Has anything changed in your environment recently (location, relationships, opportunities, major events)? Have you changed (behavior, thoughts, physique)?
  • Symptoms: Has your body changed in any way? Do you feel unusually tired or energized? Any unfamiliar pains, aspirations or sensations? Are you eating more? Are you moving less? Are you crying more?
  • Dreams: How did you feel when you woke up? What is your subconscious trying to tell you? When I started keeping a dream diary, I received a lot of meaningful information about myself.

These are just a few examples, but feel free to add your own if it answers the following question:

“What is happening in my life right now that could motivate me to make a decision and take some action?”

This will prompt useful data that will help you set goals and make decisions in the future.

For example, if you constantly write about your dream of living on a tropical island, you might get more sun exposure, book a vacation, or even make the crazy goal of starting a remote job and moving to Thailand.

Sometimes it's good to just let your intuition go, even if you don't realize the reason. For example, the other day I met a guy who lives with one backpack and sleeps in the fresh air, hiding behind a piece of tartan. I don't know why, but I felt the need to write this down in my diary. A few days later, I began to rethink my concepts of comfort and minimalism, which lead to important conclusions about my lifestyle and possessions. It was a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

Recording the signs and sightings has dramatically increased my level of awareness, which, as it turns out, is directly related to overall well-being. Here is an example of what I noted and my findings:

Observation: I get hurt when my partner and I are talking to someone and this person directs their attention first of all to him (or, as I say, when I get upset, "looks at him as the leader of the couple").

Conclusion: This is a reflection of my own insecurities. What to do: 1) accept your closed nature and encourage other qualities, or 2) work on your activity, presence and listening skills, viewing your partner as a role model, not a reason for competition.

4. Important findings and issues

Benefit: Seeing the bigger picture

There are moments when suddenly everything becomes clear or when we have an unexpected connection in our head. Epiphany. An important realization.

There are times when we begin to ask important questions that can change the course of our lives.

Some time ago, while taking a walk during a break from work, I suddenly realized:

I subconsciously define success as popularity and a lot of followers. But it's not something I truly believe in, and it wears me down. My real goals are wholeness, love and spiritual development.

This thought might have slipped by. But I knew I had to write it down, so I kept it in my mind for the rest of the day, and then I wrote it down. And that thought completely changed my approach to life.

The purpose of this section is to put aside daily activities and intellectual thoughts and reflect on issues such as your life mission, place in the world, or spiritual growth. Some of the insights may seem too obvious when put into words, but the diary serves to remind you of the moment when you understood it on a deep emotional level - and return you there.

5. Activities and experiments

Benefit: new knowledge and pleasure

The best way to find out what works for you is to try it.

In this section, I come up with actions based on signs (solution to the current problem) or testing other people's ideas (I heard about the Uberman sleep routine on Tim Ferriss's podcast and since then I really want to try it).

You can choose small actions that help you achieve big goals, get inspired by what feels good, or set goals for yourself. As Matt Damon said in We Bought a Zoo:

“Sometimes all it takes is twenty seconds of crazy courage. Literally 20 seconds of just indecent courage. And I guarantee something great will come of it."

This section helps me not get too caught up in my thoughts, get paralyzed by big, intimidating goals, and keep trying new things. It also makes the 5-Point Diary more fun and interactive. Tip: I like to add an empty checkbox to each action. This increases the likelihood that my future self will want to implement the idea.

How to remember more and choose what is important

The best way to save ideas until the evening is to always carry a notepad, piece of paper or phone with you.

However, if you're like me, sometimes it's uncomfortable. For example, when I'm reading a book, it annoys me to have to stop to jot down a note, so I first highlight what I need, and when I finish reading, I come back and write.

So I started applying the same principle to conversations, events, seminars, and other activities: I listen carefully, mentally highlight what's important, and when I'm alone, I write it down. The bonus is improved memory and listening skills.

If you prefer not to take notes at all during the day, you can reminisce in the evening about the events of the day that might trigger important ideas. These can be:

  • conversations and social events;
  • educational content - books or documentaries;
  • emotional ups and downs;
  • peak experiences;
  • any major changes to your schedule.

As you go through these events in your mind, write down all the important ideas they evoke, and then choose the most important one and put it in your diary.

While it may seem counter-intuitive to write a lot only to discard the majority, it is an extremely useful practice.

I was inspired by Mortimer Adler's concept of "shallow reading": when reading a book that is above your level of understanding, you must first read it from beginning to end without worrying that you understand only 25%, and only then proceed to deeper analysis.

This is what it looks like when applied to a diary:

  • First, you train your memory by doing the "surface reading" of your day so you don't miss anything important.
  • Second, you force your brain to see the bigger picture of things - what have you really learned and achieved? What is really going on in your life?
  • Third, you begin to understand your own values ​​by noticing which of these things you prioritize—what does that say about you?

A small bonus for additional ideas

To think more deeply, I use Julie Cameron's "Morning Pages" ("three pages of stream of consciousness handwritten first thing in the morning"). Research shows that our brains are at their most creative right after waking up.

In the evening I go through these pages and write down the most important thoughts (if any) in my diary.

You could even benefit from a kind of feedback between the diary and the morning pages: if you write down problems that need to be solved or creative ideas that need to be worked on in the evening, then you will “pump” - your subconscious mind continues to work over problems while you sleep. Recording your first morning thoughts allows you to formulate solutions.

I prefer to keep a diary by hand in a notebook, because it allows me to remember information, I can create my own symbols and layouts, and besides, I keep almost everything else there.

But you can use digital apps like Evernote, which let you move things around and organize your thoughts into tags.

You can use individual cards instead of a notepad or a calendar or whatever you like. You will notice that your diary will change over time and this reflects your own ever-changing human nature.

The use of the diary is up to you, so tailor it to your personality and preferences. Whatever format you choose, it should be easy and enjoyable to use, otherwise it won't become a habit.

Before you start...

Here's a little secret that I've discovered after using this system for a while: It's not really the future self that benefits the most from this practice—it's the me of today, right now.

Of course, it is useful to have access to all this data. But it is even more useful to have a mental structure that helps you think, consolidate and generalize information.

I live differently because I know that in the evening I will have to fill out a diary. I am constantly looking for signs and opportunities to improve. I notice good ideas when they come up and remember them. I ask more questions. I'm thinking about things I didn't even notice before.

Sometimes evening comes and I feel that I have nothing to write in my diary. However, I write whatever comes to mind—even if the most important things I can think of that day are about grocery shopping or cleaning the house.

Don't worry if at first glance you don't have anything to write, or if you have so many things in your head that it's hard to choose. It's all part of the process and will change over time, as will your approach to life, memory and note-taking.

For me, the benefits of keeping a diary are invaluable, and more are added over time. Here are some of them:

My goal setting methods are based on solid data and are more effective.

Every week I set goals for the week and month. Before, I was based solely on feelings, thoughts, or other people's approaches to setting goals. Now I'm based on real evidence.

I can't run away from my own problems.

And that's great. Some time ago I noticed: every day I write in my diary that I don’t read enough, I don’t study enough, I don’t devote time to studying. I got so frustrated that I wrote the same thing in my diary every day, and eventually included time for study in the morning in my schedule. The problem was solved. The same thing happened with emotional eating and improved communication skills.

I come out of emotional troughs faster.

Looking back on my achievements and conclusions, I see what I have actually achieved. It shows me that everything is temporary and reminds me of the skills and lessons needed to overcome any challenge.

I am more consistent.

In essence, the 5-Point Diary is a daily practice that requires consistency. After I decided to make this procedure non-negotiable, I became more consistent with other habits - taking notes after conversations and events, tracking habits, and journaling in general.

But first of all it helps me to separate the wheat from the chaff. I have a lot of ideas and observations, but having to choose the most important ones every day says a lot about what I value in life, what my current goal is, and what I should give up.

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