5 Epic Journal Prompts to Get Unstuck
Before becoming the prolific journaler I am today, I distinctly remember being on a train and doing a Google search about it, literally, “How to Journal.”
I was starting at zero.
But three and a half years of journaling later — I like to think I’ve come quite far. I’ve been far out obsessed, I’ve turned my back on it, and right now I’m right back in the middle of just loving it.
If you’ve never done it before, it can feel overwhelming.
Even with a regular practice, there can be days where it can feel intimidating starting with a blank page.
But don’t be put off.
Of all the millions of prompts that are out there, I’ve assembled my top five journaling prompts here. These are the prompts that give me the greatest insight into what’s going on for me at any given moment, shines the light on what needs attention most.
Following these prompts allows me to focus, to pivot, to take action, to move forward, to let go. Most of all, they give me perspective — and that’s the beauty of journaling. It gives you a chance to tap into your intuition, your hidden desires or fears, so that you can start to make powerful choices that help you make the most of life. To get you from stuck to flying.
Like any exercise in powerful questioning, these answers show you your truth. They may differ from your present reality — and that’s a juicy opportunity to delve deeper. If this comes up for you, I highly recommend spending time journaling a bit deeper around this — the gulf between where you are right now and where you might want to be might seem vast, but it seldom is as far as you think.
It might be that you choose to seek further support or guidance to start bridging that gap — doing that is a decision that I’ll never ever regret. Considering most are too afraid to open that door for fear of what they’ll discover — journaling provides a safe outlet, a safe place to explore these dreams and desires, and to understand who you are underneath the mask we wear every day as reality.
Never be afraid to find out who you truly are underneath it all.
So grab your journal, and let’s dive in.
1. What do you most desire for your life and the future?
Let’s not beat about the bush. I’m starting with a big one because it really is worth spending time getting to grips with this.
It is said that 98% of people aren’t able to actually answer this one, and I’ll hold my hand up to this too. It is common to be able to state it in generic terms — for me its freedom, always has been, always will be. Its also quite normal to be able to point to a broad list of things that we’d love in our lives (more money, more time, more travel etc etc).
But it’s far more challenging to narrow it down to just the one thing we want most. Be honest, get real. Let it be messy. It’s always awkward before it’s elegant.
But journaling around this might just change life as you know it.
2. What is the ONE thing I can do to move forward with my goals?
This is a bastardised version of Gary Keller’s tool, “What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” His version is a bit wordy for me, plus — as a massive anxiety sufferer, I can’t really comprehend everything else being easier or unnecessary. So as a Bullet Journal technique, I like to keep lists or brain dumps of all the things I need to do, and then just pick one that will help the wheels start to glide again. I’m sure you get the picture. It’s about not thinking you have to do all the things, but focusing on the one that is most critical to unlock all the other things getting done.
I often preface this prompt with a quick check in with how I’m feeling — happy, sad, motivated, anxious, analysis paralysis. That kind of thing. That helps put things into perspective, and identify whether fear or anxiety is driving, or if I need to clear that out the way first before I tackle the important tasks so they’re not overshadowed or blown out of proportion.
Its a quick hack for getting super focused in a flash.
3. List the things you SHOULD do versus the things you WANT to do.
This is a great way to separate out all the things that are clogging up your to-do list and draining you of energy, and find out what you’d rather be doing. I once heard this or read it in a book, or something like that, and it really resonated with me. My head used to be filled with all these things I felt like I ought to be doing, and the incessant people pleasing was exhausting.
I used to be afraid of being called selfish, but paying closer attention, I saw how lost and disconnected I would feel if I was always doing what I thought I should be doing instead of what I wanted to be doing. I felt like I was out of alignment, and I wasn’t prioritising me. So this is about what life would look like, how fast you could progress and thrive if you put your own oxygen mask on first.
By getting up close and personal with this of course, by doing what I wanted, it helps give permission to others to do the same. That is a recipe for a happier, more contented population.
So as Kanye West says, “Go head, go nuts, go apeshit.”
You might as well be honest with yourself about what you actually want, and then do more of that. It’s the secret to a happy life.
4. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
I’m sure I heard this on Radio 4 and I was so inspired to try it — and I fell head over heels in love. This is the ultimate exercise in a style of journaling called “stream of consciousness.” This is where you don’t think, you just write. Let the words pour out on to the page without directing them or controlling them, or pausing to think.
Just write, and see what comes out — it is so unbelievably liberating. Start with your weaknesses and write for a page. And then do the same for your strengths. I won’t say much more about it, but just try it. Profound.
5. What is the book you wish you could write?
I like this as a journalling prompt because it's a great way to move my ass out of any kind of wallowing or pity party I might be throwing for myself and remember what I was brought to this earth to achieve. It reminds me of my goals, it helps me structure my thoughts, and loosely come up with a plan, in the form of chapter outlines. Did I just give my book away? Dang it.
Try it, even if just for fun. It’s a great way to play with ideas.
How to Use Journal Prompts
You don’t have to do these all at once. You don’t have to journal every day (I do because I love it). You can use these if you’re stuck about what to write, or if you just need a bit of a prod. Try keeping a note of your favourite prompts inside the cover of your journal and revisit as you need.
I personally like to revisit these at least once a year, even once a quarter, and observe how the answers change (or stay the same) over the time. That helps cement my goals and dreams into reality, and, naturally, makes them come to fruition faster.
If you’re just starting out, try picking one prompt and spending 15 minutes on it.
The less thought you put into it or try to control it, the more you tap into your intuition — this is a “conscious stream” kind of journaling. This is a powerful way to tap into your subconscious, and can be very revealing. and if you find a thread or chain of thought that really works for you — run with it.
Answer the question on a different day, and you might get a different answer. Just play about and see what comes up for you.
If any of this feels overwhelming or confusing, rein it in. These prompts are designed to help you get to know yourself and give you some answers, not be a thing to torture yourself with.
Also try and keep it to the 15 or 20 minutes and then let it go. Overthinking anything is not a healthy habit — so set yourself a boundary around it and stay within it for optimal enjoyment. The quick way to get out of overthinking is to put the pen down and walk away. Or, if you’re ready for it, draw up a quick action plan, and go take action.