Journaling probably tops the list of people’s hopes for the new year. And it should–journaling is amazing! It’s a mindful way to process feelings and emotions, express joy and gratitude, deal with heartache and sadness, and remember the best and worst moments.
But staring at a blank journal page can be rather intimidating. Where do you begin? I’ve compiled these 32 January Journal Prompts to take some of the pressure off starting a journal on January 1st or any day of the year.
These winter writing prompts were written for this time of year. Winter is full of rest and quiet, a perfect setting to prepare for the new beginning to come in spring.
In our minds and lives, the timing is perfect, too. With a new year coming soon, we can welcome a fresh start for ourselves. These reflection questions and prompts are meant to prepare our minds and hearts for whatever God has next for us.
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January Journal Prompts
With an aspiration to be a writer one day, I was always encouraged to write daily. Whether it was part of a novel, a short story, an article, a blog post, or a personal note to my journal.
I love all these different types of writing, but there is something special about journaling. As I begin a journal entry, I look at the blank page, eager to fill it with all the thoughts and emotions I’ve been holding back all day.
I wish the same for you as you begin your journaling journey. May these daily journal prompts allow you to release everything you’ve kept pent up inside over the past year.
Without further ado, here are the monthly journal prompts. Happy New Year and Happy Journaling!
Day 1: Gratitude
This year, I challenge you to use a gratitude writing prompt as the starting point for your year.
- What are you thankful for looking back on the previous year?
- What are you thankful for in this moment as you are writing?
- What are you thankful for looking forward to the coming year?
Day 2: Predictions
For January 2nd, your prompt is to write down your predictions for the year. Close your eyes and imagine you’re sitting at a New Year’s Eve party on December 31st this year.
- What has happened in the world? In your country?
- In pop culture or professional sports?
- What do you imagine this year will bring for you personally?
This is a no pressure writing prompt! Don’t worry about getting things right; no one will read them but you. These predictions are just meant to be a fun thing for you to look at the end of the year.
Day 3: One Word
One of my favorite creative writing prompts is the one-word prompt. Looking back on the past year, what is one word that summarizes your year? Then after picking your word, journal about how that word summarizes the last year.
Another variation of this daily prompt is to come up with one word to describe each month of the past year. For some ideas, you may want to borrow our one-word weekly focus ideas.
Day 4: Big Headlines
Looking back on the past year, it’s time to recap the big headlines. Use your journaling time to capture them.
- What happened in the world? What was discovered?
- Who won the big championships, like the Super Bowl?
- Who won a Grammy or an Oscar?
- What were the big movies?
- Who was elected?
Day 5: Personal Headlines
Today, the writing prompt is to recap the personal headlines from your life. Think of it as a year-in-review.
I usually do my personal headlines in different categories:
- Milestones & Life Events
- Travel & Trips
- Hard Times
- Fun Times
Day 6: Personal Growth
Building off yesterday’s writing prompt, the next prompt is to reflect on your personal growth.
- How have you grown or changed over the past year?
- What are the biggest lessons you have learned?
- What mistakes have you learned from?
- What character traits did you develop most over the past year?
- What did this year teach you?
Day 7: Favorite Memory
Take time to recount a favorite memory or time from last year.
- Why was that moment important to you?
- How did it bring you joy?
- What do you want to remember about it?
Most of these journal writing prompts in the first week are focused on the past year. Now, it’s time to start looking ahead.
Day 8: List of Things
By this point, you may be itching to get to new year resolutions. But hold off a bit longer.
This daily journal writing prompt will help you form new years resolutions or even better, new year intentions.
Brainstorm a list under each of these 5 categories. Think specifically about the year to come.
- Start – What do you want to start doing this next year?
- Stop – What do you want to stop doing?
- Continue – What from last year do you want to continue doing?
- Do Less – What from last year do you want to do less of?
- Do More – What do you want to do more of?
Day 9: Habits
From yesterday’s writing prompt, it’s time to zero in on your habits.
- What bad habits would you like to break this year?
- Why? How are they already impacting you?
- What new habits would you like to add this year?
- Why? What impact do you imagine they could have on your daily life?
Day 10: Free Write
Building a daily practice of journaling takes focus and discipline. But sometimes, in trying to cultivate the perfect journaling practice, we lose the point of journaling. As a result, journaling is no longer joyful.
Day 11: New Year Resolutions & Intentions
Today’s journal writing prompt is to write about your new year resolutions.
However, coming up with a yearlong goal can be intimidating for some (like me). I shy away from the concrete resolutions because I end up disappointed if I can’t accomplish them.
If that sounds like you, steer clear of the new year resolutions and set intentions instead.
An intention is a direction for your year. It’s a guiding principle that leaves room for the unexpected. Like a compass, it points you back to your purpose if you lose your way.
Day 12: Goal Setting
Now that you have your new year resolutions and intentions, it’s time to plan to achieve them.
I suggest breaking your new year’s resolution into more tangible goals at the monthly and weekly level. I explain how to make realistic, weekly goals here.
Day 13: Dream Big
We’re leaving the concrete goals for a moment to dream big. You can limit your dreams to what you wish or want for the year. Or you can expand the timeline and think about your dreams for the future and the long haul.
- What in your life are you dreaming about?
- What do you imagine your life to be like in the future?
Day 14: Bucket List
Before you dreamed big, now it’s time to add some of those dreams to your bucket list. Use today’s January journaling to create a bucket list or add to your current list.
- Write your bucket list.
- What on your bucket list do you want to accomplish this upcoming year?
For bucket list ideas, check out our lists:
- Winter bucket list
- Spring bucket list
- Summer bucket list
- Fall bucket list
- 30 before 30 challenge & bucket list
Day 15: MLK Day Reflection
In United States, there is holiday in remembrance and honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in January. That makes January the perfect time to reflect on leadership, service, and values.
Day 16: Values Reflection
A great way to spend your journaling time is to reflect on your values. Different from goals, values focus on what matters most to you in life.
Some journaling prompts related to values reflection are:
- What guides your decisions?
- What makes you feel the most fulfilled?
- What gives your life meaning and purpose?
- When have you felt like you were fulfilling a purpose that was important to you?
- Brainstorm a list of values.
- Order your values based on what’s most important to you.
For more about what values are and how values differ from goals, check out this article from Mindfulness Muse.
Day 17: Values Reflection Part 2
Yesterday may have been an intense journal entry. Take some time to reflect on what you learned about yourself and your values from yesterday’s journaling prompts.
- What surprised you about your values list?
- What personal experiences (if any) speak to your values?
- What was difficult or easy about yesterday’s prompt?
- Is it easier for you to focus on values or goals?
Day 18: Blue Monday
Personally, I have a hard time keeping my spirits up once the holiday season and winter break is over. On top of that, the short days and cold weather in the winter season put me in a dispirited mood.
Today’s January writing prompt is to work through any negative emotions around the holidays being over.
- Do you suffer from the Blue Monday phenomenon? In what way?
- What do you miss about the holiday season?
- What is something you are looking forward to this year?
- How can you be kind to yourself as you’re processing these emotions?
Day 19: Self Care
After, write in your journal about the experience.
- How did you prioritize time for yourself?
- How did taking time for yourself affect your mood / mental health?
- How were you kind to yourself today?
- Name one way you can be kind to yourself tomorrow.
Day 20: Free Write
Day 21: Rewrite Resolutions and Intentions
It’s been ten days since you first wrote your new year’s resolutions. A lot can happen in 10 days, and we’ve done a lot of journaling since then.
Day 22: Personal Development
Now, keep your focus inward and think about how you want to develop as a person over the next year.
- What new skill do you want to learn?
- What character traits do you want to work on?
- What new hobby do you want to try?
- (We have some productive hobby examples, but your hobby doesn’t have to be productive).
- How do you plan to accomplish those things?
Take a look at these personal goals for examples.
Day 23: Weekly Goals
With our rewritten resolutions and intentions, brainstorm some weekly goals that build to your bigger monthly goals and resolutions.
Day 24: Positive Affirmations
A positive affirmation says true things about us and our circumstances, regardless of whether we feel like the statement is true. It’s not based on emotions but on facts and truth.
Affirmations are helpful for combatting negative self-talk. Negative self talk can twist our view of ourselves and our situation with lies and emotions. (More about negative self-talk from NPR.)
If you’re not sure where to start with affirmations, I recommend starting with your favorite Bible Verses.
Day 25: Winter Season
At this point, we’re in the thick of the winter season. Reflect and journal about winter memories.
- What do you like or dislike about winter?
- What memories do you have from winter?
- What has surprised you this winter season?
Day 26: Gratitude
Here we leave room for another gratitude day. January is almost over. So take time to reflect on what you’re thankful for this month.
Day 27: First Sentence
Today, there are 4 creative writing prompts for you to choose from. Use one of these as the first sentence of your journal entry.
- Something I love and appreciate about myself is…
- An event that would significantly change my life is…
- The biggest turning point of my life was…
- Ten years from now, I want to remember…
Day 28: What I Can’t Say
Today, instead of addressing your journal entry “Dear Journal,” write to someone else.
- What do you wish you had said?
- What do you want to say right now to someone but can’t (or don’t know how)?
- What do you wish this person knew about you?
Tell them in your journal. Whether it’s a love letter to someone or an angry letter to someone who hurt you, let the emotions out on the page.
Day 29: Prayer
Prayer is a powerful tool available to those who follow Jesus Christ. However, it can be hard to stay focused in our prayers.
So, Journal a prayer today. No matter how long or how short, know that your Heavenly Father wants to hear from you.
Day 30: Write to your Future Self
Today’s writing prompt is to write a letter to your future self. This is a letter you can read a month later, 6 months later, or at the very end of the year.
Pick a time frame and think about what “future you” may need to hear.
Day 31: Word of the Year
Now that we’ve done a ton of retrospection and reflection, it’s time to pick a word of the year. You can also pick a phrase or Bible verse for the year.
Spend time journaling about potential words that encompass your new year’s resolutions, intentions, your most important values, and your goals. This article about reflection offers more advice about picking a word or intention for the year.
Once you’ve picked a word, circle it memorize it and hold it close. There are still 11 months to go!
Day 32: Keep Writing
Great job writing in your journal this month! Today’s prompt is simple: How has writing in a journal in January changed your perspective for the year?
Journaling Supplies & Daily Journal Prompts Printable
To get started on your journaling journey, check out these journaling products. Personally, I use the Designworks Jumbo Bookcloth Journals. I love the dated pages at the top.
- Designworks Jumbo Bookcloth Journals
- Gratitude Journal from Promptly Journals
- Dot Grid Journal from Vivid Scribbles
- Self-Love Journal from Promptly Journals
Once you get your journal, be sure to download our printable writing prompts in the January calendar to use offline. Also, if you don’t have a journal, you can also do the digital version of a journal by using a word processor on your computer.
For bonus prompts, check out these articles:
- 30 days of thanks challenge
- 70 Reflection Questions to Ask Yourself
- 20 Personal Goals + Goal Ideas Worksheet
- 100+ Weekly Goal Ideas and Focus Ideas
- 5 Responses to What am I Doing with my Life?
May these free January journal prompts give you the tools and the motivation to keep writing, keep processing, and take care of yourself no matter what the year may bring.
How do you write a New Year’s journal?
Leave me a comment below!
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