As we draw towards the end of 2018 and the busy holiday season approaches, have you been thinking about what has happened in your life this year and what 2019 will hold? I have been and, of course, I’ve loved the opportunity to do some journaling about it!
Whether you’re a new or regular journaler, or journaling is something you’ve wondered about trying and never have, now is the perfect time to turn to the page to appreciate and acknowledge how far you’ve come in 2018, and to consider what you want your life to look like over the next year.
One of the many things I love about journaling is that it can take as much or as little time as you like. You could undertake an in-depth reflection and goal setting exercise (which – nerd alert - is a lot of fun) or take a simpler approach (also fun). The main thing is to do whatever works for you and your situation right now.
Below are some journaling exercises to help you reflect and think ahead, and some tips to help you get the most from the exercises. Take them as far as you like. Review and revisit them between now and the end of the year or simply make notes as a marker in the sand. It’s your journal, do what works for you.
And because I write fiction too, I’ve given the journaling exercises a twist of fictional fun. I hope you enjoy. 😉
Reflecting on 2018
What is your overall impression of how 2018 has treated you? Why?
Review the goals you had for the year. How did you get on? Are there any to be carried forward into 2019?
What happened in your life during the year? What was the highlight?
What could have gone better?
How have you changed over the course of the year?
Think of all the areas of your life in which you play a part, for example:
- Personal success
What did your life look like in each of these areas this year?
Consider the things you tell yourself about your abilities and achievements. What words do you use? Are they helping or hindering you?
What would you like to say to yourself based on what you’ve learned in 2018?
If you were to write a “round robin” holiday newsletter, what would you cover? Why not write one and send it out? I know a lot of people think they’re naff, but I love them and enjoy hearing a potted version of a friend’s year. I write one most years and even had a request to start receiving it. If I'm honest, that kind of surprised me!
Moral of the story: people want to hear from you.
Top tips: Stick to the highlights of your year, the main events. Keep it as upbeat as possible and don’t go on and on for ages. One page of A4 will do!
Looking forward to 2019
What are your hopes and aspirations for the year?
Develop an acronym for how you want your life to be in 2019. For example:
and journal on how you can make it so.
Pick a single word that expresses how you want your life to be in 2019, or sums up what you want to attract. For example, Energy, Creativity, Fun.
If this appeals to you, you may be interested in Ali Edward’s One Little Word®
project. This is the announcement of the project for 2018. Based on the date, if the project's running for 2019, information should be available soon.
What do you want from the following areas of your life in 2019?
- Personal success
What do you need to work on and how are you going to do so?
In what ways do you want to “uplevel” in 2019? Perhaps you want to learn something new or adopt some new positive habits in either your work or personal life. Who will you be at the end of 2019?
What do you want to say to support your progress towards your goals this year? This could be a mantra or affirmations, your acronym or word, or it could be making a commitment to observe, consider and improve the way you communicate both with yourself and others.
Plan a creative and fun activity for each month of the year.
Perhaps you’d like to take a course, or a trip? Go to the theatre? Enjoy more days out with the family? The activities don't have to be expensive, maybe the don't have to cost anything. Consider a browse round your local library, stately home, tourist attraction, museum, art gallery or other local landmark – whatever’s available where you are. Think about the history or the architecture or anything else that catches your attention. Journal about what you see, feel and learn.
Tips for completing the exercises
This is an optional way to start any journaling exercise or session. Taking a few minutes to write yourself in gets your pen moving and your brain operating at handwriting speed (which is likely slower than it goes most of the time). You don’t need to write “about” anything, just get some words on the page to help you transfer your thoughts from from whatever you were doing before to the journaling you’re doing now.
Keep asking yourself WHY? when you state a reason or opinion in your writing. Often the first thing we think of, the first idea we have or reason we give for something is not the best one. Compare your first responses with those you end up with. What would you have missed if you had moved on taking only version one of each exercise with you?
Turn reflection into action
Journaling is an excellent way to reflect on your life, your experiences (good and bad), your actions and reactions, what you want and don’t want for your life, how you’d like to feel, what you’d like to do…the list could go on and on.
Reflection is a valuable process but, if you're reflecting on a difficult period in your life, it may have a detrimental effect if you don’t take conscious steps to work through the situation so that a positive action comes from it. It may be that you need professional help with this. Although journaling has been found to have a positive effect on well-being, it’s not a substitute for qualified medical advice, care and support if you need it.
I hope having these exercises grouped under the key elements of fiction was a fun way to think about the story of your year gone by and your year ahead. If you enjoyed them, come and join the email community so that we can keep in touch.
Before I go, a note from my heart to those whose past year has been especially hard. I was in that position last year after a difficult 2017. All I can say is look ahead to your bright future, because it’s there, whatever 2018 has led you to believe. I’m sending you love.
p.s. If you enjoyed these journaling exercises, come and join the email community. When you sign up, I’ll send you a free PDF to help you carve out more time in your day, week or month, just for you. Maybe you’ll be able to fit in some more journaling!
Why not give it a go? And, even better, you’ll be added to Elle Turner Creative’s mailing list so that you receive updates, inspiration, some exclusive content and occasional offers. You can, of course, unsubscribe from updates at any time if you find you don’t like the emails. (There’s a link to ETC’s privacy notice at the bottom of the page that lets you know how your personal info is used).