Jumpstart Your Journaling with 10 Questions

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

In December, I rededicated myself to writing. Not for work, this blog, or a freelance assignment, but writing for myself. I struggled a bit to get started. A blank page can be intimidating, and I’m not one to recap my day diary-style. But thanks to a recent post from MindBodyGreen (MBG), I found the solution to get my thoughts and pencil moving: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Every Day.

how to start a journal

According to MindBodyGreen:

It’s all too easy to measure yourself by how much you’ve achieved or how much money you’ve earned, or how many Facebook likes or Twitter followers you have. It’s so easy to start rushing to earn more, do more, be more, that we fail to notice the simple blessings that we encounter every day. The questions you ask yourself on a daily basis will create the person you become.

Each night, I take a few minutes to answer the questions in a fun Live-Inspired journal. I have the ten questions written on a sticky note, which I use as a reference. And I love to write with a pencil, always one with .9mm lead and a good eraser. These questions have given me a guide to use as I journal, and often spark additional ideas or feelings with I also record. Following is a list of the questions and some of my observations about them.

  1. WHAT DID I LEARN? As MBG explains, we can learn something from everyone we meet and everything we do. This question has become both my most challenging and most motivating. Sadly, in the course of a day, I don’t always learn something new, so I’m often challenged to seek out new knowledge. Two of my best sources? The Wall Street Journal and Today I Found Out.
  2. WHO DID I LOVE? Actually, I answered this question the first couple of weeks, but the answer was generally the same. So I changed it to “HOW DID I TAKE CARE OF MYSELF?” This challenges me to continue healthy habits and develop new ones.
  3. HOW WAS I VULNERABLE? I am a recovering Type-A personality who loves control, so vulnerability has always been a no-no for me. Yet a recent experience with an old friend taught me that I needed to be more vulnerable, otherwise, I’m going to miss a lot of the good stuff life has to offer.
  4. WHAT AM I GRATEFUL FOR? Studies have traced a range of impressive benefits to the simple act of writing down the things for which we’re grateful. My answers range from the silly to sublime, but it’s generally my longest entry.
  5. WHO DID I LISTEN TO? I talk a lot, but don’t listen enough. This question encourages me to be a better listener.
  6. HOW WAS I CHALLENGED? This is another question that I never struggle to answer, and interestingly enough, it often includes some of the same answers I use in the question about vulnerability.
  7. WHAT MADE ME LAUGH? It only took me a few entries to realize that I don’t laugh enough! Having to answer this question each night encourages me to find opportunities to laugh, whether it be more conversations with friends or light-hearted sources of entertainment.
  8. WHO DID I CONNECT WITH? MBG says that connection provides us with a sense of belonging that helps us to realize that we are not alone. My connections aren’t always traditional conversations. I’ve included Facebook conversations, texts and other non-traditional communications. My connections aren’t always with people who can talk back either; I also regularly connect with nature, myself and my sweet animals.
  9. HOW DID I GROW? I’m definitely a work in progress, and this is a nice way to track my development. (Or on some days, lack thereof!)
  10. WHAT DID I SHARE? MBG says that we should never underestimate our ability to inspire someone, to teach someone and/or make someone else’s life better. Sometimes my answers include such lofty entries, but other times, it may just be lunch or a chocolate bar.

If you are interested in journaling, but don’t know where to start, I would encourage adopting a similar format. You could use these questions or create your own, but either way, it will give you a good starting point and ease the intimidation of a blank piece of paper.

Do YOU journal? Do you use a template or format? What inspires you to journal? What kind of journal and/or writing instruments do you prefer?

1 thought on “Jumpstart Your Journaling with 10 Questions

  1. Great idea! I will have to try this as it will be a great way to capture my thoughts each day, helping me to focus on what’s important/where I am going.

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