The beginning of a new year offers an important chance to reflect, set goals, and find focus for the upcoming year. A set of New Year journal prompts can help provide some needed stillness and introspection to start the year off with more clarity, intention, and gratitude.
To help start the year off, we’ve compiled this list of 23 journal prompts for the new year to inspire self-reflection and goal-setting for the year ahead.
From setting intentions to reflecting on the past year, these New Year’s journaling prompts will encourage you to delve deeper into your hopes and goals for the year ahead.
“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written.”
– Melody Beattie
Why Journaling for the New Year is Important
Even if you already have a regular journaling practice, a New Year’s journaling session can help guide you through questions that will shape the year ahead. Setting some time aside to thoughtfully answer a set of New Year journal prompts at the start of the year can be a meaningful—and perhaps surprising—exercise.
Here are a few reasons to have a dedicated journaling session for the New Year:
- Reflect on the previous year – If you didn’t get a chance to reflect on the previous year, a New Year’s journaling session can be a great time to review your memories, thoughts, and feelings about this past year. These additional end of year journaling prompts can help guide you through a thorough year-end review before you begin.
- Connect with your values – By identifying what’s most important to you, your choices for the year can be made with more intentionality and focus.
- Set goals – Goal-setting is linked to happiness, so instead of New Year’s resolutions, define your goals and aspirations for the upcoming year.
- Boost happiness and well-being – The benefits of journaling range from stress-relief to improved memory and increased positivity. Many of these new year journal prompts are designed to boost science-backed fundamentals of happiness such as gratitude, social-connection, savoring, goal-setting, exercise, and goal-setting (check out the free Science of Well-Being course by Dr. Laurie Santos to learn more).
Tips For a Productive New Year’s Journaling Session
Set aside a quiet time to reflect and write in your journal. Minimize distractions; snooze notifications on your phone or work machine. You’ll need about an hour to complete the exercise.
Find the journaling method that works for you–pen and notebook, or a journal app like Day One. Choose a time of day that most often inspires reflection or introspection (like early morning or at the end of the day).
As you begin to write your answers to the prompts, try to record the first thought that comes to mind. By allowing your ideas and words to flow, you’ll likely find each answer will come more freely. (Some of your answers may even be surprising—just embrace it!) You can always edit later.
Just remember—a journal is always a private, sacred space, so what you write doesn’t need to be perfect.
23 New Year Journal Prompts
Here are twenty-three New Year journal prompts designed to help you reflect, focus, and gain clarity for the upcoming year. Whether you answer all of the prompts, or just a few, the important thing is to take some time for yourself and set your intentions for the upcoming year.
Feel free to copy and paste these directly into your Day One journal.
1. What am I most grateful for at the beginning of this new year?
Make a list of everything you are grateful for as you begin the year. From the big things to the smaller details, jot down everything that comes to mind. What experiences, people, or events that have brought you the most joy or satisfaction?
2. What lessons did the previous year teach me?
Review your experiences from the previous year. What important lessons did you learn?
3. What are three things I accomplished last year?
Looking back, what was something you achieved because of hard work or effort? What did you accomplish as a personal goal, a professional milestone, or any other achievement that made you proud?
4. What values will guide my choices this year?
Values are deeply personal and important for your personal goals, guiding actions and behaviors. What values will guide you this year?
5. What would I like to savor or enjoy more often this year?
“Savoring” refers to the act of fully experiencing and enjoying the present moment of a positive experience or emotion. What activities or experiences, whether small or large, routine or extraordinary, do you want to be more engaged with as they unfold?
6. What are three goals I hope to accomplish this year?
According to New York Times bestselling-author Lori Gottlieb, we’re much more likely to regret not pursuing an audacious goal than pursuing an audacious goal and falling short. So, dream big: what goals, big or small, do you hope to achieve this year?
7. What new skill would I like to learn or improve this year?
Skills are the abilities or knowledge that help you perform specific tasks or activities. From technical skills, soft skills, leadership skills, or physical skills, which skills would you like to learn or develop this year?
8. What relationships are most important to me? How can I continue to invest in these relationships this year?
Social connection has been shown to improve physical health, as well as mental and emotional well-being. Building and maintaining strong relationships can bring happiness, support, and a sense of belonging. Which relationships matter most to you? How can you prioritize these relationships this year?
9. What problems would I like to solve this year?
Solving problems can give us a sense of accomplishment, build resilience, and give us purpose and meaning. In the next year, what problems do you want to tackle? What challenges do you hope to overcome in the next 12 months?
10. How would I like to grow or develop as a person this year?
Growing and developing as a person is a lifelong process that can involve many different aspects of your life. How would you like to improve or grow on a personal level during the next year?
11. What is one habit I would like to build this year?
Our habits can be linked to our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. What habit would you like to establish this year? How can you start building the habit on a regular basis? (Check out more tips for how to build a lasting journaling habit.)
12. What is something I want to do for others in the coming year?
What acts of generosity or kindness could you undertake in the coming year? Who are some of the individuals or groups that you hope to help with these acts?
13. What is something I want to do for myself in the coming year?
How can you be more generous and kind to yourself this year?
14. How can I prioritize my health and/or fitness this year?
Prioritizing health and fitness can help you to lead a happier, more fulfilling life and enjoy the things that matter most to you. How can you make health and fitness a priority this year?
15. What new experiences do I want to try this year?
New experiences can come in many forms, from new foods or recipes to new hobbies or outdoor activities. The world is full of new experiences, so what new experience would you like to try?
16. What new place would I like to visit this year?
From distant cities or the restaurant down the street, what new place would you like to visit? Whether traveling far or staying inside your community, make a list of a few new places you’d like to explore.
17. What new creative project or hobby would I like to start this year?
What creative outlets would you like to start (or continue) this year either for money or just for fun?
18. What fear do I want to overcome this year?
Our fears often cause us to underestimate our abilities or strengths and can hold us back from trying new things. What is one fear that you would like to address and work on overcoming this year?
19. How can I show more gratitude this year?
From keeping a gratitude journal to writing thank you notes, how can you show or express more gratitude this year? (These gratitude journaling prompts can help you explore gratitude on a regular basis.)
20. How can I rest or relax more often this year?
Rest and relaxation are essential for both physical and mental well-being. What forms of rest or relaxation do you enjoy? How can you prioritize these things this year?
21. What am I looking forward to in the coming year?
What plans, aspirations, or events excite you about the next 12 months? The coming year can be full of potential for change, progress, and new experiences. Take a quick scan through your calendar or jot down a few events or activities that will be happening this year. What things are you looking forward to this year?
22. What word or phrase would I like to give this year?
Even though the year is just beginning, find a word or phrase to describe the year ahead. Perhaps this word or phrase represents a theme, intention, or a name for the year.
23. What is my biggest dream for the year ahead?
As you wrap up these new year journal prompts, allow yourself a few extra moments to daydream. Even if it seems out of reach right now, what is your biggest dream for the year ahead?
Cheers to the New Year Ahead
After answering these New Year’s journaling prompts, we hope you feel a greater sense of clarity and hopefulness for the year ahead. Perhaps you even gained some surprising new insights or ideas! With this fresh perspective, we hope you are ready to face the year with a greater sense of focus and purpose.
We wish you a happy and fulfilling New Year, and we encourage you to continue journaling as a way to foster more introspection and self-reflection. As you continue your journaling journey this year, check out even more journal prompts in this comprehensive list of 550+ journal prompts. Happy journaling!
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About the Author
Kristen Wright is the author of three books on journaling, including The Transformation Year, a year-long series of daily journal prompts. With a passion for writing and self-reflection, Kristen uses her experience with journaling to help others discover the benefits of documenting their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. In her role at Day One, she helps to promote the power of journaling so people from all walks of life can experience the transformative power of journaling.