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10 Journal Prompts to Help You Become More Self-Aware

The ten journal prompts in this post are designed to spark self-discovery. To get the most value from them, you will need more time than usual to contemplate the questions and document your answers. Try these prompts when you have time to spare for journal writing.

Keeping a journal is an excellent way to express your innermost thoughts and feelings, and document your experiences for future reflection.

Why Should You Keep a Self-Discovery Journal?

Journaling can be used to find answers to life’s difficult questions, to find peace with your past, to contemplate your future, and to express your deepest feelings and desires. 

You can learn a lot about yourself and gain thoughtful insights into your experiences, your values, and your beliefs by keeping a self-discovery journal.

Research has shown that journal writing leads to positive outcomes such as reduced depression and anxiety, greater resilience, and a more positive outlook.

Read about Mental self-care for women Over 50

Why Should You Use Prompts for Your Self-Discovery Journal?

There are no “rules” when it comes to journaling, but prompts can be a helpful start.

As a growth tool, it’s often helpful to have questions, or guided prompts, to help focus your thoughts and direct them inward.

The use of prompts, or direct questions, help to steer your writing in ways that give you personal insights you might not get otherwise.  Focusing on a topic or question that is provided for you helps direct your thinking to a particular subject and allows you to dig deep into thoughts you would not necessarily have explored.

Although each of these prompts is short, the answers they require will take some introspection on your part.

Give yourself plenty of time to answer each question in depth. These are not prompts for short and simple journal sessions!

Dig deep.

You may be very surprised at your responses!

Ten Journal Prompts to Spark Self-Discovery

1. When You Were a Child, Who Did You Want to Be When You Grew Up?

Ask any child what they want to do – or who they want to be – when they grow up, and you’re sure to get a quick answer. Or quite possibly, several answers.

For this prompt, write about your childhood aspirations.

Why do you think you chose these particular goals? Who and what influenced your choices? Were these goals conforming or rebellious?

Did you reach the goals you set for yourself? Does your current life reflect these goals (or the motivations behind them)? How do you feel when you compare your childhood goals and adult reality?

child playing school with dolls and stuffed animals, reading them a story

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2. What Will Your Life Look Like in 10 Years, If You Reach Your Current Goals?

Think about the goals you currently have for your life. If you were to achieve them all, what would life look like in ten years?

Be detailed – who would you live with, where would you live, and what would your everyday experiences be?

Don’t just say “I’d have lots of money”. Write about how that would impact your life. Would you travel? Donate to good causes? Move to another country?

Focus not on the “what”, but on the impact of the achievement.

3. What is the Most Difficult Decision You’ve Ever Made?

In life, we all must make many decisions. Some are easy, and some can be profoundly difficult. What was your hardest decision?

What made it so hard?

How did you weigh the pros and cons of the decision you had to make? What finally pushed you to choose the direction you did?

How did you feel once you made your choice?

Do you have regrets? Why? Why not?

4. What Was the Worst Decision You Ever Made?

Sometimes we make good choices, and more often than we want to admit, we make bad choices.

Why did you make the choice you did? Given the circumstances, did it seem like the best option at the time?

How did your choice impact all aspects of your life, at the time of the choice and over time?

If you could, would you go back in time and change your decision? What would your life be like now, if that were possible?

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.”

Ernest Hemingway

5. Thank a Friend for Something They’ve Done

Write an old-fashioned letter starting “Dear ______”.

Thank your friend for something they have done, said, or accomplished that truly impressed you in some way. Their action doesn’t have to have been directed at you specifically. It could be related to an achievement or something you admire about them.

Explain why.

You don’t have to send the letter unless you choose to. The purpose of this prompt is to consider what you admire and respect about others, and how their actions impact your relationship with that person.

6. Describe Your Favorite Book

What is your current favorite book?

What is it about this book that makes it your favorite and is personally meaningful to you?

Is the book fiction or non-fiction? Is it the typical subject matter that you enjoy reading, or does it stand out because it’s a different subject, style, or perspective?

What emotions did reading this book create?

How did you feel when you were done reading it? Have you re-read it, and did your experience change or intensify?

7. Describe Your First Date

You can pick your very first date, or you can pick the first date with your current spouse or partner. It’s up to you.

Who was this date with, where did you go, and what did you do?

What were your anticipations leading up to the date?

What were your emotions during the date? Did you feel anxious, nervous, foolish, confident, serene, comfortable?

Do you think your behavior was true to you, or were you somehow trying to impress or influence your date? Did this work well, or somehow backfire?

Did the event go as expected? What surprised you?

How did this first date affect future interactions, either with this same person or others?

couple on first date, journal prompt for self-discovery

8. What is the Best Meal You Have Ever Had?

Your senses, particularly smell and taste, can create powerful associations.

Think about the very best meal you ever enjoyed.

Did you enjoy it due to the food or due to who you were with? Perhaps the location? Was it a homemade meal prepared by a special person?

What specifically made the meal so memorable? Have you ever tried to replicate it?

Explore the emotions you felt before, during, and after this special meal.

9. What is One Area of Your Life You Are Truly Satisfied with?

What is one thing that makes you feel satisfied with your life and how you’re living it?

Contentment and satisfaction are important components in every life.

Joy and sadness are vital parts of your life, but they are transitory. Your goal should be overall satisfaction that you are living a fulfilling, worthwhile life.

Are you content? If you are, why are you? If not, why not? What influences your feelings about your life the most? Do you feel it is abundant or somehow lacking?

Do you feel that you have brought yourself to the place in life where you currently are, or were you brought there by outside circumstances?

10. What is One Significant Goal You Have Set for Yourself This Year?

Do you set goals for yourself, or prefer to simply glide through life?

What is one significant goal you are working toward in the present time? Why does this goal matter to you?

How will your life be better if you achieve this goal?

What are specific steps you have mapped out to achieve this goal? Are you working toward it on a daily basis, even if progress is slow? If not, what is holding you back?

Read More:

self-discovery products from etsy shop

Final Thoughts on 10 Thought-Provoking Journal Prompts for Self-Discovery

Journal prompts are an effective tool to inspire your writing and reflection. Prompts can cover unlimited subjects and are as varied as the journal writers.

In order to spark self-discovery, prompts must be more in-depth and detailed. They will require deep contemplation and longer responses. Simply answering the prompt’s surface question will not lead to personal growth.

Find a self-discovery journal

Looking at the emotions, thoughts, motivations, and impacts of each subject and writing from the heart are the keys to the self-discovery journey.

What journal prompts for self-discovery have you found to help in your personal growth experiences?

2 thoughts on “10 Journal Prompts to Help You Become More Self-Aware”

  1. I very much enjoyed these journal prompts. I have spent years of self reflecting goal setting, and striving for growth. Some experiences have been better than others😉. I found these prompts insightful and was a little surprised with how easily some profound answer floated to the surface. Thank you for this exercise.

    1. Mary – I’m so glad these prompts were helpful for you! I like to work through them myself about once a year – it’s interesting to see how my answers change from time to time. Self-reflection can be a powerful tool, right? Thanks for reading! Lori

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