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New Year, New You: 5 Journal Prompts to Refocus and Set Goals After a Rocky Start

New Year, New You: 5 Journal Prompts to Refocus and Set Goals After a Rocky Start

| Ashton Womack

This time of year, it can seem like everyone is totally prepared for a fresh start on January 1st. They’re ready with a new planner or journal, filled with resolutions and goals and a detailed plan to achieve each one. When your own New Year is off to a rocky start, it can be easy to think this just isn’t your year to finally accomplish those goals and you’ll never catch up. So what do you do when your new year already isn’t going as planned?

These are often my thoughts and feelings a couple of weeks into January. But this year, despite some setbacks, I am giving myself grace going into the next 12 months. After all, time is arbitrary and January 1st isn’t the only time to refresh your life. I hope the journaling prompts in this post will help you refocus and create a fresh start for yourself no matter when you’re reading this.

February is the new January

You’ve heard it said before, but have you actually taken it to heart? It’s better to get started in February (or March) than not at all. You can use any new day as an opportunity to set goals.

Journal Prompt: Brainstorm a few goal ideas. If you’re totally lost as to what your goals for the year will be, just think of some very small ways that you could make a fresh start in your life right now.

Drop Comparison

Especially in the age of social media, it’s so easy to compare yourself to others. The end of a year and the beginning of another is a great time to step back with a social media break if seeing the success of others is making you feel crummy.

If it’s your real-life friends you’re comparing yourself to, figure out how to cheer them on and be happy for them without holding yourself to the same standards. We all have different responsibilities and capabilities to balance, so I don’t think it’s fair to compare your own life to someone else’s.

Journal Prompt: What do you envy about someone else’s life? How could you take some inspiration from others' successes to create new goals for yourself? Do you think a social media break could help you limit comparison? Why or why not?

Focus on Gratitude

Making a gratitude list always helps me to refocus. Turn your attention to the things that have been going well lately!

Journal Prompt: What has been going well this month? Describe a few things you’re especially grateful for.


It’s so simple, but can be easier said than done. You can passively rest (like taking a nap) or actively rest with an activity that fills you up (like journaling, talking with a friend, a manicure, or reading a good book).

Journal Prompt: Make a list of ways you like to actively rest. Choose one activity, and do it! Report back to your journal afterward and share how you’re feeling.

Try Journaling Instead of Planning

It’s so tempting to plan your entire life in detail at the start of a new year. And while there’s nothing wrong with doing so, when things don’t go to plan it can definitely feel like your entire year has been derailed.

No matter how much we plan, life happens, and things probably will steer off course at some point during the year. And that can be a great opportunity to turn your attention to journaling instead. The shift can be simple. Instead of writing a to-do list, write down what you actually did at the end of the day. Sometimes it just feels good to see your progress written out, especially when it feels like everything is going wrong.

Journal Prompt: Write about what you did today. Include your thoughts, feelings, and anything you learned. Did you overcome any challenges, and if so, how?


It’s Time to Set Some Goals!

I hope you find these journal prompts helpful. Remember, you can return to these anytime to reset your mind!

When you’re ready to set goals, I have a simple (and free) workbook that you can download to plan your year. Commit your dreams to paper, break them into actionable steps, and plan the next 12 months with this free printable planner. Grab it here!


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