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Our lives consist of various junctures. One of them happens every 12 months when the calendar provides a reset button that makes us trust in the magic of new beginnings. There are only a few pages left in the journal for 2023. While we’re writing this year’s epilogue, next year’s prologue is already a draft of new possibilities.

We’re entering a period of deeper reflection and slower motion (that is, as soon as we take care of our holiday gift shopping). It’s only natural to ponder on what was and try to predict what could be. Yet, while the past is in the past, the future remains moldable.

What would make 2024 your best year yet? Allow us to put you in a pensive mood with these five journaling prompts for a transformative next year.

1. What can you leave behind to make space for something better in the new year?

Toxic people, painful memories, unwanted feelings — these weigh us down, sometimes without us realizing it. But with the much-needed transition from the old year to the new one comes the extra motivation to let go of anything that does not serve us well. Something within ourselves recenters, we reevaluate a thing or two, and we are ready to forgive, and maybe even forget.

Is there anything lying heavy in your heart? Maybe it’s an unkind person, or a negative habit? Whatever it is for you, pinpoint it and work through it in your journal. Remember, the pages have zero expectations. Use the stream of consciousness method and let it all out as it is — no editing. Read your entry, find the elements that don’t fit into your happiness, and you’ll know what to leave behind and why.

From the most prosaic deep clean of your routine, to the most transformative and therapeutical decisions to cut ties with ill-wishers — give your inner peace and harmony space. Shed unnecessary layers to make room for better daily patterns or people who will add value to your life. Your reality will expand in directions you didn’t know it could.

2. What is something you’ve been too afraid to do this year that you know would bring you closer to your dream life?

Once you get some clarity from the first prompt, it’s time for even more honesty. This annual transition period we’re in now is for defining what went wrong and what went right in the last year. And self-doubt is what we all have in common. The most successful of us still experience hesitation, failure, or imposter syndrome. You’re not alone in this.

So what hindered your growth this past year? Was it something you didn’t do or something you did that wasn’t the right choice but you never fixed the situation? It’ll stay between you and your journal so no holding back, please. Sit back, take your time, and rummage through your mind.

Maybe you missed an opportunity to apply for a dream job because you felt unqualified. Maybe you failed to muster the courage to ask that special person out on a date. Or perhaps your plans of writing your first novel never came to fruition because your idea was not good enough for the highly competitive publishing industry (or so you thought).

Journal about your reasons, journal about your aspirations, then journal your way to motivation.

In the words of author Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”

3. What are your three strengths and how can you use them to add more value to your life and the lives of others?

Time to build yourself up a bit. Even when the you-are-enough mindset seems like a distant dream, we still have a lot to offer to the world, yet it might take a bit more time and inner work to uncover. Start by journaling about what you like in yourself. Are you kind, or smart, or quick-witted? List all the qualities that come to mind.

Now, what are you good at? Can you cook finger-licking meals? Is your singing voice able to relieve someone’s negative feelings? We tend to have more strengths than we realize and sometimes the ones we’re aware of are still stronger or more useful than we care to admit.

Focus on three of your best abilities or traits. How can you use your skills to make your dreams come true? How can you helpful to somebody in need? Find three words to describe what you are capable of and make them your 2024 theme.

4. What makes you happy? How can you do it more often?

We know it’s a loaded question. After all, happiness means something different to each and every one of us and there is no way to standardize it. So you need to look inward. Deep within your being, there is knowledge about what fills you with joy.

The purpose of defining your merriment is obviously to be able to invest more time and energy in what matters most to you. The do more of what makes you happy mantra has been floating around us for so long now that it has reached the status of a cliche, but there’s simply too much truth to it to ignore it.

So how can you free up space in your calendar for flourishing and thriving? Perhaps some of your work responsibilities could be automated? And do you really want to be on another social media platform or is it your fear of missing out speaking, not you? It’s nobody else’s responsibility but our own to make ourselves happy.

5. What do you look forward to next year? Dream it and go for it.

A lot can happen in 12 months. Inevitably, we will be leaving quite a chunk of our lives behind the closed doors of 2022. In your journal, make a list of everything that made you grateful to be alive this past year. Then, especially if your record is shorter than you’d like, write about what would make the next year even more fulfilling.

You might already have some solid plans. That’s wonderful, what else? Give yourself a healthy push towards noticing more goodness that’s already in the cards for you.

Then, add anything you’d like to happen on top of that. What would you like to learn next year? Is there a place you’ve been itching to visit? Are you hoping to make a new friend? When we define what we want, achieving it becomes far easier.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

Thank Yesterday, Love Today, Create Tomorrow

I would like to wish you peace and harmony for 2024 and beyond. May this new year bring you everything you dream of and more. May it spark your enthusiasm for all the light that is yet to come and give you courage to change whatever circumstances are less than favorable. May all the entries in your journal for next year be filled with your gratitude, resilience, and happiness.

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