Journaling ideas: reflecting back on the past year

Download/print the 1 page PDF of this handout “Reflecting back on your year

Journaling is closely related to the passing of time. Whether you journal several times a day or several times a year, you probably date your entries. As the end of your year approaches, we can use our journals to reflect back over the past year. You can read from the beginning, or page through randomly, or sample a few pages from each month. As you read, allow yourself to appreciate your life—the happy moments, the struggles, the doubts, the celebrations. Now start writing. Some prompts are provided to get you started and guide you. Choose the questions that are meaningful to your life.

  • What have you accomplished?
  • What are you proud of?
  • What do you regret?
  • What changes have your observed in yourself this year?
  • How have you felt about yourself?
  • What things are you most grateful for last year?
  • How have your relationships with other people changed?
  • Did you have goals for last year? Did you work towards those goals? Will you continue in the coming year?
  • Do you recognize yourself in your earlier entries? Do you feel similarly or differently now?

Your options for reflection are limitless. You could write a summary entry or response to yourself of your writing. You could create a title for the year of journaling. You can “turn over a new leaf” simply by turning to a blank page and writing from a different perspective.

*Not everyone likes to re-read their journal entries. You can adapt this exercise by just reflecting in your own mind before writing.

Writing exercise:

Much of what we do in journaling is look back, remember, reflect. Try to expand this idea to your entire year. Imagine yourself throughout this past year, how you have changed, what you have learned, all that you have accomplished. Describe your journey.

Brainstorming exercise:

How would you characterize your journaling this past year? How did journaling or personal writing help you express yourself?




Lissa Staley

Lissa Staley helps people use the library. She is a Book Evangelist, Health Information Librarian, Trivia Emcee, Classics Made Modern book group leader, NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, Community Novel Project leader, HUSH podcaster, and frequent library customer. She reads a new book every few days, but recently enjoyed Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley.