If there’s one thing I believe about new year’s resolutions, it’s that you can do them any time during the year. At time of publication, we’re 9 days into 2024, but January 1 was not a deadline. With Rosh Chodesh Shvat beginning tomorrow night, renewal, growth and change are especially on my mind. There’s no time like the present. You can reflect, resolve, and make meaningful change to your life now or at any time. One way I like to do that is by journaling. Prompts can help in getting started!

For folks who have not done a lot of journaling and want to follow along, here is what I recommend: First, get comfortable and ready. Do you like to write at a desk or curled up on the couch? If there is outside noise do you need to put in headphones to block that out? Do whatever the minimum amount of prep you need to be in the physical and mental space to reflect and write, but not more – this should not be a barrier to getting started.

Then, pick the medium to write on. Do you have a physical journal already, or maybe a half-filled notebook that can be repurposed? Do you prefer to type on your computer or even phone?

Finally, pick a prompt that interests you and respond to it without the expectation that anyone, even you, will ever read your words, so you don’t have to worry about grammar or spelling. The point is to process your thoughts by expressing them as words – journaling is about the journey, not the destination. If you find yourself getting stuck, set a timer for 15 minutes, or longer if you’re feeling brave, and don’t stop writing until the time is up. The first fifteen percent or so may be nonsense ramblings to fill time, but eventually real thoughts will start to emerge, and allow you a closer look at the themes connecting those thoughts.

  • What people, places, things, and ideas are you grateful for from the past year? It can be helpful to start from the good, even if you had a stressful year. What have you given to them, and what have they given to you? How will you practice gratitude this year?
  • Think about a major point of tension in your life. Is it something you have control over to change? If yes, what can you do, and who can you ask to help? Otherwise, what can you do to better live with it?
  • How do Judaism, religion, and spirituality fit into your life right now? What about that relationship would you like to adjust?
  • As we enter the month of Shvat, with Tu Bishvat on the horizon, how are you relating to the natural world? If it is darker and colder where you are, is that impacting your mood or habits? What would you like to do this month to connect with nature?
  • What are you hiding, who are you hiding it from, and why? Privacy is not a bad thing, but secrets can weigh on you. Is the thing you are hiding something you want to reveal immediately or soon, eventually when you’re ready, or never? What are the consequences of hiding and revealing?

Start with just one or two prompts and see how it feels to dive deep on these questions. Then, if you can, come back to the practice of journaling and tackle another prompt tomorrow or next week. See if you start to notice any changes in the process of writing, or in other areas of your life. Good luck and happy journaling!