End of year reflection journal prompts

End of Year Journal Prompts

The end of 2021 is finally here! Even though it’s been a difficult year for many of us, it’s useful to reflect on the past – to grieve our losses, notice what we overcame and learned, and acknowledge the positives.

When we move on too quickly, we may miss the complexity of how these experiences have impacted us and the ways we’ve changed. And when we deny our experiences or feelings, we can’t use them to intentionally move closer to our goals.

To help you reflect on the past year and use these experiences to improve your life, I’ve written some end of year journal prompts. Let’s start by acknowledging what was positive about 2021.

Acknowledging the positive aspects of 2021

Sometimes we have to look harder for the positives, but they are there – hidden among the struggles or the simple pleasures that we take for granted. Other times, they are the people who helped us cope with uncertainty and sadness or overcome challenges.

  • I accomplished __________.
  • I feel good about __________.
  • I took care of myself by __________.
  • I’m grateful for __________.
  • A book/movie/tv show I enjoyed was _____________.
  • A happy memory was __________.
  • Something positive that I wouldn’t have normally done  __________.
  • Something funny that I want to remember is _____________.
  • I was challenged by__________.
  • I learned __________.
  • I felt passionately about _____________.

We certainly don’t want to ignore the challenges and painful aspects of 2021, either. By considering both the positives and negatives, we can keep a balanced perspective.

Reflecting on the hardships of 2021

This year, we’ve collectively struggled with uncertainty and stressors related to the COVID-19 pandemic, loneliness, and mental health issues. We’ve had to cancel plans, and deal with supply chain issues, and inflation. There have been natural disasters.

And, of course, we all have our personal struggles, many of which were exacerbated by these events. So, take some time to acknowledge what you’ve lost, your anger and pain, your struggles. When we do this, we help ourselves move forward and avoid getting stuck in our pain.

  • 2021 was hard for me because _____________.
  • In 2021, I missed doing these things _____________.
  • I missed spending time with these people _____________.
  • I was stressed or anxious about _____________.
  • I’m grieving the loss of _____________.
  • I struggled with _____________.
  • I feel sad about _____________.
  • I feel angry about _____________.
  • I feel anxious about _____________.

Noticing how far you’ve come

When we face great challenges, we usually learn a lot. You may already be aware of some valuable lessons from 2021 and probably others will be revealed in time. Answering these questions may help you recognize the ways you’ve grown and what you’ve learned from 2021.

  • As a result of these struggles, I learned _____________.
  • I can cope with stress and uncertainty by ______________.
  • Some things I learned about myself are ______________.
  • Some things I learned about others are ______________.
  • I didn’t know I could ______________.
  • I learned that I like ______________.
  • I learned that I don’t like ______________.
  • For the first time, I _____________.
  • As a result of last year’s struggles and learning, going forward I will ______________.

And now on to planning for a healthy and fulfilling 2022!

fireworks, text reads "happy new year"

New year journal prompts

The next set of questions will hopefully get you thinking about how you want to spend your time and resources, how you might improve your life, and ways to grow into a healthier and happier version of yourself.

  • This year I want to focus on __________.
  • In 2022, I’m looking forward to __________.
  • A habit or activity that I started last year and want to continue is __________.
  • A habit I want to change is __________.
  • I want to strengthen my relationship with ___________.
  • I will connect with others by _______________.
  • I will work on accepting others as they are by __________.
  • I will help others or give back to my community by _____________.
  • I will grow in or strengthen my faith/spirituality by _____________.
  • I will take care of myself by __________.
  • I will show myself compassion by __________.
  • I will save money for ______________.
  • I will splurge on ____________.
  • This year I want to add more __________ to my life.
  • Every day I plan to __________.
  • My career goals for the coming year are ___________.
  • To be physically healthier, I will _____________.
  • To be mentally healthier, I will _____________.
  • I will ask for support, help, or accountability from _____________.

I hope these journal prompts and questions help you thoughtfully reflect on 2021, feel your feelings, acknowledge your successes and growth, and set a course for a fulfilling year ahead.

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Download a PDF of the journal prompts

©2021 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved. Photos courtesy of Canva.com.

The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism

Ditch Your Rigid, Self-Critical Thinking

Do you hold yourself—and perhaps others—to extremely high standards? Do you have a nagging inner-critic that tells you you’re inadequate no matter how much you achieve? Do you procrastinate certain tasks because you’re afraid you won’t carry them out perfectly? If you’ve answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, chances are you’re a perfectionist. And while there’s nothing wrong with hard work and high standards, perfectionism can take over your life if you let it.

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Sharon Martin is a psychotherapist, writer, speaker, and media contributor on emotional health and relationships. She specializes in helping people uncover their inherent worth and learn to accept themselves -- imperfections and all! Sharon writes a popular blog called Conquering Codependency for Psychology Today and is the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism: Evidence-Based Skills to Help You Let Go of Self-Criticism, Build Self-Esteem, and Find Balance and The Better Boundaries Workbook.

3 thoughts on “End of Year Journal Prompts”

  1. Thanks Sharon for all of your very helpful articles. They have not only helped me but my family as well. God’s blessings in 2022!

  2. Thank you for this. I was just pondering where to start while preparing for a vision board workshop. These prompts will help me immensely preparing my vision board for 2022. Happy Prosperous New Year!

  3. I wanted to take this time, which is necessary to let you know how grateful I am to have ‘stumble upon your site.’ Out of all the sites on the internet. I am most grateful for what you contribute to myself personally and to my career. Thank you for your consistency, competency, your knowledge and your heart posture. Respectfully! I have done some amazing, transformational healing and work in 2021 and looking forward to continuing working with others as myself by utilizing your site.
    Thank you again!

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