Why Your Resolutions Haven’t Worked… Until Now + My New Year’s Resolution! I Dub 2020 “The Year of Fun”

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Self-Help

It’s that time of year again!

2019 flew by and now it’s 2020! And I can’t freaking wait! In my opinion, New Year’s is the most wonderful time of year, not Christmas. If you’re a self-improvement junkie like me, then you might feel the same way too.

I’m super obsessed with self-improvement and I’m a very introspective person. In a past life, I bet I was a philosopher or a therapist or something along those lines. So I live for this time of year when the whole country is in that frame of mind too! I love the reflection of the past year, the goal setting, the discussions about resolutions, the vision board creation, the crisp pages of a brand new planner. Ugh, I’m such a dork. (Oh well. We’ve already established that by now.)

Anyways, I LOVE New Year’s. And I love that this is a time where YOU are also in that frame of mind that I’m in 365 days a year! Right now, you’re thinking about your own goals and resolutions, you’re reflecting on you the past year, and you’re visualizing the person you want to become in 2020. Oh, how that makes me smile!

BUT, even though those goals and the promise of a fresh start are in the front of your mind, there’s that pesky little doubt in your mind that keeps floating around to irritate you just when you’re really starting to have a good time. Like a gnat that keeps flying around your face. You know that one I’m talking about:

“New Year’s resolutions NEVER work.”

Well, to be perfectly honest (and it pains me to say this) most of them don’t. Most resolutions are lucky to make it until February, let alone stick until the end of the year or turn into a healthy habit you keep going throughout your life! BUT that’s not the resolutions fault!!!

What I’m noticing in my conversations with people about resolutions is very sad for a personal coach and self-help writer like myself. I’m noticing that almost everyone I talk to tells me that they are NOT setting a resolution this year because “New Year’s resolutions NEVER work.”

Yes, your resolution may have fizzled out before, but that doesn’t mean we should STOP trying to better ourselves guys!!! 

Come on here!

You’re telling me that you’re not even going to try to lose that extra weight because you couldn’t last year?! You’re not going to try to read one book because you didn’t finish a book in 2019?! You’re telling me that you’re not going to ease up on drinking because you were unsuccessful before?! You’re saying that you’re not even going to attempt to give up smoking because it hasn’t worked previously?!

That automatic willingness and contentment people have with giving up on themselves makes my entire being CRINGE. 

If you only take one piece of advice from my entire blog, I want it to be this: Don’t give up on bettering yourself. EVER. And especially don’t give up on yourself because a prior resolution didn’t work for you.

It’s not that resolutions don’t work or are impossible to follow through! They didn’t work because you didn’t have the TOOLS that you needed to be successful. You walked into the New Year WITHOUT any action steps, or a plan, or accountability and you woke up on the other side of the New Year with a hangover and relied solely on limited motivation and willpower to take the next 365 days by storm.

So if this is you, every 1st of the year, deciding that “New Year’s resolutions NEVER work,” this post is going to help you get over that and understand how it IS possible to make them last. AND, if you’re someone sitting here super pumped to start your resolutions, then this post is also going to be great for you!

In this blog post, I will help you accomplish your resolutions FOR REAL. Here are the TOP 5 reasons why New Year’s resolutions fail AND 5 ways to help them STICK in 2020.

The Top 5 Problems with New Year’s Resolutions & Why They ALWAYS Fail

So now, let’s get to the good stuff. Why do resolutions always fail?! Well, I promise it’s not because they are doomed to fail and setting annual goals to improve your life is pointless. It’s because of these 5, very avoidable mistakes that WE make – the resolution doesn’t make it for us!

1. Many resolutions are WAY too big.

I have no idea how many people actually accomplish the resolutions they set out to do at the beginning of the year, but I’m pretty damn sure that it’s next to 0%. This is partially because of what I talked about in the blog post, “The Broken Window Theory & How to Create Massive Change in Your Life.”

In all of our excitement to improve ourselves and the high that we get from the possibility of a “fresh start” and becoming our fantasy selves, we try to do too much at once. When we do that, we set ourselves up for failure. We create sweeping declarations, announcements, and to-do lists of all the things we SAY we want to do, and then don’t actually do them. It’s like we psych ourselves out and eventually, we don’t get anything done. It’s actually one of the ways that I self-sabotage. I create massive lists and expectations for things that I have to do and set the bar so damn high that I’ve already made it difficult to accomplish those things before I have even started.

If you’ll remember, for 2019 I came up with over 20 New Year’s Resolutions. I’m pretty sure it was 24. How Vata of me! I got caught up in the excitement of a new year, a new job, a new city, and a new apartment! There were so many changes at the start of 2019 that I thought I would leave this year being a changed woman. That it was going to be my best year yet. And that by the end of these last 12 months, I would emerge a completely transformed person with a hefty list of tasks checked off. That didn’t happen. I bit off more than I could chew, and in the end, nothing got done.

That’s what many of us self-improvement junkies do. We list off every single life-long dream or every single aspect of our lives that we want to improve and expect ourselves to get it done by the first of the year! That’s mistake #1. So remember this as you’re writing down this year’s resolutions. (Note to self, Heather.)

2. They aren’t goals you’re ACTUALLY interested in doing.

You might be reading this bullet point thinking, “Of course I want to do these things! What do you mean I’m not interested in doing them?!”

But here’s the thing, many people (myself included) set goals for themselves that they have no real interest in doing. Why? Because there’s such a thing as your REAL SELF and your FANTASY SELF. Your real self is you. The real you and your real personality. The fantasy self is how you WISH you were. I’m not talking about the version of yourself you hope to become or your life-long goals. I’m talking about the things you wish you could alter about your personality or desires, but can’t.

For example, I’m an introvert but my fantasy self is an extrovert. I HATE cooking, but my fantasy self cooks all the time, meal preps, hosts Thanksgiving dinner, and throws parties with FABULOUS food that I made myself. My real self enjoys exercising alone at the gym but my fantasy self does CrossFit and competes in CrossFit competitions. The real me likes to go to yoga sometimes, the fantasy me is an actual yogi who can do every single ridiculous yoga pose known to man. See what I mean? I don’t actually want to do those things and those things about me are not going to change.

In past years, I have made resolutions that are representative of my fantasy self, but I have absolutely NO DESIRE to make those things happen. I love the IDEA of them, but I don’t actually want to do it. By letting your fantasy self creep into your resolutions, you can guarantee they are going to fail. 

3. Resolutions are often way too vague.

Another pattern I see over and over again, is people saying “I want to lose weight,” “I want to get in shape,” “I want to eat better,” “I want to do yoga more,” or “I want to focus on my business.” Those are great things to want for yourself, but if that’s the final copy of your New Year’s resolution…again it’s not going to work.

What does “I want to lose weight” mean? What does “I want to do more yoga” mean? By saying you want to do something MORE, I can say for certain that you’re not going to end up following through. In order to create resolutions that stick, you have you to make them specific. How much weight do you want to lose? How often do you want to practice yoga? What does “being in shape” look like to you? HOW are you going to focus on your business? What will that look like?

Otherwise, you’ll be walking into the new year without even understanding how you will accomplish your resolution and fit it into your life. You’re just banking on the fact that you’ll probably be motivated in the new year to follow through and be motivated all of the sudden.

4. Some resolutions can make you feel bad about yourself.

Another mistake that people make when they set resolutions for themselves is that they create a resolution that makes them feel terrible about themselves and remind themselves of their “flaws.”

Sometimes we unknowingly create resolutions that remind us of what we hate about ourselves RATHER than what we can realistically improve upon and creating goals that excite us. When you create a resolution like this, you are automatically going into 2020 thinking horrible thoughts about yourself and feeling crappy just for being YOU.

Here’s a perfect example: When I was in high school, “thigh gaps” were all the rage. Every magazine I read and every photo I saw with a beautiful girl in it, had a very distinct “thigh gap.” The thigh gap was SEXY, and I did not have one. I wasn’t the only one who felt bad about this though. I even watched TV specials where women were getting “lunchtime lipo” – a quick 20-minute liposuction procedure on the inner thigh to make your thighs look skinnier. So one of my New Year’s resolutions, back when I was in high school, was to shrink my thighs. If I remember correctly, I was trying to get 2 inches off of each one. It was incredibly unhealthy.

I SHOULD have focused on my health and cared about building a strong, healthy, happy body. But instead, I went into the year with a measuring tape and a horrible inner monologue about my body. I never did work out consistently, I never focused on my diet, I never established other healthy routines. All I did was think about how disgusted I was with this part of my body and how it didn’t match what the media was telling me I was supposed to look like.

People do this A LOT with weight loss resolutions. They focus on “losing 30 pounds”, “40 pounds,” “50 pounds,” rather than getting STRONGER, healthier, more flexible, and more confident. But those things are what you should be focusing on. When you say “My New Year’s resolution is to have a six-pack,” how do you think that’s going to go for you? Poorly. It’s not going to happen because you’re going to be focusing on how much you hate your body now and want it to change it. You’re starting the new year with nothing but bad intentions and gnarly self-talk that is going to be VERY hard to overcome.

Point being, there’s a fine line between a resolution that will HELP you and a resolution that will make you feel shitty about yourself.

5. We don’t have help OR a plan

The last reason why New Year’s resolutions often don’t succeed is that we don’t have help or establish a plan. Many of us say that we want to accomplish something without figuring out HOW we will get there. For example, let’s say that your resolution is to get in shape. If you don’t get a gym membership, don’t figure out healthy recipes you can make at home, don’t have an accountability partner or health coach, don’t have running shoes, and don’t know what to do to workout do you think you could do it? Nope. You’re going to stick with your same habits and routine.

I was just talking with someone who told me that her resolution was to lose weight and get in shape. To which I responded, “How do you plan on doing that?” “I don’t know,” she said. Let me tell you, “I don’t know,” is not going to keep you on track for the next 365 days. 

I see this again and again with people who create any resolution, but especially health resolutions. It’s simple, if you don’t have a PLAN to make that resolution happen, you will NOT do it. Without a plan, you’re just hoping a surge of inspiration and motivation will SLAP you across the face every morning. You’re hoping that you’ll have enough willpower to avoid the fried chicken or donuts or red wine. You’re hoping that you’ll FEEL like going to the gym. You’re hoping that you will WANT to do yoga every day. You’re hoping that you will be IN THE MOOD to mediate and read each night instead of watching Netflix. But you won’t. I promise. Without a plan, it’s all just talk.

Additionally, without help, it’s all just talk. Because even if you create a plan for yourself and figure out HOW you’re going to follow through with these things this year, you will need SUPPORT. Every single person has shitty days and needs encouragement; every single person needs someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of; every single person needs community and positive relationships. The reason why so many resolutions fail is not that resolutions are doomed. It’s because people don’t have a plan to make them happen or someone to keep them accountable and support them.

How to Set Reasonable & Accomplishable Resolutions 

So now that we’ve talked about the top 5 mistakes that people make when creating their New Year’s resolutions, let’s get you past them! I put together a list of 5 tips that you can use to help you set reasonable and accomplishable resolutions in 2020. If you take these 5 pieces of advice, you’re in a MUCH better position to make your goals a reality this year. This is how you set yourself up for success:

STEP 1: Reflect on the last year 

Now before you get excited and frantically write down your goals for the new year, it’s extremely important to reflect on the previous year. It doesn’t make sense to jump ahead to the next year without taking a moment to reflect on the last 365 days FIRST. You spent so much time and effort thinking about 2019, setting goals, visualizing the new year, it doesn’t make sense to move on right away and pretend like it didn’t happen. A LOT happened last year in your life and I think it’s super important to honor that and take AT LEAST an hour to reflect on how that year was for you. A whole year went by! There were so many accomplishments, pitfalls, travels, memories, relationships. There was so much growth, so much progress, so much heartache, so much drama, so much love, so much happiness that happened in that entire year! Take the time to sit down and really reflect on how 2019 went for you. Honor the last YEAR of your life! How was it? Did it go well? Were you happy? Did you do what you wanted to do? Were you your best self? Were you NICE to people?

And trust me, if you’re REALLY NOT wanting to reflect on the last year, it means that you REALLY DO have to reflect on the last year. Even if 2019 was kind of a nightmare, it’s important that you take the time to think about it. Don’t pretend like that year of your life didn’t exist.

Example: My Journaling Tradition

My new tradition each year is to sit down and journal about the previous year. I answer several different journal prompts that get me thinking about the year that I just had, what I learned from it, and what I want to take into the next year. These New Year’s reflections were published on my blog, so feel free to go back and read them to get inspiration for what prompts you want to answer too. It’s a super easy and fun tradition AND you can do it with other people which I love! Last year Matt and I went to a New Year’s Reflections Meetup and did these prompts together which we both really enjoyed. Check out those previous blogs to get some ideas and see if some of the prompts resonate with you. If you need any additional New Years’ prompts, Pinterest is filled with them!

Reflecting on 2019: 13 Journal Prompts & My Answers

Reflecting on 2018: 13 Journal Prompts & My Answers

STEP 2: Pick a theme or a word for the year

The next step is to choose a theme, word, or phrase for the coming year. Or maybe 1-3 words if you’re really feeling inspired. Many people actually prefer choosing a word or a theme more than resolutions because it’s not as intimidating. A lot of times, one word is much easier to stick to than a list because it’s easy to remember AND it allows you to be flexible with your “resolution.”

As long as you remind yourself of that word or theme, you’ll be far more likely to stick to it. Choosing a word for the year has the same benefits as choosing an affirmation or intention for the day. It’s an extra measure that will help you to create a single-pointed focus. This word or words helps you guide the decisions and choices you make and how you spend your time. It also keeps you motivated and prevents you from getting distracted by whatever comes up by making sure that what how you’re spending your time is in alignment.

I recommend putting this word around your house, on your corkboard, in your planner, on your phone, or in decorations. Having a single word or phrase AND having a visual reminder of it will help you to remember it, stay inspired, and stay on track. Some examples of words, phrases, or themes that people choose for the New Year are conscious, family, intentional, slow down, thoughtful, deliberate, create, meditate, celebrate, listen, progress, possibility, today, consistency, or gratitude. 

If you still want to create goals and resolutions like me, you can then use this word or theme to create goals that align with it. This step will further set you up for success.

Example: My New Year’s Theme? To Have Fun!

This year, I’ve decided my theme for 2020 will be the year of fun. Well, not just the year of fun. I’ve decided that it would be the year of fun, financial abundance, and professional growth.

I was so focused on professional growth and stressing out about money last year that I didn’t have any fun at all. I was deeply terrified of failure and stuck in my limiting beliefs that I didn’t think AT ALL about relaxing and having fun. I was in a constant state of stress because all I cared about or could think about was, “What if I don’t make it?”

I poured every ounce of my emotion and mental energy into my blog and the worries that I had about it that I made myself miserable. But recently I had an epiphany…

Yes, I still want to be a personal coach, an author, a blogger, and podcaster – BUT I don’t want those things at the expense of my own happiness.

So yes, as a young woman starting a business for the first time ever, I am still going to make professional growth and finances a priority, BUT I will make sure that I have fun doing it. I’m not going to throw away 365 days of being happy to publish some ebooks, take on clients, and starting a podcast.

Accomplishing my goals and dreams means nothing if I’m making myself feel like crap to do it.

The second reason why I dub this the year of fun is because 2019 was a very hard year for me. Like I talked about in my blog post “Announcement: I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It,” a lot happened that weighed on my mind and made me extremely unhappy.

I was very depressed in 2019 and went through a series of ruts that lasted far longer than any I’ve ever experienced. I also spent most of the year working from home on my blog and leading a very isolated life. Luckily, I am now on the OTHER SIDE! I have a coach, I have a community, I have a home office, I have events and meetups that get me out of the house, and I’m MUCH happier than I have been in years. But 2019 was still very emotional and very sad for me and I want to make up for all that. For this reason, I dub 2020 the year of FUN!

I’m going to make this year as fun and exciting as possible. I’m making it a point to fill this year with fun and happiness as much as I possibly can. To go to concerts, to try new things, to get out of town for the weekend, to attend networking events, and to have date nights (that aren’t just going out to the same taco shop we’ve gone to 101 times). To truly make an effort to focus on my own happiness and not let it take a back seat to my goals.

STEP 3: Write out your goals and action plans 

After coming up with a theme, write down your specific goals for the year AND your action plan. The biggest mistake that we make over and over is setting a goal for ourselves WITHOUT any planning or preparation whatsoever. But changing the automatic habits that you’ve had for YEARS is not going to work if you just say “I want to lose 50 pounds” without figuring out the HOW of it all.

Figuring out how is what makes the difference between a dreamer and a DO-ER.

For example, I can think of a few people who have told me over and over again, “I want to do a triathlon.” They don’t have the equipment, they don’t have a bike, they don’t have a training schedule, they don’t ever sign up for one. So guess what? It never happens. A dream is just that – a dream. A dream with a PLAN is a goal. (An achievable goal for that matter.)

So as you’re writing down you’re resolutions this year, write down the ACTION PLANS too. How are you going to do that thing you want to do? Do you want to get in shape? Write down at least 6 action plans right now. Make sure they are things that you can actually commit to. Do this with every single goal or resolution that you have, not just at the beginning of the year, but all year long. Make it a point to create your action plans and put them in writing. 

Example: My Action Plan – The Yes Man Month

So as you know, my resolution is to have fun WHILE focusing on finances and my new business. So how do I plan on doing this? 

To do this, I am having an entire “Yes Man Month” inspired by the movie “Yes Man” with Jim Carrey. In my Yes Man Month I will say yes to one thing each day that is going to put me WAY out of my comfort zone or something that I always SAY that I want to do, but DON’T.

I decided to make this my action plan this year because whenever I make myself go outside of my comfort zone, it brings me more satisfaction and happiness than anything in the world (well, aside from my blog and business).

Whenever I try something that I’ve never done before, I LOVE it. It stimulates my mind, it gives me something new to talk about, it teaches me something that I’ve never known before, and it helps me to meet people. It makes me happier than anything. Whenever I step outside of my comfort zone or finally do something that I fantasize about doing but never actually invest the time and energy into doing, I feel like a whole new person.

In this “Yes Man Month” I will be carefully crafting an entire month of activities for myself to do that are all designed to be something that I would NEVER do. Things that literally terrify me, make me uncomfortable, or just “aren’t my thing.” Of course, I’ll be documenting this experience and share it with you when it’s complete.

The next action plans that I have for making the resolution my reality include doing something fun with Matt every single week, taking more weekend trips, and attending one event, group or coffee date every week. I have a solid plan to incorporate my resolution into my life each week AND best of all, they are steps that are easy and I actually WANT to do. 

STEP 4: Make sure you actually want to do the things you say you do

Like I said previously when I was talking about why resolutions typically fail – one of the top reasons is because the resolutions we make are sometimes not what we want to or are willing to do. They are reflective of that fantasy self you have in your head that is perfect in every way, is motivated all the time, and does things your real self has no desire to do. So step number 4, before you commit to anything is to make sure that you really do want to do these things you say you do. Because if you feel any sort of dread towards one of your goals this year, you will not do them.

Now, I’m not talking about the fact that you may deeply desire to be healthy and in shape but you don’t feel like going to the gym one day. I’m talking about saying that your goal this year is to run a marathon when running makes every single ounce of your being want to drop dead. The real you hates running more than anything on the face of the earth but the fantasy self in your head – the imaginary person you wish you could be – runs marathons. Make absolutely sure that your fantasy self is NOT the one setting your goals and resolutions this year. Make sure that everything on that list is what you want to do, not something you think you should want to do.

Example: My 2020 Goals & Book List

Last year, I did not do a fabulous job at this. I hadn’t quite learned the difference between the real Heather and her personality and desires and the fantasy Heather. At the beginning of 2019, I was in a place where I was very focused on spirituality. I was in a tough place emotionally because I was constantly trying to decide if I was REALLY going to take a leap, quit my job, blog full-time, and start studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. So I really needed spirituality in my life to guide me and let me know that I was safe and it was all going to be ok.

Every single moment of content that I absorbed for several months was either about yoga, meditation, or new age spirituality. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still obsessed with all those things. However, at this stage of my life, I was soaking up this content at an abnormal rate and started to really admire the yogi and the spiritual leaders that I listened to. So day by day, a new fantasy Heather has started to emerge and at the end of 2018, that version of me wrote my New Year’s resolutions. I wanted to do yoga every day; I wanted to be able to do a split and all of these other crazy difficult poses; I wanted to oil pull each day; I wanted to volunteer my time so that I could become more selfless; I wanted to practice acro-yoga every weekend and get CRAZY Instagram influencer level good at it. But then, everything changed. I got out of that stage of my life, quit my job, and went off on my own. Before I knew it, I didn’t need the constant spiritual content to keep me calm, and slowly that fantasy Heather disappeared, and I was left with a list of resolutions that the real me had no DESIRE to actually do. 

This year, the REAL Heather wrote my resolutions and my 2020 book list. My goals are only the things that the real me is dying to accomplish and already thinks about constantly. Things like writing ebooks, a physical book, creating a podcast, and launching my coaching business. Every goal I set and every book I said I wanted to read, I’m crazy excited to do. There’s nothing on there that I’m dreading. Take a look for yourself at my 2020 goals and book list. 

STEP 5: Establish accountability partners, coaches, and groups that will help you

The main flaw that I see in our society when it comes to the way we view health, self-improvement, and personal goals is that we think these are things that should be done in private. We are alone in our efforts to better ourselves. No one asks us about our personal goals, no one asks us how we’re doing accomplishing them, no one asks us how our health concerns are going, and we don’t ask them either. We set goals for ourselves but they’re always kept private. Wouldn’t it be “awkward” or “impolite” to talk about them?

Which means that when we want to meditate every day, journal every week, start a podcast, lose weight, write a book, lower cholesterol, run a 10k, quit sugar, build a piece of furniture, go vegan, build a tiny house, or anything else – no one is there to encourage us and keep us going. The only person we have to share our ups and downs with and keep us motivated and accountable is OURSELVES. But when we do that, the chances of success are chopped in half.

We are social creatures and we all need help, guidance, motivation, and inspiration from each other. So the last step before you can take this new year and new decade by storm is to not only figure out your goals and actions plans but to find PEOPLE to support you and act as your accountability partners. I’m not talking about “followers” or “online communities.” I’m talking about real, living breathing, in your face, with-an-actual-body people. People that you can open up to, cry to, or vent to. People that you can talk to about an aspect of your life that you deeply want to improve but are struggling with. This could be a friend, or someone you met at a networking event, or a group that meets regularly, or a personal coach like myself. Whatever it looks like, find someone who is working on the same thing as you and make them your accountability buddy.

Bonus tip: This usually works better if you’re not SUPER close to the person like a parent or spouse. Having someone who you’re close with but isn’t an immediate friend or family is going to have a much better outcome. By choosing someone you’re super close to, you might be less inclined to follow through because you don’t feel as if you have to follow through because they will “understand” if you don’t. But, everyone is different, so you may be one of the lucky few who can be successful with a parent or spouse. It doesn’t matter what this relationship looks like as long as it works for you and helps to keep you accountable.

Look back at your goals and your action plans and think about who would make a good accountability buddy for them. And if you honestly can’t think of anyone because your network is very small, then hire a coach or start networking in your area. I PROMISE you there are people just like you who have similar goals and are dying for support too.

Example: My Own Transformation

I know how powerful accountability partners are because none of my personal goals started to come to life until I hired a business coach and joined a business and self-improvement focused book club (which is so much fun it literally feels like a slumber party whenever we meet up). In the TWO MONTHS I’ve had these women in my life I started writing a book, planned an event, finally declared to the world that I am a health coach, creating marketing materials, started an ebook, finished a new page on my website, established my pricing for my coaching service programs, started pitching myself to brands, started doing reach outs, and more. I am living proof that this works! It’s only been two months and I’m astounded by the progress I’ve made just from having people to talk to, or ask for advice, or brainstorm with, or even just cheer me on. Now imagine what an entire 365 days of putting this into practice will turn into! Those projects I’ve started and the goals that I set for myself will be completed. And yours will too.

Remember, every single one of us needs help! Every single one of us needs support! Do not ever, under any circumstances, feel guilty or weak or ashamed that you need help in any aspect of your life. If you take this advice to heart and find your accountability partner (even if it’s someone you hire) you will be FAR more productive and successful in this New Year.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you so much for coming to Lost Online! I really hope that this blog post has convinced you that New Year’s resolutions CAN work. To have a successful New Year, all you have to understand are what top 5 mistakes to avoid when setting your goals and follow my 5 steps to creating reasonable and accomplishable resolutions. Becoming the most productive, successful, happy version of yourself is just around the corner if you go about your goal setting with thoughtfulness and intention.

Before you head out, let me know what you think in the comments! Are you someone who has historically take the perspective of “New Year’s resolutions NEVER work?” If so, was I able to make you more hopeful about them? OR are you someone who’s a self-improvement junkie who lives for goals and resolutions? Whichever group you’re in, what is your word or theme for the year? What are your resolutions or goals for 2020? What are your action steps? Are you 100% you’re willing and excited to do these things this year? And who are you’re accountability partners? I would LOVE to hear from you!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online! 

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Reflecting on 2019: 13 Journal Prompts and My Answers

Self-Help

If you’ve been a reader of mine since last year, then you’ll probably remember that I published a blog called “Reflecting on 2018: 13 Journal Prompts and My Answers.” It was a pivotal moment for me because that was the very first blog post that I ever created with my friend, photographer, and editor Ray Reyes. 

At the time, I was dealing with some major confusion in my life. I knew that more than anything in the world that I wanted to be a blogger, YouTuber, podcaster, writer, and business owner. BUT, I was in the 9-5 grind. I was unhappy and constantly wondering if I should really take the leap and spend the first year of my life out of college creating a foundation for my wildest dreams.

It was a very scary, stressful, and confusing time. But finally having Ray there to talk and to work with is what gave me the courage that I needed to start becoming the person I wanted to be. That was the very first blog post that we shot together. A year later, we’ve now created and published over 40 blog posts together!

I can’t help but reflect on this time last year. Not only was it the start of a wonderful friendship, but the start of a new year, and the start of my adult life after graduation and moving out of my parents’ house. So much has happened between now and then. So I wanted to do another New Years’ reflection post! I originally started writing these journal prompts just for myself, but I thought it would be a nice Lost Online tradition to publish a blog about my 2019 reflections since then.

So here it is! One year later. This is me Reflecting on 2019: 13 Journal Prompts and My Answers!

Make sure to get out a journal and reflect on your answers for this past year too! It’s such a fun tradition that helps you remember all of the growth that happened, set you up for a positive and productive new year, and think about which areas of your life you want to work on.

2019 was the year of…

Transformation. At the start of the year, I said that 2019 will be the year of creativity. I was in a place where all I wanted to do was make blog posts, take photos, and make online content. I also was really immersing myself in spirituality. In my free time, I was immersed in ayurveda, yoga, meditation, etc. But after the first month or two of 2019, my attention shifted. Sure the blogging and content creation was fun, but I wanted to do more. I wanted to create ebooks, and coach people one-on-one, and hold events. Slowly my attention shifted towards that. I decided that I didn’t just want to be a blogger, but a full-blown business owner. I wanted to lay the foundation for myself for a successful career in the health and wellness industry.

But the reason why I say that it ended up being the year of transformation was because so many things fell apart in 2019 and eventually new opportunities started to come together. Everything from my health, my job, my family life, my relationships, and my confidence was turned upside down. Everything seemed to go wrong and I became very, very depressed. I even decided to start seeing a therapist.

BUT, just after things started to fall apart, better things started to come into fruition. I became very business-focused and stopped pigeon-holing myself as just a blogger; I made connections with friends that light me up more than anything in the world; I started to get more motivated and see my mental state change. Everything was turned upside down, but if it wasn’t for all of that happening, I wouldn’t be HERE right now. I wouldn’t be launching my own business in the new year and FINALLY monetizing my passions.

What went well for me?

  • I got to work with an amazing photographer every week to take the most beautiful and creative photos for Lost Online Blog.
  • I had enough financial freedom to leave my job and pursue my dream.
  • I published over 40 blog posts, some of which deeply resonated with people and helped them.
  • I hit my first 100 blog subscribers.
  • I created a YouTube Channel.
  • I had wonderful one-on-one time with my grandma when I went to visit her. 
  • I started seeing a therapist for the first time in my life who has provided a safe space for me to open up about relationships and past traumas.
  • I found an herbalist and DoTerra Wellness Advocate who has supported me through several health concerns.
  • I finally got the rhinoplasty surgery I’ve been wanting for years and I finally feel comfortable when I look in a mirror.
  • I went on several trips including Zion National Park, Savannah, San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Niagara Falls.
  • I found a business coach which DRASTICALLY helped my mentality and productivity.
  • I finally started creating newsletters.
  • I ended up connecting with women who I love being around and now I’m finally starting to feel like I have support and community.
  • We bought the perfect little house for us.
  • We got a puppy!
  • I got over my fear-based mentality and self-sabotage and am finally launching my business.
  • I learned how to better manage my time.
  • I published several interviews that I’m proud of.
  • I started to build my email list.
  • I joined a book club which I’ve been wanting to do for years.  
  • I started to feel as if I have a community and a tribe of people who are actually interested in the same things as me like wellness, self-help, and self-development.

What did not go well for me?

  • My health and digestive problems got worse.
  • My dad and I lost our jobs on the same day.
  • My family was struggling for months dealing with the job loss and financial worries. 
  • I became super depressed, more than I have been in years.
  • I was in a new city with no friends and felt very alone until November.
  • I was isolating myself and staying home all day which made it harder.
  • I had tension in my relationship caused by a third party person.
  • I struggled with limiting beliefs, self-doubt, and self-sabotage up until very recently.
  • I had another massive hair loss which prompted me to need hair restoration. 
  • I didn’t make as much progress in my business and blog as I hoped because of the depression and isolation.
  • I had a falling out with a good friend.
  • I didn’t know how to manage my time for the better part of the year.
  • I never established a solid morning routine. 
  • I was being forced into buying a house when I wasn’t ready by a third party person.
  • I wasn’t respected in many close relationships which I needed a lot of therapy to get through.
  • I had to work at my kitchen counter and our couch up until October which did not help with productivity. 

How can I change those things that didn’t go well for me?

After looking back at this past year, I learned that a lot of the issues that I was dealing with were mostly emotional and mental because they revolved around being lonely, isolated, and not having friends. This affected my self-confidence like crazy and I became super depressed because I simply had no one to talk to or connect with about the things that I care about.

This caused so much stress and depression symptoms that made me feel like a loser and a failure up until very recently when I was lucky enough to connect with my business coach and a group of young female entrepreneurs that I became very close with. Since meeting them my world has completely changed because I’m no longer isolated and alone. 

I realized that the way I could change these emotional and mental issues I’ve been struggling with is to connect as much as possible by going to events, setting up coffee dates, reaching out to people over Instagram to have a REAL conversation, and joining groups in the community. In the next year, I plan on keeping up that change because it’s such a simple fix that makes me feel like an entirely different person.

What accomplishments did I have?

The biggest accomplishment that I had this past year was that I broke through many of the mental barriers that I had at the start of the year. That happened because I put myself out there and worked on what I care about, but also because I had a sense of community, and help from a business coach and a therapist.

Now, I feel like a changed person. I don’t feel like the “stupid teenager” anymore that I was always told I was when I was growing up. I actually feel confident about myself and my own path in life.

I feel like in the last year all of the ups and downs and all of the work on myself made me grow into the person that I needed to become to make all of my goals and dreams happen.

How did I improve my relationships?

This year I improved my relationships by 1) not forcing the ones that weren’t working out and 2) by connecting with people that were on the same level as me – as in other wellness-centered entrepreneurs. Surrounding myself with the people who were in a similar place as me made me feel understood and supported. And I finally had people to talk to about my interests, not just about drinking like most of the people my age. Also, it helped that I finally stopped forcing the relationships that weren’t working out because we have far different personalities or don’t have anything in common.

Also, now that I’m thinking about it, I realize that getting my own coaches and mentors in different aspects of my life helped me. I finally got professionals and mentors to help with the things that I was struggling with so that I wasn’t trying to force someone close to me to act as my mentor. Previously I would try to have my friends act as my business coach or health coach. I would constantly seek help from people who couldn’t help me with what I was struggling with which strained my relationships. 

What do I wish I had taken more time for?

This year I wish I would have taken more time to do my self-help practices like journaling, doing a daily gratitude practice, meditating, and visualizing. Those things are what refuels me and make me feel better. Unfortunately, living with a significant other, coming into adulthood, and focusing on business pulled my attention away from those things. 

What lessons did I learn in the last year?

The first lesson that comes to mind is the importance of community. Once I finally had a community of my own I realized how beneficial it is for our mental health and wellbeing. I can’t allow myself to be isolated and without that ever again. 

The second lesson that comes to mind is how to manage time. Although I should say how to manage it BETTER because I’m still working on it. With my business coach, I learned how to break down all of the tasks that I want to complete in small weekly steps, so that everything that I want to get done, WILL actually get done. This way I can see progress in my business every single week, instead of my ideas staying stuck in my head and not coming to light. Without learning time management, I would have NEVER seen any progress this year. The blogs, the newsletters, the progress in my ebooks, the IIN homework, and the website changes all got done because I finally learned how to time manage and break things into small steps, not just for my own clients, but for MYSELF!

The third lesson that comes to mind is that I need to stand up for myself and not let people bulldoze me. I’m an adult now and can’t allow random people to control my life. I can’t have people forcing me to buy a house, forcing me to open credit cards, forcing me to be their client, or forcing me to get a dog breed they approve of. In a way, I learned that I’m going to have to be kind of bitchy and assertive with people because some parts of this year have been hell all because I was trying to be polite, nice, and avoid confrontation.

2020 will be the year of …

I’ve decided that 2020 will be the year of fun, financial abundance, and professional growth.

I know that those are three separate things instead of just one word, but I have a reason for it. This past year I was in panic mode about how do I make money, how do I build my brand, and how do I get clients. Although I did have some accomplishments, I stressed myself out WAY too much and it wasn’t a fun experience. I stayed in a lot and isolated myself while I allowed myself to think of the worst possible scenarios. It wasn’t a very FUN year.

So, yes I plan on launching my business, taking on tons of new clients, and finally earning an income doing what I love. However, I plan on having fun at the same time. I plan on making it a point to enjoy myself even while accomplish my life long goals. Because what’s the point of reaching those goals if I have to make myself miserable to do it?

20 Things I want to do in 2020:

  1. Officially launch my business
  2. Take on health coaching clients
  3. Finish at least one ebook 
  4. Finish paperback book
  5. Host events
  6. Create a podcast 
  7. Get better with finances
  8. Journal weekly 
  9. Go to yoga regularly 
  10. Have a Yes Man month
  11. Put out a YouTube favorites video every month
  12. Use Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule
  13. Make IIN binders from all my course material 
  14. Finish 2020 booklist
  15. Get back into shape with the Apple Watch
  16. Wake up earlier
  17. Attend one event/group meetup/or coffee date each week
  18. Create a morning ritual 
  19. Put laundry away each weekend
  20. Heal my gut health

What do I want to manifest in 2020?

  • A total of 30 health coaching clients
  • An email list of over 1,000 people 
  • A finished and printed book
  • A 100th blog post party
  • Financial abundance
  • A healed gut and a full head of hair (my body is STILL recovery seven years later from going on birth control)
  • A trip to Salem, Massachusetts in the fall and a trip to the New Mexcio Hot Air Balloon Festival

This year will be the best year ever because…

I will finally be living the life that I’ve been dreaming I would live for years. I will finally be able to cross those major bucket list items off of like become a business owner, host a podcast, and write a book. AND I will be helping people while I do it! I will be able to support myself while doing what makes me happy!

I will show myself compassion in 2020 by …

Identifying when I’m in a negative thought pattern and being hard on myself and hypercritical of myself. Just identifying when I’m in that state and recognizing that it’s not me and these things aren’t true will greatly help my emotional well being. 

I will also show myself compassion in my weekly journaling session where I will share my wins from the week. This will help me get out of that negative, critical mindset and focus on the progress I’m making instead. 

BONUS: My 2020 Book List

  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, by Stephen R. Covey
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
  • Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
  • Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny, by Anthony Robbins
  • The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage, by Mel Robbins
  • 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing my Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris
  • The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron
  • Girl Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Are Meant To Be by Rachel Hollis
  • You Are the Placebo by Dr. Joe Dispenza
  • You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  • The Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferries
  • Unfuck Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life
  • The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
  • 13 Things Mentally Strong People Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success by Amy Morrin
  • Happiless Chokelist by Laura Juntunen
  • Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
  • The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Mason
  • Super Attractor by Gabrielle Bernstein

Thanks for Coming to Lost Online!

Thanks for coming to Lost Online for my new little tradition of reflecting on the past year and setting my intentions for the new year. I hope you enjoyed this post. But above all, I hope that this inspired you to sit down and answer these journal prompts yourself.

I think that it’s extremely important to reflect on the past year and set your intentions for the future. These moments of transition into a new calendar year is the perfect time to start fresh and transform your life for the better.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Did this post inspire you to reflect on 2019? Did you do this same exercise yourself? Or did you come up with your own New Years Reflections? What are they? AND what are your New Year’s Resolutions?!?! I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW! (You guys know how obsessed with self-improvement I am!)

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online! 

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It + INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY

Self-Help

Did you know that 99% of life’s greatest problems could be solved with stream of consciousness journaling?

Ok, I made that up. But in case you didn’t know this about me, I’m a huge fan of stream of consciousness journaling. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. Journaling has gotten me through my worst days, helped me to realize my passion in life, gave me the courage to be myself, and strengthened my spirituality.

That’s why I’m a huge advocate for using stream of consciousness journaling for self-help and self-discovery. It’s why I mention it in many of my blog posts, talk about it on social media, and recommend it to those who reach out to me for advice.

However, as someone who wants to spend all day everyday writing, I was surprised by how few people actually practice stream of consciousness journaling or know what it is! WHAT? Does not everyone spend hours a day writing? What do they do with their time? So today I wanted to explain what you need to know about stream of consciousness journaling and why this simple activity is so beneficial. I’ll also talk about how to incorporate stream of consciousness journaling into your life for those who are curious about it and are interested in starting.

I really wish that more people would regularly do stream of consciousness journaling. It’s a freeing, introspective, and therapeutic method that helps you work through life’s challenges and improve every aspect of your life for a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness. It may not solve 99% of life’s problems but I honestly believe that if more people implemented this simple act into their daily routine, the world would be a much better place.

Make sure to stay until the very end of the post to learn how you could win my Gratitude Journal Giveaway!

What is stream of consciousness journaling?

What stream of consciousness isn’t is a narrative, a story, or a diary. It’s not meant for you to provide a timeline or create an autobiography. It’s not a description of your day.

Stream of consciousness journaling is when you write whatever is in your head, completely unfiltered. You write every thought just as is, exactly how it’s flowing through your mind. Curse words, improper grammar, subject changes and all. You write about anything and everything that’s going through your mind. You don’t plan it, you don’t wonder what you should write next. You pick a topic, like something that’s bothering you, and you write down everything.

It’s meant to be very messy. You don’t worry at all about spelling, grammar, or run-on sentences, because it’s probably the only type of writing that’s not meant to be read. It’s an exercise, it’s a therapeutic method. And if you’re doing it correctly, trust me, you will NEVER want to read it. You’re brain-dumping all of the emotions, all the stressors, the challenges, the problems, the insecurities, and the things you don’t want people to know about you and putting them on paper to clear your mind.

It’s not like any other writing because there’s no structure and there are no rules – no editing, no five-paragraph format, not even an intro or a conclusion. It’s your brain! It doesn’t follow rules! And that’s why the most important thing to remember is to not be critical of it or worry about how it reads because it will never be read! That’s why it’s so freeing.

PRO TIP: Relax about it.

It’s not weird! Stop thinking it’s weird!

I noticed that the one thing that turns people away from journaling is that they associate writing down their thoughts in a journal with a 14-year-old girl writing in her pink “diary” about the boy she has a crush on and the girl she doesn’t like a school. It seems adolescent or immature. It seems like something that isn’t socially acceptable. But it’s not a diary. Trust me, I had diaries as a kid. (Not that there’s anything wrong with having a diary.)

Stream of consciousness journaling is a therapeutic technique that is beneficial for anyone and everyone no matter what their age or gender. However, you won’t reap those benefits unless you calm down and stop judging yourself for doing it. The first few times you do it may be weird, because you’ve never seen your own thoughts on paper before, but it does get easier and it starts to feel more natural and more freeing the more you practice it.

The very real benefits of stream of consciousness journaling

Why is it beneficial? The reason why I preach about stream of consciousness journaling all the time is that I’ve seen so many benefits from it, particularly when I started to do it regularly. By making it a part of my nightly routine I saw that it started to change my mood and my mindset so I felt happier all day, even when I wasn’t journaling. It allowed me to put the challenges and the negativity down on paper instead of carrying it with me. That’s why after making it a part of my daily life, I believe in it wholeheartedly and think that the world would be a much happier and better place if everyone adopted this simple activity.

Here are the top 11 reasons why stream of consciousness journaling is beneficial in hopes that it will inspire you to start today…

1. It allows you to purge

The number one benefit that everyone can agree on about stream of consciousness journaling is that it gets everything down on paper or your computer so those thoughts don’t keep circling in your head. It allows you to take a load off and to get rid of the baggage that distracts you from feeling content and at peace. I didn’t even know how cluttered and chaotic my mind was until I started journaling and noticed how much calmer and clearer my mind was afterward. I didn’t realize how much the thoughts and stressors had been building up and weighing on me until they were finally gone. I had gotten so used to the stress little by little that I couldn’t remember life without it.

2. It stops thoughts from amplifying

You know how when something is bothering you or stressing you out, your mind does this exciting thing where it continues to amplify the problem? You’ll be bothered by something that’s happened to you and suddenly your mind can make it a hundred times worse by building up the problem, thinking of all of the other bad things that could happen, thinking about how other people will think and feel, etc. Your mind goes from worrying about that passive-aggressive thing your boss said to suddenly convincing you that you could be fired, wondering what would happen if you got fired, stressing about bills, thinking about how you would feel, thinking about how a job loss could ruin your reputation, thinking about what your partner will think of you, or thinking about how you should act around your boss. The problem snowballs from one stressor into a full-blown life crisis in a matter of 15 minutes.

What stream of consciousness journaling does is it stops those thoughts from circling and amplifying in your mind. It prevents them from blowing up into something that ruins your day and your happiness with pointless worrying. It also makes you realize how extraordinarily unrealistic those thoughts can be once you actually write it down. That way it makes the problem more manageable and grounds you again instead of keeping you sucked into that miserable anxiety loop.

3. It helps you solve a problem

Stream of consciousness journaling is also incredibly beneficial for problem-solving and helping you make better decisions. And don’t we all need help with that! One way that it does this is by removing that clutter in your mind and preventing the negativity from amplifying, so you’re actually able to figure out a problem or what your next step should be because it removes those distractions. You have space to figure out what to do and come up with solutions.

Often times we’re also unable to figure out the root of a problem. There’s so much going on in our minds that you don’t really know what’s going on. There have been countless times where I’ve had life-changing epiphanies because writing about a problem allows me to peel back the layers and find out what’s really going on deep down in my subconscious mind. This journaling allows you to discover how certain circumstances have been triggered that reminds you of an event or person from your past. What journaling has taught me that your mind is kind of like an onion, and onions have layers. You have to peel back plenty of layers on the top to get to the center of the problem and figure out what’s really bothering you. (If you didn’t get that Shrek reference, I don’t know if we can be friends).

Lastly, stream of consciousness journaling helps you solve problems by discovering what’s actually best for YOU. One of the major lessons I learned in my senior year of college and after graduating college is that everyone and their mother thinks that they are an expert on what is best for me. Everyone seems to think they know the perfect place for me to live, the perfect way to go about finding a job, the perfect career path, the best way to invest money, the best freaking house that I should buy, the best time to get a pet, etc. Everyone has a major opinion about how you, and I, and everyone else should be living our best life.

But here’s the thing, only YOU know what is best for YOU. Other people may have ideas and opinions based on their own experience, but just because something works for another person and makes sense for their life, doesn’t mean that it makes sense to you. Stream of consciousness journaling helps you separate the outside opinions and uncover what makes the most sense for you.

4. It reduces stress

Immediately after stream of consciousness journaling, I always notice an incredible sense of relief. Do you know how you get a runner’s high after a nice long run where you feel refreshed, happy, and uplifted? That’s sort of how I feel after a long journaling session where I release any of the drama, stresses, or insecurities that I’ve been dealing with. By the end of an hour of a long writing session, I feel an enormous sense of relief. It clears why mind and relaxes me so I can feel happy and free of stress.

However, it’s not just immediately after journaling where you’re able to feel this sense of release. By incorporating it into your daily routine and releasing that stress each and every time, you’ll notice that over time you’ll be less anxious in general. You’re incorporating a therapeutic exercise into your life and you’re dealing with your problems in a healthy way so you can be happier, more relaxed, and more fulfilled all the time. I started to notice this feeling after about a month of journaling for half an hour to an hour each night and then following it with mediation. Side Note: Journaling also made meditation much easier so I started to feel the benefits from that practice as well.

5. It helps with self-discovery

One of the most interesting benefits to me about stream of consciousness journaling is how much it helps with self-discovery. I’ve always been an incredibly introspective person, but even I am blown away by how much you can learn more about yourself simply by writing down your thoughts. Engaging in regular self-reflection brings up things that you didn’t even realize about yourself. These could even be things that you thought about your whole life but haven’t been able to figure out.

I’ve spent many nights learning new things about myself that I’ve never noticed before or have been stumped on for years. The most significant one that comes to mind is how I learned of my passion and life’s purpose through journaling. I answered a prompt late one night and used stream of consciousness journaling, as I always do, and suddenly it hit me that my passion was self-help and wellness. At the exact moment, I was laying in bed surrounded by a pile of self-help books that were all highlighted and stuffed with notes. I listened to self-help podcasts, read self-help books for years, and envied the self-help writers that I knew of. But somehow it never occured to me that that’s what I wanted to do. My passion and purpose had been hiding right underneath my nose my whole life.

There are many nights when journaling did not lead to an epiphany, but there were also many nights when it did. Through exploring a new topic or answering a prompt that might not even stick out to you, it can pull information out that you may have ignored or kept buried for weeks, months, even years.

6. It improves mood

You’ll notice that when you get into the habit of journaling every day, you will slowly start to see a shift in your overall mood. You’re engaging in deep introspection that helps you learn about your self-sabotaging patterns, toxic relationships, dreams, hobbies, and past – which is not only rewarding, but also uplifting. After journaling for weeks or even months you’ll start to notice that you’re feeling content and more positive, and if you’re anything like me, you may notice that you no longer feel like you’re in a fog.

You begin to feel free from the things that weighed on your mind before and your mindset slowly starts to change for the better. I know I’m making big statements here, but after spending an hour of journaling each day for months, I saw this change myself. When you dedicate that much time to your mental health and wellness, you do begin to feel much happier and positive. All it takes is committing to it.

7. It helps you to become mindful

After journaling for such a long period of time, the self-reflection helps you to be more mindful. It helps you go about your day with intention and focus rather than letting the day pass you by in a blur of scrolling or stress. It makes each activity you do more thoughtful. It also alerts you to the behaviors or habits that you have that don’t support your health and happiness so you can make better choices throughout the day. Choices like not engaging with a negative person, using your free time wisely, taking care of your body, and saying goodbye to self-sabotaging habits.

8. It strengthens personal discipline

If you choose to start journaling as part of your morning or nighttime routine, you’re strengthening your personal discipline. You’re choosing to set aside time every day whether you’re in the mood to or not to engage in a healthy behavior. That alone strengthens your personal discipline, but you’ll notice that it soon starts to bleed into other areas of your life. By making yourself engage in one healthy behavior, before you know it you’re choosing to eat better, or exercise more, or go outside, or use social media with intention. Making one decision that contributes to your health, happiness, and growth inspires you to make those decisions elsewhere. Again, this is one of those changes that I didn’t notice until weeks of practicing stream of consciousness journaling regularly. A benefit like this doesn’t happen until you’ve committed to making it a ritual instead of an occasional activity.

9. It unlocks your creativity

I believe that purging all those stressors or insecurities through writing and freeing up your mind from the drama gives it more room to be creative. When I started incorporating stream of consciousness journaling into my life, I noticed that I suddenly had more ideas than I knew what to do with. That I was inspired more often and that I wanted to write even more. It’s actually when I put in a month of stream of consciousness journaling that I started to get serious about my blog and wanted to pursue writing as a career. I even started to branch out and write about topics that I don’t typically write about. It unlocked creativity and inspiration within me that I didn’t even realize existed.

10. It allows you to explore and strengthen your spirituality

I won’t dive too deeply into this because this isn’t a spirituality post, but I do want to touch on this subject. I’m Buddhist and believe that we’re all on our own journey and are experiencing this life to learn, grow, and become enlightened in some way. And I believe that self-discovery and self-help work allows you to do that. When I continued to do stream of consciousness journaling I started to evolve and to connect with a higher power like I never had before.

You may not have the same spirituality as me, but every spirituality or religion that exists encourages introspection and self-growth. No matter what you believe, journaling can help you to become a better version of yourself, strengthen your faith, and connect with a higher power.

I believe this happens through deep introspection, but also because once you’re free of stress, anxiety, and the problems amplifying in your mind, and you start to become mindful and it becomes easier tap into spirituality – just as journaling helped me unlock my creativity. Through stream of consciousness journaling, your mind is able to focus on more introspective and soulful pursuits rather than being distracted.

Through journaling I came to profound realizations that I used to read about in books, but had never fully understood because my mind was too busy. For example, I was able to comprehend how everything and everyone is connected, that we must let go of our stories to become our highest selves, that coincidences and universal signs happen all around me, and that each experience (even painful ones) are helping me to evolve and become the person that I was brought to this planet to be. It also helped me become aware of divine intervention and trust that the universe has my back, because through writing I could reflect on how circumstance, people, and events are slowly shaping me to become the person that I’ve always wanted to be.

11. It improves your writing

Don’t let the stream of consciousness technique fool you. Just because stream of consciousness journaling isn’t necessarily formal writing, with proper spelling, structure, and grammar, that doesn’t mean that it won’t help you to become a better writer. After I put in hours of journaling, I started to realize that I began to find my voice. My writing became even more conversational, vulnerable, snarky, and honest. I found my own style that didn’t conform to what I had learned in school my whole life. But just as Pablo Picasso once said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

The other way that it helps with writing is by forcing yourself to write every day, no matter what it is, writing anything becomes easier. When you write any paper, blog post, report, depiction, etc. it’s so much easier to do because you’ve been using those muscles regularly. You become a better writer even accidentally because you’ve been practicing each day, even if it didn’t feel like you were.

Ok, I get it, but what do I write about?

The biggest issue that people tend to have about this type of writing is that they don’t know what to write about. Many people struggle about what to write because the vast majority of people don’t write unless they have to for work or for school when there’s someone telling them what, when, and how to write. But the beauty of stream of consciousness writing is you can write about anything. You can write about your family, relationships, stressors, your day, traumas, your bucket list, your perfect day, your dreams, your goals, etc. You can write about anything that you feel pulled to write about that day.

I personally like to write about whatever is stressing me out or weighing on my mind. Whatever is bothering me that day is what I’m writing about, and by doing that I feel like I’m liberated from all those negative thoughts once I write them down. I’m not a huge fan of journal prompts because they don’t offer me that same benefit which is purging the clutter and chaos in my mind, but occasionally I use them to help me with self-discovery on the days when I feel like being more introspective.

But prompts can still be incredibly beneficial, especially if you’re new to journaling. One of my followers and readers I talked to about stream of consciousness journaling was overwhelmed when I told him that you can write about anything and said that he needed more direction to get into journaling. So if you are having a difficult time figuring out what to write, consider picking a prompt first to get you warmed up. You can still do stream of consciousness journaling and “brain dump” even if you’re using a prompt for inspiration. Writing about anything could seem intimidating and this type of writing can be particularly difficult to get used to if you’ve never journaled before. Luckily there is no shortage of journal prompts available to you.

If you’d like to check out journal prompts, head over to my “Self-Discovery” Pinterest Board. I regularly pin prompts to help you with introspection, self-love, discipline, and motivation, so you can always use that as a resource. For now, here are some of my favorite prompts to help get your writing flowing today…

30 Journal Prompts to get you started

  1. How are you… really?
  2. Something I thought a lot about as a child was…
  3. One thing that I really need to work on is…
  4. Describe one thing that you are the proudest of yourself for.
  5. Describe one person that you admire the most today and why.
  6. The quality I admire most in others is…
  7. When I was little I wanted to be…
  8. What would you do if you won the lottery?
  9. What would you do if you knew for certain that you wouldn’t fail?
  10. If I could be a go-to person for anything it would be…
  11. One thing that I am the most passionate about is…
  12. Who are you the most envious of and why?
  13. When people first meet me, I hope they feel…
  14. What do you need more of in your life?
  15. What skills do you wish you had the most?
  16. What do you love about yourself?
  17. What are your priorities at the moment?
  18. The last time that I truly felt alive was…
  19. What hobbies would you love to try?
  20. What can you do to take better care of yourself?
  21. At the end of my life, the legacy that I want to leave is…
  22. Where do you see yourself in six months? A year? 5 years? 10 years?
  23. How can you feel more fulfilled in your life?
  24. Set 3 short term goals and 3 long term goals for yourself and write why you chose them.
  25. What are your 5 favorite ways to relax and fill you up?
  26. What limiting beliefs are holding you back from fulfilling your dream life?
  27. What actions can you take to simplify your life?
  28. What does happiness mean to you?
  29. What is your dream job?
  30. If you could be anywhere in the world, where would you be and why?

Bonus: End with Gratitude

Now, if you really want to see the maximum benefits from journaling as I talked about above, I recommend ending each and every stream of consciousness journaling practice with gratitude. There are countless testimonials, studies and experiments that prove that incorporating gratitude into your daily life can improve your mental and emotional state and help you become more successful. That’s why thousands of successful people, celebrities, influencers, and change makers swear by a daily gratitude practice and owe their accomplishments to their simple gratitude ritual.

Even Oprah has a daily gratitude practice and swears that her daily gratitude journal has brought her the most joy, allowed her to keep up the stamina to build her empire, and attract a fan base that completely aligns with her message. Her gratitude practice is simply writing down 5 things that she feels grateful for each and every day – even if it’s something incredibly simple. Today, there are thousands of articles and videos that you can find online where successful people share their gratitude practice and open up about how it impacted their life and allowed them to be happier. Each practice may be slightly different, but it proves that incorporating gratitude practice or a gratitude journal into your routine improves your life in more ways than one.

My gratitude practice

Personally I’ve found that jotting down 3, 5, or 10 things that I’m grateful for is not enough for me. Writing down a bullet point isn’t enough to bring me that overwhelming sense of gratitude that has the potential to change my mindset and my life. Many people swear that their bullet journal changed their life, but I’ve had no success with it. Instead, I incorporate gratitude in my own way. At the end of each journaling session, I pick one thing that I’m grateful for that day and write about it in detail. It could be an insightful conversation with a stranger, or my partner, or an accomplishment – but whatever it is I write at least a paragraph about it. I write about what it is I’m grateful for and why I feel so happy to have this thing in my life. By writing in detail about one thing in particular it helps me feel a heightened sense of gratitude and completely shifts my mindset towards a positive one. It’s impossible to feel crappy after I finish my own gratitude practice.

It’s GIVEAWAY Time!

Since I’m such a huge believer in practicing journaling and gratitude each and every day and I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for months, I decided it would be the perfect opportunity for another Instagram Giveaway! I will be giving away a beautiful and super colorful daily gratitude journal to one lucky winner on my Instagram @heather.ione. It’s a gorgeous and lightweight journal that you can take with you anywhere to make it nice and easier to get yourself into your own daily gratitude practice! Make sure to head over there today to see how you could this beautiful little book, that I completely fell in love with because it 100% reminds me of my favorite book, Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I really hope that you enjoyed learning about stream of consciousness writing, the benefits, and how to incorporate it in your daily life. And I hope that you can take something away from it that will be beneficial to you. I’ve seen this simple ritual impact my life like nothing else before. I swear by stream of consciousness journaling and I believe in its ability to improve our mental stage and make us happier. It’s a topic that I’ve been wanting to write about for many months on the blog in hopes that it could help others and inspire them to start journaling too.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Was this post helpful to you? Did you learn anything? Do you do stream of consciousness journaling? Did you see any benefits of your own? If so, what were they? And do you have your own gratitude practice?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photo Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

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