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Journaling is sacred to me. I find that writing both liberates me and holds me firmly accountable to myself. Much like when I teach or practice yoga, I am wholly present as I essentially empty my brain onto paper. I enter into a flow state with no real destination in mind.
When I am done, the words on the page carry truths that I simply cannot avoid. Sometimes I find myself forced to sit with the discomfort of my thoughts. Other times, I revel in all that I have been able to create in my life, offering thanks for the beauty of it all.
Whatever comes up, what I most appreciate and revere about journaling is its capacity to help me witness myself in each stage of life. Whether I am journaling every day or once a week—I do it only when called to—I am constantly evolving. And my writing captures my growth.
December, in particular, is my month for pause and introspection. I relish time spent reflecting on the previous year and beginning to sow seeds for what I hope will bloom in the new year. This December, I found myself unusually flooded with work events and deadlines and felt a sense of urgency to complete professional goals at the expense of personal pause. Nonetheless, I have learned from the past that alone time to write is essential for me, especially prior to the holidays. So I finally calendared some time, lit a candle, made some tea, and slipped into my journal and the not-so-distant past.
The following are questions I use to guide my reflections toward the end of a year. While these questions are intended to be followed sequentially, the choice is yours as to how you wish to approach them. I simply invite you to take some time to dive inward.
10 end-of-year journal prompts
- Describe in detail where you are physically, right now, in time and space. How does it feel to be here?
- How are you feeling in the present moment? Boldly name any emotions that are arising, no matter what they are, and consider why they might be coming up for you.
- Think back. Can you identify the peaks and valleys of each month for you personally this year? When you look back at the year as a whole, what feelings arise for you?
- Of the feelings that arise, which do you want to leave behind in 2021?
- Of the feelings that arise, which do you want to invite to follow you into 2022?
- List five moments in the past year when you experienced a feeling that you want to cultivate more of in 2022.
- What allowed those moments to feel as they did? Was it the persons surrounding you, the achievement or attainment of a goal of some sort, or something more intangible?
- What feelings can you embody or create space for that will allow for more of such moments in 2022?
- What do you want to call into your life in 2022, personally, professionally, and otherwise? Think of this as a space to list generalities or specifics.
- Ponder where you are in the trajectory of calling that feeling or specific into your life. Consider what, if anything, may need to shift within you to allow this desire to arrive. If you like, identify one tangible step you can take in the new year to bring your desire closer to you, and commit to it.
I enjoy sealing my reflections by listing 10 offers of gratitude. When I am able, I share my thanks with those I am grateful for. Once you have completed this journaling session, set up a reminder for yourself to review your reflection in one year, if not sooner. Repeat this writing ritual at least once a year.
About our contributor
Milan Sundaresan is a 200 RYT yoga instructor currently teaching at Yoga Beach in San Francisco, Charlie’s Acres Farm Animal Sanctuary in Sonoma, as well as at international yoga retreats. While not on a yoga mat or outdoors, Milan practices as an immigration and human rights attorney, advocating for migrants seeking immigration status in the United States. Follow her on Instagram @milanyoga.