10 new year journal prompts.


2021 is almost upon us. Egads! The goal-setting fever I usually have has decided to be extra quiet this year, and I think it’s because I feel lost in a sea of pandemic-y election-y first-year-of-college-y mess. I decided to come up with some deep journal prompts to open up a dialogue for how I want the new year to go. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself if you don’t feel like going crazy in 2021, but feel free to use these prompts if you are so inclined. Happy journaling.

  1. What do you need more of? What about the things you don’t need? Most of the time, we use the new year to think about what we want to add to our lives. It’s a great idea, and it’s definitely important. But what about things we need to get rid of? Maybe you’ve let someone treat you like a doormat this year, or you’ve blamed yourself for something you shouldn’t have. Do some deep thinking about what you want to get rid of and what you want to add.
  2. How are you going to take control in the new year? Lately, life has felt entirely out of our control. However, there are still so many things we can control. We can control when we wake up, our routines, the foods we eat, the way we treat people, the enthusiasm we put into our projects, the media we consume… Make a list of things you can control, and claim the things you feel most confident in. Stick to those when the going gets tough.
  3. What have you accomplished this year? No, really! You have done so much this year, and you probably haven’t even glanced at it. What goals did you set last year? Did you accomplish those things? I bet you at least made progress. I bet you absolutely crushed some projects. Before you even think about setting new goals, think about what you’ve already done, and celebrate that! Find a way to reward yourself for all your successes.
  4. What did you learn about the world and yourself? What do you still need to learn? We’ve spent more time with ourselves than usual, and we’ve definitely paid more attention to the world around us (if you’ve been on social media at all). You’ve probably gained a lot of new insights about yourself and the world. What did you learn? And do you still have questions about yourself? About society? Make a commitment to find out the answers.
  5. What are your top priorities for the next year? Prioritizing can be really difficult. Everyone’s coming at you with requests and distractions and needs. What do you care about? What are your life goals? Don’t think about what everyone else needs or wants from you. Don’t let your life become a pizza that you were gonna eat, but you gave a slice to everyone who asked for one, and now you don’t get any pizza. Decide the slices you want first, and then figure out how much you can give to others. It’s not selfish — it’s self care. Your life is yours. What do you want to do with your time?
  6. Who do you want to be? How will you be that person? I love this one because it means I create a whole persona for 2021 me. 2021 me will be generous and kind to others. 2021 me feels passionate and motivated every day. 2021 me wakes up at 8 a.m. with a smile on my face. 2021 does skin care and drinks enough water. Who is 2021 you? And the important part…. How are you gonna become 2021 you? Give yourself definitive actions you can take to get from this version of you to the “new” you. It’s like a creative project, but it helps you improve your life and get closer to your goals.
  7. How can you create something to look forward to in the new year? I know we’ve all lost things this year. We had trips planned, events to attend, and people to see. We had stuff to do! But there are still ways you can add excitement and anticipation to your year, so think about what those things might be. Pencil them in your 2021 calendar and get excited NOW.
  8. Name one habit you’ll change, one new thing you’ll learn, and one way you’ll bring joy into your life. These sort of feed into all the previous ones, but if you can boil it down to three main things for the entire year, you’re in the clear. Too often, we set ten million different goals, and it’s so overwhelming that we don’t devote time to any of them. Choose three. For example: This year, I will do yoga before I watch Netflix, I will learn how to crochet, and I will bring joy to my life by having a dance party during my mid-afternoon Zoom break. See?
  9. How can you eliminate stress from work, school, your home, or your technology? The fun part! Scrub your inbox. Delegate tasks. Clear your desk. Deep clean your house. Invest in a better planning system. Join a study group. Ask for help. Quit things. Unfollow people. Curate your life to be stressless!
  10. In what ways will you practice self care? How? Asking “how” might seem a little redundant, but I promise, it’s necessary. Someone might answer, “I’ll take more baths.” Okay… sure. But how? How are you going to physically carve out time to take a relaxing bath more often? Will you take on one less project, one less meeting, one less volunteer hour? Will you take the time to make your bathroom feel like a spa room? Will you purchase some yummy rose bubble bath and a lifetime supply of face masks? Seriously define your self care. That is the only way you will actually do it.

Remember, these prompts are just to help you start thinking about any resolutions you might make. Your final goals are up to you. The best goals come from honest reflection and deep thought. Happy goal-setting!

—ellynn ❤

what 2019 taught me about time.


As my first post of the year, it’s a raw one. It’s honest. I hope you enjoy it and take it to heart, and I’m excited to show you what I have planned for 2020.

This has been a year of lessons, and I’ve decided that the most important one I learned was how little time we truly have with the ones we love.

Before I elaborate, I did not lose a loved one — that’s not what I mean, although you could see it in that sense. Time slips through our fingers, and there are periods in our lives where we have good relationships with people, and sometimes, those relationships have to be taken from us. The universe does that sometimes. I know, it sucks, right?

I’ve been writing a lot about college, and one of the super hard things about leaving my hometown is saying “see you later,” when I know I probably won’t see a lot of those people ever again. I’m being forced to choose what relationships I truly value. If I decide that I want to keep ties with every single friend from my life right now, I will never keep up. I can’t remember them all. It’s hard. How do you decide who to let go of?

That’s one of my issues with life. Priorities. They’re something I’ve never been able to set, and I think that’s something I’m slowly learning how to do. I realized what my burnout point is as far as commitments to activities/clubs. I realized what I need in my social life. What’s hard is, after realizing what those limits are, I actually have to pare down now. I have to sit and ask myself, “what really matters? who do I really care about? what’s going to be important to me five years from now?”

It’s a process, but by choosing my path of study, I’ve already narrowed down my career priorities. Writing and foreign language. Those choices are leading me to become more active with my blog and start working on relations on social media related to writing. I also just took a test to obtain the Seal of Biliteracy, which sounds super fancy but really isn’t. Underneath that layer is the desire to travel, to interact with other writers, to understand other worlds. So that’s settled: I know what I want to do with the rest of my life. Right? Let me bookmark this post and revisit that in a few years.

But with relationships, it’s much more difficult. Yoga can handle it if I decide to make it less important than my other interests. Fashion can deal. But a companion actually has feelings. I can’t dismiss a person as easily. Not to say that prioritizing people you love has to mean dismissing other people. It’s not that at all. We need to choose first and foremost the people who deserve our attention, letters, facebook messages, emails, texts, coffee dates. We only have so much time, so we have to choose between visiting a childhood best friend or some girl with whom you cracked jokes in Chemistry class two years ago. Who matters? Who affects your daily life, emotional well-being, and your health?

Deciding what (and who) you want to stay isn’t selfish. On the contrary: it’s a kindness to the people around you. There’s no sense in spending time with people who you don’t feel are terribly important to your own happiness. And in my opinion, if someone isn’t dying to spend time with me or show that I’m valuable to them often, then I would rather they simply move on. Our time on Earth is way too short to have half-assed relationships. If you care, let them in. If you don’t, be honest and let them go.

One more thing, though. Don’t just randomly delete people and things from your life. It’s not like taking out the trash. This reflection, this change? It’s going to take some time, and it’s going to have repercussions. You can’t suddenly tell a friend you don’t want to speak to them ever again. You have to handle it gracefully, honestly. And even if you think you’re ready to let go, be prepared to feel a loss. Even if you’re the one cutting ties, you may still feel a pull at something that used to be there. It won’t be easy, but shedding what no longer serves you, like a snake in its old skin, is better for everyone and everything.

Much love, and happy new year.

-ellynn ❤

starting a bullet journal? read this first.


It’s a new year, and LOTS of people are excited about trying a new bullet journal! That’s so cool, and I love to see everyone doing this planning system for the first time. However, I think there are a few things we need to remember.

  1. It’s not all about how pretty it looks. This is it! I’m starting off this list with the single most important thing! I rant about this all the time. New bullet journal-ers are SO excited to start, but they often start for the wrong reason. Instead of telling you what it is supposed to be, I’m going to tell you what it isn’t. The purpose of a notebook is not to compare your art or handwriting to another person’s notebook. It’s not to be the perfect planner or a gorgeous container of paper that’s supposed to get you thousands of followers on Instagram. It’s not for anybody else to enjoy. It’s not fluffy or stupid, either. It’s not a shallow thing. So what is it? It’s for you. What do you want it to be?
  2. You don’t need special stationery. Look, I love pens and pretty stationery as much as the next fanatic, but a true bullet journal sticks to two basic objects: a black pen and a notebook. That’s it. Not a tombow dual brush pen, not a mildliner, not a crayola supertip marker, not sparkly washi tape… It relies on only a notebook and a pen. Hey, I know someone who uses a binder and notebook paper for easy removal of pages, so I guess you don’t even really need a notebook. For the most part, I just use a black pen and my trusty hardcover dotted notebook. I’m not going to link it because I don’t think you need to copy what works for me to get good use out of your notebook. (However, if you truly want to know, go to my YouTube channel, Rachel Ellynn M.) Just use what you think you need.
  3. Keep it simple at first. So, basically, the original Ryder Carroll format isn’t what I stick to. However, it’s the method that was designed to work for ADHD and he wants it to be universal — until you find something that works better for you. I found a system that I altered, and it worked more and more the more I allowed it to show itself to me. I couldn’t have found that system unless I tried the bare bones and decided other things were going to work better. For example, I started using daily rapid logging like the original method. Then, I switched to weekly spreads (this was a mistake because I saw how pretty the ones on Pinterest were and wanted to make them like this). After that definitely didn’t work, I went back to daily rapid logging and found that it was best for my running mind. I guess my point is, don’t get too excited about all the crazy trackers and collections you can implement until you know for sure what basic pieces work for you.
  4. Do a mental inventory before anything else. This is the most therapeutic part, and I love it so much because it dumps out your mind! Seriously. There are three sections: what I’m working on, what I should be working on, and what I want to work on. Sounds kind of easy, but you really have to sit down and think about it. Some people do it in sections of their lives, like school, work, personal, family, spiritual… I like to dump it all into one. Just make three columns, label them, and start writing. Now, look at the things on all the lists in one. Which items are non-negotiable? Circle them. Which items can you not care less about? Cross them out. If you don’t absolutely need to do something, and you don’t want to do it, then here’s a simple revelation. Only put priority items on your plate. The mental inventory can help you weed those out.
  5. Carry it everywhere. I’m sure people will dispute about this, but I treat my bullet journal much like car keys, a wallet, or a cell phone… I take it everywhere. In 2020, my new one is Pepper, and she is going to get extremely acquainted with the way I live my life. If this sounds silly, I don’t care, but I think my notebook can learn about me and serve me better if I take it along for the ride. Plus, at the end of the notebook’s use, you can smile and notice all the places where you dropped it or the bookmark frayed. You can watch it age. Your journal is a piece of history. Take it and make note of anything and everything.
  6. Claim it as yours. Listen, this journal is only for you. Only you have to see it, use it, keep it up. So make it yours! Much like a blank canvas or empty house, design it the way you see fit. Keep it minimalistic and only add the bare details, or plaster it with artwork and make it crazy colorful. Mine is somewhere in between. I myself enjoy a collage or quote page every once in a while, but then again I also enjoy a quiet page for simple lists. Whatever makes you feel at home in this notebook that you’ll call home for however long it takes to fill it up. (Also, I usually start over for the new year, but I never finish the notebook, so I’m using a shorter one this year.) Let yourself take creative space in the journal that keeps your life together. It’s gonna be in your possession for a while.

So those are just six little reminders before you truly break into that notebook. I wish the best to you and your little companion.

-ellynn

2020: what you should be doing.


It’s the time of year where all the yadda-yadda about goals and fitness plans get spewed all over the internet. Now, it’s fine to be “working on your summer body,” whatever that means, but there are some things that definitely need to be done. I don’t have to tell you what those things are — they’re up to you — but I can give you an idea of what to think about.

Who are you right now? Who will you be? One of my favorite exercises, as we wind down the year, is drawing my current and future self. I’m not the best at drawing, but I draw a typical outfit, hairstyle, and expression of myself at this very moment. I then list aspects of my life: spirituality, physical health, mental health, relationships, aspirations… I get brutally honest with who I am and what I want at this moment. Then, I move to the next page and draw who I will be in a year. Again, exactly what outfit, hairstyle, and expression I’ll be wearing. What do this person’s spirituality, physical health, mental health, relationships, aspirations… look like? What’s happening one year from now? Notice the wording I use. Not what I want to be. What I will be.

What is your 2020 “theme?” I did a lot of reflection to figure out what my theme will be for next year, but I’ve decided on “discovery.” I’m entering college in the fall of 2020, as some of my more avid readers know, and it’s a chance to figure out who I want to be. I’m sure every naïve college freshman says that, but it’s okay for me to want a fresh start. It’s okay that I plan to make some stupid decisions. I toyed around with “learning” or “change,” but “discovery” makes me feel like I’m uncovering a mystery this upcoming year. Like 2020 will be rare, novel, and fun. That’s what I want my life to feel like. What’s your word? If you’ve settled into the same routine for a few years, that’s alright. But what are you chasing this year? Maybe it’s more money. Maybe your word is “stability.” Or maybe you want to develop your relationships, so your word is “love.” Do some thinking.

What can you do to embody that theme? I love this part because it’s where you have to generate some kind of action! New year goals are so completely useless without action behind them. Like, yes, I can say I want to be an Olympic swimmer, but unless I make a plan to get into the pool, I’m never gonna get there. (I do not, for the record, have any interest in Olympic sports.) So for me, I’m going to create discovery by doing these things:

  • get inspired by following other writers, musicians, and other creators
  • travel to new places
  • absorb more media (podcasts, youtube, books, documentaries…)
  • spend more time in nature
  • journal in the mornings
  • meditate at night — just sit and get quiet

How do you want to feel? If you can’t answer that just yet, think about how you feel now. Go back to your current/future self. Maybe you feel unmotivated, and you want to feel excited. I wrote down that I want to feel joyful, awake, clear, and inspired. If you wanted, you could go even further to consider how you will feel that way. For example: to bring in more joy, I’m doing the 30 Days of Joy challenge by Rebecca Kochenderfer. You can find it here when you join Journaling.com.

What will you let go of? I love this question. We, as people, love to complain. This is a form of constructive complaint. Write down everything you hate and want to go. Crappy interactions with coworkers, road rage, spending too much on not-so-great coffee… Write it all down. You might write: fear, unhealthy eating, overwhelm, feeling stagnant, passive mindset… As you write it, acknowledge that you denounce those things. Throw it in the fireplace if it feels right.

What will you let in? Again, pay attention to my wording here. What are you going to allow to surround your life? What will you let give you hope, joy, inspiration, confidence? This suggests that these things are already knocking at the door of your life. You simply need to open it. When you do, you may be inviting free time, fluidity, love, rest, health… into your life. Take a deep breath and acknowledge that the only barrier (within your control) between you and your desires is your own will. What do you want?

So now, we’ve answered the hard questions. The prompt I have for you now is, will 2020 be a year of action? Or reaction?

-ellynn ❤

P.S. I’ve been using the WordPress free photo library for quite some time, but today, I’ve included an original photo! I’m still not great with photography, but I hope that I’m able to post more original visual content. Enjoy 🙂

action breeds motivation.


It has come to my attention that New Year’s Day creates a lot of excitement about accomplishing goals. Perhaps this day is the source of human productivity? The way I’m seeing it is that every person has a multitude of goals to accomplish, but they don’t start them until the first of the year. Why? Because it’s a symbol of new beginnings. That’s absolutely fine; I have no issue with that. It simply doesn’t make sense to use a certain day to propel your motivation forward.

Think about this for a moment. I can watch a video about puppies being rescued, and I can be inspired. I can think, “Wow, what a beautiful thing to do,” and I can believe that saving puppies is something in which I’m interested. There’s nothing wrong with those thoughts, except that there is if we’re trying to be motivated. All of those thoughts of admiration are just fine until I actually do it. Nine times out of ten, I don’t get up and drive to a dog shelter. So what about the people who do?

These motivated people usually have something the average person does not. Experience. I can’t possibly know how exciting it is to work at a dog shelter, seeing the smiling faces of the adopters, until I have worked there. I can’t be pumped to take that yoga class until I have felt the rush it brings me. There are many who might doubt this, so allow me to provide with an alternative example.

So it’s the first of the year, and you’ve decided to work out. Great! But that’s not all you have to do to guarantee that you will. You aren’t motivated simply because of a thought. How will you take action? Call a friend to keep you accountable. Set up an exercise plan. Buy some new gear. And of course, among the most popular, pick up a gym membership. These are all successful actions! They get many a person to their aspirations. Taking these actions allow you to be motivated. You begin to think, “Well, Marty knows I’m doing this. I’ll go for Marty.” “Okay, so today I’ll wear those cute new leggings I bought with the rhinestones!” “I’m not just gonna waste my money on that expensive membership. Let’s go!”

There is a downside to this, in that you may realize that you are less motivated as you continue to take action. This realization is likely just that the treadmill is not for you. The upside? Maybe the track is! Maybe you’ll like Pilates or cycling or weights. Everyone has their niche, but you probably just haven’t found yours yet. So if you’re sitting there, stretch band in hand, thinking, “I’m so bored. This is annoying. Why am I doing this,” you may want to move to the Zhumba class across the hall.

The fact of life is that you can’t knock it ’till you try it. Finding your passion is much easier said than done. I didn’t discover my love for bullet journaling until I picked up the official notebook and started the damn thing. I had admired it before, but my passion for it began when I took the appropriate actions.

I suppose that’s my soapbox for resolutions, and I hope that you succeed in yours, should you make any. Always remember that your goals can be set any time you like, not just on January 1st! Good luck, break a leg, yadda yadda yadda. To our success in life!