How do you turn your hopes and dreams into reality?
Many of the thoughts and ideas that live inside our heads are brilliant and full of potential energy. Yet, it won't do us any good to keep them inside. Make it a daily practice to express your thoughts and clearly define your goals and values through writing.
To get your pen moving and ink flowing on the page, writing prompts can be a great way to prime your mind. If you subscribe to my daily inky prompts e-mail, a new prompt may take you in a direction you never imagined possible. Yet, are those prompts effectively working toward your best self?
The problem with random writing prompts is that they are just that - random. They aren't specified toward a particular mindset or focused on your values. Sure, they can help expand creativity and imagination to help solve thorny problems tangentially. But, writing about your favorite vacation or a lucid dream does little to fulfill your desires.
Much like a computer needs an operating system to boot up, we need to remind ourselves about our core values, goals, and gratitude for each day's opportunity to perform at 100%. Otherwise, we may fall victim to the whims of other people's plans and lose sight of what is important.
Priming your mind with the right prompts will help guide you toward positivity, seeking opportunities, and making decisions that are aligned with your values. Like a ship at sea, you gain a bearing. I developed the following writing prompts to act as a compass for when you feel lost or want to check if you're on the right path.
These prompts are inspired by the lessons found in these books: "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius, "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey, "The Right to Write" by Julia Cameron, "Awaken the Giant Within" by Tony Robbins, "Dare to Lead" by Brene Brown, and "Atomic Habits" by James Clear.
The purpose of these prompts
Establish a positive mental and emotional state that looks for beneficial attitudes and focuses on your values & objectives.
Identify the most important goals and habits and the smallest steps that can be taken to make progress on them today.
Be aware of the potential obstacles that may stand in your way as well as the people who could help you in your journey.
Use the wisdom of great minds that have come before you to inspire your next actions.
How to use these prompts
Write as much (or as little) as needed for each prompt. This is an activity for you and doesn't need to adhere to the standards of your 7th grade English teacher. You can write fully formed sentences or you could scribble shorthand notes and lists.
At first, you could write these prompts down and answer underneath each question. Instead of re-writing the prompt each day, do them in order and simply label them #1 through #7. They are meant to be done in this specific order.
Prompt 1: What are you grateful for right now?
Even appreciating the smallest of things will set you in a positive mentality focused on abundance. Often, when we are goal-oriented, we can only see what we don't have. If you exist in a constant state of lack, then what you seek will never be enough. We can all be appreciative of the life we have, the opportunity to strive each day to better our lives.
Prompt 2: In which emotional states do you want to be?
Let's not get this confused. This isn't "what emotional state are you in?" this prompt asks where do you want to be? When we are being reactive to our surroundings - the people, places, news, etc - our mood is affected. Your emotional state is how you choose to react to a particular situation. By proactively selecting the emotions you want to be in today, you attempt to control your emotions and focus on those states. True, there will be things that will come up and try to knock you toward emotions that you don't want. When they do, just think of this prompt and see if you can move back into those desired states.
Prompt 3: What are you working towards?
This is the big picture stuff. What do you aspire to achieve this month? This year? This decade? What feels most important to you, most in line with your deepest held values? This is the mountain you climb and the summit you seek to plant a flag.
Prompt 4: What is the most important next step you can take today?
Keeping in mind the big picture, what is the simplest step you can make toward that goal today? Ideally, this step should take no longer than 15 minutes. This is your priority of the day. Schedule it into the calendar. Make it the first thing you do. Make sure it gets done by the end of the day.
Prompt 5: What are some potential obstacles and how can you navigate them?
As the old Yiddish adage goes, "Man plans and God laughs." So far, we've set our minds in an optimistic direction, looking to accomplish an important task. This prompt is a reality check, observing what could get in the way of our growth and progress. While we cannot anticipate every external event that might derail us, we can usually (with great accuracy) see how we might get in the way of ourselves.
Prompt 6: Who can help you progress toward your goals?
Collaboration and partnership are some of the most powerful ways we can build something and lift each other up. Isn't it easier to build a house with a team rather than one person? This prompt also helps us realize that we aren't in this alone. We have our struggles and others will have theirs. Understanding the value and potential of those we are in contact with will make us appreciate and use the network of human power that we are connected.
Prompt 7: Write a quote that inspires you to take action.
Use the words of great minds before us. Find a quote that reflects your ambitions, values, and is aligned with what you seek. You can use a book of quotes or simply google "quotes about [subject]" or "quotes by [inspirational person/mentor]."
Now, after writing your responses to these prompts - go live your day according to your written intentions. Keep them in a pocket notebook or a journal at your work desk so you can quickly refer to them throughout the day. Chances are, writing them down will help you commit them to memory.
At the end of the day, recap using the prompts below.
Prompt 1: How do you feel about the progress you have made on your goal(s) today?
Look at the goal you wrote down at the beginning of the day. Did you accomplish the next important step? Did you find a new opportunity that helps you toward your big dreams? How do you feel about the progress or lack thereof?
Prompt 2: What was the highlight of your day?
If the day was edited down to a 30-second highlight reel, what would be the moment(s) that you take away?
Prompt 3: What was the hardest challenge you met today?
In the morning's prompts, you attempt to predict the obstacles that might get in the way. In answering this prompt, you identify the biggest problem you encountered. When met with this challenge, how did you handle yourself?
Prompt 4: If you could live today over again, what would you have done differently?
Perhaps we weren't our best selves. Perhaps we zigged where we should have zagged. How would you play it differently if you have another chance?
Prompt 5: What was something you did for your well-being?
Call it self-care if you will. How did you invest in your well-being and happiness today? It doesn't have to be an hour of working out or reading an entire book. Even if you took a few minutes for exercise, listen to an informative podcast, or do anything that was purely for your benefit and growth, it counts.
Prompt 6: What was something kind you did for someone else?
In the morning's set of prompts, we acknowledge that there is a network of people that can help us rise to the level of our goals. At the end of the day, what courtesy did you extend to others? How did you help make someone's day just a little brighter?
Prompt 7: What are you most grateful for today?
As we began the day with gratitude, we end it by being grateful for something that happened during the day.
I hope these prompts help guide your mind like a compass and point you toward living a fulfilling, enjoyable life.