What is a vision journal?
A big part of my practice as a culinary professional and food writer is doing vision journaling (if you’re familiar with Zingerman’s restaurants and training program, they do a version of this, too).
The point of this sort of activity, sometimes also called manifestation or intention setting, is less about making a to do list and more about ideas and imagination: in other words, creating a vision of something you want. This gives you a clearer intention to work towards.
To do this, you take each prompt and just free write about it as though it has already come to pass. So instead of ‘I want to win this award’, I would say something like ‘I won this award. I feel so proud of myself and honored people love my work, and it has brought me so many new readers and new clients and lots of fun, new business collaborations.’
As you can see from that example, it’s about imagining your ideal outcome and experience, and focusing on the good emotions connected to it. What about this vision makes you feel good? Focus on that, and write it down.
If there are parts of that experience (say, for example, being hassled for autographs) that don’t feel emotionally ‘up’ for you, perhaps those are things that don’t resonate with what you want. Don’t worry about them, just use that as guidance to think about how it contrasts with what you *do* want, and refocus there (instead of ‘people ask me for autographs’ maybe something like ‘I love how I’m so recognized and appreciated as an expert, but how people are respectful of my space in public places’).
Monthly journaling how-to
To start, get yourself a journal. I’d really encourage you to write this out by hand if possible, which is a more connective and less distracting experience than using a computer.
There’s no particular type of journal you need to get: Just one that you like. I usually use a sketchbook of some sort in case I want to add in drawings.
At the start of each month, carve out a few minutes to free write about each of the prompts below. Don’t overthink your answers: Instead, daydream what the best feeling, most exciting/fulfilling/generally enjoyable outcome for each is and write them down.
In my case, I find it helpful to free write about my vision, letting ideas flow until I’ve written down everything I need to. As your vision clarifies, you’ll find that eventually you’ll start repeating yourself: This is the sign I use that a journaling session is done.
You can do this multiple times for each prompt, and if you’re new to this, I highly recommend doing so: Continuously focusing on what you want helps you make that outcome a reality.
One last note: this works best if you check in with your journal throughout the month: reread what you wrote, continuing to return to those good feelings and daydreams.
Journaling prompts by month
These prompts ask us to shift our focus between our personal and professional selves, recognizing that each supports the other, and start the year off by melding the two.
What does balance look like for me? How do I balance work and play, and create space to truly relax and unwind?
What does a creative, joyous practice look like for me? What happens when I give myself permission to pursue and to focus on the parts of my work that I love? How does my work look when I’m tapped into my creative stream, letting ideas and information flow freely?
Who in my community do I most want to help, or work with? How am I laying the groundwork to be a good ancestor?
What does my life look like when I choose to radically accept love and healing? What happens when I decide to let go of past hurts and appreciate all the goodness that’s here, now?
What does my life look like when I have a good relationship with the earth? What does that relationship look like?
What does health look like to me? How does it feel? What practices do I embody? How does having a healthy body translate to the rest of my life?
What does mental health look like for me? What do I do when I am having an off day? How do I ground myself? How do I cultivate a sense of mental health?
What does my business (or career, if you aren’t self-employed) look like moving forward? How do I define success for my business/career? What activities am I doing, and what are the results of my work?
How do I want people to connect with my work? What do I want them to take away? What accolades, social following, fame, expertise, etc feel meaningful to me?
What dreams do I bring to my business/career? What was my dream when I started it? How have those shifted and changed, and how do I see them growing and expanding moving forward?
What does financial success look like for me? How do I define comfort and stability? What emotions and experiences help me draw more abundance to myself?
How do I live my life in a way that honors and embodies my whole self? What parts of me feel most precious? What am I most eager to share? What do I keep just for me? What parts of me have I been hesitant to express, and how can I give them space to shine? How do I protect my boundaries and communicate my needs in a way that honors all of who I am? What does it look like when I shift my focus away from pleasing others and towards being the truest, fullest version of me I can be?