Sign up for Sarah's FREE 52-Week Best Self Program to receive weekly inspiring and thought-provoking journaling prompts.
Choose a journal that fits your style and determine a day of the week when you will dedicate your time to journaling at least 15 to 20 minutes. Your Welcome email will include some ideas to help get you started.
Show up to your commitment to journey towards your best self and realize the insights you will gain over the next 52-weeks.
What People are Saying about the Best Self Program
"Through your recent 52-week Best Self series, you have triggered so much reflection, so much constructive thought, that I am in your debt. You help us discover our deeper selves and our unique missions. You have challenged me to think and grow ... and then think and grow some more."
"No matter how old I get, no matter how many times I have reflected on certain events of my life, like the first solo trip many, many years ago that I took all by myself against the advice of others and ending up so glad I did it, I enjoy being asked to match my life events into a category others choose for me. The prompt about doing the thing I was not supposed to do reminded me of the decision to travel solo changed my life in so many ways and writing about it was helpful. I appreciated the prompt prodding to reflect on that. Sarah, thanks for the weekly prodding to reflect."
"I have been writing to the 52-Week Best Self Program prompts since the beginning, and it’s been revealing and fun. The topics enticed me and inspired me to write from my heart. Some of the prompts made me think about my beliefs and assumptions, and I learned more about myself by following the thread of my thoughts to a conclusion. Others left me with questions that I could follow up on at a later time. My responses for a few of them were quite lengthy, but most of them only took a brief time of writing to reach a satisfying ending. All of them were thoughtful and important to muse over. I think this program is a good way to explore oneself and think through one’s beliefs and interests. And, as I said at the beginning, it is fun!"
D. J., Poet and Writer
"Since last February, Sarah Birnbach has sent a weekly message to my InBox. Every Sunday I receive her personal 52-Week Best Self note, with writing prompts. Sarah’s musings are always touching and useful. Her sense of humor, warm personality and caring come through loud and clear. From reminding me to count my blessings; to make a difference in the world, no matter how slight; to permission to place self care on top of my list of obligations; her little nudges have enriched my life. I don’t know what she’s planning after her 52 weeks have passed, but I hope we don’t lose touch. My week is always brightened by her messages."
I believe in the transformative power of journaling.
My “encore career” as a writer and author came about through this power; after a 10-year career in banking, 7 years as a family therapist, and 34 years as a human resource management consultant.
I have had many relationships on my life journey – parents, grandparents, two amazing sisters, two husbands (one of whom I left along the way), two amazing children and seven beautiful grandchildren, and many dear friends and colleagues.
But my stalwart companion for over 45 years – the one that’s been available to me 24 hours a day, has never taken a sick day and goes with me on my vacations – has been my journal.
My journals do not judge. I can tell them anything – my darkest thoughts, my cherished dreams, my rantings, my sadnesses, my joys – and I can be funny, serious, thoughtful, crazed, inspired, profound or mean. Journaling has enabled me to work through my fears, tough life decisions, relationship challenges, and to make sense of my experiences.
Along the way, I received my credential as a Certified Journal Therapist and Certified Journal Facilitator in 2011 from the Center for Journal Therapy, the premier center for teaching others to use the power of writing for healing, growth and change. The Center for Journal Therapy was started in 1988 by Kathleen Adams, whose book, Journal to the Self, is a classic work that has helped define the field of journaling.
My journals have always been steadfast, but never did they support me more than in the year after my father died. They traveled on my journey through grief and became the foundation for my recently completed memoir, which relates the ways I used the power of prayer, community and journaling to heal through loss.
My focus in this stage of my career is to share the transformative power of journaling so you and others can use this easily accessible, inexpensive tool to navigate your life’s challenges and become your best self.
Why Keep A Journal?
Many folks ask why journaling is so powerful and transformative. Here are a few reasons you might find it beneficial for your life:
Get to know different parts of yourself. Each of us is like a diamond with many facets that shine differently depending on our circumstances. The mental and emotional parts of ourselves are sometimes public and sometimes private. Your journal gives you a place to identify these different facets and find the ways to befriend them.
Heal relationships. Your journal gives you a safe forum to ventilate strong feelings that may not be appropriate to express aloud. It gives you a safe place to calm your emotions and control the reactivity you may feel.
Remember our blessings. By recording my gratitudes on a daily basis, I am reminded of the blessings in my life, especially when I am inclined to lose sight of the trees for the forest.
Access information stored in your subconscious and unconscious minds. Journal writing is an excellent way to access and draw information from hidden levels of awareness. Using my journal has often enabled me to become aware of the sources of anxiety or to identify issues that I struggle with.
Keep a record for the future of how your life unfolds. Soren Kierkegaard once wrote, “We live life forwards; we can only understand it backwards.” Being able to go back into your life and observe it from the vantage point of a future date can be transformative.
Develop your intuition. Sometimes the noises of society drown out our ability to hear our intuition and to connect with its power. Journal writing gives you access to your intuitive gifts.
Develop communication skills. The more I reveal/connect in my journal, the better I become at framing the language I need to communicate with others.
Get in touch with feelings. Journal writing has enabled me to move through emotional periods in my life and to process the feelings that I might otherwise bury.
Work through life choices, decisions and alternatives. When I have difficult decisions to make, using my journal to consider all sides, pros and cons helps me to visualize my options and potential outcomes. I have made wiser and more well-thought-out decisions in my life from having first journaled about them.
Gain neutrality. There are often situations in our lives in which we don’t feel objective. Journaling offers a place to gain greater objectivity.
Track the cycles, patterns and trends of your life. As I fill the pages of my journal, I glean valuable information about the degree to which I am working toward becoming my best self and realizing my goals and ambitions.
JOURNALING APPROACHES: A Note from Sarah
There are many ways to fill a journal. Some of the approaches that I’ll be encouraging over this next year are:
I’ll suggest a subject or provide a prompt (questions and/or thought starters) and specify a time for the write. When we have a time limit, our brains feel a sense of pressure and I find they work harder. It also reassures me that journaling doesn’t have to take a lot of time.
I’ll provide a sentence or question to help you focus and clarify. A jumping-off place for you to get started.
This is a description of another person, or of yourself, a part of yourself, or an emotion.
Lists of 100
This is one of my favorite journaling methods. By writing fast and making the longest list possible within the allotted time frame, it is amazing how many ideas we can come up with.
This is a written conversation in which you write both parts. You can dialogue with anyone or anything – a person, place, object, body part, event or feeling. Often, when I anticipate a challenging conversation with someone, I’ll dialogue both parts of the conversation before meeting with the person. This makes me less anxious and helps clarify my thinking before I open my mouth.
With this process, you can write letters to people you’re mad at, intimidated by, shy around or who aren’t available to you – maybe they’ve died, or moved on or haven’t been born yet. You can express your feelings openly since the letter will remain in your journal . . . unsent. You can reverse this technique and write letters to yourself from others, which helps you to understand another’s’ perspective.
You can alter your point of view by writing as if you were someone else, or by propelling yourself back or forward in time.