How Art Journaling Helped Create Clarity: #Invest2017

I was inspired last week to pick 1 word to guide me professionally and personally for 2017. Yes it is the middle of February already (gasp!), but we are only 7 weeks into the year. We’ve got 45 fantastic weeks left in 2017!

No word came to mind right away so last week I opened up my writing journal and started brainstorming words and phrases that could be contenders. Then I couldn’t pick one! They all seemed so applicable and motivational. None of them felt right. I’m sure you’ve felt that way before too.


So I let them sit for a few days to see what might happen and gave my mind a little bit of time. A few days later I decided to break out my arts & craft supplies to do a little ART JOURNALING. I hoped it would help me create some clarity around which word I want to pick for 2017. Art journaling is a fun and easy process anyone can enjoy. I art journal when I feel crafty and want to make something, but not go through all the work of getting out my paints…or when I want to document something important in life…or when I need to process something in life that is simply just confusing or hard!

Earlier this week, I got out my art supplies (sharpies, markers, glue, cardboard, scissors and some magazines) and started reading through the two dozen or so words and phrases I had written down in my journal a few days prior.

Much to my surprise, one word jumped off the page as I read it. I knew it was my word! I couldn’t believe how quickly I had found my 1 word for 2017!!

Little did I know that picking the word was just step one in this not-as-easy-as-I-thought process. I realized that I need to know why that word was important and what I wanted it to mean to me for the year. How was I going to let this word guide me for 2017? This is where the process of art journaling was really helpful.

I started by identifying the areas in my life that I wanted to be impacted by this word. I picked:

  • my local community (Estes Park, CO)
  • my relationships (close friends, family, husband)
  • myself (because self-care is super important when balancing a lot of responsibilities in life) and
  • my business (JLJ Coaching Services, Ltd.)

Then I flipped through several magazines to cut out letters for my word and phrases that I thought might resonate with the four areas in my life listed above. I cut them out and piled them on my dining room table.

Next I looked for pictures in the magazines that were strong representations for each of the four areas. I cut those out and piled them on my table as well.

Then came the fun part: gluing and arranging all the best pieces from what I cut out! Not every word or picture made it onto my board, and I’m fine with that. I picked the words that I really connected with and enjoyed seeing on my board.

To finish my board I colored in the background behind each of the 4 areas that I had just illustrated. I titled each section and wrote a few key words about how my word would impact this part of my life. This step honestly was one of the harder parts, but was a great clarifying step in the whole art journaling process.

So what is my guiding word for 2017?


This year I want to make sure I intentionally invest in my local community, my close relationships, myself and my business. Investing means giving something of myself to these 4 areas with patience in mind. When you invest you may not see results immediately. Investing also means putting special attention on that area of my life for this year. Of course life is always full of surprises so I didn’t set goals; I set an intention to invest in specific places in my life and that feels really good!

Here is my board, where it sits atop by desk:

If you are interested in creating your own board to illustrate your word for the year here are a few tips:

First off, have fun!

Try to just let the work flow and avoid evaluating as you go.

If you don’t find a word you want in a magazine, you can always write it in yourself.

Take breaks as needed to refresh your mind and creative juices.

Watch the matching video below for more insight into my process, art journaling and my one major takeaway so far from this personal work. I’ll be posting on facebook related to my word for the year using #Invest2017 and #wordfortheyear.  If you have a word for the year I invite you to post using #wordfortheyear along with me.

Want to take these ideas a step further? Check out the reflection exercises below.

Reflection Exercises:

  • What words or phrases would you pick to guide you this year? It isn’t too late to pick one!
  • How could art journaling help you create more clarity this month? Honestly you don’t need many supplies! Just find a sheet of paper, some colored pens or markers and a spare magazine or catalog. Scissors are optional, but tape or glue will help too.
  • If you were to pick INVEST as your word for the year, where would you like to invest more for the next 45 weeks?


Interested in watching last week’s Moment of Clarity video showing the start of my art journaling process? You can find it and other Moment of Clarity videos at


This post first pulished by Jessica Lynn Johnson in 2017 for JLJ Coaching Services, Ltd.

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