The 3 2 1 Method of Reflection Journaling

In today’s blog post, we are taking a deep dive into the 3 2 1 Method of Reflection Journaling. We have already explored the 5 W’s Method and the ABCDE Method, so we are continuing the series with this new one. I started this series as I wanted my own reflection sessions to be more intentional. Self-reflection can be so helpful to personal and even professional growth. Taking the time to reflect can help you gain valuable insights from your experiences and emotions. Today, we are taking a closer look at how this 3 2 1 method can help clear your thoughts, foster gratitude, and pave the way for personal growth. I will be sharing some fun layout ideas as well as prompts to help guide your practice. As always, you can check out my video as well. I am super excited about this method so let’s get into it!

A Bit of Background

This method seems to be based primarily on critical thinking exercises that teachers use. It has been adapted and is a popular technique for self-reflection and personal growth. The reason for it’s popularity is how adaptable it is and how easy it is to use. There are many different ways to interpret the 3 2 1 elements – depending on your personal growth goals. from gratitude, improvements and positive affirmations to what you learned, enjoyed, and will focus on. The latter is what I plan to use for myself, but as you continue reading, feel free to substitute what you think will work best for you.

3 2 1 Method of Reflective Journaling

The Nitty Gritty of the 3 2 1 Method

For the 3 sections of the 3 2 1 Method of reflection journaling, I will be focusing on 3 things I learned, 2 things I enjoyed, and 1 thing I will focus on. Here are some examples of how these sections can be tackled. This can, of course, change as priorities or circumstances change.

1. 3 Things I learned

When reflecting on your day, or a specific experience, pick out 3 things you learned from it. It can be a new understanding, lesson, or any new knowledge you’ve gained. Make sure to look at both negative and positive experiences, as there is a lot to learn from both situations. Writing down what you’ve learned allows you the opportunity to digest the information and gain a deeper understanding of your experience and/or reaction to that experience.

2. 2 Things I Enjoyed

Think about 2 thinks that brought you joy. These can be as simple as your favourite song coming on, or the creamer in your coffee being the perfect amount to enhance the flavour of both the creamer and the coffee (my daily gold standard!). Don’t put too much pressure on yourself but rather just remind yourself of the little things that made a difference in your day. Focusing on a positive experience helps foster gratitude and reminds you of the little things. It can result in such a small shift in your mood.

(At work, we start meetings off with one work positive and one personal positive. No matter what mood I’m in when we start the meeting, it can be improved with just that slight mind shift. Sometimes it even includes laughing because it’s hard to come up with one! It happens! We’re all human!)

3. 1 Things I Will Focus On

Decide on one area or part of your life that you want to prioritize or improve. This can be anything – a personal goal, a habit, a skill. By focusing on one specific thing, you can make your actions more intentional and give yourself more direction.

Alternative Prompts

As mentioned earlier, you can flip what you want to reflect on based on your specific situation or circumstance. Another example of the 3 2 1 Method of Reflection Journaling is capturing the following:

  • 3 Things you are grateful for
    • These can be super simple or something you have a deeper connection to
    • Reflect on why these things are meaningful to you and the impact they’ve had on your life
  • 2 Things you want to improve
    • These improvements can be personal, professional, based about habits or skills
    • The key is to be honest with yourself, describing why these improvements are important to you and come up with some actionable steps to help your progress
  • 1 Positive Affirmation
    • Choose one positive affirmation you can repeat to yourself throughout the day
    • Make sure it is positive, uplifting, and aligned with your goals and values
    • Write it down, reflecting on why it resonates with you and how it can help you stay motivated and focused

Pros and Cons of the 3 2 1 Method of Reflection Journaling


  • It provides a structured outline for reflection, making it easier to organize your thoughts
  • It’s simplicity allows for quick and efficient journaling sessions, ideal for those with limited journaling time and/or attention
  • The key points of the method (the 3 2 1 headings), helps clarify and express your thoughts.
  • It helps prioritize what’s important to you and what you need/want to focus on
  • It can enhance self-awareness by prompting you to actively observe and reflect on your experiences, leading to a deeper understanding of yourself, your emotions, and your patterns of behaviour
  • By prompting things you enjoyed, it encourages you to acknowledge and appreciate simple pleasures and positive experiences in your life


  • The simplicity of this method can limit the depth of your reflection, meaning you may only scratch the surface of your experience/emotion
  • As with all methods, it make lack flexibility such as open ended/stream of consciousness journaling
  • With a heavy focus on positive aspects of life, you may miss opportunities for growth and reflection on challenging or negative experiences (which is another reason why I prefer to reflect on what I learned)
  • Over time, you may find this method repetitive as you struggle to find new insights or enjoyable experiences on a daily basis
  • While providing a structure for reflection, this method may not offer enough guidance or introspection as more in-depth journaling methods

At the end of the day, the advantages and disadvantages of the 3 2 1 method of reflection journaling depends on you personal preferences, your goals, and how reflective you want to be. Definitely stay open and flexible, adapting this (or any method) to your specific m=needs as you get comfortable and grow in your journaling practice.

3 2 1 Method Layout Ideas

As with the 5 Ws Method and ABCDE Method, I like to share some layout ideas for inspiration. Some are super straight forward, there’s a mind map, and then the layout I’ll be using. I do have a prompt sheet available for exploring situations, thoughts, and/or emotions more thoroughly or more detailed. You can grab that after the images of the layouts.

3 2 1 Method of Reflection Journaling

This layout is super simple. Using the boxes on the left page, you document the 3 2 1 prompts and then, on the blank page on the left, you can journal your thoughts and feelings about what’s come up on the left.

Reflective Journaling Ideas

Similar to the previous layout, this layout captures the 3 2 1 Method of Reflection Journaling in a super simple, and easy, way. You can refer to the prompt sheet for exploring your answers to the basic 3 2 1 prompts.

Bullet Journaling Layout Ideas

Our obligatory mind map layout. These layouts can be a lot of fun to explore with, especially for this method. The idea here is to document your reflection in the boxes and add the answers to the prompts at the end of the branches.

Bujo Layout Ideas

Again, similar to the first 2 layouts, this is a different variation where you add your answers to the prompts in the boxes on the left. Allow an additional page on the right to further explore situations, emotions, and/or thoughts that come up.

My Favourite Layout

3 2 1 Method of Reflective Journaling

I wanted to single out the “LEF” one in particular (on the left/just above this section). I am so excited to try this method. The idea is to jot down a lesson, something I enjoyed, and a focus daily. At the end of the week, I can either add something new, or pull from the grid. Complete with a key that includes symbols and colours, it will give a great overview of the week.

For Lesson, I am using a pencil icon. The colours are red for negative lesson, green for good, and orange for in between (I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here!). For what I enjoyed, I am using a circle. Green for something inside my comfort zone, and orange for something outside of my comfort zone. The last icon is an arrow for focus. Green to represent a focus that was completely aligned with my goals, orange for somewhat aligned, and red for way off.

Once the week is done, I can take a look and get a feel for an overall experience and see how my growth and progress towards my goals are tracking.

3 2 1 Method of Reflective Journaling Prompts List

*Please note this is for personal use only.

Final Thoughts – 3 2 1 Method of Reflective Journaling

I think this is my favourite method of reflection journaling so far! The simplicity of the prompts in particular, and then of course the flexibility allowing you to change the prompts. I will be adding this last layout to my EDC (Every Day Carry) bullet journal so stay tuned on how it goes and how I am using the. 3 2 1 Method of reflection journaling. There are still a few more methods to explore so let me know if you’re enjoying this series, or if you have a specific method you want me to check out. I wish I could produce this series a lot faster. It’s summer break so I’ve been busy with the kiddos. But, let me know if you will be using this method or any of the layouts above. You can tag me @natashamillercreates on Instagram.

Thank you so much for your time today!

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