The best part about a bullet journal is how you can make it into whatever tool you need it to be. Personally, I need my bullet journal to act as a roadmap to my life.
I’m not talking about calendars, to-dos, and grocery lists, although my bullet journal is full of them. My roadmap needs to be a lot more big picture.
I learned something about myself when I started staying home / working from home. It turns out, I tend to just follow whatever path is laid out before me. In school, the clear path was to do well, get good grades, and get into college. In college, the clear path was to make the most of my college experience and get a degree. Get a job, start a family, etc.
Now that I’m in this weird middle area where our family is complete, we’ll be sending one to college in two years and one to kindergarten in three, and my career is becoming less and less a priority in our home. I have lots of stuff to DO, of course. But not as much sense of where I am heading.
My bullet journal needs to help me reconnect to what it is I want out of life and what plans I’ve made to get there. It’s too easy to wake up and waste the day not sure how to spend it. When I feel stuck and directionless, my bullet journal is there to nudge me back to the things that are important to me.
It’s not even the end of Q1 and I already feel like my bullet journal needs a hard reset. I organize my journal around my goals and don’t put a lot of pressure on myself to log things daily. I’ve been successful in accomplishing the goals I laid out in December, and now so many of the remaining goals feel irrelevant. I think I’ve grown a lot in the last three months and the list of goals left to achieve don’t fit me as well.
5 Tips For A Goal-Centered Bullet Journal
1. Write Lists
Lists organize your thought and ideas without restricting you to time limits. If you constantly focus on how long it takes you to accomplish your goals, your bullet journal becomes a nag you’d rather not deal with. Avoid writing lists that set deadlines like “Things to Accomplish in 2019.” Instead, give yourself some grace and write a list called “My Most Important Goals.” If those goals are truly the most important to you, you’ll feel the natural desire to work towards them and you’ll be amazed by your progress at the end of the year.
2. Go Easy On The Calendars
When I first started bullet journaling, I swear there was some form of a calendar on every page. If life got the slightest bit overwhelming, then flipping through my bullet journal just about gave me a panic attack. Everywhere I looked, it was another reminder that I wasn’t working fast enough, wasn’t making enough progress, and that the clock was ticking. When I moved to a goal-centered bullet journal, I started by removing the calendars.
I’m not a psychopath, okay? I have calendars. I have four kids; you bet your ass I need calendars in my bullet journals. But I use them intentionally. I’ve narrowed it down to just a couple of core places that need calendars, and I avoid the temptation to just stick them everywhere.
3. How Much Do You Love Your Trackers?
Which is a more likely scenario for you: that you diligently fill in your tracker every day and bask in the results of your hard work at the end of the month? Or do you start out strong, peter off somewhere in the middle, and end up promising yourself to do a better job next month?
If the former is true for you, great job you go-getter! I was 100% the latter. I planned to experience that joy every month and ended up with feelings of failure, disappointment, and like I really had to change my ways to be successful. Not what bullet journalling is supposed to be about.
Here’s an easy fix: just take the dates off your calendar. Is it really important that you drink 8 glasses of water every day in March, or is it just really important that you drink enough water in general? Fill in your habit tracker for every day that you accomplish your goal and be happy for the progress you’ve made without stressing about the days that you let things slip.
4. Don’t Pre Plan The Whole Thing
The internet is full of bullet journalers who make beautiful spreads at the start of each month. Every week and day has its own little box to be filled in with the comings and goings of life. When I try to do that, I end up with lots and lots of completely blank pages. One blank box makes me want to scrap the whole page, which makes it much less likely I’ll fill in the rest of those boxes.
Preplanning your bullet journal is something that a lot of people love to do. It’s a great tool if you’re bullet journal is meant to organize your daily tasks. But for a goal-facing journal, it’s much more helpful to give yourself flexibility.
5. Start With Your Goals, Come Back To Your Goals
This is literal advice. The first couple of spreads in your bullet journal should be devoted to goal setting, and you should connect back to those goals constantly.
Remember, your bullet journal is created by you, entirely for your own purpose. Let it be a place of empowerment, not a place where you feel beat down by the world.