I’d have to assume you were lying, if you were to say that your favorite things didn’t involve that satisfying feeling of buying brand new notebooks and pens and office supplies.
It’s all SO satisfying. It’s a blank canvas. You don’t have to struggle as you dig through your old pencil pouch hoping to find a pen with a little bit of ink left.
The pens are fresh.
You haven’t taken any notes yet or started filling in your planner, so that inevitable misspelled word or crooked letter hasn’t happened yet.
So with 2019 approaching at a rapid rate, I wanted to make your life a little easier.
To start, New Years Resolutions are horse shit.
You won’t change unless you start now. Not tomorrow. Not when a new year commences. Not when the moon is in a different phase.
Last year, I finally accepted this idea that a New Year’s Resolution, is never actually going to work… so I did this crazy thing where I didn’t make one.
January 17th rolled around and after a much too long winter holiday, I finally settled in on the goal I wanted to work towards.
I desperately wanted to get back into the flow of having a work out regime. But was I ever going to go to the gym? Hell no. Would I drink fancy shakes? Not a chance. Did exercise of most calibers make my migraines even worse? Absolutely.
But Yoga. It is a much gentler, but still very effective. And it was something I wanted to get into doing more regularly… and I did.
More on yoga to come in a different post.
My point is that you can’t wait. If I would have decided last Christmas that I would do yoga in 2018, it probably would have flopped on it’s face.
So, I invite you to try something new this year.
A simple DIY Bullet Journal tailored to you, and it doesn’t have to cost you a dime.
Hell, you don’t even have to make a gesture to change anything about your life.
So… Lets get started.
Step 1: Find a notebook and your favorite pen.
Now, take it how fabulous this empty notebook in. Or maybe you don’t have a notebook and you’re using the notes section of your planner. That’s totally acceptable too!
Step 2: Let’s set some goals.
Let’s pause before we go all crazy. When you think “goals” you don’t have to think “change”. Take my first goal in the photo above.
Define bad days vs. days spent conserving energy.
This “goal” is extremely important. Personally, I spend most of my time on my couch, and with not having a way to track that I’ve missed school or work, because I stopped going, I needed to find a way to differentiate between days I was “stuck” on the couch verses days I just was on the couch not really doing much.
My next goal follows the same idea. Obviously no one is as hydrated as we should be. So the best way to start being more hydrated isn’t some fancy water bottle with time labels telling me to drink x amount of water. Let me let you in on a secret. All of us need a different amount of water to be hydrated, so a standard water bottle isn’t going to help you.
So, when I ask you to think up some goals, think of day to day occurrences that you’d like to be more aware of. My recommendation, start with your sleep habits or spending habits. It’s something we all have and something we ALL need to be aware of.
If you’re feeling up to it, try creating a goal that pushes you to add something new or increase something in your daily routine.
For me, the first month is best utilized in taking the time to step back and pay attention to how you currently are doing. Everyone needs a baseline. Pretend the first month is the “before” photo for your crazy work out journey.
Step 3: Decide how to track your “goals”
For me, the “visual” calendar is my favorite. As you can tell, this was my first attempt at drawing out a calendar, because I added an entire extra row… creativity and improv is KEY.
This style is great because it doesn’t involve much work beyond the initial drawing. (hint hint, you can probably print off a blank calendar and shrink it to the right size and tape it onto your notebook)
So for me, I wanted to find a way to track pain levels in a visual way to then compare to things like my “did I leave the couch/whats keeping me on the couch” charts. That chart is also in the calendar style.
This style can be great for tracking how you feel, whether you’re in pain, monitoring depression/anxiety, or simply want to track how certain elements impact you. I have one calendar specifically for “symptoms” and how they interfere with my day to day, so you could track your temperament throughout each day or if you feel like you were active enough.
My second style is just like the name of this whole journal suggests… bullet points.
Want an inside look on how my yoga and meditation went? It didn’t go as swimmingly as I hoped, but that’s okay.
I enjoy this style a lot because I can track things day by day, without much thought. It’s a simple did you complete this today? I have another bullet list that tracks my hydration and I left enough room to list what it is that I’m drink and how much. This way I can understand what is enough liquid for me, and recognize where I’m falling short.
This style can be adapted to fit just about any goal, and can be as individualized as you need.
I have a second journal that has a day to day “bullet style” included. Here I track all sorts of daily events like sleep and how long I’ve exercised for, if I did any “big events” that aren’t typical to my routine… you get the gist.
Now that you’ve got some form of bullet journal planned out, you simply have to go along with it. Set an alarm each evening or right before you’d head off to bed and just fill in the days information. It probably takes me all of 5 minutes.
Step 4: Improvise
Goals aren’t goals unless they change. And let me tell you, goals will change regardless if it’s a new week or a new month.
I happened to have a bit of space left under one of my charts and realized I had missed a huge part of my day. In tracking “why I’m stuck on the couch” I only had a meter of a pain scale to compare it to, but to be fair, pain isn’t the only thing that keeps me glued to the couch.
But, oh no… it was a week away from the end of the month. I knew that I’d want to start tracking this going forward, but the entire point of replacing a New Year’s Resolution with a bullet journal, is to not wait. So I drew up a week long “calendar” and improvised.
You never know when you might realize that hey, I really need to be paying attention to how much I’m eating or what set me off so much at work today…
So just throw it in the bullet journal. You can always decide the next month that paying attention to this or that didn’t help you in the slightest, or that a certain goal isn’t something you want to reach anymore.
And that is okay.
Which brings me to Step 5 (optional): Check in with yourself
At the end of every month I have a “checkpoint” where I go through and I say hey, lets look at this month and make some conclusions.
For instance, I was able to draw conclusions from my charts that even though I wanted to work out more, I was spending more days on the couch than not, had more days that I was on the couch due to pain, and most days were at a much higher pain level than I expected… so I was able to see what my average pain level was when I was able to exercise. To me, this lets me set better goals for the next month.
I also had added in the “symptoms” section, so when it came time to set new goals for the next month, that one was already there for me.
I always try to look at two main things when doing checkpoints:
- What’s changed?
- What were my setbacks?
These are key factors in anything we’re tracking.
Say you’re dedicating your bullet journal to your spending habits in hopes of developing a way to save more money and recognize where you spend too much… if you’re looking each month at what was a setback and realize that one month you needed a new tire for your car and the next you had an unexpected vet bill, you’ll begin to recognize how important it is that you include “emergency money” in your monthly budget.
Now that you’ve got the tools to create the journal for your needs, here’s a few more tips and tricks that can help you make your journal just right for you:
- Throw in a quote! Maybe to get your month started on the right foot, or if you’re doing a daily bullet page, you can use it to find inspiration each morning.
- Use Color! Most often, we aren’t tracking things that we consider fun or things that necessarily make us happy. Using bright colors can make us feel a little better about ourselves and can change how we view what we’re trying to change in our lives.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. This isn’t a competition. The most important and valuable thing you can do is hold yourself accountable, and that can be as simple as paying attention to our bodies and our minds. We can’t ever better ourselves if we don’t take time to reflect.
- Embrace change. You’re going to find that you’ll never get things right the first time. Things need to be reworked and challenged and there isn’t one right way to do things. So play around. This journal isn’t going in some art museum and you don’t have to share it with anyone, so why not find the way to get the most benefit from it?