Have you ever wanted to become more grateful and present? I have. And, honestly, I’ve tried a lot of different things. In March 2020, I was diagnosed with one of the most common mental health conditions: social anxiety disorder. However, I decided that I would not give this diagnostic a chance to control my mental health. And, this is how I decided to start my bullet journal goals and daily gratitude tracker. It’s been three months, and I don’t regret it.
But why is a bullet journal useful? Because bullet journaling helps individuals planning, sticking to their goals, and can reduce anxiety significantly. Moreover, filling your life with gratitude will make you see life more positively.
First things first: create your journal.
Before thinking about filling your journal, you need to create something that will work for you. Not everyone journals for the same reason. Some people like tracking their mood and health while others need help organizing their time. In this section, I will show you what some things to include in a bullet journal are.
1) The calendar page
The first thing I did was to put the year 2020 on paper. Having an overview is very important. Seeing each month, week, and days will help you prioritize and organize your time more efficiently.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t start journaling right at the beginning of a new year. Bullet journals are to help us feel better. You can start whenever you want. I started mine in March.
Ideas for your calendar: I always put birthdays as I am not very good at remembering them. I draw my months like on a classical overview, and then, I add a list under every critical date and description. This way, I keep the calendar overview clean with just a color to show which days are essential. My bullet journal goals can be seen on some dates if I have strict deadlines.
2) Goals page: the year by quarters
These pages are more valuable than one could expect. Goal setting can be overwhelming. We tend to gro crazy, wanting to learn, and do a million things. Breaking them down to spread them through the year makes them more tangible.
I would suggest you do a little brainstorm session before you write anything down on these pages. Why? Because sometimes we have fluffy goals, with no clear idea of why we want to achieve them. Are these your goals? Can you meet them this year? Which steps to you need to take to move forward?
One thing that helped me was to have two pages for my 2020 goals.
- Page one: a list of goals for this year (not more than six big ones).
- Page two: a list of steps to achieve these goals for each quarter of the year.
Sharing the year in four (quarters) will help you see how to break those goals to visualize the outcome better. This way, when you accomplish a task in the first quarter, you will have a feeling of accomplishment. If you don’t visualize how to meet your goals, you might feel like you’re never moving forward.
3) Area of specialization
After my goal planning, and before creating the layout of my first month, I keep a couple of pages for my passion project.
My passion project:
This blog is something that I do outside of work. I do it because it’s meditative; I love sharing positive and empowering learnings. So, as blogging is not “work” but fits perfectly with my desire to be more grateful: I use a few pages to create goals, especially for that personal project.
For example, if you are into fitness, you can use those couple of pages to plan your routines. Or maybe you are a youtube enthusiast, and you want to use these pages to write video ideas and scenarios. To make it short: use these few pages for your favorite project, put it there, and grow!
Plan your first month.
That’s where things get interesting. Planning your monthly habit tracker, your 3 – 6 main goals, and your reflection is exciting. You’ll make mistakes along the way. Not a single habit tracker or layout looks in my journal: and I love it.
1) Monthly overview: weekdays and dates
I use a double page layout for designing my month overview. I like having space in every box to write important things. This way, it’s easier to track the days that pass than having a list with numbers.
I leave space for important notes, motivational quotes, or keywords to remind me of important things.
2) Goal journal ideas for the month
Every month I start by analyzing the progress of my yearly goals. If I start a new quarter, I make sure I finished what I was supposed to do in the previous quarter. I usually have these three main areas on the page:
- Prio for this month: a list of max six main tasks to achieve to reach my goals.
- Things to keep in mind: if I have urgent appointments, packages to send or people to contact.
- Exciting ideas and thoughts.
3) Habit tracker
My favorite part of the day: the habit tracker. Like every other part of my bullet journal, it evolves. There is something essential to keep in mind: your activities influence your mood, and your mood will influence your day.
It’s a cycle. And by tracking your daily activities and logging your mood, you will understand yourself better. You will gather insights into what impacts your days and mood. Not everyone does it, but I think it’s imperative to reach wellbeing.
4) Daily gratitude
Together with the habit tracker, the gratitude log is a powerful tool to feel the benefits of bullet journaling. Part of my morning routine, writing my 3 to 6 gratitudes, drastically improves my mood. I start by writing the date, and next to it, the things I am most grateful for today. My parent’s physical and mental health, waking up every day next to Raphaël or being inspired by my colleagues.
5) Reflection (or diary)
You can find many diary layout ideas on Instagram. Mine is minimalistic because I realized it was hard for me to keep up with the journal if I had to make a piece of art each time I wrote something in it.
Writing my reflection is what others would call writing a diary. Some days I like to be free, and I would write two pages of everything popping in my head. No guideline, no desired outcome. Some other days, if something specific occupies my mind, I would structure my thinking this way:
- The challenge I faced
- How I feel
- Why do I think/feel this way (dig deeper)
- How I can make it better (if I can otherwise just writing about it helps)
I would write my reflections every day after logging my habits in the habit trackers and write my gratitudes. I spend 10 minutes every morning while drinking my coffee.
Are bullet journals a waste of time?
Not at all. Some think journaling is girly; others believe it’s not efficient. I disagree. But I can only talk from my own experience, so here it is:
Raphael and I have been keeping up with our bullet journal goals and routine, and I can assure you that we’ve both seen an improvement. Raphael tracks his work and task better, and he is less overwhelmed with responsibilities and prioritization. In his personal experience, he’s seen an increase in motivation and time management.
In my experience, bullet journaling has helped me with anxiety and panic attacks. Planning my day in the morning, visualizing the tasks and goals help me structure my thoughts and focus my energy. Seeing my biggest goals for 2020 done on paper brings me a feeling of achievement and pride where I usually feel worthless and lost.
How long does it take to bullet journal?
We have a simple morning routine. Raphael and I sit together, and for 10 minutes while drinking our coffee, we will be journaling.
Why in the morning? Because sometimes, we wake up in a bad mood, and writing our gratitude boosts the mood. Also, writing our reflection or diary can help to unlock frustrations and bad dreams thoughts. The most time-consuming part is setting up your bullet journal goals and designing a new layout every new month. But, other than, logging your reflections gratitude and habits are not time-consuming at all.
What bullet journal brand do I buy?
I have been using Dingbats. At first, I just loved the illustrations on the covers and vegan leather. But now, I can honestly say that I would repurchase it not only for that but also because the paper is fantastic. I love using professional pens to draw and fill my journals. However, most notebooks papers end up breaking my pens tips. But not the Dingbats ones.
I hope this article about a step by step set up for your bullet journal goals has been helpful. I sincerely hope you will be considering creating your own, or even buying a ready-to-fill one. If you’re anxious, if you’re easily overwhelmed, or if you’re struggling with time management, journaling will help.
But you don’t need to be struggling at all to enjoy the benefits of bullet journaling. I can honestly say that journaling has improved our relationship dynamic, making us more mindful in the morning and more present over the day.
If you have your journal, please leave us a comment to share your experience and reflections. We would love to add your thoughts on why setting up bullet journal goals has helped you, or not. If you have any excellent bullet journal brands to share, please do! The one I am using now is vegan and gives a percentage of its profit to organizations protecting the environment.