I have been using the Bullet Journal method since January 2019 as a New Year’s resolution… this might be the first time I stick to one.
At the time I had an idea of who I wanted to be, I wrote a detailed plan of the ‘ideal me’ and determined some steps that would allow me to become that person. To make this tangible, I set some goals and then thought of smaller periods of time and specific actions to achieve them.
In regards to personal goals, I decided to change my daily habits; this included prayer, bible reading, exercise, contacting family and friends. The main professional goal required about a years preparation and I broke tasks down in weeks. I pictured a well-rounded person and I included several aspects of my life.
However, I made a long list of ideal habits and I did not think too much about how feasible it was. It took me a few weeks to realise that aiming for a radical change was very difficult and frustrating. To fix this, I defined attainable habits that I was not willing to negotiate with myself and tried my best to stick to them. The Bullet Journal book did warn me about this mistake but I made it anyway! I guess this is fine and one needs to learn some lessons along the way. Once I managed the basics I had defined for myself, I added a bit more.
Not every week or month was perfect, I still have a long way to go until I am overall satisfied with the person I want to be. However, I see significant progress in several aspects of my life and that makes me happy. Nothing in this world will be ever perfect and it would be quite proud to say that one has nothing to improve. I attained my professional goal which was to be a qualified Spanish teacher. This was a massive project and I am glad to look back in my journals and see all the stages I went through to achieve this. This was a monumental task but it was done one day at a time.
One of the best lessons from Bullet Journal until now has been intentionality. Having a purpose, being mindful of the things I expect from myself and remaining focused has shaped my character and kept me stable throughout 2020 and 2021 in spite of all the changes and challenges that arouse. The thousands of things I got done in this journey are valuable, but secondary.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
Lao Tzu – Chinese proverb
This post is day 2 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Visit 100daystooffload.com to get more info, or to get involved.
The Bullet Journal method has deeply impacted my life for 15 months. I am sure it will continue to be a pillar in my life for a long time. I want to thank Ryder Carroll for his brilliant book The Bullet Journal.
Bullet Journal® is designed to help you organize your what while you remain mindful of your why. The goal of the Bullet Journal is to help its practitioners (Bullet Journalists) live intentional lives, ones that are both productive and meaningful.
Towards the end of 2018, I needed an organisation method as I was struggling to have a clear vision of my current projects and deadlines as well as personal stuff. I had a long to-do list everyday but I was not mindful of my medium and long term goals. They were at the back of my mind. My daily to-do list contained:
Important and urgent things
Important but non-urgent things
If time things
At the end of the day I crossed many items out but did not stop to think: ‘where do these individual tasks lead me?’ or ‘are they steps towards the job I want to do in the future?’
When I found out about Bullet Journal, the phrase ‘live an intentional life’ resonated with me. Although I believed I was an efficient person, only a small percentage of the tasks were contributing to my goals. At times, I remembered what I wanted one or two years earlier and then I realised I was quite far from achieving that. This happened because I lacked clear goals and a plan to achieve them.
I got the book and read it along with he Bullet Journal blog, reading about people’s experiences was very helpful. I started journaling on the 1st of January 2019. Thinking about my goals was really hard, perhaps my only clear goals in life had been to finish secondary school, then to get a degree and a job. Once I got past that stage, I got into an automatic pilot, I think the fuel just run out for me. I wanted to focus on this new job and to relax a bit after 4 hectic university years.
Everyone needs a break from time to time, I think it is like allowing yourself some chocolate ice cream after an extensive diet. However, life can become too comfortable and it may just happen for you.
Thinking about goals took time, it was a bit painful, I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to do next, I felt like I went back to the end of secondary school when I was anxious about what career to choose and how to be a grown up. I believe that this is an inevitable part of life, people begin projects and one day they end. After a deserved break, it is time to think about something bigger or new. In my case, things developed and I established some short, medium and long term goals as well as the necessary habits I that would get me there. Not every day was a success, I tried to change all my habits at once and obviously failed.
When doing my daily and weekly revisions, I realised that I was trying to change everything in one go and I did not have the ability to do it. I then started with baby steps, something that required effort but that I was willing to keep with no excuses. As days and weeks went by, I started to consolidate these habits and could stick to them most of the time. This was very rewarding and I became more determined towards the goals I had set for myself and could begin to take my targets to the next level.
I have learnt valuable things while using the method and I would like to share them with you:
Use of the time
I thought that time management was a bit like doing lists and ticking off boxes. The initial pages of my Bullet Journal are filled with long lists and postponed tasks, which really frustrated me. However, when I aligned my activities to my priorities and goals, I noticed a shift in the way I spent my time. I understood that quantity isn’t necessarily quality. Tasks became meaningful and manageable, I knew where I was heading and was motivated, I got into a nice workflow in different areas of my life.
Within a few months, I could accomplish some of my short and medium term goals. Some goals were not realistic at the time but I could think about them again in the future. I also gave up some goals which did not interest me anymore. This was difficult at times but totally worth it. It gave me more time to focus on what was relevant!
Ups and downs
I can definitely be lazy and have different reasons not to take projects further. I was aware of the importance of structure, discipline and resilience when it comes to goals. However, I would set an exercise goal and abandon it in less than 3 weeks. Unfortunately, this was a tendency in other areas of my life.
When I defined my priorities and goals, it was easier to align my habits and routine to them. Things like waking up early, reading, exercising, developing professional skills became part of my life and I tracked them daily or weekly.
Actually, the habit tracker page is one of my favourite things about Bullet Journal. It may seem silly but it is very exciting to count the check marks at the end of the month and see the progress. For example:
By reading 3 or 4 chapters every day, I read the Bible in one year. I had tried to do this in the past but I left it.
I am following an exercise programme called Insanity MAX30. I am on the second month now. If you know the programme, you know what I am talking about: 30 minutes in awe and pain, 5 times a week.
I will start a university course in September 2020. I applied to the same position in 2019 and failed. It was a good try but I wasn’t ready at the time. The positive side is that I could identify areas of development and worked on them for several months. I am sure that I am much more prepared to for this course now.
Identify when you are genuinely being lazy or making excuses and do something about it. Rest assured: every day counts, consistency renders great results. BUT be kind to yourself when things don’t go as planned. Reflect upon them, be flexible, adjust and move on. It is better to make a slow but steady progress than to start with intensity, lose your breath quickly and do nothing at all.
Note: this does NOT apply to Insanity MAX30.
Do not to get caught by personal and professional goals only, this takes your attention away from important people in your life. It doesn’t matter how much you love or appreciate someone, if you don’t demonstrate it then it is hard to believe it exists. Living in London made it difficult for me to maintain close contact with my family, the distance and time differences are hard to manage. I used to call them whenever I had ‘spare time’ but calling your family every two months is not good enough is it?
Currently, I make sure I call my parents or sisters regularly. I spend quality time with my husband after work or during the weekends and try to call my friends and catch up with them much more than I used to. Routine, work or personal ambitions might catch us unaware and cause us to lose unique moments with our loved ones. I would like to keep improving on this, it is not perfect but I am more mindful of my interactions and value them greatly.
I am still improving in many areas of my life but at this point of my life, I am more similar to the person I always wanted to be than I was 15 months ago.
I set very serious goals for myself on the 1st of January 2020. I have been living intentionally every day of 2020. I look forward to look at that page at the beginning of June and see what I achieved. I will definitely share it! I encourage you to have a look at the Bullet Journal method website and to get started. You will see examples of elaborate journals which are beautiful but do not be put off by this, you do not need to be an artist , just give the journal your personality and most importantly: live every day of your life intentionally!
This post is day 1 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Visit 100daystooffload.com to get more info, or to get involved.