Bullet Journaling for Goal Driven People Who Value Reflection

With one of my new favorite books!

Many of my friends and co-workers have commented that I am a goal driven person. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might have noticed this tendency. My post last week was all about steps to take to set winter fitness goals!

Connected to my drive to write goals and achieve them is I find great value in reflecting on my learning and the progress I’m making. I wrote a book about reflecting on learning and I teach classes at the University of Minnesota on professional reflection, so it makes sense that it’s a practice I value.

After I went through chemotherapy and radiation therapy for breast cancer, I developed a focus and memory problem that resulted in several consultations with medical staff who taught me the value of list making as a memory and focus tool. Thus began my obsession with list making. I got so into it, I had notebooks full of lists. Along the way, I realized I would get really disappointed in myself if I didn’t complete and cross off everything on my list every day. 

Needless to say, I’ve done quite a few therapy sessions about my feelings of “accomplishment failure.” Thankfully, my high school Spanish teacher, Ki Ki Gore, who also was a breast cancer survivor, suggested that I put things on my list that I 100% knew that I would accomplish, so that I’d have the pleasure of crossing it off my list!! Brilliant!! I’ve put every meal I eat and every shower I take on my daily list making for at least the past 12 years! Maybe silly and for sure effective! 

Two months ago I stumbled on a podcast called The Ultimate Health Podcast that featured Ryder Carroll, the founder of the Bullet Journal movement. I was utterly captivated. I immediately ordered his book, The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future and I joined a few Bullet Journal Facebook groups. 

When the book arrived, I read it cover to cover, and I fell in love with Ryder’s system. I realized that there were a few things that bothered me about my list-making notebooks. First, because I crossed everything off with a big line through the middle of the item, it was virtually impossible to reflect on what I had written down to do on any given day. Second, I never numbered the pages in any notebook I used for my lists, so there was no way to remember what I had written down on any day. I couldn’t use my notebooks to reflect on the past or design the future. 

In Ryder’s Bullet Journal system, BuJo for short, he uses a few key symbols that make sense. I don’t cross things off fully, instead, I put an “x” over the bullet of the task. If I don’t do the task at the reflective end of the day as I plan my next day, I migrate uncompleted tasks. The process of migrating daily and then monthly allow for reflection and assessment. This already is helping mitigate my accomplishment failure reaction. Plus his notebooks, that you can buy and I did, are numbered which allows for the very, very valuable practice of indexing. 

I read the book and practiced the BuJo system in my old list notebook during the month of November. Then on December 1st, I started my first ever official BuJo. 

I’m only minorly artistic and a few of the BuJo Facebook groups are filled with expert calligraphers and drawers. I kept myself focused and reminded myself that my drive to use the BuJo system was to have the ability to more effectively “track the past and design the future.” Artistic and design ability are not a priority for me.

One thing I greatly appreciate is that Ryder strongly encourages handwriting, not using an app or Google calendar. I values the process of writing down what I’m going to do the next day by hand. Handwriting slows me down and allows for reflection. Turns out that’s a valuable thing to make time for in our busy, hectic daily lives. Because of my memory challenges, I do also use a Google Calendar and I find that the BuJo and the GCal work together well for me. 

In the BuJo system, the slowing down process of thinking and reviewing what you did as you design your future is key.  

If this captures your attention, I encourage you to give it a try. I’ve been at my BuJo for 3 weeks so far and I can tell I love it and will keep doing it for years to come. In fact, it was because of my new BuJo that I got motivated and inspired to send out 50+ holiday cards this year!! I created a “Collection” page in my BuJo to brainstorm about it. 

I have an annual tradition of reflecting on how I did with my annual goals and creating new annual goals. I intend to use my BuJo alongside my Vision Board for 2021!! 

What do you think of this BuJo idea? Are you a Bullet Journaler? Please tell me, I love hearing from you!!

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