As I get back into my routine after the holidays, I greet friends and colleagues with “Happy New Year!” The next question is often “How was your holiday?” I’ve been answering “Good” and meaning it, despite spending most of the break with a bad cold. I had a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with family, only to cancel most plans for the next week as I hacked and sniffled and did nothing more strenuous than reaching for tissues and endless hot tea. But, strangely enough, the enforced rest was good for me. I read a couple of books while my kids played on their computers nearby. I cuddled up on the couch with my husband and watched some old movies. And I was well enough to stay up to cheer in the New Year (barely) and meet up with my brother and his family for a lovely brunch before school and work resumed. Being laid up was not too bad at all. It gave me a chance to press pause on everything and reset myself before starting it all again.
One of the books I read as I recovered was “The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future” by Ryder Carroll. I always like to have a notebook with me to jot down ideas, lists, and inspiration. This book outlined an interesting approach from someone who seemed very relatable to me – taking examples from his software web design background, productivity and mindfulness while being open about issues that he has struggled with such as ADD, job hunting and relationships. The advice seemed authentic and useful, so I decided to take on bullet journaling as a way of tracking my progress towards my goals in 2019.
Bullet journaling has a few basic parts, similar to many personal organizers from any office supply store. It has daily and monthly log pages, plus “future logs” to capture tasks and events beyond the current month. You jot down bullet points for tasks, events and notes each day, then mark them as complete or defer them to later by copying them to other logs. What makes this powerful is the underlying philosophy of mindfulness and intentionality. Writing by hand focuses you on the present. Stopping to reflect makes you consider what is important and whether or not what you are doing aligns with your goals. The bullet journal is a tool that allows you to de-clutter your mind by externalizing all the items on your “To do list” and tracking your progress towards your goals.
Carroll suggests an interesting exercise to identify your goals: write your obituary! Although it sounds somewhat morbid (actually, very morbid), it does tend to cut things down to essentials… He suggests writing two alternative versions – one following your “well-worn path” and another in which you take the “path less travelled”, pursuing your interests and working on self-improvement. You circle accomplishments from the obituaries and turn these into short-term goals in your bullet journal. You then break down each goal into individual, manageable tasks. You keep focus on these goals to the exclusion of others until you either accomplish them or decide they are no longer worth focusing on.
So, based on my own two obituaries, my 2019 personal goals include:
- Planning a trip to Japan with my family.
- Making our home a welcoming place to entertain family and friends.
- Exercising regularly and eating well.
My professional goals in 2019 include:
- Making an impact on the future of youth in our community.
- Blogging consistently and growing a following on social media.
- Developing an ecommerce business.
These goals keep me curious and engaged in exploring new areas. I’m excited about all the possibilities ahead and exploring them with the help of my bullet journal. Have you thought about your goals for 2019? What is important to you? What tools do you use to help you reflect and keep you on track? Take a moment to stop and think about what you want to focus on during the next year and step out boldly into the world!