How To Use Your Bullet Journal To Set Goals … And Achieve Them

This week's blog post is from Olivia Rafferty, a journaler, musician, and photographer. She loves to explore creativity and recently shared with us some of her best ideas on how to set and achieve your goals with your bullet journal.

How To Use Your Bullet Journal To Set Goals… And Achieve Them​​​​​​​

I’ve been an avid bullet journaller since January this year, and what a wild (glittery) ride it’s been. I can’t think of a better way to organize and motivate myself, as well as stay creative. Recently I've been experimenting with ways to help me set and achieve monthly (or longer term) goals in my journal, and I think I've found a pretty solid method. So, if you've resisted the bujo way of life so far, hang on to your hat, because I’m going to show you some planning magic that'll have you running to the nearest stationery store.

Have you ever sat down days before New Years and written out a long list of things you’d like to do in the year to come, only to look back six months in and realise… you’ve kinda not done any of them? A lot of the time we create goals but keep them up in the stratosphere, so they’re just these weird, abstract planets floating round our heads, keeping us intrigued but always staying distant.

One of the reasons we don’t achieve our goals is that we don’t even write them down in the first place. And even when we write them down, they sit in an old notebook somewhere so we never have those ideas flashing across our eyes again. What did the “you” of late 2016 want to achieve this year? Do you even remember?

For me, the biggest reason for giving my goals a wide berth is the fact that they can be massive and nebulous. I want to release some music this year. What I wrote down in my journal was, “produce my first real release this year.” Didn’t say whether it was a single or an EP, didn’t state when, or how. Just, produce music. Do you have a goal like this? Did you promise yourself you’d move to Australia, or learn a new language, or take more pride in your appearance? Did you ever get into the specifics?

I subscribe to the idea of the Law of Attraction. I have seen tiny magical happenings gather around my ideas and desires, but I also know that you have to put work in, too. The universe wants to find you working. Manifestation happens when you say, “I want to go on holiday to Cambodia!” and then start saving and looking up flight prices to Phnom Penh. It does not work when you say, “I want to go on holiday to Cambodia!” and then sit in your office cubicle grumping about how you are very definitely not in Cambodia, right now.

We have to make our goals touch ground, we have to break them up into real, tangible steps in order to get close to achieving them. This is where our bullet journals, notebooks and planners come in!

How To Use Your Bullet Journal To Set Goals… And Achieve Them​​​​​​​

Decide On Your Goals

At the start of September, while making my monthly spread where I put down all my important dates etc., I included a goals section that outlined my desires for the month. This month, as you can see, I want to:

  • Smash this gig I have coming up on the 22nd (LOTS to plan!)

  • Read 1 book (this is hilarious because I studied English Literature at uni and I am such a BAD READER, I’m so picky nowadays and read basically nothing so… a *real* challenge for me!)

  • Upload 4 videos (#youtubelyfe)

  • Post 4 blogs (#bloglyfe)

  • Meditate more (a lil’ bit vague, so I'll have to watch out with this one)

I try not to choose too many things to get done in one month because… priorities. I have one big goal (this gig) and the rest are just little ones that need maintenance throughout the month.

How To Use Your Bullet Journal To Set Goals… And Achieve Them​​​​​​​

Break Them Down

The first thing to do once you’ve decided on your (manageable) goals for the month is to then go into them one by one, and figure out what are the steps you need to take to get to that end point. To help me manage all these steps, I created a little “Goal Setting” spread after my September pages. Assigning each goal to a block, I then broke them down. More simple goals like meditation could be broken down into steps which could be taken weekly:

  • Make weekly tracker

  • Wake up early every day

  • Meditate 5-10 minutes before breakfast

More complicated goals, like my gig, get broken down into bigger steps, as seen below:

How To Use Your Bullet Journal To Set Goals… And Achieve Them​​​​​​​

So after making these lists, I now know exactly what I need to do to get from point A to point B. All I gotta do... is just do it.

Put It In The Planner

Take a look at this week and the first few steps of each of your goals. What can you schedule in over the next 7 days? For my meditation goal, I can make a tracker in this week’s spread which will remind me to meditate, and help me record the days I do it (it's basically a little grid of 7 boxes to tick off for each day in the week). I also scheduled in going to the library for my reading goal, and a mid-weekly blog post (hi! this is it!).

Now that you have everything lined up, it’s just a case of ticking items off the list. This might be the most difficult part of the whole process! But just remember: you got this. And don't be afraid to change or reschedule your goals as appropriate, if sudden hurdles come up.

At the beginning of every new week and new spread, go back to your goals page and see what the next steps are, and when you can schedule them in. Keep going through this process until you can sit back and say, “wow, I did that thing.”


guest post by Olivia Rafferty, Finding Inka. Follow Olivia:



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