A Year of Bullet Journaling

What I’ve learned, how I’ve progressed and how I feel after one year of Bullet Journaling…

As 2018 drew to a close, so did my first year of Bullet Journaling. And so today I’d like to share with you my experiences during the first year of my Bullet Journaling journey.

“.. in the beginning, I was constantly struggling”.

My 2018 Resolutions page took me four attempts and days to complete..

When I started my first journal I felt very anxious.. I had been consumed by beautiful images of beautiful Bullet Journals on Instagram and so had inadvertently put a huge amount of pressure on myself to create something equally beautiful, and Instagram worthy, as the accounts I’d recently fallen in love with. This however, was not my initial experience.

I jumped straight into the Bullet Journal and Instagram worlds simultaneously, which, I found, was anything but relaxing or fulfilling and in the beginning I was constantly struggling. I wanted everything to be perfect but as I hadn’t drawn for at least a year prior to starting my journal, I found every page took me forever to complete. I felt upset when I made mistakes, put pressure on myself to create different styles of spreads every week but then struggled to think of new layouts and themes. I continually felt I didn’t have enough space to create as immediately prior to starting my journaling I’d been drawing on A1 sheets of paper. I didn’t know how to take or edit photographs to give me the look I envisioned for my Instagram account and it was the middle of winter with each day consisting of only a few hours of natural daylight.

My February calendar – these pages took me two days to complete

Overall I felt disappointed in myself and was turning something that was supposed to be helpful and enjoyable into a struggle.
But now that I look back at this time I realise I went through some important stages and learned some valuable lessons about myself, which I’m now very grateful for.

Time to relax..

After a couple of months or so I calmed down. I started to fall into my stride and discovered which layouts worked for me and which pages I actually used and found useful in my journal.

I realised vertical weekly layouts just don’t work for me, they look good initially but I dislike them when they are written in. Then I discovered that in fact, weekly logs themselves don’t work for me. My life and moods are too unpredictable to constrain myself in that way – I’d either end up with pages full of empty space or run out of space to write/ draw. So I switched to daily logs and these suit me perfectly. And although I’ve started using trackers in my journal recently, I would never, ever complete a habit tracker when I first started out.

When I began keeping daily logs it alleviated a lot of pressure

So in fact I realised that I had been keeping the Bullet Journal I thought I should, rather than the Bullet Journal I actually needed.

In April I stated a new journal and then in May, when my April journal hadn’t worked out perfectly, I started another new journal and at this point I realised I had to seriously start working on my desire and expectations for everything to be perfect, something I discovered has held me back throughout my life.

This journal only contains the month of April

“Creativity, I realised, is like a muscle that you have to regularly work out in order to reach your true potential”.

Around October (10 months in) I truly started to feel content with my style of journaling and the direction my Instagram account was heading. I was continually enjoying my journal, rather than worrying about it. And after 10 full months of consistently drawing, writing and lettering I noticed how my skills were developing and improving, as was my ability to create, which gave me a sense of satisfaction. I tend to have more ideas and I execute them more quickly as my confidence comes back to me. Creativity, I realised, is like a muscle that you have to regularly work out in order to reach your true potential.

Lessons Learned

Committing to doing something every day is very positive for me. Even if I just write the date and a note of the weather it keeps me mindful and in the moment.

I enjoy learning new skills and re-learning old ones. This year I’ve learned how to keep a cohesive Instagram feed, how to edit photographs using Snapseed and re-learned how to digitise art in Adobe Illustrator.

Perhaps, most importantly I’ve learned that my journal will never be perfect and I’m finding it less challenging now when I make mistakes. My focus now is to fix it and move on, rather than freak out and obsess over it for days.

One year on..

I am so happy I embarked on this journey. Bullet Journaling really has gotten me back on track. It’s given me a sense of purpose and a feeling of accomplishment. It’s re-sparked my creativity, encouraged me to dream again and begin setting goals for myself, for which I am eternally grateful.

Thank you to Ryder Carol for creating this system and sharing it with us so we can all benefit from the Bullet Journaling process.

Daily logs from October with time this particular week to add illustrations

How did you feel when you started your first Bullet Journal? And how do you feel now about Bullet Journaling? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

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