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Bullet journals are a fantastic place to create, track, and monitor your goals. Frequently, though, I’ve noticed specific goals don’t usually last longer than the life of a bullet journal. Why is this? Well, people have a tendency to pick a few random things to adjust over a smaller period of time. Yet change can be even more successful when what you are working on aligns with your long term goals.
I’ve always been one with an eye for optimizing. For the last year I’ve created various trackers and systems to achieve success.
Yet I’ve realized that in the last couple of months of using a bullet journal that it’s been really challenging to maintain older successes, especially while I’m achieving different ones. It became a frustrating pattern; one of which I wasn’t sure how to break.
Until, not long ago, my blog indirectly helped me realize what I needed to change to break this pattern of poor goal maintenance.
From Blog to Bullet Journals
Trying to fulfill all these goals without a purpose is tough!
As a new blogger, I’ve been connecting with various programs and people to help improve my blog. About a month ago I received an email from Ruth Soukup (founder of the Elite Blog Academy) that had some interesting insight about achieving goals in general.
Much like with my bullet journal, I felt like I was drowning in my individual blog tasks. I was trying to do this little thing, coupled with this little thing, in addition to ANOTHER little thing to create positive change.
Finding resonance in her emails, I quickly signed up for the “Daily Productivity Guide for Bloggers” program and started working through her program.
One of the things she recommended that struck a new chord with me was looking at tasks in a different light. Instead of doing a lot of little things to create a big thing, she suggested that I work the other way around. In her program, she told me that I should start big, and break it down smaller from there.
It’s been successful with my blog in many ways. Also, the same advice helped me create new perspective to do the same with my bullet journal. I realized I was missing long term goals in my bullet journal.
Long Term Goals
Long term goals give you purpose and direction.
What do long term goals accomplish? Well, they help you figure out what direction you’d like to go in life. Long term goals are generally those that you will fully accomplish in no sooner than a year.
Having a larger goal and breaking down the tasks to accomplish the goal into smaller, specific tasks makes it much easier to maintain.
Mindfulness exercise: Take 15-30 minutes thinking about and writing down what you’d like to accomplish in your life. I really encourage you not to judge or filter what you write down. Make these longer term goals as big as you want! The sky is the limit.
If you remember, I mentioned in my first paragraph that it can be challenging to maintain goals for longer than the lifetime of your bullet journal. I’m going to help fix that barrier first before breaking down how to maintain them in your regular bullet journal.
Make Your Bullet Journal Long Term Goal Friendly
There are three ways you can maintain long term goals in a way that you won’t have to re-write them down every time you migrate to a new bullet journal.
Create A Second Bullet Journal
Speaking of which, you should check out Nittany Bujo’s amazing Instagram
account to see her lovely collection ideas!
Why is this a more friendly option? Well, typically this type of bullet journal is going to last you much longer than the life of a general bullet journal. You’re only going to create trackers and collections that are not time-sensitive in this version.
I created a collection in the start of my new collection bullet journal specifically writing down each of my long term goals. I now have a reference point when I break these bigger goals down in my general bullet journal.
(If you use a traveler’s notebook for bullet journals, you can use an additional insert to accomplish the same effect.)
Use a Pocket Sized Notebook
Your second option is similar to the first, but in this case you’re going to take a miniature notebook that you will house your big goals in. A pocket sized Moleskine notebook is a perfect place for this list! Plus, it is easily transferable as you change notebooks for your general bullet journal.
Make A List
The last option is to create either a paper or computer document list of your long term goals. This is kept separately from your bullet journal. The intention is to create a consistent, safe place for you to reference these.
When I was in my third year of marriage, my husband and I created a paper list of goals we wanted to accomplish that year. We actually tacked the list up on our living room wall to reference regularly. We managed to accomplish most of the goals in the discussed time frame. So don’t knock the paper list, there is truly a lot of value within it.
Create Your Long Term Goals Collection
Do all the things!
Now is the time to use what you wrote down in the exercise I recommended earlier in this article in your long term goals collection.
In your collection, I recommend creating 4 categories:
You certainly can create more categories if you prefer. This is what was recommended, and works well! Take each goal you wrote and put it in the corresponding category.
Leave plenty of space in each category. You certainly do not have to fill in every blank space. You may find you have new goals you’d like to add down the road.
Break Down Your Long Term Goals
Now that you have your list, let’s discuss breaking them down further in your regular bullet journal.
A typical bullet journal lasts between 3-12 months. Mine last approximately 6 months. My examples will reflect this.
Select 1-2 long term goals from each category. At the beginning of each bullet journal, make sure to write the goals you selected in one of the first pages of the bullet journal.
If a particular goal will take longer to complete than the course of one bullet journal, this is where you’d break down it down further.
NOTE: You do not need to wait until starting a new bullet journal to implement long term goals! Just account for how much time you have left, and break down accordingly.
It doesn’t need to be complicated at all!
The first step is to break down your long term goals to the length of time you will use your bullet journal. If the entire goal can be completed in the course of a bullet journal, it’s fine to leave it as it is.
However, as your long term goal will generally take longer to achieve than the life if your bullet journal, you’d break the goal down to a manageable level here.
You will now break down the yearly/bi-yearly goal into quarters. A quarter last 3 months, so typically your bullet journal will have 2-4 quarters worth of time.
In the quarterly section, you will determine the steps you need to take to fulfill the bigger goal.
The monthly section breaks down the quarterly goals into thirds. You determine the steps you need to take each month to fulfill the quarterly goal.
You may notice your goals start becoming more simple in this stage. But it’s still important that your suggestions still leave a little more room for additional breakdown.
Gorgeous weekly from stationeryberry on her Instagram page!
You now break down the monthly goal even further into 4-5 steps (one for each week!) to fulfill the monthly goal.
If you want to be extra ambitious, you may even break down the weekly goal into which steps you need to make daily to fulfill the weekly goal.
If you only use a weekly format, you may combine the weekly and daily goals in your weekly layout.
Putting it Together!
Look at all these fantastic trackers!!!
A post from bulletingbird on her Instagram page!
It’s easy to explain the concept in my head, but you may find it easier to see an example of how this all works. I’ll even provide a personal example and breakdown of a goal I plan to achieve!
- Long Term Goal- Get to 140 pounds and maintain this weight lifelong.
- Bullet Journal Goal (bi-yearly)- Lose five pounds
- Quarter 1 Goal- Lose three pounds
- Month 1 Goal- Lose one pound.
- Week 1 Goal- Work out three days.
- Daily Goal- Work out for 30 minutes.
What’s really interesting is that there are so many methods to achieve weight loss. But by breaking it down into simpler tasks and having a long term expectation in mind, it’s easier to achieve this goal. And once I achieve the weight loss, then the goals shift to maintenance tasks until I am able to consistently maintain the habit.
You may also notice that a five pound weight lost isn’t substantial, but I really want to focus on creating consistent habits rather than accomplishing more in this time period. If I try to do too much at once, I stand the risk of losing momentum after I reach the goal. That, or I’ll be too overwhelmed to maintain it regularly.
One last thing!!!
You still need to DO what you plan.
Making a list is great, and a long term goals collection will serve as a fantastic reference. However, if you don’t do the work, you won’t make the progress.
And in the end, if you feel like it’s too much, take some steps if you feel like this system isn’t working for you.
It’s incredible how much easier it is to create lasting habits just by defining a long term goal and creating the steps to maintain it!
Do you have a different way of tracking your long term goals in your bullet journal? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
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