Perhaps my favorite thing about the bullet journal is its flexibility, and freedom to become whatever it is you need it to be in that moment. In a strange way, the bullet journal has taught me some things about offering myself forgiveness and grace – which I’ve come to need quite a bit as of late. Let the string of personal development posts continue!
I appreciate so many things about this system. In Ryder Carroll’s original bullet journal system, you go day at a time, using as much or as little space as you need. For some, this was liberating because they wouldn’t waste a bunch of pages in a pre-dated planner – you could skip days as necessary and get right back to it when you needed it. I actually don’t see too much of this in the Instagram community, but it’s been helpful for me.
I’m pretty diligent about the weekly set ups since my sanity at work depends on it, but the weekends and travel days are really loose for me. I often have half-sketched out weekends, or no weekend spreads at all – because I have a lot of events happening or the tasks are already prominent in my head. And that’s okay!
Use it from desire, not expectation. Again, the bullet journal is a tool so if I don’t need to use it, I don’t. Sometimes I hear about people feeling pangs of guilt for skipping days in their bullet journal or weeks, and I want to ask them who they think they’re disappointing by skipping days. It’s one of those expectations that feels real but is not – can we get some permission to take the days that we need?
In similar ways, I’ve been trying to give myself permission to challenge expectations that seem real but aren’t – by taking days off of posting on social media, not having a blog post, by posting what I really feel and not just happy rainbow stuff, by being okay with maintaining my blog rather than growing my blog. For saying no to commitments I don’t have time or desire to make. Not saying that is easy by any means (I talk more about why that shit is hard over here), but that I’m challenging the expectations so I can do more things that are true to what I need right now rather than what I think other people want from me.
Structures are evolving, not permanent. I often change the structures of my weekly layouts in my bullet journal to suit my week. And when I’ve done good reflecting and at my best, I can identify ways to change structures in my own life to allow me to live more simply, smoothly, intentionally.
I’ve been trying to block off time in my work calendar for busy grading weeks, setting aside time in the mornings for planning and reading (not just doing), to sign up for workout classes to keep committing to my physical wellness, challenged the “1-hour default” for work meetings, and most of all – realize that structures can be moveable. Every week you can do something new – choices that seem huge are usually not permanent. You are evolving, your self and your needs and desires are evolving and you can also evolve your life and structures to go along with it.
I’m learning this: Worry less about making the RIGHT choice and much more about making an INTENTIONAL one.
We are resilient, strong, capable people – WHEN happens in ways we don’t expect, we will adapt and we will figure it out. I’m learning to look that uncertainty and fear in the eye and move into it, not knowing if it’ll even be worth it but knowing that eventually, I can be okay. The choices and the structures are not permanent.
You choose what to migrate. You see all my checkboxes and to do list items – and yet every week I make many choices that leave them open and undone. In the act of migrating tasks week to week I choose what is important to me right now, and what is important to me later. Lately, tasks or events arise where I’ve actively made the choice, as I’ve mentioned before, from a place of my own desire and what I want to do in that moment. However, it is not without a cost. I’ve chosen connection with people over my responsibilities grading, I’ve chosen helping someone else at the expense of writing a blog post – there is always a loss. Which means I have to choose who I am disappointing in this moment, and needing to be okay with that.
Lastly, this: keep what is serving you, release and let go of what is not.
Way easier said than done. In my bullet journal, I had let go of the index, a monthly tracker, and future logs. I adopted a weekly, color, and slightly different bullets. Despite the side commentary I receive, I’m okay because this is what works for me. Each week or month I add what might be helpful, keep what has been good, and let go of what wasn’t.
I’m trying to do the same thing in my life. This has been the hardest lesson. It’s like Kon-Mari-ing my life. In this stage it feels like I am looking at everything and asking myself, “does this spark joy?” There are things I’ve carried throughout my life that have become burden rather than foundation, acquaintances that have become more life-depleting than life-giving, parts of myself that I have buried rather than nourished or suppressed rather than embraced. I’ve realized I limited and silenced myself in more ways than I’ve ever known. So I’m trying to dismantle those things so I can be more of myself, full throttle. And most importantly, to have PEACE with that self, and believe that it is worthy.
In light of all of this and the book I’m reading, Present Over Perfect, you may see just one post a week from me. I’m trying to give myself more time in my life to care for myself. This blog and account are wonderful parts of my life – but I wanted to let you know straight up I’m letting go of the expectation that I keep up with it in the same ways as I have in the past. I hope you can give yourself the grace to do something similar for yourself.
Does this resonate at all with you? Do you have thoughts, reflections, good quotes, encouragement, alternative perspectives? I’d love to hear. Or you can drop me a line at my email address: Jessica@prettyprintsandpaper.com