Personal Growth

Bullet Journaling Your 2021 Goals Into Reality

I am an absolute sucker for new years & new starts. Life is so romantic when the slate is clean and the possibilities are endless. 

To skip a lengthy reflection on the last year, it’s safe to say it was jam-packed with highs and lows. Chaotic yet joyful. Difficult yet rewarding. In 2020, I set out with lofty goals for myself. Here are two that seemed near impossible when I wrote them down in my journal:

-to become financially independent (from a girl who had about $250 in her bank account after returning from a 2019 semester abroad and absolutely no summer job to speak of. My parents and grandparents once pity handed me cash at dinner because I was broke as could be)

-to get a dog (reference lack of money in my bank account and add in unconvinced significant other without an aptitude towards big fluffy dogs)

The odds were not stacked in my favor for either. Given the year we were thrown, there were a lot of excuses ripe for the picking for quitting on my goals. Potential COVID-19 collateral damage as you will. Perhaps it came down to sheer stubbornness or luck, but I would like to wager that my goal setting methods played a role in following through with my goals despite a crazy year. And with due acknowledgement to chance and privilege, here I sit in my apartment paying my big girl bills cuddled up with my big ole Bernese mountain dog.

2020 was the year I honed in on my goal-setting skills and recognized the power of setting clear intentions. Where you put your energy, both mentally and physically, has so much power. And I don’t want to get too bat sh*t nuts on you guys, but prioritizing a goal and steering the course can get you SO far in three months, six months, a year. 

If 2020 wasn’t your year, no worries. Don’t sweat it. I don’t think it was anyone’s year. That doesn’t mean you can’t set new goals for yourself and map out exactly how to get there in 2021.

In the spirit of the New Year, I thought I would share my tips for setting and achieving goals. I am in no means an expert in any of this. Take it all with a grain of salt and pixie dust, but I am always interested in seeing how other people set goals. These steps have really helped me tackle some big dreams.

Tip 1: Write It Down.

My planning and goal setting all start with my journal. I swear by my Moleskine sketchbook. If you are looking to manifest some serious stuff into your life, I recommend you start with finding a journal that fits your needs. 

A 2015 study performed by Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University of California found that participants who wrote down their goals were 42% more likely to achieve their goals than those who did not write them down. That is one heck of a head start on getting where you want to be.

bullet journal moleskine sketchbook goal setting

Tip 2: Don't Set Too Many Goals.

Some of my worst laid New Year’s resolutions were the ones with a million different scattered things I was supposed to accomplish. You only have so much time in a day. If you try to focus on too many things, you will end up focused on none.

Start small and start slow. Creating new habits and working towards new goals is difficult. I failed exceptionally quickly when I made goals like: Workout 6 times a week, drink 5L of water a day, get up at 5 am every day, read a book a week, meditate 30 minutes every day, etc. All at once?! 

When I gave myself too much to accomplish, I got overwhelmed by my inability to suddenly do all of these new things each day. I would just end up quitting. My tip is to prioritize a few new goals to focus on. Start small. When those things become habits, attempt new goals. 

This year, I set 9 goals for myself. I try to set 1-2 goals for different areas of my life (physical health, personal finances, mental health, relationships, career, personal development). 

Tip 3: Choose Goals That Are Compatible With One Another.

If I have some sort of string that ties all of my goals together, they become a lot easier to accomplish. For example, I want to read 30 books in 2021. I also want to establish a more consistent nighttime routine. So if I read every night before bed, I am working towards a more consistent routine while also reading more books. It is like a two for one special.

Think about setting goals that work well together and produce a domino of achievements. 

Tip 4: Use Simple "I will" Language. Be Specific.

specific goals in bullet journal

Keep it simple. Write as if accomplishing your goal is the only option. I started setting goals in an “I will…” format instead of “I want to...” and it completely changed my mindset. A little bit of law of attraction, a little bit of manifestation, and a lot of believing you are capable of achieving what you want. 

Make the goal clear, not wordy or confusing. Be concise and very specific. 

I am convinced specificity is the key to success. In the past, I would set broad goals such as, “I want to read more”. But I never knew what that even meant. There was no way to know I had achieved that goal. This year I set a goal to read 30 books. This is easily measured and tracked.

Tip 5: Map it Out. Be Specific.

It’s great to put plans into the universe. I believe those words yield a lot of power. However, in my personal experience, a goal without an actionable plan is entirely useless to me. I want to buy a car? Cool. It’s not just going to happen on its own.

How much money do I need for a down payment? How much money do I need to be saving monthly? From each paycheck?

The “map it out” part of my goals has been the most effective tool to actually accomplishing what I want. Describe the tangible steps you will need to take to achieve your goal. Again, be specific with these steps.


Tip 6: Track Your Progress.

Tracking my progress and checking in often has been so helpful for holding me accountable and keeping me motivated. 

Find a check-in timeline that makes sense for you and your goal. This year in my journal, I put a book tracker and a car savings tracker. I write down every book I read and track my progress towards my larger goal of 30 total books. I put a certain amount of money from each of my paychecks into a separate savings account for my future car. Every paycheck, I check off a box when my goal amount of money is put into savings. It is exciting to be able to track my progress. These smaller accomplishments give me motivation to keep working towards the bigger picture.

Tip 7: Tell Others About Your Goal.

Accountability. Accountability. 

If I tell my friends and family what I will accomplish in the coming year, it provides me with a group of people to hold me accountable for working towards my goals and also cheer me on when I am feeling reluctant to put in the work.

Tip 8: Create a Vision Board.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a vision board, check out my post about creating one, linked here. I keep my vision board above my desk for daily motivation and as a reminder of what I am working towards.

Inspiration is easily lost, it’s nice to keep a physical and visual reminder of your goals during tough times.

vision board for manifesting goals

Tip 9: Be Kind to Yourself.

You will be imperfect. You will “slip up”. And that’s okay. Just keep going and do your best. You can set new goals and work towards forgotten goals at any point in the year. Start somewhere and take steps forward, as small or as infrequent as they may be. If your only goal this year is to keep your head above water, that is good too 🙂

Our society puts a lot of pressure on constantly “hustling”. I think it often overlooks the importance of rest and joy. Productivity is not mandatory each day. Sometimes it feels nice to come home from work, curl up in bed and watch a show with a glass of wine in hand. 

Whatever you want to accomplish this year, no matter how big or small, I have faith that you can do it! If you have an exceptionally wise goal setting tip or cool goals for 2021, I would love to hear it. Comment down below with your thoughts or reach out to me via Instagram dm! I love having conversations with people about their life. The good, the bad, the ugly. Talk soon my friends, we are all doing great so far. 

xx Mich