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Goal Setting: Using a Bullet Journal to Make it Happen in 2018

In a couple of days, we will bid a fond farewell to 2017 and open our arms to what 2018 can bring. It is that time of year when TV stations air “Year in Review” programming, and print newspapers and online news organizations typically showcase the top headlines and stories of 2017. But what about the year we had as individuals? Do you take time to reflect on the past year? Or do you only look to the future? Do you make New Year’s resolutions that fall by the wayside after a couple of weeks have passed? Here’s a suggestion: Start 2018 with simple goal setting and use a bullet journal to make it happen.

Goal Setting in a Bullet Journal

During the summer, we shared a blog post titled: “How to Start Bullet Journaling for Patients and Caregivers,” which was chock full of information about the history of bullet journaling, tips to get started, standard practices, handy supplies and where to get access to the best of the best in bullet journaling.

As a refresher, a bullet journal is a method to keep track of tasks, take notes and jot down thoughts in one convenient location. The ‘bullet’ term is derived and used to describe the technique of using quick and short descriptions (“rapid logging”) for all of the above. Picture a short-hand and visual cue to quickly categorize whatever you need to capture in order to keep life on track. And that’s a bullet journal in a nutshell.

As far as goal setting is concerned, bullet journals are a far cry from a traditional planner. You have the luxury of making it unique for you. During the course of the year, you can adapt and change what information you capture—whether days, weeks or months down the line. If you need to adapt your goals during the course of the year, all is possible with a bullet journal. Your goals are not necessarily written in stone.

Tips to Get Goal Setting Off the Ground

In order to get started goal setting for 2018, reflect back on 2017 and think about (or better still write down) the answers to the following questions:

  • What were my best memories?
  • What were my successes?
  • What did I do that worked?
  • What didn’t work for me?
  • How can I make 2018 better?

goal settingIdeally, you could start your 2018 bullet journal with a spread that visually captures the answers to these questions. If you need inspiration for these pages, look no further than Shelby at Little Coffee Fox. On her site, there are also valuable guides to help newbies get started, from opening that first page to assistance with lettering.

Goal Setting: Tracking What’s Meaningful

Whether you are a patient, a caregiver or a family member, the beauty of a bullet journal is that you can track what is meaningful to you—goal setting is yours and yours alone. For example, if you suffer with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you could set a goal of practicing pursed lip breathing and/or belly breathing on a daily basis. By making this a goal, when you have difficulty breathing, it will be easier to break the cycle of anxiety that comes when it’s hard to breathe. Or if you have congestive heart failure (CHF), your goal setting could be to monitor your weight twice daily. Watching fluctuations in weight is important to keep CHF symptoms at bay and under control.

As a caregiver of a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, watching out for changes in mood, and keeping track of instances of restlessness and confusion often associated with Sundown Syndrome, might be important to you. You could create a mood tracker spread, or if you are so inclined, a color-coded year in pixels. Don’t have time to make your own mood tracker or year in pixel spread? No worries, as there are free (or nominal cost) spreads available for download. Just paste them directly into your bullet journal and you are ready to go.goal setting

Staying Connected to Goals

Using a bullet journal for your goals—no matter if they are simple or complex—can help keep you accountable. Daily use is best to help stay motivated and connected to those goals. Nevertheless, if you don’t quite make some of your goals, it’s okay. A good practice would be to analyze why you failed or succeeded. You can easily adapt your goals and make them more attainable and reasonable.

Goal setting can be quite valuable for hospice patients. The visualization of a future date in a bullet journal can be a priceless motivator, especially if the goal is attending a significant family event. These types of goals bring home the point that every day is precious and we should all be dedicated to making the most of life each and every day.

At Chapters Health System and its affiliates—Good Shepherd Hospice, HPH Hospice  and LifePath Hospice, every day is devoted to educating our patients and keeping them in the place they call home. We are dedicated to ensuring that patients, young and old alike, and their families are able to make educated decisions about important healthcare matters. For more information, please call our helpful Chapters Health team at 1.866.204.8611 or send an email to 

About Phoebe Ochman

Phoebe Ochman, Director of Corporate Communications for Chapters Health System, manages all content and communications for the not-for-profit organization.

Helpful How-To Videos: Setting Up Your 2018 Bullet Journal

As bullet journaling becomes more popular every year, available resources for assistance grow in tandem, sometimes even exponentially.

If a bullet journal sounds like something you’d like to use to keep you on track in 2018, you can easily become overwhelmed if you start researching the how-to on your own. Don’t worry, we have you covered.

Best of the Best

Here are some of the best-of-the-best, easy-to-follow YouTube videos that can assist you when it comes to setting up a bullet journal (even if you are not able to begin on January 1).

Monica Guan: Uses a very minimalist approach to bullet journaling. She keeps everything simple and straightforward. Here’s her 2018 set-up video and for reference, check out her 2017 set-up video.

Amanda Rach Lee: With more than 500,000 followers to her YouTube channel, Amanda’s video can help you get started. She first began bullet journaling last year so it might be best to start with that video and then graduate to her set-up for 2018, including her lessons learned.

Seventeen:  Web editor Noelle Devoe shares valuable bullet journaling tips on the magazine’s Seventeen channel.

ChristineMyLinh and MyLifeinaBullet: The pair decided to collaborate on setting up their 2018 bullet journals by using the same theme of winter lights, moon and stars. Each journal is unique to each woman and meshes with her own creativity and interpretation. Incorporating into the videos are hints on helping to easily create eye-catching lettering without knowing or being able to master calligraphy. Here is Christine’s video, and here is Cristina’s video.

Jenny Journals: Looking for future motivation and to get inspired? Look no further than Jenny’s video as she sets up her 2018 journal along with planning for the month of January. Her pages are quite unique as she incorporates watercolors into her various spreads.

As you can see if you watch any of these videos, bullet journaling can be simple or intricate. It is yours for the making. Happy goal setting, journaling and dreaming in 2018.


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