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Starting a New Journal

The time has finally come – my first bullet journal is full. I started my journal back in April, about halfway through the month. And by the end of November, I was out of space. I didn’t jump right into a new journal, though. I took about a week to make the transition. Even now, my new one isn’t 100% set up, but it’s almost there.

I love journaling and find it helpful for a multitude of reasons, which you can hear about in my How & Why I Journal video. I specifically love the bullet journal because it’s customizable, so I can have my planner and my daily journal in the same place. Using this system has allowed me to be more productive, reflective, and self aware.

This blog post could easily be summed up in two sentences, “Get a notebook and pen. Start writing in it.” But journals, for me, are more complicated than that.  Journals are powerful – they hold our deepest thoughts and feelings, and they can help us live a better life. Beginning a new one can become a ritual, something to cherish, to empower with intention.

So, here’s some steps to take that will allow you to set up your new journal with care, love, and purpose.

First off, get a journal that you like. If you like it, you’re more likely to use it. I was using a dotted Moleskine, but have moved onto a dotted Leuchtturm1917. The Moleskine served me well, but the Leuchtturm has numbered pages and 2 page markers, making it easier for me to flip between my daily entries and my monthly spread, where I track my habits. Think about color too. I know black will never steer me wrong, but maybe you’re drawn to bright colors.

Understand the feel of your new notebook. Before I wrote in mine, I spent some time flipping through it, feeling the outside, and strategically placing a sticker on the cover. Seriously, it took me way too long to decide where to put it, but I’m now quite happy. It adds a personal touch. Some people like to draw on their covers, or make a collage.

Ask yourself what you want out of it. I knew I wanted my journal to be a place to keep my thoughts and reflections, to help me stay organized, and to put information down that I would want to reference again later. Maybe you want your journal to only be a place for thoughts, or lists, or planning. Make that decision going in and stick with it to get the most out of your journal. This could also be the time to put in an emotional intention. Do you want your journal to ooze self discovery, creativity, or love? You could even take it a step further and pull out some sage or palo santo, or burn a candle or incense to start with fresh, clear energy.

Decide what absolutely has to go in there. Depending on your goals, this one may or may not be relevant. Because my journal is a place for everything, I wrote down a list of spreads I wanted to include. Some were transferred from my old journal, but some were new ones I wanted to create. This included a page for the moon phases, a lunar calendar, 2017 and 2018 goals, different knitting stitches, and a seasonal mood board. I took time to brainstorm everything I wanted before diving in.

Begin planning. Once I had my list of spreads, I started with a pencil and mapped out what I wanted on each page. I tried not to get into details first and focused simply on the order. If a spread didn’t require 2 pages, what made sense to go next to each other? I also gathered any photos I wanted for my Winter Mood Board and watercolored the different moon phases.

Put on some music, and start. Last weekend, I pulled my blanket off my bed, gathered all of my supplies, turned on some tunes, and curled up on the floor with my notebook and started. I took it page by page, using a pencil first, pen second, and another, thicker pen to fix any mistakes I made (yep – there were a few). I spent hours working on it, but the music made me feel relaxed and created a nice environment to be creative.

Say goodbye to your old one. After you’ve started your new journal, don’t forget to say goodbye to the old one. Flip through it, use the last page for an overall reflection of the months it holds, and then put it somewhere safe. I love finding old journals years later and reading through them. Also, if there’s something you forgot to transfer to the new notebook, you can easily access it.

A new year is just around the corner – a perfect time to start a new journal if you’ve been thinking about it. Start the process now and find that perfect notebook. And then, just take it from there, one step at a time.

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