Ending a journal is a bittersweet emotion. It’s like that feeling when you turn the last page of a book. It’s this emotional connection of something ending.

This journal has been beside you through creative ups and downs. Memories have been logged but never forgotten. To do lists that still have items that need crossed off. The pages and binding are worn just like a favorite pair of shoes.

But as the last page fills up with ink, and this chapter ends. There is always a new story that needs written. A beginning to every end.

What will you do with this new beginning?

Is this the year you step up your journal game? One thing about having a journal for an entire year is figuring out what works for you.

Last year I started writing in a journal more frequently than ever before. It was hard to turn a side eye to the bullet journal trend that hit mainstream. So of course, I wanted my journal to have the perfect lines, beautiful calligraphy, and perfect organization. Did it work for me? Yes…and no.


Here are my 5 takeaways from journaling for a year.

  1. It’s okay to not have perfect pages. I am no artist and I’m a perfectionist. Those two combinations wasted a lot of paper and time. Wasn’t bullet journaling supposed to be an enjoyable experience? With the challenge of wasting paper, I found a simple solution for reusing these pages. I would print out a motivational quote, or a 30-day challenge and tape it onto the page. I really enjoyed doing this, because I would have the pages I wanted without having to put in all the work with creating perfect lines with perfect handwriting.

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  1. Your goals will change. It’s natural to grow and change as a person. And with this, your goals will change. You may have a goal that you wrote down at the beginning of the year, and you are still looking at it, not crossed out, and it’s stressing you out. Goals aren’t supposed to be stressful. Is it something you would still like to accomplish? Carry it over to the next year. Is it something that sounded great at one time, it’s okay to scratch it off.

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  1. Every page turned into a “Brain Dump” page. Having a journal for an entire year, I think you figure out how your brain works. Well, mine wants to be organized, but one idea will turn into a completely different idea. Maybe I should try brain maps. The takeaway from this, every journal is going to be different because each person is different. Maybe the cute pictures and colors work for one person and for another the minimalist approach works better.

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  1. Coloring in squares for a 30-day goal was extremely motivating. This was probably my favorite find and thing to do. I had a 30-day goal and I wasn’t NOT going to accomplish it. Allowing myself to color in a square each day was a smaller accomplishment to a much larger goal. This page is still one of my favorites to look at, because all the squares are colored in.

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  1. Having multiple, different, to-do lists keeps me more organized. You might be thinking, “you have MULTIPLE to-do lists?!” Yes, and that may sound overwhelming. But it wasn’t until the end of my journal that I found this method to really work for me. When I started bullet journaling, it was logging something in your daily, monthly, and yearly calendar. Well…that didn’t work for me, I never traveled back through these pages, I kept making new ones. I made one large to-do list. I didn’t like this because some of the items weren’t pressing and then it would stress me out that those few things were ALWAYS on my daily/weekly to-do list. I made another list of just those items that I had ideas for but nothing that had to be done that day or week or even that month. But I needed those items in a to-do list form to keep myself organized.

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So, will I continue journaling? Absolutely! I love it and a pen to paper method works for me. (I’ve tried putting to-do lists on my phone, it just doesn’t work). I will just continue my journaling my way and still play around with some other great journal spreads I find along the way!

The journal that got me through my first year: http://amzn.to/2A5b9qo

Have you tried journaling? I’d love to know what your takeaways are…leave them in the comments!


– Christine Hampel – writer at Samsill