After a long and difficult year, I sat down to plan out my 2021 bullet journal setup to get myself ready for a new chapter.
It’s Nearly Over
2020 has been a doozy. A global pandemic, lockdowns, political unrest, marches, movements, and the presidential election… it’s been a lot. And that’s only scratching the surface of all the wild and chaotic garbage that this year has thrown at us.
The whole year wasn’t entirely terrible, but I am not sad to see the last of 2020. I decided to channel my energy into my 2021 bullet journal spread so I can put the past behind me and focus on the year to come.
- Archer & Olive Watercolor Dot Grid Journal
- Daniel Smith Watercolors
- Colirocolor Gold Watercolors
- Ceramic Palette
- Princeton Paintbrushes
- Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen
- Sakura Micron Drawing Pen
- Prismacolor Colored Pencils
Watch My 2021 Bullet Journal Setup
The first thing I wanted to do in my new year bullet journal setup was acknowledge the closing year. This is where I reflected on the new experiences I had, the lessons I learned, and the best moments of the year. I put all of this together on a single page where I immortalize the big stuff.
In 2020, everything was overshadowed and affected by Covid-19, so it only made sense to put Covid in the center of my spread. I considered leaving this out of my memories page, thinking that I should focus only on the good memories. But I realized that it was impossible to imagine any of the other memories without recognizing the touch of Covid as well.
Besides, there were some pretty excellent memories despite Covid! Some close friends brought their first child, Liam, into the world. I launched my brand new shop and started selling art for the first time. And we also added a new puppy to our family! There were several things to be thankful for this year.
Flushing the Year Away
On the page immediately after, I created a simple goodbye page to close the chapter on 2020. I started with a blue and purple wet wash, but I started adding little shapes on a whim. Then I built them up more and more until I realized I was painting a proverbial toilet flush to close out 2020. I chuckled at my own accidental symbolism and left it as was. It’s a fitting end to a shitty year.
After I finished closing the chapter on 2020, I did the most obvious thing: I started a new chapter.
I turned to a fresh page, picked some warm colors, and welcomed the brand new year into my life with a beautiful cover page.
Word of the Year
For the past few years, I’ve tried to pick a word of the year to help me focus on my overarching goals. I decided to select “Journey” as my word of the year in 2021.
When thinking about the year ahead, so much is still uncertain. We don’t know when we’ll be able to break lockdown, travel, or generally return to life in a post-Covid world. The past year has forced some major changes to the way I run my business, and I’ve struggled more with mental health than ever before thanks to quarantine. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I do know this: it’s only a step in my journey.
I wanted to remind myself that despite whatever life may throw at me, I am only in the middle of my journey. This journey is going to take me to strange, unfamiliar places where I feel uncomfortable. I’m not supposed to have all the answers or react perfectly. I’m going to run into obstacles and struggle to overcome them — but I will overcome them. I always do.
Level 10 Life
Every time I sit down to create my new year bullet journal set up, I always want to take a minute to create a brand new Level 10 Life. This super simple and powerful technique is a great way for me to check in with several different aspects of my life and see where I might improve.
Never made a Level 10 Life chart before? See how to make your own here!
This Level 10 Life was interesting to create because, as I said, Covid touched every part of my life. I noticed that this year I felt pretty good about how I was able to give to my community. Covid, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the election gave plenty of opportunities to speak out and donate to causes I believe in.
In addition, I was pleased to see that despite the challenges of the year, I still felt more creatively engaged, more financially secure, and more strong in my marriage with Jon than ever before. However, I noticed a few categories that suffered this year. I haven’t spent a lot of time on my spirituality recently, and the fun in my life has taken a hit thanks to our inability to travel or see friends in person.
Armed with my Level 10 Life assessment, I turned the page and went about setting some goals for the year. I don’t believe in resolutions, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like thinking about how I can improve myself in the year to come.
I brainstormed specific and general ideas for how to improve upon or maintain my satisfaction in each area of my life. This simple listing of my goals gives me something of a roadmap to refer back to from time to time when I’m feeling dissatisfied or lost.
Some of these goals won’t get the attention they need to flourish, while others will grow and become more ingrained in my everyday life. That’s okay! I’m not trying to fix everything in a single year. Regardless of how much I end up working towards certain goals in my life, I still like to do this exercise every year so no sections of my life remain neglected. If I’m aware of a problem and face it in my journal, I’m more likely to fix it when I have the opportunity.
Affirmations for 2021
For the final page in my 2021 bullet journal setup, I decided to do a simple affirmations page. I thought it would be helpful to sum up my overarching goals for the year and put them into affirmations (in lieu of an affirmations log).
That way when I reach an obstacle or find myself struggling, I can draw upon one of these pre-planned affirmations to help me get through. I’ll rewrite these five affirmations and hang them somewhere I can see every day so I can use them again and again.
I am frankly exhausted with this year and I’m relieved to bid 2020 farewell. We have no guarantee that 2021 will be any better, but if we all put our minds to it and work hard, we can make the best of whatever happens next. The world is out of my hands, but I have the power to change my choices, my goals, and my life. And it all starts with my decision to look ahead with optimism.
If you’re looking for more new year’s inspiration, you can see all my new year related articles here!