Bullet Journaling and overcoming the fear of failure

If you follow me on Instagram you know that I am newly obsessed with bullet journaling and designing planner spreads. I’ve always been a planner, but this world of customizing each week’s layout is new to me.

I love planning because it provides me with a daily outline. That gives me security and comfort. To be honest, no day goes according to plan—ever—but having a rough outline is helpful.

With planning, you know the ideal order of tasks so even if one task takes longer than expected you still know what to do next. That can still lead you to accomplish a major daily goal even if the day wasn’t perfect.

Bullet Journaling and constructing planner layouts has been a thing for a minute. But, I have been extremely hesitant to join the trend.

Planners are already incredibly expensive. I don’t need to be paying a zillion dollars to put stickers in my incredibly full planner and waste valuable space. But there are two problems with my hesitation.

I was doing too much daily

When I started designing planner layouts I realized that I would try to do a bunch of things in a short amount of time. This would lead to extreme exhaustion toward the end of the week.

Laying out my planner allows me to see how much I’m putting on each day. I have forced myself to work smarter, not harder. Each day should only hold so much. If I overextend myself and commit to too many things, then that leaves no room for smaller, personal tasks.

This has taught me a hard lesson about what I can commit to and what I need to focus on each day in order to be successful.

I wasn’t prioritizing well

My second failure with traditional planning was prioritization. I wasn’t willing to do less per day and I wasn’t willing to prioritize my time (and money) around a hobby. Until I started bullet journaling and then planning layouts, I didn’t realize both were a creative hobby and outlet.

As a freelancer, it’s easy to grind and grind until one day you look up n exhaustion only to notice that all your hobbies are now monetized in some fashion. I’ve tweeted about this a bunch. Not every hobby needs to be packaged up in a brand and sold.

There is work that comes with maintaining a monetized brand—dealing with customers/clients, managing marketings, creating new things on a schedule, gauging demand, keeping track of expenses, etc. When a hobby becomes monetized it’s a job. If every hobby is monetized you have nothing you can do that isn’t subject to consumer feedback and whims.

Because I failed to realize (as a natural planner) that planning is a creative hobby. It’s an outlet that allows me to take some time to design the things I like since most of my week is spent designing for others.

But then there is fear…

You’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with the fear of failure. Buckle up.

As with any new hobby, there are always those moments when you create something that’s completely whack and awkward. Actually when you’re new that happens more often than not.

With planning and any other hobby that requires expensive materials, you truly have one shot to create something great. With planning specifically, if you fail, you’re stuck with that ugly layout for a whole week.

Talk about fear! So what’s the solution?

How do you overcome fear?

Remove the pressure. I have to take the time to plan what I’m going to create. I pick the color scheme, lay it out, I glue everything down, and then add my calligraphy. If the execution fails, I honestly have another planner that I use. This provides me with a second chance to fix anything that didn’t work for me.

I have to take the time to plan what I’m going to create. I pick the color scheme, lay it out, I glue everything down, and then add my calligraphy. If the execution fails, I honestly have another planner that I use. This provides me with a second chance to fix anything that didn’t work for me.

This is exactly how painting is done as well.

You create a sketch that is the idealized plan. This sketch is usually done on low-quality paper, so you have to reproduce it on better paper if you’re going to add color, paint it, or sell it. When you reproduce the sketch, you have the opportunity to redraw the piece and fix what didn’t look good.

Having two opportunities to create something great removes the pressure. Rarely is the first go, the best go—especially if you’re extremely new to a hobby.

It’s okay to fail

It’s truly okay to be new. It’ also okay to botch a few (or many) things as a beginner. It will happen.

Placing an unreal expectation on yourself to succeed results in you creating subpar work, which hurts your ego, which causes you to quit prematurely. Instead, do whatever you can to create a safe place for you to fail. Create the same thing over, have a second journal, or even buy extra supplies.

Failures, as much as they are hated, are required to teach us what we can do with our current skillset, and what needs works. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay.

PS: if you need a way to plan out your next business, or blog, moves I’ve created a printable business plan that’s been monumental in my growth. Snag the business plan printable here for $5.