Stress is a killer. When I hear this statement I think of people dying, health problems, overworking, people-pleasing, and constantly chasing more. In fact, I probably have more stress in my body than I know it because I’m someone who absorbs it easily and I don’t know how to let it go. I think over time I did learn to create some healthier boundaries and not have such a strong attachment to certain things that bring down my mental health.
Part of it is realizing that I can’t always win. And when you let go of expectations it certainly helps with lightening up that load. The other part is releasing yourself of things that are causing you stress. It’s really been years of learning, especially for someone who wasn’t born with a lot of happy genes and came from an environment of mostly upset people (maybe story for another time?) It’s not that I don’t experience happiness, however, studies do show that some people are genetically born with less happy genes. Yes, it sounds weird but happy genes is a thing. To be fair, happiness also comes from our own doing so if you weren’t given as much happy genes as you would like, you need to create more happy in your life. Y’all can’t just blame your genetics on this one. You can always do what you can with your environment and circumstances. I suggest watching the Happy Movie to get the fuller picture.
As I’m getting older, while still looking like I’m in my 20’s, (thank you Asian genes!), I’m learning to appreciate quality time and personal hobbies more than the money I make. We still need to make money, but did you know that to a certain degree, the amount of money you make has almost no correlation to the happiness you experience? While there IS a difference in its initial stages, however, after a certain threshold or increase in wealth there is no longer much effect to your level of happiness. So while money is important to me, I don’t value it to the extreme where I need a lavish lifestyle to feel happy. Again, I recommend watching the Happy Movie. (Also available on Netflix)
This year I desire to live a more simple and happier life. I am also using my time and energy to create the things that give me joy. When appropriate and able to, I also give these things away because it’s better to give than to receive hoard. A simple life opens up for more possibilities and I don’t feel like my life is out of control when there’s simply less for me to want to control.
You’ve probably heard of bullet journaling. If not, it’s basically a way of planning. It’s creating a system for your life using a blank notebook with a dot grid. You start with a blank notebook and create your own planner layouts. Sounds like a waste of time doesn’t it?
That’s literally what I thought. My first reaction to bullet journaling was, why would I spend time creating layouts when I can just buy a planner with pre-designed layouts? Bullet journaling is from scratch. It means you have to put in the time to plan and draw out your layout before you can use your notebook to plan. The irony, right? I couldn’t grasp the concept of using my precious time to create and draw out my planner layout when the thing I should be doing is executing my plans.
Anyway, I decided to jump in and give this bullet journaling a try. Verdict? It really depends on what you use it for. You see, I have no patience to create layouts and log in my business planning everyday. In fact, this is how I end up procrastinating—by doodling and writing pretty letters for my tasks and playing with washi tape when I should be posting on social media or carrying out tasks like writing client emails. Back in high school, my agenda was covered in doodles and words I’ve written on top of a gazillion times until they were EXTRA bold so I wouldn’t fall asleep in boring classes. Spoiler: It doesn’t work. Neither does using bullet journaling for business productivity (for me anyways). Which is why I don’t.
Instead, I’ve taken it upon myself to isolate my business planning from bullet journaling. I use my bullet journal for personal planning like tracking my sleep, mood, gratitudes, and occasionally as a sketchbook.
So far, I like it. I have time blocked out in my day to log in my daily “How I’m doing” page and to document my sleeping schedule. Sleep doesn’t come easy for me. I sleep and wake during weird hours so maybe this would help me get on track. I don’t know if it would convert me from night owl to early riser but if not, at least I can say I now have a personalized notebook that documented my 2020 year with pretty doodles, scribbles, and washi tape. Something I can look back on and possibly use it as a launchpad for my 2021 year.
If you’re curious about starting your own bullet journal, here are some things to set ask yourself and set you up in the right direction:
What aspect of my life do I want to improve or make progress in? Based on the purpose of your bullet journal, you can decide what kind of pages to create. There are a bunch of spreads you can try like tracking how much water you drink daily, your spending habits, fitness, and so much more. (By the way, bullet journal for short is bujo so you’ll hear me using that term more).
Realistically, how much time do I want to dedicate to my bujo? I admit, it’s hard for someone like me to balance getting the layout done fast and making it look somewhat pretty. You can personalize it forever if you don’t dedicate a block of time to start AND stop. But I do believe everyone should take time in their day to just create stuff for the sake of creating, even if it’s just 20 minutes a day. It’s like working out. Everyone has 20 minutes to do it but not everyone will make time for it.
Do I want to take a GOOD CLOSEUP look at my life? When you have a bujo, facts don’t lie. I’m going to look back maybe a month from now and realize that I sleep too much or I don’t sleep enough. I would probably break the promises I made to myself and end up hurting my progress. But this is a good reality check because if you don’t hold yourself accountable and confront your own habits, who will?? And if you don’t address your habits and or the lack of good ones, how can you uphold your own vision and goals to achieve the resolutions or progress you so want this year? Hm?
To bujo or not to bujo is the question. I decided to try it and if anything changes I’ll be sure to update you here.
Every year people make goals in January only to abandon them around March. I may not fulfil every single thing on my list doodle of intentions but I know that what’s important is I create these intentions accompanied with goal setting.
What’s the difference between goals and intentions? Goals are outcome-based. It’s about getting measurable results and achieving what you set out to do. While that’s great for ambitious folks, it can leave you feeling dried up and low whether it’s because you’ve exhausted yourself trying to hit a target, or you missed the target and felt like you failed.
Intentions are about a way of being. Instead of saying you want to lose x number of pounds or sell x number of products, you can say “I want to feel strong and healthy” and “I want my business to feel authentic and experience new growth.”
The idea of setting concrete goals is important in order to grow and attain measurable results, but without adding our intentions into the mix, we may not experience growth or our goals in a way that feels right and rewarding. It’s important to set both intentions and goals. I credit this definition and comparison to Jasmine Star, one of my business mentors.
This year, I want to visit Malaysia (top left of vision board) because it’s where my husband is from and spent his childhood. I want to journal more consistently and continue to experience healing. I want to use this space as my outlet to be creative outside of my web design business. I want to document and share my art, simple ways of living I adopted contrast to my old outgoing and busy life, organize my thoughts and share how I make decisions to consume less—I don’t mean calories. I mean materialistic consumption. I may or may not talk about deeper topics like how I manage my mental health. I’m starting this all imperfectly as you can see I didn’t spend a lot of time designing this blog. The designer in me is shuddering at the sight of this default WordPress template that I’m plugging my first post into. I have a vague idea of how this would turn out but nonetheless, the plan is to START instead of planning to start and just staying there.
A bit about who I am: I’m a stay-at-home wife with an online business as a designer and educator who teaches people how to create their own business website. I am a cat mom who has traditionally “failed” Chinese parents, described as “lazy” by my (alive) grandma being child-free in my thirties. I feel like I’m constantly adulting or trying to but I’m really just a big kid at heart. I see my glass as half full and half empty, it just depends on which day. I believe in possibilities and the impossible like a dead man coming alive again to save the world of its sins. I also believe that we don’t need full-time jobs if we don’t want them. After all, I haven’t had one in years.
Anyway, I hope to write more interesting posts as I figure it out bit by bit. I hope you stay a while and see where this goes. 🙂