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Fear of starting a bullet journal is real! People spend months stuck in fear of messing stuff up. Let’s get past that so you can start being a bullet journal obsessive.
You bought a dotted notebook with the intention of starting a bullet journal. You’re so excited to begin but you can’t get yourself to write in the journal. You’re scared you’ll mess it up somehow. You have fear of starting a bullet journal!
Does this sound familiar? You’re not alone. I see this problem come up with new journalers all.the.time. People buy their journal and then sit for MONTHS not using it. Let’s make sure this isn’t you.
A Fresh Notebook
A fresh notebook can be intimidating, especially one that’s bound without the option to remove pages. This puts a lot of pressure on you. How will you get that first page perfect, just the way you want it? The fear of starting a bullet journal has kicked in.
You get out your notebook and pen or markers and then immediately hesitate. A bunch of questions enter your head:
- Where do I start?
- How do I start?
- What if I mess up?
We’ll look at these questions in turn.
Where Do I Start My Bullet Journal?
If you are reading this and already have your notebook, you are ready to start. You could start on the first page if you’d like.
Heck, you could start on the last page. Open your book and write something on the last page. No one will see it! Do it! Now you don’t have an empty notebook any more. It’s all good 🙂
If you feel you need to start at the beginning, you could start with a guide like the one I wrote on how to start a bullet journal even if you’re not an artist.
Yep, I said even if you’re not an artist. You know why? Because I am not an artist, but I love my bullet journal. I even think it is pretty! (And some of it really isn’t but I still love it).
As you can see in mine, I started with a future log. I counted the dots and then with a ruler I made lines across each page so I could put in six months. Can you tell that I messed up?
What?!? Marlena, you messed up on the first page!? How horrible! How could you go on?! 🙂
Yes, I left too much room at the bottom. My counting was somehow off and June and September had too much room. OOPS.
Never fear though. I added some washi tape to the bottom. Then, since there was still a bit of room at the bottom I added a quote.
I’m so glad I messed up because I like it better this way.
Ok, I need to confess. I also messed up drawing the calendars I drew my own calendar under April but the dates were too close together. So, I did my favorite thing and slapped a sticker over it. I liked how that looked so I put one for each month. I recognize I was lucky that I had these laying around for my Erin Condren planner; however, even if I didn’t I could have put some kind of sticker in that spot if I wanted to get rid of the calendar.
Another thing you won’t be able to notice is I turned the page too quickly and the pink ink from September smudged my June area. I stuck those balloons on there to cover it up.
Wow, that is a lot of screw ups on my first pages. But I really like the pages anyway. I think they turned out pretty.
You may agree or disagree. The most important thing is that I like it and it’s useful for me.
How Do I Start My Bullet Journal?
When feeling that sense of hesitation it can be really hard to start. I totally get it. I’ve been there.
But what’s the point of having a bullet journal if you don’t use it?
What if you change your mindset a bit? This is your FIRST bullet journal (or maybe it is your second, third, fourth, whatever). It is the first pages of whatever bullet journal you’re in and you’ll have a fantastic opportunity to witness your growth over the next months or year.
So I’m going to tell you the way to start is to start. I know! That sounds simple and like a non-answer. It is kind of like when someone defines the word using the word. How annoying.
But it’s the best answer there is.
Have you ever been scared to do something and then when you finally do it, it wasn’t that bad? Maybe you actually even enjoyed whatever it was? On the other hand, maybe you were still uncomfortable but the act of starting got you to continue?
You find yourself saying “well, that wasn’t so bad.”
My brain is going blank with examples. I keep thinking about the stew my husband made last night. I was kind of hesitant to eat it because I felt iffy about an ingredient he used. Once I took a bite, it was really good though.
Consider when you first learned to ride a bike. It was a bit scary. You had to take your feet off the ground and pedal while keeping yourself upright. It may have been frustrating in that you would fall many times if it weren’t for your parent or training wheels holding the bike up. Yet, over time, you learned you could ride your bike standing up or with no hands! You barely need to think about it.
But getting on for the first time was a bit intimidating.
The same goes for your bullet journal, though I would argue with much less consequences. You fall off your bike? You get a scrape. You make a mistake in your bullet journal? You slap some stickers over it 🙂 No pain!
What If I Mess Up My Bullet Journal?
Messing up is a terrific opportunity for creativity. Are you going to leave it as is? Are you going to get creative with stickers or washi?
Recently I saw a post where someone mispelled a word by messing up letters. She tried to fix it and made it worse…but then she brilliantly turned the letter into a drawing of a lightbulb, coloring it in with pen (and getting rid of the letter altogether).
Now her page looks more creative. Just like I think mine that I described above does.
What if messing up is what really stretches us to make out bullet journals truly ours?
Help Yourself To Just Do It
Stop looking at Pinterest and Instagram photos as inspiration for starting your bullet journal. Most of those people have been practicing for ages. They may have an innate, practiced ability to draw and create art.
They are typically showing their best work, not the work they put in their first bullet journal on their way to learning.
Everyone needs to start somewhere.
Like anything else, when you compare yourself to others, it becomes impossible to start, especially if it is your first time doing something. When you are a beginner at anything, you will stumble. You are learning.
Comparisons are the enemy of starting.
Instead, I suggest you think about your reasons for starting a bullet journal. I started because I could not find a planner that did what I needed. I saw the pictures on Instagram and wanted to have something so pretty! (Still waiting for that to happen haha).
Once I started I fell in love because it is the first time I’ve ever felt mindful of my own intentions (rather than just being busy and trying to get things done).
When you know what your intentions are, you can focus on that rather than whether you are “doing it right.”
I Know My Intentions, I Can’t Stop Comparing, I’m Still Freaking Out and Can’t Start, HELP
It is time for drastic measures. Open your book to the first page. Take a pen and make a mark on the page. It can be a scribble, it can be a nice line drawn with a pen and a ruler. It can be anything. You are just going to draw/write something on page one.
You’re wrecking your journal ON PURPOSE. Because then you can’t wreck it. It’s already wrecked and it was in your control. Fight over.
Once you wreck it, you can fix it. 🙂 You can have a page full of stickers or washi like this (but only if it doesn’t make you think the next page is the first page that you are scared to touch):
Welcome to the fun world of bullet journaling. You are one of us now and you will only get better.
Now you can go check out my gigantic list of 145 collections and list you can start in your bullet journal. You won’t be able to stop creating new things because it is fun. It feels like play. Please just start 🙂
Marlena is the blogger behind apenandapurpose.com, where she writes about using journaling for self improvement and reaching goals in life and business. Using her experience as a Licensed Psychologist with a Master’s in Business, she teaches people how to break through negative thoughts and fear to do what matters. For more about me read my about page.