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  • Writer's pictureElise Berger

Planning for a fruitful year ahead

Since 2016, Elise Berger has been using a bullet journal to organize her year and it’s around about now that she sets up her new journal for the coming year. According to the bullet journal website, this analogue system is designed to “track the past, organize the present and plan for the future” and for many, this kind of system helps them to be intentional about how they use their time, resources and energy fruitfully. We asked Elise to fill us in on how she goes about creating her journal and what works well for her when planning for a fruitful year ahead.


Why I bullet journal

As a woman who lives with infertility, bullet journaling has become a great creative outlet. It helps me stay organized but also gives me a space to be intentional to set goals for how I hope to use the gifts and talents God is asking me to develop in the upcoming year. Setting up my bullet journal leading up to the New Year is always exciting! It’s an opportunity for me to reflect on the year that’s passed and spend time dreaming about my hopes for the year to come. Before starting a new journal, I always flip through those from previous years and enjoy a walk down memory lane. It helps me reflect on God’s blessings, the ways He has stretched me and what I’ve achieved and overcome.

What works for me

The bullet journal can be adapted to your preferences, but I always recommend taking a look at Carol Ryder’s site, as he is the creator of the bullet journal system. I have a few collections I include when creating a new bullet journal:

  • Past year reflection

  • Upcoming year hopes

  • Vision board

  • Goals for the year

When I first started, I would try to copy collections I had seen on Pinterest or Instagram but I found I would then get discouraged at how much time it took to set up. I also felt pressure to make it visually pleasing. Nowadays I keep my set-up a lot simpler and I have narrowed down my collections over the last three years. Day to day, I keep all of my appointments in my Google calendar so having a future log in my bullet journal doesn’t serve me as it might someone else who wants to write their appointments down in pen. My advice is to do what works for you, not what you see someone else doing and think you need to include because they did. If using a specific brand of journal, numerous different writing tools, washi tape and stickers is your jam, lean into that! However, a bullet journal can be set up with any notebook and just one pen or pencil.

Where I start

I start with some prayer time in December and then create a vision board on Pinterest of images that inspire me. For the last four years I have used Jen Fulwiler’s word of the year generator and saint of the year generator (though admittedly, I sometimes hit refresh if the first word or saint doesn’t immediately resonate with me). I then choose a verse to include in my bullet journal vision board spread. I print pictures, write out the word and verse, and do a collage to refer back to throughout the year for inspiration. You could even take a picture of it when you’re done and make it your phone or desktop background.

I incorporate my yearly goals into my bullet journal by organizing them into the following categories: health, home, work, family, friends, finances, recreation and faith. My word of the year and verse help inspire my goals, and I like to chat with my husband about some of his goals as we often share some for the upcoming year. It can be easy for me to get fixated on what I wish God would do for me in the future (ie. bless me and my husband with children) but setting up my bullet journal helps me reflect on what I can do to serve God where He has me right now. The past year’s reflection and setting of goals are especially helpful with this. I have been tempted to believe the lie that my life is not meaningful because I’m not a mother of children, but this exercise helps me to be intentional in discerning where I am called to grow and how I can be spiritually fruitful.

My advice to you

Don’t wait for a new year to start fresh with the Lord. “His mercies are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

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