What Kind of Goal Journal Do I Buy?

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This post is all about what kind of goal journal to buy. A Goal Journal is simple a place to engage with your goals on paper. Setting up a goal journal can take just a few minutes. Grab a notebook or blank journal to start. Think of Goal Journaling in three steps: setting it up, engaging with a goal, and wrapping it up. This section answers some basic questions about a paper goal journal. Of course, you can create an electronic goal journal. The same principles of goal journaling apply. Rather than considering what kind of notebook and paper, you’ll be considering what kind of app and folder/note structure to use.

  • What Kind of Book?
  • What Kind of Paper? / Dot Grid, Lined, or Blank?
  • Bound or Unbound?
  • Levels of Artsy
  • Fear of Messing it Up
  • What goes in a Goal Journal?
  • Pens
  • Washi Tape & Stickers

What Kind of Book Do I Need for a Goal Journal?

A goal journal can be:

  • a single page held up by a fridge magnet
  • a couple extra pages in your current planner
  • a 3-ring binder with removable pages
  • a standard blank journal
  • a bullet journal with dot-grid paper

If you already have a bullet journal, you have two options. You can add goal journal pages to your regular bullet journal as they come up.. Or you can create a dedicated goal journal separate from your planner.

If you are new to goal journaling, I’d search amazon for 60 page A5 dot grid journals and order a pack. They are only $2 a journal, so you can jump in a mess a couple up while you’re learning without having to shell out $20 for a nice looking journal only to be afraid to write in it. Goal journaling is a fun, engaging, unpredictable iterative process, and you never know what your next goal journal page will look like. Get a journal you don’t mind messing up. 

What Kind of Paper is Best for a Goal Journal?

Blank journals come in blank (haha, obviously), lined, dot grid, and graph paper. I comes down to personal preference. I end up sort of drawing the same layout regardless of the paper, but for some people it matters. Blank is relaxed because you just write what you want where you want it. Lined feels a little more limited because, well, there’s lines and you don’t always want lines on goal journal pages. Dot grid and graph paper have the same advantages – little squares already measured out for you so it’s easy to make columns, boxes, or whatever you need on your page. Dot grid paper is more popular and less in-your-face than graph paper squares.

Bound Journal or Not?


You would think that having an unbound journal – like a 3-ring notebook or disc-bound journal would be better because you can move stuff around and replace pages. Turns out it’s not usually the case. The fundamental problem with disc bound journals is that if you set up spreads (2 pages that look nice together side by side), they can’t be moved. You end up having to move 4 pages all together (the spread plus the front of the first page and the back of the second page.) The alternative is to think of goal pages as individual pages that can be taken out of the notebook and moved around. This works well for me, but you lose the nice spread value of looking at a layout when you open the book. Instead – the right side is about one goal and the left side may or may not be about the same goal.

This is why disc bound notebooks are good as planners. The next spread is just the next week or month and so it naturally flows by just turning the page.


Because goals are notoriously unpredictable, you would think that a bound goal journal presents some problems. However, as multitudes of bullet journals have discovered, having a bound journal can actually be a relief. When you’re ready to break down some steps to your goal, log a series of efforts, or jot down why you’re shifting your goal, the solution in a bound Goal Journal is to simply turn the page. It’s just sequential. You don’t have to plan out what the whole journal looks like, what tabs you might need, or what kind of pages are necessary. You just start the goal and create pages that meet the need that arises. The solution for any hiccup in your goal journey is to turn the page and make a new page.