As I mentioned at the start of my review of 2016, I was kinda glad to see the back of last year. It was my second year as a digital nomad and I had another great year of travel. But I struggled with some aspects of my business and I was distracted by the fallout from the Brexit referendum.
So I felt ready for a fresh start.
I love planning for the New Year, and always surround myself with a variety of planners and workbooks, looking back on my achievements and noting where I can improve things.
One of my first posts on this blog last year was my goals for 2016. I felt a little uneasy putting them out there, then realised my blog was new and no bugger was probably reading it anyway. Because promotion… But I realised I liked having them up there to keep me accountable, though my perfectionist tendencies were screaming, ‘but can you admit if you fail so publically?’ Well, yes I can. Because goals are meant to be challenging. What’s the point of setting something that isn’t going to stretch you personally and professionally?
One mistake I did make while setting my goals was not making some of them measurable. So I aim to put that right this year.
Things are still unsettled in Brexitland and I’m still struggling with the uncertainty of it all. Not only do I believe the EU to be largely positive, if in need of reform, we seem to be hurtling out of control towards a ‘hard’ Brexit at the hands of an unelected Prime Minister, which has the power to completely change how I live my life and, depending how things pan out this year, I may need to make some changes. But for now I will only focus on the things I can control.
So without further ado, here are my goals for 2017…
I’m not setting many travel goals for 2017 because my business has to take priority. Although part of that priority, as you’ll see in a minute, is to make my business more travel-focused.
That said, I’ll still be on the road in 2017 and it wouldn’t be a very good travel blog if I didn’t set any travel goals now, would it?
I set the goal of visiting a minimum of three new countries last year and I’m doing the same this year. It’s a good number, especially as I prefer to travel slowly and really get to know a place, rather than rush about manically crossing countries off a tick-list. I’m mostly going to be staying in Europe – with one exception – because there are many places I haven’t visited yet and it could become more difficult depending how much we cock up Brexit.
I already have one new non-European country – Israel – in my travel calendar for 2017. Aside from that, many of my major omissions are in Eastern Europe, so possibilities are Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia and Slovakia. I’d also love to see more of Scandinavia, perhaps in the winter – I have a romantic notion of visiting these countries in the lead-up to Christmas in full winter wonderland mode. So yeah, I’m not short of options in this category!
In some ways, I’ve played my nomad life fairly safe so far, choosing to stay in Europe. This is partly because I love Europe and there is still so much I want to see, and partly because I’m familiar with it and I feel comfortable travelling alone. If I’m honest, there’s also an element of if I go somewhere more exotic I may find it even harder to get my head down and work as I will want to be out exploring all the time – it’s difficult enough getting the balance right here sometimes, and my business is very much in the growth stage.
I want to throw myself out of my comfort zone and visit a country that challenges me. And TBEX provided the perfect opportunity by arranging a conference in Jerusalem this March. So I’m visiting Jerusalem, seeing friends in Tel Aviv, and I’d love to visit the Dead Sea and get in a spot of birdwatching too.
I’ve spent the majority of the last two years living in Airbnb properties (if you haven’t yet signed up to Airbnb, you can get a discount from your first stay by signing up here). In general, I think Airbnb’s a great idea, but there are downsides. I’ll go into this in greater detail in my next post – lessons I’ve learned from two years as a digital nomad – but for now, let’s just say I’m always looking for alternatives.
One fantastic way of keeping costs down while living like a local is housesitting.
If you haven’t heard of housesitting, let me explain. For many people, jetting off on holiday or heading away for a business trip meant leaving their beloved pets in a kennel or cattery – which is stressful for many animals, not to mention expensive for their owners – or relying on friends and family to pop in, feed and walk them. From this, TrustedHousesitters was born.
Potential housesitters, like me, put themselves forward as a trustworthy option for staying in people’s homes while they’re away, providing their cherished pets with food, love and attention, while maintaining and looking after the property. This means homeowners have free, reliable sitters to keep their house safe and their pets cared for, while travellers get a free place to stay and pets to love like their own for a few weeks (or months!). If, like me, you’re a huge animal lover who misses being able to own pets due to your chosen lifestyle, this is a win-win.
At the end of 2016, I signed up to TrustedHousesitters (if you like the idea, you can sign up via my link to receive a small discount) with the aim of spending at least two months housesitting in 2017. I’m already halfway to achieving this goal as I’ve just signed up to my first sit, looking after two cute wee dogs for a month in Norfolk, UK. So my first nomad location of 2017 will be a little closer to home! While I’m sad not to be jetting off somewhere warm – I struggle with UK winters – I’m delighted that I’ll be close to friends and family for a while longer, and it will hopefully help me build up a good housesitting profile. Yay!
I didn’t do particularly well on my business goals last year, but I’m determined to change that in 2017. Which is good, as I’ve got rather a lot of them…
I’ve been running my business for almost 4 years but in all that time I’ve never written a business plan. And I’ve jogged along and money has been steady enough, but I don’t want to jog along; I want to make my business something I’m proud of running and passionate about doing. And that starts with a proper plan of where I want to be in a year, five years, ten years…
I haven’t exactly studied business (if I had, I may have written that damn business plan, ahem!). When I sit and read I generally fall into fiction or personal development books. But I have a nice little stack of business books on my Kindle and I’ve bought a number of business courses that I haven’t had time (or perhaps the inclination) to complete. So that needs to change. This year, I’m committing to reading two business books and completing two courses.
I flirted with this last year, but I didn’t really do much about it. I set up The Wandering Wordsmith because I wanted to establish a business that would allow me to travel so I could explore the world and indulge in my passion for travel writing and travel photography.
And I’ve done that. I’ve been lucky enough to find some fantastic clients and I work with them on some interesting projects and I don’t want to leave them. But in general I want to merge my passion with my business and rebrand The Wandering Wordsmith as a travel writing business (which is why I chose the name to begin with…).
My first year as a travel blogger has been rather hit and miss on the blogging front. I prioritised client work (as I need to pay the bills!) and exploring (so I have stuff to write about). When I did sit down to write, A, I’d left things so long I end up writing mammoth posts as there was so much I wanted to cover, and B, I’m a perfectionist and spent hours fiddling with tiny details so they took forever.
My aim in 2017 is to publish a blog post at least every fortnight. If I give myself a structured timeframe for each post, this is perfectly possible. They don’t all need to be super long posts, as long as I get useful content out there and start to build a following. In addition, it will hopefully help me overcome my perfectionism. As I’ve never missed deadlines for my clients, let’s hope I can do the same for myself…
So far all my income comes from my writing and proofreading work for The Wandering Wordsmith. This year I want to start benefitting from an income from this blog as well, whether via affiliate links (of which there are a few sprinkled around) or being hired as a direct result of my writing here.
Becoming a social media wizard was one of my 2016 goals, but aside from falling in love with Instagram, I wasn’t particularly wizard-like and I haven’t done much to build up a following.
So this year, I’m going to set up a business Facebook page, and will aim to post at least 3 times a week on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
I’m also tempted to get started with Pinterest, but I don’t want to overstretch myself so I’ll leave that aside for now.
My final business goal is to set up a mastermind for travel writers and travel bloggers. I find masterminds an excellent way of brainstorming and holding myself accountable. I have an informal one with friends, but I want to establish a dedicated one for my travel business with other writers and bloggers who are at a similar stage to myself.
While business is undoubtedly my priority in 2017, I want to ensure that I look after my body, nourishing it with a healthy diet and taking regular exercise, while continuing to work on spirituality, mindset and personal development.
I’ve been meditating regularly for a year, mostly using the wonderful Headspace app, and it’s become a vital part of my daily routine. I feel calmer and better equipped to deal with stressful situations. Plus I love the ritual of having some proper time to myself every day. I’m committing to this goal again so I can keep myself accountable.
Urgh! I’ve struggled to find an exercise routine I love and can follow easily while travelling. But as I’m the wrong side of 40, looking after my body is vital, and I want to feel fitter, healthier and more toned than I do now. I’ve tried following a daily exercise routine, but I soon got bored. One thing I loved last year was having a swimming pool at my Cyprus Airbnb, and I didn’t find it a struggle to start my day with 30 laps (except when the weather took a turn for the worse!). But I won’t always have this luxury.
I’ve always wanted to try yoga, but I kept putting it off as I wasn’t sure about joining classes in a language I’m not fluent in, especially when I move around every month or so. Then my wonderful women’s circle pointed out that I could follow online classes. Duh! So I’ve bought myself a lightweight yoga mat and am committing to doing yoga at least five times a week.
In addition, I’m aiming to go for a brisk ‘exercise’ walk at least 3 times a week – i.e. not a touristy stroll or sneaky shopping trip – and, where I have the option, I’ll swim as much as possible.
While I don’t have a bad diet, I intend to experiment with diet a little this year, as certain foods react with my guts. I’m not sure I can make experimenting a measurable goal, but one thing I’m determined to try is an alcohol-free month. While my drinking is by no means excessive or out of control, I love wine and one of my great travel pleasures is trying local food and wine. But I’m also curious about the effect alcohol has on my body (and my waistline) so I want to try a month without alcohol to see what effect it has on my health, fitness, and ability to get up in the mornings!
One of the great things about long-term solo travel is learning about yourself, good and bad. I spent much of 2016 working on personal development, especially self-love and self-confidence, but boy this is a lifetime’s work! I’m committed to continuing this work, and aiming to work through a minimum of 6 personal development books in 2017 to help me on my way.
Finally, a few personal goals to tackle.
I’ve been travelling for two years with a couple of great pieces of kit: the Osprey Farpoint 40, which I check in, and The North Face Borealis women’s rucksack, which carries my Mac and other equipment. I’m happy with both bags, but while I aim to travel fairly minimally I’m a bit pushed for space, plus the Farpoint isn’t built to be checked in and I’m worried about it holding up, especially when it’s rather stretched at the zips! I’ll go into this in greater depth in my next post – lessons from two years as a digital nomad – but changing one or both of my bags has been at the forefront of my mind for the last six months or so.
I’ve just purchased a new wheeled rucksack, which is arriving tomorrow (since finishing this post it’s arrived – yay!). I’ll let you know more about this pack and how I’m finding it shortly…
I failed miserably at this last year, but now find, yet again, that I want more pictures of me. So I’m going to make more of an effort this year.
Last year was all about learning Spanish. I love the language and the country, and was aiming to become a fluent speaker with the hope of eventually having a base there. Then everything changed. After the Brexit referendum, I started to think about which countries I could move to in order to retain my European citizenship, as this is something I’m not prepared to give up. Spain is my preferred choice, but they don’t allow dual citizenship and while I’m not especially proud to be British right now, I may not always feel this way.
So I began looking at other options.
Portugal allows dual citizenship and I also love the country. I’ve no idea how things are going to pan out, but if nothing else I’m enjoying the fresh challenge of a new language, and with DNX Global holding their next conference in Lisbon in September I’m aiming to finish the Portuguese Duolingo course beforehand so I can hold a decent conversation in Portuguese while there.
Phew! This has turned into a much longer post than I anticipated, but I’m really excited to begin hitting some of my goals for 2017. Have you set any goals yet? What do you want to achieve this year?