Well, it’s February so, err, time to commit my 2018 goals to writing! It’s kind of fitting to write them now as late Jan/early Feb is usually when my nomad adventures begin again. I spent January back in the UK, like most years, enjoying time with my family, catching up with friends, and finishing a couple of jobs. Now I’m back in the lovely little house I’m renting in Rhodes, Greece, and I’m fully back into work mode (and on a health kick after all that delicious and not-at-all calorific festive food and drink!).
Like my 2017 goals (see how I got on here), my 2018 goals are very business-focused, because I’m kicking it up a gear with my business in order to achieve more freedom in other areas of my life. Hence I’m hunkering down in Greece for a few months to kick-start the process.
Here are my goals for 2018.
Last year I achieved my goal of transforming my writing business to focus on working with travel and travel-related businesses. But there’s plenty more work to be done to increase my reach and make a name for myself as a travel writer.
My ultimate goal is to increase my income so I have the freedom to travel further afield and set more ambitious travel goals – I’m longing to jump out of my comfort zone and head to more exotic climes and more challenging travel experiences. But I want to have more savings behind me so I’m not constantly chained to my Mac once I do… Therefore, as in 2017, my business goals are more ambitious than my travel goals.
However, I’m still on the road and I’m still going to set a couple of travel goals.
I keep track of the countries I’ve visited (and will eventually get around to adding a map that reflects this, because I’m a bit of a nerd like that!), but I’m not really a fan of country counting. Neither do I have a particular desire to visit every country on the planet just for the sake of it (though my bucket list is loooong). I prefer to travel slowly and dive deep into the culture and wildlife of a place, and really get to know its people and landscapes.
I also find that the more countries I visit, the more I want to go back to. I only spent one night in Spain last year and I missed it so much – it remains one of my absolute favourite countries. While I’ve been more times than I can remember, I’ve still only seen a fraction of it. I have friends I want to revisit back in Valencia, Malaga and the Canaries, and I’ve never spent more than one night in Barcelona! I’m also itching to go back to Slovenia, want to spend more time in Bulgaria, and while I’ve visited several places in Croatia I’ve never been to Dubrovnik or the islands… When I visit a place, it piques my curiosity and makes me want to learn more about it.
That said, I love the buzz I get from going somewhere completely new, so I’m sticking with my goal of visiting at least three new countries each year (because three is the magic number!). I suspect I’ll mostly be in Europe again while I boost my savings, and there are several places I haven’t seen yet including large chunks of Eastern Europe. So I’ve got plenty of options.
I spent three and a half months in Rhodes at the end of 2017. While September and October were delightful, November and December saw a lot of rain. And I went into hibernation mode. It didn’t help that the house felt chilly – these places are built to stay cool in summer, which is great in summer but can be a struggle over winter!
At the moment, I’m also focused on my business, so inevitably am spending longer hours working so I can achieve more freedom in the long term. But some weeks I hardly left the house, except to go to the shops. And it got me down.
While I was back in the UK, I started thinking about Julia Cameron’s wonderful book, The Artist’s Way, and her weekly artist’s date. And it inspired me to use that concept and take myself on a weekly travel date. So that even when I’m in work mode, I get out and explore/experience something new and different each week. This is a lovely, fun goal and great for creative inspiration.
I’m super excited about my business this year. I’m finally beginning to shape it into a business I love working on and I’m really excited to see where I can take things in 2018. I’ve set several business goals to keep me on track.
Last year, I didn’t blog anywhere near as much as I wanted, mainly because I was focused on finding new travel clients and increasing my income. But I hit a bit of an impasse. When I pitched to travel marketing agencies, they often wanted to know how big my blog and social media following was. In other words, my experience and the quality of my writing was only part of the package. So I have to make time to work on my blog as well, even though it isn’t bringing me in much money yet (which was the kick up the butt that I needed).
This year, I’m committed to working on my blog for a minimum of 30 minutes every day. I know from experience that once I start I often work for much longer because I love it once I get in the flow. My main problem was that I usually left it until after I’d finished all my paid client work, then ran out of time/energy. So I’m popping it in at the start of every day. The idea is that it will result in more posts and a regular blogging schedule.
Part of the reason I procrastinate about doing certain things on my blog is that I don’t fully understand them. While I can generally find answers online, I wanted to join a travel blogging community where I could learn about the business of blogging and network with fellow travel bloggers. So I hopped onto Travel Blog Success during their annual Black Friday sale.
But changes were afoot…
Nomadic Matt bought Travel Blog Success and merged it with his Superstar Blogging program. All members got access to his The Business of Blogging course, and an amazing discount off his travel writing and travel photography courses, which I couldn’t resist as both are things I’m actively working to improve.
I also jumped on Susannah Conway’s excellent Blogging from the Heart course because I love her approach to blogging and want to incorporate that in my blog.
Now, I could be in danger of course overwhelm here; I’ve forbidden myself from buying any more courses until I’ve worked through these. But they’re so important for what I want to achieve this year and I firmly believe in investing in my skills. Some, like the travel writing program, are huge so I don’t know if I’ll get through them all this year. But I have committed to spending an afternoon each week learning about the business of blogging and improving my skills.
Last year I took a few steps into guest posting, writing a couple of housesitting posts for Natalie Sisson’s Suitcase Entrepreneur blog on the benefits of housesitting and tips to snag great housesits, a joint post for Kateproof’s blog on travelling solo vs. travelling in a couple, and a post for Nora Dunn’s Professional Hobo, which will be published on 19th February…
This year I’m upping my guest post game, and aiming to be published in three travel publications to build my travel writing reputation.
Ah, social media, my old nemesis! I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with social media and I don’t use it effectively enough. But if I’m going to make a name for myself and build a following, it’s something I need to conquer.
At the moment, I use Twitter and Instagram fairly regularly (come say hello!), I use Facebook personally and to participate in groups but don’t have my own page, I haven’t established myself with Pinterest, and I’ve only recently started using LinkedIn. Mainly because I get overwhelmed with ALL THE THINGS.
This year, I’m going to learn to use the socials effectively to build my following and reputation. I’ve put aside 30 minutes every afternoon for social media and I’ll concentrate on a different platform each day. I’m sticking with Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn, though I’m undecided whether to start a Facebook page or not, and if so whether I should have separate ones for my blog and biz or use a joint page. Decisions… (Any suggestions?)
I’ve given myself a big old monster goal of getting to a total of 5,000 followers across all platforms by the end of the year (which is a stretch goal for me, but I want to aim big).
Last year I gave myself the goal of reading three business books and six personal development books. And it was a touch confusing, as so much of what I read could go in either or both categories, especially as my battle with self-confidence is at the heart of many of the things I’m trying to conquer in my business.
So this year, I’m not going to confuse matters. I’m going to read a minimum of 10 personal development/business books throughout the year. There, that’s much simpler! I already have a great selection vying to be read on my Kindle.
I love my lifestyle, but lack of routine, the temptation of trying lots of different food and drink, and long hours sat at my Mac mean I’m not the fittest I’ve ever been. By a long shot. So I’m setting a few goals to improve my general health and wellbeing.
Last year I fell in love with yoga (though I’m still very much a beginner!). It’s unusual for me to find a form of exercise I enjoy this much, so it’s here to stay in 2018. I travel with a thin travel yoga mat and strap, proper workout clothes and am investing in a block for the few months I’m in Greece to help improve my flexibility. I’m aiming to practice at least five times a week, and if possible work with an instructor at some point to really help me nail my poses.
While yoga is great for flexibility and tone, I also want to fit in some cardio exercise. Running is the obvious choice, but fuck I hate it. Swimming is my favourite form of cardio, but it’s too bloody cold for that at this time of year. Walking is great, but you need to walk quickly for a relatively long time for it to be beneficial and I don’t always have the time. So I bought a jump rope. And found a second form of exercise I enjoy! Yay!
Because it’s a great excuse to leave the house and mix up my exercise, I’m aiming to alternate jump rope sessions with longer walks so I do at least one form of cardio each day. The type of cardio I do will probably change throughout the year, but I want to make sure I do something at least five times a week (and leave the house every day, even if just for a quick walk around the block).
While I was back in the UK, both my parents commented that I was like a totally different person this year – calmer and much less stressed. There are probably a few reasons for this, but one of them is undoubtedly that I’ve been meditating for a couple of years now. I’ve been using Headspace for the last two years. While I now feel ready for a change of app, daily meditation is definitely here to stay.
Finally, a couple of personal goals.
In some ways Duolingo is a funny little app where you learn some bizarre sentences (I’m not sure when I’m going to need The monkey speaks Portuguese or The birds are reading the newspaper). But it’s also a really fun way of learning a language. So far I’ve finished Spanish and Portuguese and am halfway through Greek. My aim is to finish Greek this year, and go back to work on my French in time for Sète.
I write a diary every night, but this year I’ve added a section at the bottom to record the things I’ve been grateful for each day. And I love it, because it makes me reflect properly on my day and always finish it on a good note. There’s always so much to be grateful for (which I can overlook, especially if I’ve had a bit of a shit day). I’ve been doing this since 1st Jan and I can already feel how beneficial it is. 365 days of gratitude coming up…
And those are my goals for 2018. Phew!
Did you set any goals for 2018? What are you most looking forward to achieving and what are your stretch goals?
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