It’s that time of year again!
…She says as if this is some kind of regular column.
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about putting up my personal goals for public consumption (and judgment) last year, especially as one of my aims for 2016 was to start sprinkling a little more privacy into my online life. But to my great surprise, I really freaking loved putting my goals out into the world.
It kept me accountable. It kept me focused. And yeah, knowing that some readers had told me I was being too ambitious and wouldn’t be able to do it made me put in a hell of a lot more effort.
I loved having trackable goals for my year, and I feel happier and stronger for achieving so much — most likely more than I otherwise would.
Have you checked out my post about how I did with my 2016 goals yet? If not, bounce on over there and take a look.
I’m determined to make 2017 my best year on planet earth, and I have tons of goals in mind to help me get there. Many of these focus on furthering on my 2016 goals, and some are 2016 goals rolled over because I wish I’d been able to achieve them.
As always, my goals are S.M.A.R.T., because making vague aims to lose weight or eat better don’t work for me. I need numbers to aim for to help me track my progress or I just get lazy. S.M.A.R.T. for me is:
- S – specific
- M – measurable
- A – attainable
- R – rewarding
- T – time-bound
This will most likely be a long post, so grab a glass of port and settle in for the ride.
My 2017 Travel Goals
If you thought that me finding a base in Lisbon would mean a reduction in the amount of travelling I do, you’re wrong! After nine months in Portugal, my wanderlust is back in full force and I can’t seem to stop booking flights and dreaming about faraway destinations. These are my five travel goals for 2017.
To Explore Seven New Countries in Africa
Africa is a big blank space in my travel map and I’m aiming to start changing this in 2017. It shouldn’t be too hard to do, either, as I’ve come to discover that Portugal is such a great base for exploring the African continent. Which I guess the Portuguese colonists realised too, cough. But with many former Portuguese colonies spread across Africa, this often means flights are super-cheap from Lisbon (hello $250 return ticket to Namibia!)
In 2017, I want to kickstart my African explorations by visiting seven new countries on the continent. I’ll be heading to Mozambique in just five days[!], travelling solo and overland through Swaziland and across South Africa to Cape Town, and then heading into Namibia for a big road trip with Dave in March.
As for the other three countries on my list, I have no idea what they could be. I’m keen to check out Cape Verde, as well as Sao Tome and Principe. Sierra Leone and Ghana are high on my West Africa wishlist. Djibouti is a place I’ve recently become obsessed with and Botswana sounds amaaazing. As does Gabon and Ethiopia and Zambia and Malawi and Zimbabwe and Uganda and Madagascar. And Mauritius is somewhere I’ve had high on my list ever since I cancelled my trip there a couple of years ago. Argh!
Let’s just say I’m not stuck for ideas right now.
To Take My First Steps in South America
Just like the African continent, South America is a black hole in my universe. I’m determined to take my first steps on my sixth continent this year and I’m open to pretty much anywhere. Because I want to go everywhere! Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Suriname… Swoon. They all sound amazing.
How will I decide? Most likely I’ll keep monitoring cheap flights from Europe to South America and if one pops up that works for me, I’ll jump on it!
I’m excited to see which country I end up choosing.
To Explore More of Portugal
The longer I spend in Portugal, the more I fall in love with it. I don’t want Lisbon to just be the base I return to to catch up on work and sleep before jetting off somewhere else, so I’m going to make a real concerted effort to take plenty of day trips while I’m here.
I’ve already booked a week in Porto in May, which I’ll be using as a base to explore some northern Portugal cities I’ve had on my radar for a while, and I’d like to check out the Algarve away from the Little Britain tourist areas as well.
I’m also hoping to take a trip to both Madeira and the Azores this year, as both look stunning.
To Finally Make it to Two of my Asian Oversights
There are two major countries in Asia I feel I really should have been to by now, so 2017’s the year to make it happen.
First, India. I’ve made and cancelled so many trips to India that it’s no longer funny. So this year, I’m hoping to take a solo trip to India and hope that I don’t die while doing so. It’ll most likely be an open-ended trip, as I really don’t know how I’ll feel about the country. Part of me thinks you can only do it justice if you plan out a three-month-long trip as a minimum; the other part of me is worried I’ll get dysentery, hate every second, and want to fly home immediately. Because I’ll also be working on reducing stress this year, if it’s too much for me, I won’t be ashamed to go home and try again another time.
Second on my list of oversights is Japan! I’ve been crazy-obsessed with the idea of going to Japan for years now, but always ended up cancelling tentative plans due to the costs. Japan is pretty expensive to travel through. Well, this year, I’m planning on finally getting there and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll most likely hit it up in November, when Dave and I will be flying to Australia/New Zealand for Christmas. It’s a logical stopover for us and one that will be fulfilling a long-held travel dream.
To Visit My Remaining Countries in Europe
I loved spending my 2016 summer jumping around Europe, so I’ve decided to do exactly the same this year. While last year focused on my oversights, this year will focus on the countries I have left to visit.
This is totally a stretch goal, because I still have a lot to check out: Albania, Belarus, Denmark, Ireland, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, and San Marino.
I’ll most likely aim to spend my summer out east, hitting up Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Moldova, with a trip to Belarus tacked on to the end. Dave and I are also planning for taking an offline summer vacation to Malta, and I may be able to squeeze the others in on random weeks or fortnights throughout the year. Liechtenstein and San Marino will be a pain in the ass, but Denmark and Ireland should be easy enough.
My Fitness Goals for 2017
My fitness was one of the areas I failed with in 2016, so I’d like to give it a renewed focus in 2017. I’ll still keep up with my gym membership and aim to visit four times a week while I’m not travelling.
To Be Able to Do 100 Push Ups
This was my goal in 2016, and I fell short by just 14. I’d love to finally get to be able to doing 100 push ups without stopping by the end of 2017. I’m convinced I’ll be able to easily do this if I can find the motivation to do them in hotel rooms as I travel around the world.
To Be Able to Do the Splits
Yep! It wouldn’t be a Lauren list of goals if this wasn’t in there! I’m fairly confident I’ll be able to get here if I stay focused on it, but I’ve said that for 15 years and counting now.
To Be Able to Do Five Pull Ups
Eeeep! I hate pull ups. At the moment, I can do maybe 10% of one. But I want to continue with my strength training this year, and pull ups are such a basic and important part of that. I know I’ll be able to get there with this one if I can get over myself and learn to march proudly up to the pull up machine at the gym and feel no shame about my puny attempts. Oh, and also get a trainer to show me how to do actually do a pull up.
To Do Blogilates Five Times a Week
I’ve got a whole lot of nostalgia stirred in with this goal. Back when I was living in a hippie beach town in Mexico for three months, I got hooked on Blogilates videos and did them religiously for the better part of a year. And it made me feel so good! I love Cassie’s fun personality, challenging routines, and the sheer variety of videos there are to choose from. I also love that it’s easy to do the routines while travelling.
I used to walk around Sayulita with a spring in my step and a weight off my shoulders, and it was all because pilates did wonderful things for my body. I’ve missed feeling like that and would love to get it back.
I stopped doing the videos regularly after getting mono, and although I’ve kept trying to start back up, I’ve never been able to build up the momentum to keep going for more than a month.
To Take Fitness Classes in Portuguese
Ahhh! What am I thinking? But here’s the thing: I signed up for one of the fanciest gyms in Lisbon and there’s a whole ton of things I’m missing out on. Like exercise classes. I don’t know if I’ve ever taken a class in English before, let alone a language I know about twenty words of. This will definitely be a comfort zone challenge for me, but all of the instructors at my gym speak English, too, so I know I can ask questions if I need to. Ahhhhhh! I’m already feeling nervous about this one.
My Health/Personal Development Goals for 2017
2016 was the year that I took greater control of my health. I did the Whole30, I got a ton of blood work done, I saw a naturopathic doctor, I meditated everyday, I learned to cook, and I now have a lifestyle that makes me feel strong, happy and healthy. This was a real focus of mine in 2016 and I’m excited to take it further this year and get myself feeling the best I ever have.
To Become Reasonably Conversational in Portuguese
Yep! This year, a huge focus of mine is to learn to speak Portuguese. A few friends of mine here in Lisbon have found a teacher they like who offers one-on-one classes for just 90 euros for five sessions, which sounds pretty perfect to me. I know I’d be way more confident and ask more questions in a one-on-one situation than in a group situation, which would just make me uncomfortable.
I’ll be travelling a lot this year, and I know that consistency is key, so I’m not going to make this too challenging for myself. By the end of 2017, I’d like to have passed the A1 and A2 CEFR exams in Portuguese.
To do a Silent Vipassana Retreat
I fell in love with meditation this year, and plan on keeping up my average of five times a week in 2017. It had so many benefits for me!
I also want to further my practice this year by doing a silent vipassana retreat. I’ve had so many friends do it and come out saying it was both the worst and best thing they’ve ever done, which has me intrigued to give it a go. I highly doubt the silence aspect will be a problem for me as an introvert — it actually sounds amazing, ha — but the sitting still and meditating for ten hours a day with only my crazy-ass mind to keep me company? I know it’s going to be tough.
Will I be an absolute eye-rolling cliche and do the retreat while I’m in India? Maybe!
Keep a Journal for an Entire Year
One of my greatest regrets from over five years of travel is that I didn’t keep a diary. At the time, I told myself it was fine because I had this blog to keep track of what I’ve done, but this blog doesn’t keep track of everything. In fact, I probably only record about 20% of my travels here, because most of it is mundane. But it’s the mundane stuff I wish I’d remembered. The people I’ve met and their names and the conversations we had and the times I got lost trying to find my hostels and the times I cried and the things that made me scared. I’m sad I can’t look back and read a diary of the thoughts and experiences that haven’t been polished for public consumption.
I’ve bought a journal and I plan to write in it almost every day this year.
I’m one of those people who have started diaries like, once a month sometimes, but as soon as I missed a day, I would stop writing in it and tell myself I needed to start a new one. Which I know is really weird. Hopefully that won’t happen this year.
Wake Up Early Every Day for 30 Days
I thought about doing another whole30, but I eat paleo most of the time anyway these days and still reap many positive effects.
So it’s time for another 30 day challenge!
One challenge I’ve been seeing online a lot recently is a challenge to wake up early every day for a month. I love being awake early in the morning! I’m most productive when I wake up and it’s still dark and silent outside. But I’m lazy and sleeping with someone else means I always choose cuddles over blog posts and stay in bed until 9 am every day.
In 2017, I’m going to set myself a challenge to wake up at either 4 am or 5 am every single morning to see what effect it has on me. Will it make me cranky and angry? Will I waste every afternoon to napping? Will I punch Dave in the face? Will it be amazing and fill me with energy and mean I can get more done? I like this challenge because I can do it while I’m travelling too.
Drink More Water
Oh man, I’m lazy about this. But water is everything. I bullet journal my life these days, so I keep track of water intake every single day, because it’s important to me.
After getting my blood work done, I learned that the ideal amount of water for me consume per day is 1.5 litres. I’m going to try to meet that goal an average of five times a week for the entire year. I’ll use the habit tracker in my bullet journal to track how much I drink and tally it up at the end of the year.
This should be pretty easy to keep up with while I travel too. I travel with a Grayl water purifier bottle that kills 99.999% of all viruses, bacteria, and cysts in water, making it completely safe to drink. You can drink tap water anywhere in the world with this kickass bottle!
My Work Goals for 2017
I was far too ambitious with my work goals in 2016, so I’m keeping them simple for 2017. Mostly.
To Release My First Course
I’m so excited about this! I want to focus on building more products for my site, and first up is a course on overcoming your fears to travel. I must get five emails a day from people who suffer from anxiety but dream of travelling, so I don’t know why it took me this long to get my ass in gear and realise this is what people want from me! I hope to have my course live in April, and I really hope it does well.
To Up My Social Media Presence
I’m pretty good at social media and usually get an above-average level engagement, but for some reason, I’ve never been a regular poster anywhere but Twitter. I’m lazy, I forget about it. And I’m worried my posts will make people unfollow me, so instead I don’t post anything at all. Which is riddonk.
In 2017, I’m going to try to average five posts a week on my Facebook page and five photos a week on Instagram. I think my average at the moment is probably one.
To Double My Traffic
Pre-book deal, there was a group of around ten travel bloggers that I knew were at a similar level of traffic to me. When I took a year out to work on getting a publishing deal and write the book, then another year out to recover from writing it, I was left behind in their wake. And yes, I know that comparison is the thief of joy, but I still do it nonetheless.
How do I plan to get there? By hiring someone to improve my Pinterest game and by continuing to write lots of detailed resources that will rank well in Google.
To Start Publishing a Series of Travel Guides
I’ve always wanted to have a series of detailed travel guides to the countries I’ve been to on this site, but been put off by the sheer amount of work involved in writing down every single thing I know about a place. I’ll be aiming to get six of these published this year, which means one every couple of months. I’ll most likely start with Mozambique, as I’ve personally struggled to find much information about it and will be travelling fairly extensively across the country.
To Write One Guest Post a Month
Last year, I set myself a goal to get my writing published in twenty different publications. I managed just one and that was an article I’d pitched back in 2015.
This year, I’d like to keep this goal but cut it down to one guest post a month. I’m in the process of finishing off my first one for January, so I’m already on track with this. Fingers crossed I don’t let my Imposter Syndrome creep back into my life and prevent me from hitting this one!
And that’s it for my goals for 2017! I’m so excited for this brand new year and can’t wait to get back to conquering the world again. While I think I’ve set myself some pretty ambitious goals, I know I’ll be able to hit the vast majority of them if I stay focused and don’t get all infected like I did last year.