Looking back and thinking about the past 12 months to write this 2021 goals review, a few things come to mind: inchworms, joy, quiet, and change. In some ways 2021 has been tougher for me than 2020 and in other ways it’s been an improvement. Perhaps some of you can relate.
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The last year has seemed to crawl by, between stay-at-home orders, openings and closings, and always expecting the next tug on the reins. I’ve buffered my mind with somewhat of a withdrawal from the news to lead my own quiet day-to-day, poking my head up from time to time to see if and what changes there are before returning to my routines and slowly moving forward. I saw a few friends outside and even caught up with people I haven’t seen in years. We still ask if it’s okay to hug and maintain a cautious distance, unless we’re at a restaurant because apparently there’s not the same need to distance there. Sometimes my brain feels like one of those wooden tops, spinning and wobbling trying to keep track of how any of this reality we’re living in makes any sense.
I can pinpoint 1 single day this year when I absolutely buzzed with ecstasy from head to toe. I went on a solo road trip, the first in months, with the windows down and the music blaring, with a sense of adventure and newness ahead. That high, that frequency in my cells, was dormant for most of the year so I was bursting at the seams with happiness by the time I got home from the day’s escapades. There have been other moments of joy and fulfilment this year, like when something I wrote resonated with other people, when I danced at home to a song I love, when I learned something new, when I spent time outside or with my family, and when my students expressed pride in their accomplishments. There was satisfaction in seeing how this blog is growing (nearly 5x last year’s traffic and 2x the number of newsletter subscribers!!!) and in seeing how the energy, time, and care that goes into it has a positive impact on other people as well. Ultimately this site is about connection, afterall.
Most of 2021 has felt quiet – sometimes introspective, sometimes completely void of sound or thought, and sometimes because the sidewalks are still fairly empty and the neighbourhood feels eerie. I’ve muted my thoughts and feelings on travel and what that means for my life, but also for the rest of the world. When I’m ready and can better articulate this quiet internal storm, the mute button will switch off. The way things are looking right now though, I think it will remain on mute a while longer.
There has, like any part of life, been lots of (sizable) change this year as well. I’ve become more selective with my focus, time, and energy. Relationships, as they do, have ebbed and flowed, morphing into different iterations as circumstances, distance, and energy change. I have taken more agency with the personal and professional directions I wish to pursue and progress has slowly started to flow from the intentions I’ve set.
How to Digest a Goals Review
Often I talk with my students about the importance of looking beyond the numbers and understanding the whole picture when dissecting an evaluation of one’s performance. I loathe tests and am a strong supporter of self-reflection on one’s effort within the context leading up to “the result”, which is truly just a snapshot in time. This year is no different in that I feel great pride in some outcomes and can also pinpoint what I need to adjust to do better with others. It is with these insights that I have chosen 2022’s goals.
- Read 24 Books – At the beginning of the year, I parsed the goal down to reading 2 books per month. January and February started well, with March and April slowing to 1 book each. Then the months of May and June came and went with barely a page turned. I managed to add another 1 book each in July and August, skipping September, and then reading 2 each in October in November. However, if you’re keeping count here, including the book I finished in December (with another currently on the go), that’s only 13.5 total. OUF! Time to delete Netflix, methinks. That being said, I did catch up on all of the pop culture I’d been oblivious to, like Community, The Office, Parks and Rec, etc… I finally understand the hype (and pop culture references) now! Back to the books: I crisscrossed between fiction and non-fiction, with topics ranging from historical fiction, design, biographies, short essays on food, positive psychology, racism, courage and, of course, travel. All of them were fantastic and definitely worth a second read. They included:
The Magical Language of Others
Five Little Indians
So You Want to Talk About Race
The Little Book of Color
The Edible City
Better than Fiction
Think Like a Monk
The Clothing of Books
The Island of Sea Women
How to Pronounce Knife
World Travel: An Irreverent Guide
- Health – A lot of my 2021 health goals were back-to-the-basics simple – sleep for 8 hours each night, drink enough water, take time to rest, move my body, and get out into nature. Despite working til 4am more often than I’d like to admit, I’m getting enough sleep. I tell myself that my body is operating on an international time clock! Walking has been much more enjoyable than anticipated, especially when there has been company or a 5km Make Tracks Challenge to see through. I achieved my goal of walking or running 50 km for 7 months, with the others a mix of coming close or not at all. After January, meditating completely went out the window which is A-okay with me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it or value it, I just didn’t feel pulled to continue with it (for now). And last, workouts and yoga began in March. Throughout January and February I was still very much in 2020’s mantra of “(frequent) little treats are good for the soul”. Two months into the year with little movement I felt the desire to sweat again…and I had also noticed that apparently some of the snacks had gotten comfy and stuck around. Since then I’ve really been enjoying a variety of workouts (Heather Robertson, Nourish Move Love, and Apple Fitness’ trial period) and yoga (Yoga with Adriene and this great deep stretch on Yoga with Kassandra), incorporating bands and weights to vary things up. Running made a short comeback in the warmer months, but after 2 massive full ankle blisters my enthusiasm bolted. Overall it’s been a lot of fun.
- Live Clean – I’m back on track! Composting has the green light again, and my food waste and plastic intake have been reduced. It genuinely makes me so happy to do my part to bring my own containers or tote bags, or be able to purchase less plastic-covered items. Small Wins for the Win! One day I look forward to having a compost bin in a backyard to make use of food scraps too. I did get more information on obtaining an indoor worm bin, but it’s still not in the cards for me at this point. I’ve changed up my closet a wee bit with some new hand-me-ups, along with a couple of key new purchases like much needed daily walking boots (re: I hopped on the Blundstones wagon and they’re aweeeesome!). The gently used clothing I no longer needed was given to women’s shelters in town. Surprisingly, I also purchased two plants: one functional (aloe) and one cute. They’re both still alive after months of co-habitating with me. Miracles do happen!
- Road Trip – I could blame extended COVID lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and crappy weather for the reasons I barely went to any Ontario 160 adventures this year. But a closer examination reveals that those reasons were only a part of why I didn’t head out much in 2021. Part of it had to do with finances and part had to do with a general funk I’ve been wrestling back and forth with. Originally my plan for 2021’s Ontario 160 treks was to rent a self-contained van to reach sites that were farther out, however “vanlife” is super trendy these days and those vehicles now rent for upwards of $300 per night. Technically I could have done these road trips and slept in my car, like when I lived “YarisLife” 4 (?!) years ago in Iceland, Australia, and New Zealand, but I chose not to, between being extra cautious of public health scenarios and not wanting to sleep alone in my car as a female. Basically I more or less threw my hands up after seeing van rental prices. These things aside, the blogging work trips for the St. Thomas Street Art piece and to see Grey County’s waterfalls for another work trip with Guess Where Trips were really awesome. The surprise road trip to Buxton, Ontario was a definite highlight in 2021 as well.
- Write 3 Blog Posts per Month – This post is my 28th (out of the 36 I aimed for) for the year. I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but I still think it was a great goal to set. I’ve been paying attention to which blogs of the 3 categories (Travel, Language, Budget) that I’ve been avoiding writing so I can crack the habit. Ironically, despite being one of my favourite topics to delve into, I’ve barely written any language posts. Why the hesitance? Sometimes I think it’s pure overwhelm that’s holding me back. There are a million different things I want to write about on the subject. The other topic I’ve been avoiding is travel. This one is obvious to me for a few reasons. First, there are a million past travel blogs still floating in my head. Unfortunately, they get murkier with time. Second, it has been hard for me to talk or even think about travel since the pandemic started. And third, with regards to the Ontario 160 articles, they take a lot of time. For comparison, a post like this is fairly easy to whip together. I can write and edit it in a day because I’m simply reviewing what I’ve done. On the other hand, the Ontario 160 articles are mixed parts my experience, a large chunk of research, and then corresponding with people, editing of text and photos, not to mention the keyword research and other technical aspects that go into writing a blog post. To put things in perspective, I visited 24 sites in 2020 and have written 8 articles. (Again, I should probably reduce my Netflix intake to help with the focus and procrastination part.)
- Send 1 Newsletter per Month – If you’re not on the mailing list yet, what are ya waiting for?! Join the adventure! I send out monthly newsletters which include new travel, language, and budget post updates, travel discounts, and tidbits of travel-related things I read, watch, or listen to that I think you’ll enjoy. This year I sent out 7 newsletters and I can’t wait to continue creating them for you next year. Thank you to everyone who subscribed thus far. You know those videos of small business owners doing a dance when they make a sale? I do that whenever I see new subscribers – and this year the lot of you doubled!!! I’d love to know what you’re digging and not digging in them and I always love to hear from you, so please don’t hesitate to hit reply.
- Social Media – It’s no surprise I have a love/loathe relationship with Instagram (it’s very much an understatement). To date, I’ve posted a whopping 42 times (instead of the 120 goal I’d set out) in 2021. I remember when Instagram launched in 2010 and I had zero interest in joining the platform. It wasn’t until 2014 that I dipped my BlackBerry fingers into the puddle, posting infrequently, rarely ever writing a caption, never using hashtags, and enjoying ad-free photo sharing from friends and family around the globe. Using it as a business has taken a lot of the joy out for me but it’s also time to reframe my approach going forward. With regards to Pinterest (fun fact: it’s technically a search engine), a friend and I did an energy exchange where I taught her French and she designed pins for me. It was fun while it lasted but we stopped and now I should start making my own pins again.
I’m my own venture capitalist making my dreams a reality
- Earn Steady Monthly Income through Travel with TMc – Yahoo! Success!!! Between working with tourism boards, privately teaching languages, designing websites, and managing social media and newsletter accounts for other businesses, we’re rocking and rolling. Eventually the goal is to shift how the business generates income, but as a fellow entrepreneur recently phrased it in our conversation, I’m my own venture capitalist making my dreams a reality and that’s pretty awesome!
- Write 5 Guest Blog Posts – Somewhat similar to guest blogging, I landed a gig writing a travel column for a local newspaper. I love having the monthly deadlines, writing in a different format, and having externally set goals. I wrote a few snippets for other websites, which can be included under guest blogging as well. This goal will still be high on my list of priorities for 2022. Being that I’m self-employed and spend most of my days working alone, it’s also been a lot of fun to interact and collaborate with other creatives.
- Mentorship – This year I took a more active approach in reaching out with questions and not always trying to do things myself. I connected with several kind individuals to ask for advice or to bounce ideas when I didn’t have the answers. I’m very grateful for their time and energy and hope I can do the same for others one day.
- Sell Teaching Materials – Before being able to open a TPT store there was a lot of legal information to read through for copyright and tax purposes, which I did. I had a designer make a logo. And then other things in the business took priority. I’d like to return to this in 2022 but it may not be the best use of my time and resources at the moment. I’ve also considered hiring a graphic designer to help, so we’ll see where I choose to take this in the new year.
Did You Make a 2021 Goals Review?
In some ways I think 2021 was tougher for me than 2020. This 2021 goals review is a bit of a reminder of the peaks and valleys of the year. Overall there is a lot to be proud of and grateful for, and some good lessons to help make 2022 even better. I love setting yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals. I’ve been doing it for a few years now and it really helps me to stay on track, or at least know what the track is! I think it’s true what they say, if you don’t plan it won’t happen. Like any path, it’s helpful to have a direction and then go with the flow when new opportunities present themselves, or know when to change directions when circumstances shift. Plus I love a good crossed-off item!
How have your goals, plans, hopes, and dreams been affected by COVID-19 this year? I’d love to hear your 2021 mid-year goals review on what’s working, what’s not, and everything in between. Drop a comment in the section below.