2021! … 2021? … 2021.
Are you one of those people who had high hopes for 2021 after last year’s heaviness? With new COVID strains spreading from the UK, lockdowns are extended in Ontario, white terrorists storming Capitol Hill, and another plane went missing. And we’re only 13 days into the new year…Who’s thinking of goals for 2021 with the chaos that’s still going on? Spoiler, I am.
Admittedly, I also had high hopes for 2021. I miss being on the road like crazy, sleeping in airports, smelling new cities, and miming my way through conversations. I miss the movement, the novelty, the discovery, the flavours, and the growth. Perhaps I was naive to think things would be more open by late summer (the arbitrary timeline in my head when life would be safer), or perhaps that was hope buoying me through the rough patches. Now, I know that this marathon is still in the early stages and will probably stretch longer than necessary as people buck the rules and selfishly ignore the reality.
For the past 8 months I have been setting monthly goals to align with my yearly intentions and this system has worked well so far. There are some excellent free paper calendars out there and the ones found here are my favourite.
- Read 24 Books – Last year I wrote that I wanted to read 20 books, but somewhere along the line I changed that goal to 24. I just squeezed in 24 last year, if a couple of half books count as one book (I’m saying yes…!), so I’ll be repeating the goal of reading another 24 books this year.
- Health – Over the past 12 months, thanks to COVID lockdowns no less, I’ve been practising healthier habits more consistently. To spice up 2021 and keep motivated, I’m toying with the idea of setting a new movement challenge each month. For example, doing 1,000 push-ups in a month. Secondly, I’ve set the goal of walking and/or running 50km per month this year. January’s off to an awesome start with 25+km done in the first week! Third, I’ve been making more of a conscious effort to drink enough water each day. For the past few months I’ve experimented with different goals, from 6 glasses of water or tea per day (wayyy too much!), to now a minimum of 3 glasses of water per day. Fourth, I’ve a bad habit of working until 4 in the morning. I’m a nighthawk and must see a task through when I’m in the zone, even if it’s 2am, but the way it throws the following days out of whack is no bueno. The focus here is to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Another goal I’ve set (for January, anyhow) is to meditate each day. Currently I’m using Headspace and setting 5 minutes aside to establish the habit, but the overall goal is to increase the time as the year progresses. For now it’s a small task that is feasible and enjoyable.
You’ll notice that a lot of these goals are quite simple – sleep the proper amount, drink enough H20, take time to rest and reset the mind, and move my body while enjoying the healing and calming benefits of nature. When lockdown hit in March 2020 I already had some healthy habits established, ironically thanks to my job. When the contract ended, I continued some of those habits and adapted others. It felt fantastic to make such “small” changes and know that the impact is positive and long-lasting. The stability was helpful to balance the chaos of the outside world with everything surrounding COVID-19. Also, I can’t help but get more of that serotonin hit each time I cross off a daily goal. It’s addicting!
- Live Clean – The two main goals this year are to reduce food waste and plastic intake.
Assuming this pandemic and the restrictions on international travel will continue through to 2022, I am excited to safely and conscientiously continue to focus on local travel. With that being said, the Travel section of this year’s goals is quite small…sort-of.
- Road Trip – Last year, after cancelling all of my international trips, I embarked on a mission to visit Ontario’s 160 most unusual sites, according to author Ron Brown. Following COVID guidelines, I was able to responsibly visit these locations by driving alone, keeping distance from others, packing food and water and sanitizer (and even TP just in case!), wearing a mask, and rarely going inside buildings. Luckily, many of these sites are either outdoors or fairly quiet (though maybe that’s due to the times in some cases). Hoping to visit more sites, and especially those that are farther from home, I researched renting converted vans so I could avoid hotels and restaurants as much as possible. Unfortunately they were way too expensive (upwards of $300+ per night!) and as much as I’d like my own converted van, that’s not feasible right now. In total, I visited 24 sites within a few months and so far have written about 7 of them. In 2021 I’ll continue with these adventures and try to visit many more sites as possible, when it is appropriate to do so. Because of the uncertainty this year presents, and our reliance on vaccines and reducing the need for lockdowns, I will not be assigning a numbered goal. The intent is to go with the flow, be flexible, and make the best of the scenario.
- Write 3 Blog Posts per Month – I’ve been saying since 2017 that this is a travel and language blog, though, at the moment, I barely have any posts regarding language. Writing 2 blogs per month last year was fairly doable, so I am increasing this to 3 posts per month. One post will cover travel, another language, and the third will be budgets – another guilty pleasure! Additionally, I’m looking forward to working with and writing for more tourism boards to safely and appropriately support tourism (whatever that will look like this year).
- Send 1 Newsletter per Month – Yahoo! Last year I finally dusted off my e-correspondence with you guys and started the Travel with TMc newsletter. It was a lot of fun to put together and I hope you’ve found it helpful and enjoyable. In 2021 I will be sending 1 newsletter per month filled with new blog posts, tips and tricks, and special features like interviews, freebies, and more smiles for your day. If you haven’t subscribed yet, there’s a wee form at the bottom of this post!
- Social Media – It’s not secret I’ve a love/hate relationship with social media platforms. However, they’re tools of the trade and ones that I need to continue making an effort with. The goal here is to set up monthly schedules for Instagram and Pinterest (haven’t done them for January yet…). Still need to sort out how I’m going to manage this with everything else on the go.
- Earn Steady Monthly Income through Travel with TMc – Well, somehow I pulled this one off last year, surpassing my total income goal, despite the tourism industry bottoming out. I’ve a few ideas in mind to build this site even more, but I’m not going to say anything about how until I’ve got my ducks in a row.
- Write 5 Guest Blogs – While I’ve written for other travel websites before, I’ve never written a guest blog. Time to change that!
- Mentorship – I’m really fortunate to know a lot of other writers, freelancers, photographers, videographers, and bloggers. What’s wonderful about these individuals is that they’re always willing to answer questions, provide feedback, and point you where you need to go. As any self-employed or side-employed person experiences, it is overwhelming doing everything yourself when you’re the little guy, figuring out where to begin, and how to prioritize the mountain of tasks. I’m very grateful to those that have helped in any way so far. My goal for this year is to seek mentorship in the areas of business ownership, the technical side of blogging, and photography.
- Sell Teaching Materials – Having taught languages for the past 6 years, and assisting students online through COVID in other classes, I often make my own materials or purchasing resources from Teachers Pay Teachers. This year the plan is to open my own TPT store and possibly sell language learning materials through TwTMc as well. Before all of that happens, there’s a lot of learning to do on copyright law, graphic design, and so on.
COVID Homework Assignment – and it’s tasty to boot!
How to Plan in 2021?
2021 is most likely going to be a continuation of 2020, with lockdowns and COVID-fatigue so long as people aren’t following the rules and keeping each other safe. Knowing that you cannot control anyone but yourself, I hope that the thought of setting goals and intentions buoys you through these choppy waters. It may sound silly, but accomplishing small daily tasks, such as drinking enough water, getting some fresh air, etc… has a domino effect on the rest of your life. Crossing off tasks develops a sense of accomplishment. Setting and seeing through small intentions reinforces to yourself that your well-being is a priority. Having a daily “To Do” list helps you stay organized and accountable, as well as strengthen your habits.
If you enjoy setting goals, or are trying it out for the first time, make sure that it is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable, and has a Timeline. In other words, make it SMART.
Alternatively, some people choose a word or phrase, like Release or Simplify or Seek Discomfort, instead of setting goals. This theme becomes the driving force for all of their actions throughout the year. I really like this idea as well, though personally I prefer to set goals. Like I said, I’m addicted to crossing tasks off! To help you choose a word, check out this website’s 5 steps to selecting your word for the year.