Happy New Year!!!!!!! I hope you had a good one filled with fun and love!
At this time of year, after the merriment subsides and the twinkly lights start to come down, I always find myself in a deep state of reflection and a kind of longing sets in. I long for things yet to come, and things that I’ve left behind. I think about the people in my life, especially those who are no longer with me. I think about the people who’ve hurt me and who I’ve hurt. I think about the mistakes I’ve made, the things I’ve accomplished and the things I want from life, and how and if I can make those things happen. I think about what might have been and what might still be.
In reality, the turn over to the new year really is just another day, but for a lot of people, it’s an opportunity to start afresh. I’m one of those people. After my round up of 2013, I started to think about what I wanted out of 2014.
5. Find Balance
For the last 9 months I’ve been working pretty hard. I’m not complaining, it’s all self inflicted. But I’m finding that even though I’m putting in the hours, I’m not getting as much done as I should.
I’m really guilty of working and playing at warp speed, jumping from one thing to another, thinking I’m ‘multi-tasking’ when really I’m just being a mess. And I bet I’m not the only one who says “I don’t have time to take a break”. Erm… no that’s crap! If I were to take a break, I’m sure I’d be a lot more efficient.
And this year, I’ve seen so many bloggers write about their travel burnouts and I to be honest, I don’t ever want that to be me. I may not be travelling full time, but I do have a full time job as well, so a large proportion of my year has been spent behind the computer, working late into the night, rather than getting out and about and actually having adventures. I know that’s normal when you are building something, but I don’t ever want to lose my passion for travel. Ever.
So my aim this year is to achieve balance between my blog work, my job, my socialising and my me time! Of all of the areas of my life, the ones that have suffered the most is my me time and my time with those closest to me. And I need that. I haven’t spent enough time with the most important people in my life, I have been eating crap, I haven’t exercised or slept enough and I haven’t switched off much at all this year.
So, this year – bring on the quality time, carrot sticks, yoga, siestas and walks in the woods! Zen Goddess coming your way…
4. Become a Better Blogger
With this blog being such a big part of my life now, it would be wrong not to include a blog goal on this list. I want to improve my writing, find ‘my voice’ (it’s getting there), take better pictures, get a better camera, learn to edit photos, figure out my new photo apps, get better at social media – the list goes on and on and on!
I would eventually like to be able to work full time as a travel writer/blogger/traveller/social entrepreneur or something that combines aspects of these! I don’t quite know yet. I suppose there are many different directions that I can take and the next year will be about finding out what works and what I enjoy. I know this is highly ambitious. Especially considering that I only started this whole thing 9 months ago. But I believe you have to dream big.
To keep it simple, I want to make Helen in Wonderlust a success by helping other people realise their travel dreams. So you know where I am folks! As I said above, I want to keep improving what I’m doing, but without compromising my passion for travel, or my sanity, so let’s see how this one works out!
3. Take Mark Twain’s Advice
In 2009, I thew off the bowlines, I sailed away from my safe harbour, I caught the trade winds in my (metaphorical) sails.
I explored. I dreamed. I discovered.
Best thing I ever did. So now, as we enter 2014, it’s time for me to take some more wisdom from Mr Twain. This is quite a hard one to explain. Here’s why…
I come across as a pretty confident person, this is what everyone tells me. I’m generally chatty and always up for a laugh or a challenge. But at times, I am unbelievably self-conscious. I worry about what people think of me. It’s sometimes inhibiting.
Have you ever done that thing where you are in the middle of telling a story and you realise a lot of people are listening, get nervous and just kind of forget what you were saying or where you were going with it? I do that ALL THE TIME. Even with good friends.
To give you another example, I took up ballroom dancing when I was thirty. I’ve always loved dancing so when a girl from work asked if I would like to take part in a charity Strictly Come Dancing (that’s Dancing With the Stars for the Americans in the house) competition at work, I jumped at the chance. We got paired up with a pro from the local dance school, my partner was Chris. In 4 weeks we had to learn and perform a routine – the ever so dramatic, Paso Doble.
Chris and I had a bout 8 hours together in total. But I also practiced and practiced and practiced, in my kitchen every night, alone. I wasn’t desperate to win. But as the day approached, I started to get more nervous. I was terrified of screwing up. Of not being ‘perfect’. The fact that it was just a bit of fun for charity was irrelevant to me. We actually ended up winning, but whilst I’d enjoyed all the practicing, I hadn’t enjoyed the actual performance because I was so conscious of all of the eyes on me.
I decided to stay on at the school and go to a weekly class, I felt fit and always left feeling really happy. But the big classes weren’t that challenging, so when the school asked me to fill the empty space on their all girls team I did, dancing with a girl called Jo. We had two weeks to learn 4 new routines. We managed it, but when I got out on the floor, with all those people watching, my brain went blank. I told myself it was just because we hadn’t had enough time.
The months went on. We had lessons – I looked forward to them every week. We went to practice evenings with the other dancers. I practiced and practiced. I knew the routines. We did more competitions. But I still couldn’t relax. I knew I was an ok dancer, but everyone else had been doing it for years and I was very aware that I was probably the worst dancer there. I worried about getting it wrong and falling over. I worried so much I made mistakes and ruined it for myself. In reflection, I’m sure people were probably too busy thinking about their own moves to be judging mine. I saw people trip and get things wrong. Did I think anything bad about them? No I didn’t.
I always felt like I was letting Jo down. And also letting myself down. I stopped dancing. I let my own insecurities stop me from doing something I loved. Maybe I went to fast. But it was an amazing opportunity. I should have loved those moments when I was up on the dance floor, when I could show off all of the hard work I’d put in. But I didn’t. My fear overtook me.
This is a pattern that I find over and over in my life. Dancing is just one example. I need to get over this.
So this is the year I am going to start to:
2. Live in the Moment
A great philosopher (and fellow Scouser) once wrote:
I am guilty of being very nostalgic and I am also guilty of worrying about the future and thinking ‘what if’ a lot! I live in my head. I think too much. I get so overwhelmed. Sometimes my mind is so elsewhere, I forget to appreciate what is actually happening around me. Right now.
So this year, I am going to enjoy the moment. This then feeds in to goals 3 and 5 also.
1. Go on an Adventure (or many)
Starting this blog was my 2013 adventure. Now it’s time to take it to the next level and get back out there!
For a start… Europe. Whilst I’m really good at exploring the UK, I’m guilty of ignoring Europe, preferring to travel further afield. Recently a friend said to me, “Europe is on your doorstep, you should explore it more” and over the last year, reading lots of blogs that focus on Europe, I feel more inspired than ever to go! So I will. I have plans to go to Belgium, Holland and Germany in February and March and then the Ukraine in May. Let’s see how many more countries I can squeeze in between now and the end of the year!
Advice on things to see and do in Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin and Kiev is much appreciated!!!!
Then, Africa. This year I want to go back. My soul longs for Africa. Bit dramatic, yes. But that is how I feel. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about it. It got under my skin and stayed there. There’s no place on earth where I feel as happy and free as I do in Africa. I love to listen to the sound of wild as I drift off to sleep, I miss the welcoming smiles of the African people, I miss the children, I miss the music and the drum beats, I miss my friends, I miss the big African sun, I miss the the untamed beauty and I miss the person I am when I’m there.
I want to feel this smile again.
Africa… I’m coming back for you. Until then, I will dream and write about you.
What are your goals, resolutions and dreams for the coming year? Have you started making plans to achieve them?
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