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My 20 Goals and Projects for 2021, with tentative hope for my travel goals

“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination” – Fitzhugh Dodson

I couldn’t agree more with this Dodson quote. I love the reflective period that leads up to New Years Eve, which flows into and informs the ambition and day-dreaming of goal-setting for the year ahead. Head here to read my reflective look back at 2020 (if you can bear to look back – I know that many can’t!), or if you’re looking ahead to the year and pondering what goals you should adopt yourself, then read on for some ideas and inspiration from what I’ll be tackling in 2021.

In a normal year this blog post would focus solely on my travel goals, but I’m widening the net in 2021 for obvious reasons – there might not be a huge amount of travel! This January more than ever, we’re in need of distractions to save us from the onslaught of bad news, the groundhog day routines, the boredom of staring at the same 4 walls day after day while working-from-home or staying-at-home. So in this post I’m giving a peek into a handful of the goals and projects I’m personally setting to distract myself, and maybe they’ll prompt your own goal-setting also.

I’ve always been a list-lover and each year I choose 50+ personal New Years Resolutions on all matter of subjects: travel, career, education, finances, health, wellbeing, sport, social impact, hobbies, home, life goals, etc. I first came across this way of approaching life when a mentor asked me to complete a ‘wheel of life‘ exercise and rank each area out of 10. Breaking your life down into categories like this helps hone in on the specific areas of life that need attention, assess and reflect on each one individually. This process helps prioritise, identify where to focus efforts and resolutions, and set really specific goals. I’ve personally never found Google that helpful for choosing resolutions or goals, as they’re so individual and personal to you, except if you can find someone whose life or aspirations you really relate to, and read their resolutions for inspiration.

On that note, here are just a handful of the biggest goals and projects I’m embarking on for 2021, and please do shout if you have any suggestions or tips for achieving them!

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10 of my Goals and Projects for 2021

  1. Find a trustee, non-exec or school governor role, to build on my previous volunteer roles, ideally in an area connected to education, international development, poverty relief, gender equality, intercultural exchange or relations. Getting on Board contains advice on how to move into these roles, and emphasises why boards need to become more diverse, and apparently Reach Volunteering is a good database of vacancies.
  2. Continue learning French and resume regular classes, as I study best as part of a scheduled class. I like the Institut Francais teachers, and would like to get a certification somewhere down the line. If language learning is also on your list of resolutions, head to this post I wrote on 4 Steps to Pick-up a Language you Haven’t Learned Since School.
  3. Catch-up on blogging and get back to writing more often, with at least 2 blog posts a month, but hopefully more. Long overdue posts that I’m excited to share include itineraries and tips for travelling to New Zealand, the Philippines, Kenyan safaris and hiking Mont Blanc. Although there isn’t appetite for these topics right now, when we are finally released from the pandemic, I anticipate there’ll be a lot of pent-up demand for longer-haul travel and adventures! I’m still considering producing a second series of my podcast, but I want to initially focus more on writing.
  4. Publish a visual representation of my research into Brexit & EU citizens in the UK, through combining photography and quotes from my Master’s thesis, to raise awareness of the experiences of these 3 million people navigating uncertainty and often anxiety. In the meantime, do read the summary (abstract) or my actual thesis here.
  5. Decorate my flat with my postcards and other artwork, and I’m even pondering painting a mural, as I did in my mother’s house. I want to frame and display lots of the favourite postcards that used to cover my bedrooms from wall-to-wall and were the original inspiration behind this blog’s name. Rather than white-tack, I have a framed alternative in mind – I’ll share on the blog if it works! If you’re as much of a perfectionist as I am, murals are incredibly time-consuming and take much longer than planned, so it’s a more serious undertaking! Perhaps painting will also help reduce my perfectionism…
  6. Spend at least 12 days painting to improve my technique and build a body of artwork. I may even share some of my paintings on the blog too, as I’m currently enjoying painting landscapes based on photos from my travels, and I used to have this ‘Art’ series of blog posts back between 2012-15. The painting tells a story of the trip it comes from, so could be a novel way of story-telling.
  7. Boost my career through joining a talent development programme at work and learning new skills. I currently work in the UK Civil Service on international trade negotiations and my role is about to change slightly, now that the EU negotiations I worked on for all of 2020 are concluded. If you’re not changing role, then some others ideas for focusing on your career include: finding a mentor you relate or aspire to; shadowing or chatting to someone with your dream job; joining an industry network and attending relevant events; joining a talent programme; taking online courses; writing a personal development plan and discussing it with your line manager; working through a reading list.
  8. Read at least 16 books: 4 classics, 4 foreign language, 4 non-fiction, 4 self-improvement. I achieved this goal in 2020 and found the structure really helpful to make sure I stretched myself and didn’t just default to the “easy comfort reading” that wouldn’t help me reach any of my goals. If you’re like me and struggle to sit still with a book, then definitely look into audiobooks on Audible which I listen to while multi-tasking or walking/cycling. And for a travel injection into your reading list, then head over to my blog post on Books to read for escapism and armchair travel during the pandemic.
  9. Grow my investments and improve my financial literacy, specifically in terms of investing in funds and stocks, and identifying longer-term financial goals. I’ve found the UK-focused book ‘How to Own the World‘ by Andrew Craig super helpful and I follow a number of female-focused UK financial bloggers, including Young Money Blog, Vestpod, Rainchq, The Money Panel, as well as the Financial Times’ Money Clinic podcast. It’s important to find advice from the country where your money is based as each country’s financial and tax systems work individually, and these resources above are all UK-focused.
  10. Work on my 10-year-plan and incorporate longer-term planning into my goals. I wrote a 10-year plan ahead of my 30th birthday and it serves as a guide to what longer-term goals I need to keep in mind, and stops me being too short-termist. Finance is a big component that enables that plan, but my career, relationships and other big ticket items in the next decade, like another sabbatical, are all captured in that plan and need work if they’re going to ever become a reality.

What my Travel Goals could be for later in 2021, if the pandemic allows

  1. Visit Italy: my favourite country in the whole wide world! It’s now 10 years since I last lived there on my Third Year Abroad, and I have a fantasy of spending a lot more time there, perhaps even remote-working from Italy…
  2. Visit 3 new places in the UK: I’m really keen to visit the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales and hike through more national parks in the north of England/Scotland. I’m embarrassingly southern-based and would like to familiarise myself more with the north.
  3. Explore a different part of London each month: as I’m so bored of being restricted to my local area! While I do usually like living in Earlsfield and Wandsworth (read my 8 reasons why Earlsfield is a great place to live in London), I’ve overdosed on it in the latest lockdown!
  4. Hike more sections of the North Downs Way: it’s a 246km trail through scenic countryside from Farnham in Surrey, to the Kent Coast at Dover, which I began with uni friends in 2019 in 1-day stages. The beauty of the trail is that almost all the 1-day segments can be easily reached by train from London, and it can be completed in 10 separate days. The photo at the top of this blog post was taken from Leg 3, at Colley Hill.
  5. Weekends away with old friends: after being so separated in 2020, I’m dying to spend lots more time with my friends. We have a number of hen parties and weddings abroad to (fingers crossed) look forward to, but really this goal is about quality time and making memories with the friends and people I love.
  6. Visit 2-3 new countries: which would ideally include somewhere in Africa, somewhere in the Middle East (like Oman), and Georgia. If long-haul is still difficult later in 2021, I’ll settle for the handful of smaller short-haul European countries that I’ve yet to visit (Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Macedonia).
  7. Plan lots of skiing and the Inferno ski race for winter 2021-22: accepting that this current winter is probably a write-off for skiing, I want to ensure I get maximum time in the mountains next year!
  8. Go sailing: including more sailing in Hampshire as I loved my dinghy and yacht outings from the Hamble and Lymington in summer 2020. My dream sailing week would still be a trip aroun the Aeolian Islands, which are a pocket of volcanic islands off the north-east coast of Sicily.
  9. Visit the Christmas market in Strasbourg, following my fantastic visits to markets in Berlin, Munich and Vienna, or celebrate New Year’s Eve 2022 abroad.
  10. Plan a few bigger trips for the future… I’ll stay light on details for now, but am daydreaming and plotting about lots of different options! I have a lot of accumulated annual leave from work to play with at some point…

I have to be realistic though. Since the travel situation is entirely out of my hands, I pledge right now to not be too hard on myself in 11 months time if I don’t achieve all these travel goals, which are in fact already much less ambitious than normal years. But, as per the quote that introduced this post, if I don’t set any goals, then I’ve no chance at all of reaching them. Even if I achieve just a handful of the first 10 pandemic-suitable goals above, then I will be happy and proud of myself. I’m someone that needs goals and projects to distract myself from the grim reality, so part of this focus on New Year’s Resolutions and goals is to preserve my own wellbeing.

Good luck with your own projects and goals for 2021, and fingers crossed for a happier and more hopeful year than 2020!


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