Tis the season to be wildly optimistic about how much you can achieve in twelve months, eh? Happy new year! As I did last year, I thought I’d take a minute to look over the goals I set for myself in January 2019, and write a little about my plans so far for the first year of the new decade. As I discussed in my 2019 review post, 2019 was a good year, a thoughtful year, in which I learned a lot of things and leaned into my interests in a real way. I am looking forward to diving even more deeply into writing, photography, our changing climate, the economy and my love affair with scuba diving in 2020, because I know that, for all I learned this year, this is just the start.
2019 goals review
Write 150 blog posts
I nailed this one. In 2019, I published 212 blog posts, smashing my aim of 150. Awesome! I am so happy with the amount of time I spent writing this year. If anything, I wish I did it more, but my hands can only spend so much time flying around the keyboard before they start to ache, especially when you consider that my full-time job is a writing job too. I love this blog and everything it has brought into my life. Can’t wait to write more in 2020.
Get published online (somewhere that isn’t here)
I was published twice this year, first on the Financial Diet, a young women’s personal finance website, and secondly on Nomadic Matt’s travel site, one of the biggest travel blogs in the world with literally millions of monthly readers. My article on TFD was about keeping a traveller’s spirit alive when you’re stuck at home and my article for Nomadic Matt was all about how to travel in the Seychelles on a budget. It felt very gratifying to get published on these two sites and get good feedback from the editors. I would love to have pitched more in the latter half of 2019, but between studying for two exams, moving house, travelling and preparing my master’s application, I knew it would have to wait until the new year.
Complete my ‘Tower Bridge’ and ‘Square Mile’ photography projects
Ha, I don’t really know what I meant when I wrote this goal down. I did take many, many photos of Tower Bridge this year and also spent many hours snapping pictures of the City from all angles, so in that sense, I suppose I did this. But in hindsight, this was the wrong photography aim to focus on. My success with photography this year was not about ‘completing’ some London projects, it was about taking photos all the time, experimenting with styles, equipment and techniques, investing in my gear and software, building a portfolio, sharing my work and committing wholeheartedly to becoming a better, more experienced photographer. That’s what this goal should have said, and I feel good that I did all of those things this year, taking over twenty thousand photos in the process (the best of which are shared here). I’m definitely planning more photography in 2020, and would perhaps like to do a few more concrete projects, but we’ll see.
Improve my French and Polish
This was my big fail of the year. Even writing a far more comprehensive list of specific language goals in June didn’t help me. I love languages, I do, but between all the other stuff I do it rarely occurs to me to spend a few hours brushing up on my French grammar or Polish vocab, especially when I have very limited use for these skills in my daily life. If I was travelling more and for longer, I think it would be different. I would like to spend more time on languages at some point, but for now, I think I’ll have to park this interest and just pick up a few new words when the mood strikes me. I did learn some fun new Polish phrases this year, practise my pronunciation and gleefully prattle on in French in Paris in December, so it wasn’t a total bust, but definitely not the multilingual extravaganza that I was planning.
Read 52 books
Ah, this was one was easy. I love to read. Love love love it. I read eighty-five books this year and learned so much. A full post on my favourite reads of the year is coming soon, though I have reviewed every book I read this year in my monthly reading roundups and you can see all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page, along with my star rating for each.
Earn some money freelancing
Yes! Just. My post on Nomadic Matt’s site earned me $250, which I spent on a few huge photography books that I’d been lusting after. Doing more of this is my big goal for 2020.
Sell or donate the things I don’t use
Moving in October was the perfect impetus to do a big clear out of my possessions and start being way more thoughtful about what I bring into and keep in my home, though I also did a bit of sorting earlier in the year. I gave away and donated lots of things this year to friends and charity shops, which was great. At this point, I feel very happy with the things I own, and am now – partly due to living in a small flat and partly due to the climate crisis – being very strict about what I buy and bring home. Clutter does not make me feel good and neither does buying lots of random items (books don’t count, okay?) so this will hopefully be easy to continue.
Onwards to 2020…
This year, my goals are in a few distinct tiers. My primary goal is to build my business and earn money as a freelance writer and photographer. If I can do this, even if I accomplish nothing else this year, I’ll be happy. This is my priority and I need to use my time and energy in a way which reflects that.
After my headline aim, I have a whole list of smaller things I’d like to do this year.
Read 52 books
Exercise more. Swim 40 times, lift weights 40 times, do yoga 40 times. My general level of fitness and conditioning is one of the things I am most grateful for and I’ll be so annoyed if I squander that through my twenties.
Travel more in the UK. The Lake District, the Peak District, Devon and the Scottish Highlands are all on my list.
Go diving in the UK (and other places, if possible). Get another specialist diving certification.
Keep my camera charged and with me. While I won’t be doing Get Snappy this year, I’ll be so annoyed at myself if I miss a load of great photos because I was unprepared. Some of my favourite shots from this year were taken at the most unlikely moments. Also, I want to take more photos of myself! I have so few from this year.
Get organised, digitally. My photos are very organised, but other than that, my computer is a mess. All my devices are running out of storage space and files are impossible to find. I need to sort out my web hosting, too. I want to be technologically savvier, because so much of my life depends on my laptop functioning well.
In the wake of December’s disastrous election, I also have a few political resolutions. I plan to keep protesting and donating money to causes and parties I support, but I know that there’s always more I could do and I want to be proactive.
Volunteer in service of a crisis caused by the Tory government
Read more about poverty, class, wealth and racism in Britain
Read more about political philosophy and the forces that are eroding democracy
Be radically generous with my time, money and energy to those who need it
Support quality journalism, with donations, clicks and shares
And then, a few random things that would be nice to do but aren’t a big deal if I don’t get around to them.
Visit more museums in London
Travel solo (for longer than a weekend)
Make a start on a novel
Watch more documentaries, listen to more podcasts
It goes without saying that my personal writing and photography will remain big priorities, as will travel. I want to keep learning about climate change, keep protesting and keep working on becoming a more responsible traveller and better person. I had a great year of learning, exploring and working hard at projects that matter to me. Hopefully, I’ll do more of the same in 2020, with the above as a starting point. Happy new year! I hope 2020 has great things in store for all of us.