InThe Small Things

Reminding Yourself Daily of Your Goals in Life & Travel

“We manifested the trip,” we joked to each other. Only the day before we sat on our couch, my husband and I, working on our goals for 2018—what we want to achieve, the changes we want to make, and the places we want to go. Among them:

  • Pay off some of our student loans (more than the minimum each month).
  • Cleaning the apartment at least 2 times a week.
  • Hawaii (yes, just Hawaii).
  • Go out on 1 weekly date in our neighborhood.
  • Take a weekend trip every 3 months.

We compiled a short list including these and other aspirations for the year and then clinked together our glasses of champagne as the clock struck midnight.

Dreaming of Hawaii.

Then the next day, the email arrived: “Get up here and hang out with us!”

We’d talked about visiting our friends in Seattle for well over a year before this, but of course life got in the way. It wasn’t even that flights were too expensive or the trip would take too long. Flights for around $60 one way always pop up, and the travel time lasts less than three hours.

It was simply that this trip was never a priority. We’d said it would be a nice trip to take and then we’d forget about it. But now, a mere twenty-four hours after setting the goal to take a weekend trip each quarter, our friends have invited us up to stay with them.

Many people make the promise to themselves in the New Year to “travel more.” It’s easy to have it be the far-off, idyllic time to travel in the future—which never seems to happen, does it? There will always be more work to do, more money to be made, more things you could or should be doing at home.

But there will never be more time.

Rome, a dream achieved in 2017.

If you want to travel more, then get specific.

  • Where do you want to go?
  • How long of a trip do you want to take?
  • What type of a trip will it be?

These are the types of details that can help make it real. “Travel more” could mean anything, but a specific destination and length of time takes you one step closer to actually being there. It’s odd, but it suddenly feels more real.

Also, travel costs money, even with credit card points or frequent flyer miles. With this information you can start to budget a trip out and make a plan to save. You might not save everything up in the next twelve months, and that’s okay. At least you’re working towards something, rather than setting some arbitrary goal without any real plan to follow through on it.

How to remind yourself of your goals

The best way to keep my goals for life and travel fresh in my mind is to make something I see every day that reminds me of them. When it’s on my mind always, then it puts things in perspective and reminds me of what is really important.

Some people print out lists and hang them on the wall to read each morning, other people make notes in their planners. Every year, I create a desktop collage. I start with goals—what I want to do, to buy, to see, to be. I ask myself what I’d like to achieve career-wise and in my personal life. I list out an item or two I might like to own, skills I’d love to develop, and, of course, places I’d like to see. I then choose images which represent each item on the list (Unsplash and Pexels are great for this).

After this, I use some kind of software to create a collage. This year it was befunky, which I truly loved—you can set the dimensions to perfectly fit your computer. My collage is something to keep me motivated throughout the year. As a writer, I’m staring at my computer for hours on end, so it’s sort of perfect.

The collage for 2018

This year, my own personal goals are:

  • Get better at hooping.
  • Be able to have basic conversations in Italian.
  • Get at least 4 magazine bylines.
  • Write a book.
  • Hawaii (yes, just Hawaii).
  • Return to Burning Man.
  • Make a solid plan to move abroad.
  • Be a better partner.

The images I chose all worked well together even without any editing at all. But if I had needed to, I would have popped into Photoshop Express or A Color Story (both are free apps) to do some tweaking.

I know creating my yearly collage isn’t going to make me into the person I want to be, check off all the things I want to do, or help me get that ticket to the country I want to visit next. But it’s there to keep me on track. I won’t get to the end of this year and ask myself, “Now what did I say I was going to complete this year?” It’s here, it’s reminding me every day, and it’s keeping me inspired to push myself and try to make it happen.

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