Happy New Year!

Am I still allowed to say that even though New Year’s Day was over 3 weeks ago?

It’s been a while since I wrote a little life catch-up, so thought that this would be a good way to kick off the blog in 2020.

Life has been rolling by with no huge surprises – which, after the last few years I’ve had, I’m VERY happy about.  And for the first time in years I’ve entered a New Year with no huge plans other than to stay happy and do more of the things that bring me happiness.

In short, that means more nights in watching terrible TV, more cuddles with my cats, more reading and more saving for/planning my future travels.

I’m not a massive fan of ‘resolutions’, but I did decide to set myself a few nerdy SMART (Specific/Measurable/Attainable/Relevant/Time-based) ‘goals’ this year, which I hope are pretty achievable:

1. To save a certain amount
2. Read 12 books
3. Visit one new destination
4. Run a 10k ‘race’
5. Blog at least once a month

1. To save a certain amount
I have a bit of an arbitrary number in my head of how much I’d like to save this year. There’s no real rhyme or reason to it, but I figured having *this amount* saved up would allow me to be spontaneous if I want to head off on a trip – but will also give me a healthy safety net for if any bills/unexpected events pop up.

2. Read 12 books
Last year I read 9 books, which wasn’t too bad considering I wasn’t really in a great headspace for the first half of the year and so didn’t read at all. This year I’m aiming for a book a month. I only really have time to read on the train to/from work, which adds up to…maybe 30-40 minutes a day? (I can’t read at home because I literally just fall straight to sleep…) 12 books seems doable – I’m already one down!

3. Visit one new destination
As much as I LOVED visiting Paris and New York again last year, I’m craving a new adventure – seeing somewhere new and getting to grips with a new culture. This new destination could be somewhere in the UK, but I’d prefer for it to be somewhere else…let’s see how the money goes!

4. Run a 10k race
I’ve run a 10k in the past but it was a tough slog to get there. I’m making running another priority this year because it helps my anxiety in so many ways. Usually I run anywhere between 2-5k at a time, but I’d like to push myself and maybe try for a 10k at the end of the year. I know it’s doable as I’ve done it before, and it’s also not completely unrealistic (I defo won’t be doing a marathon in this lifetime…)

Ian and I ran a 5k in New York last November but it would be awesome to double that distance this year...

Ian and I ran a 5k in New York last November but it would be awesome to double that distance this year…

5. Blog at least once a month
Blogging has taken a bit of a backseat in recent months as a result of just having no spare time at all. I’ve had to prioritise paid freelance work, but I really do miss just sitting down and writing freely. I’m going to aim to produce at least one (non-sponsored) blog post a month. I’d love to do more, but don’t want to commit to too much and then feel bad if I can’t do it one month.

Travel plans so far in 2020

The only confirmed trip I have for this year is a few days in Krakow next month. This is a trip that means a heck of a lot to me as it’s the trip I was supposed to take with my mum for her big 60th birthday.

As some of you may know, my mum passed away in February 2017 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. Heartbreakingly, she was just 57 – she was only 3 years away from making her 60th birthday dream a reality.

Mum had always dreamed of going to Krakow for her big 60th, and to Auschwitz Concentration Camp in particular. My mum had a huge interest in Nazi Germany and would often be found with her nose in a WW2-related book – or watching a WW2 movie.

My mum wasn’t a huge traveller (she hated flying) and also didn’t have a lot of money, so this trip would have been a huge deal for her. She was determined to go with me, and I’m absolutely devastated we won’t be able to experience her dream together.

Even though mum can’t be there in person, I’ll be heading to Krakow for us both. Ian will be joining me, and we’ll probably just end up drinking lots of cheap beer – just as mum would have done.

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I would also love to tick a long-haul destination off my list this year – but, unless I suddenly won the lottery, this would most definitely make my savings goal totally unreachable. I’m usually all for experiences over money, but living in London with all its unpredictable costs has made me a) much more skint, and b) much more paranoid about having that all-important safety net.

So, if I do manage to win the lottery or miraculously halve my living costs, then Japan or Australia would definitely be at the top of my long-haul list. I’d also take Sri Lanka, Cape Town, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Vancouver, Singapore, Florida….

Lifestyle plans for 2020 

The biggest change so far this year has been the fact I’m actually using a bullet journal! When it first started popping up over social media a few years ago, I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to waste their time drawing out what a good-old-fashioned diary already offered.

Fast forward a few years, and now my idea of a great night is an evening in with my bullet journal and coloured pens. It’s good for my mind to get a little arts and crafty, and it’s ridiculously calming.

I had no idea where to start so decided to just keep my January pages simple – right now, it’s just an overview of important dates coming up. However, I’ve also created a ‘habit tracker’ to help me see how frequently I’m doing certain things – from reading to running, blogging, having ‘no spend’ days and freelancing.

I’ve also created other pages so I can record books I read throughout the year, as well as film/TV I’ve watched, my favourite moments and my overall saving totals each month.

I love looking back at my old photo albums and school leavers books, so I can’t wait to look back on everything that happened in 2020 in 12 months’ time…

But I’m not wishing time away at all. I’m sure this year will have its fair share of ups and downs – as with any year – and I want to soak up everything each day has to offer.

What are your travel and lifestyle plans for 2020?