2019 was quite the year! It had its fair share of messy moments but overall my 2019 was incredibly rewarding. Last year I completed a similar wrap-up blog post and really enjoyed the exercise… so here we are again! I’ll be reflecting on these past 12 months, discussing some lessons learned, diving into my achieved (and unachieved) goals, and setting some intentions for 2020. As always, thank you for being here!
2019 Reflections and 2020 Intentions
Written and published in December, 2019
I am so grateful for all the highs in 2019. The two biggest things were probably Matt and I publishing our first book, AND buying our first home… wow, that felt surreal to write! Our book, Roaming America, came out in spring and to this day I still can’t quite believe it happened. I love seeing it sitting on our coffee table and it’s an truly amazing feeling hearing from happy customers.
Then there’s buying our first home… something I didn’t necessarily think would happen in 2019! We had been saving up for quite some time and began slowly looking at houses in early summer. It all happened way quicker than we were expecting and just like that we were being handed the keys to our first home. So exciting but also equally terrifying haha 😆 We bought just outside of Seattle and chose a house that has a foundation and location we love… but it does require fairly extensive renovating (more on that in the next section!)
Another massive high was being able to travel to so many beautiful and interesting places, including numerous that were at the top of my bucket-list.
Our first big trip of the year was to Finnish Lapland and it was probably the most magical winter destination I’ve ever visited. Then soon after we took an amazing trip to Ireland, which ended up being the destination that surprised us the most in 2019!
Spring saw us road trip around the US Southwest, adventure in Moab with the Backcountry crew, explore around the Pacific Northwest, and take a dream trip to French Polynesia. Getting to travel to Bora Bora was seriously such a pinch ourselves is this really happening type of trip! We swam with sharks, took a scenic flight over the islands, and stayed in overwater bungalows… so so grateful for the opportunity!
Summer involved a lot of hiking around the Pacific Northwest, hosting visiting family from Australia, speaking at TravelCon in Boston, teaching at the first ever TripLit Conference in British Columbia, AND getting to take a life-changing safari trip to Kenya.
Not only was our trip to Kenya a massive 2019 highlight, I am proud to have helped raise over $100,000 in donations for Ol Pejeta Conservancy (thank you SO much to everyone that supported the campaign!)
Another super rewarding trip this year was getting to explore my heritage in Spain.
I learned a few years ago that my great-x3 grandfather and his family were from the Catalonia region of Spain. Ever since finding that out I have been manifesting a “finding my heritage” style trip… and this year Ancestry helped make it happen! Matt and I spent just over a week road tripping around Barcelona, Costa Brava, and Mallorca. I can’t wait to return and explore some more of the country (hopefully soon!)
Autumn saw us travel around Iceland with the Sony crew and celebrate Matt’s 30th birthday with an incredible scenic flight over the country… another truly surreal moment!
We then traveled south to Italy where we spent a couple of amazing weeks exploring the Dolomites, Venice, and the Cinque Terre. Some of the most memorable moments of my entire year happened during those 8 days in the Dolomites of Italy… We had crazy beautiful weather conditions, vibrant autumn colors, and overall saw some truly breathtaking scenery. To top it off, we also spent some quality time with friends eating waaaayyy too much pizza and pasta :p
November and December consisted of some work trips a little closer to home, including a short getaway to British Columbia, a few days in beautiful Orange Country, and a fun trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. Our Christmas was spent at Tye Haus in Washington with some friends 😊
Some other highlights of my 2019 were getting to see all my family members and meeting my new baby nephew, spending quality time with friends (including some visiting us in Seattle), working with numerous dream clients, and overall feeling happy, healthy, and fulfilled in life… SO much gratitude!!
Naturally there were plenty of challenges and low points during the year… I definitely had feelings of burn out on numerous occasions. I often felt overwhelmed by work tasks, travel commitments, and general life admin tasks (don’t get me started on US health care!) And I traveled for work ~50% of the year and I absolutely felt the toll on my mind and body from lack of sleep, jet lag, and changing routine. Similar to last year, I also sadly missed out on numerous special occasions and celebrations back in Australia because of our decision to live in the US.
As I briefly touched on about our house… we have some MAJOR renovations going on right now! We were meant to move in by autumn (or by Christmas at the latest) but a big kitchen leak and subsequent insurance claim set us back, and getting reliable contractors turned out to be a much bigger feat than we had anticipated. Oh and planning a huge home remodel is kind of tough when you are home for 2 weeks of every month 🤦
I am also very sad to report that my adult acne has returned with a vengeance these last few months…. which has naturally been a real bummer for me. I’m obviously working to get it under control again but the whole point of this blog post is to be real with you guys… and there it is: acne sucks!!
2019 Goals & Lessons Learned
I set myself some pretty outrageous goals for 2019! Of my 14 goals, I achieved 8 of them and overall made some solid progress towards the ones I didn’t quite tick off. Like previous years, 12 months ago I also wrote a letter to the universe dated 12/31/19. It’s essentially a form of manifestation where you write a journal entry in the present tense as if you have skipped forward 12 months. You write about everything that happened that past year, how you feel, where you are, what you have achieved, etc. It’s a really powerful tool. And I’m stoked to say that a lot of what I wrote this past year did some true!
I definitely learned a few lessons in 2019… which can only be a good thing because it means I am growing as a human and becoming a better person. Some of those lessons were:
• The key to staying creative and fulfilled in my work is to take on a healthy mix of passion projects as well as those that truly pay the bills.
Some of my most rewarding moments of 2019 were when I was undertaking charity projects or unpaid jobs. Obviously it’s vital to have a solid combination of both. But this year I definitely learned that I need those passion projects to keep the creative juices flowing.
• If I don’t schedule a day off work then it won’t happen.
I know from the outside it might seem like I just travel, take photos, and have fun. But the reality of social media and blogging is that you don’t see all the behind-the-scenes. And the hours of work that goes into making it all come together. This year I learned that prioritizing proper days off work every now and again (and breaks from social media) is vital for my well being.
• Investing in growing my business is scary but it nearly always pays off.
This year I hired an assistant and got better at delegating tasks… and it has been so wonderful! Not only has it freed-up time for me to create more content for you guys, but it has allowed me to work on areas of my business that have been neglected, take on more passion projects, and focus on learning new things to help my business grow.
• People will rip off your work as they strive to emulate your success.
Sadly this wasn’t totally unique to 2019 but something I have been noticing more and more of as my business grows… even to the point of questionable plagiarism. I’ve spoken to a bunch of people who have been in the industry for longer than me and they all say the same thing – try to take it as a form of flattery. It’s been a hard one for me to deal with but sadly one that I am learning to adapt to.
• I feel amazing when intermittently fasting.
This pattern of eating happened sort of accidentally for me this year. But I started noticing how much better I feel when I eat two large meals a day and then fast for 15-18 hours (dinner through ’till brunch/lunch). I don’t really crave snacks anymore and my mind is so clear and productive in those morning hours before eating. Disclaimer – I am obviously not a doctor and recommend you consult a health care professional before making any diet/lifestyle changes.
• Scheduling date nights is the key to making them actually happen!
One of my goals for 2019 was to have weekly date nights… which sadly only lastly a couple of weeks haha. Matt and I run our business together and also live/travel together 24/7. But that doesn’t mean we are constantly spending quality time together as a couple. We learned this year that if we don’t schedule proper date nights then they will often get pushed aside. Thankfully we are already doing a much better at this as we move into 2020!
There were more lessons learned in 2019 but some that I don’t particularly want to share with the whole wide world 😜. I encourage you to try writing your own list of highs, lows, and lessons learned for this past year – it’s a really useful process!
2020 Intentions & Guiding Words
For 2019 I set myself two guiding words – gratitude and abundance.
I thought about mixing it up for 2020 but I think I will leave them the same. They have served me well and are two things I want to continue manifesting in my life. What I said last year still rings true: I want an abundance of love, joy, friendships, creativity, new experiences, and money in my life.
Yes I said money… it’s okay to want more money guys! Money buys incredible experiences and things that bring safety and happiness into your life. You’re not a bad or greedy person to be actively seeking an abundance of money in your life.
In 2020 I want to always feel a deep gratitude for the abundance in my life, for the amazing people that surround and support me, for the extreme privilege for getting to work for myself in a job that I love, and for the journey in its entirety (yes, even the low points and struggles, because those are inevitable and part of the process).
In 2020 I want to keep up a daily gratitude practice whilst I work towards making my wildest dreams come true… and remaining thankful for the now. I want to surround myself with people who live with a zest for life, who have real conversations, and who exude gratitude.
Each year I always set some intentions for my brand, Renee Roaming – this blog, my photography, social media, etc.
This next year I will endeavor to continue using my platforms to share real stories and experiences from my adventures. And from the people and cultures that I encounter along the way. I want to continue to inspire and help more people to get outdoors, enjoy nature, and travel responsibly. I am aiming to open people’s eyes to new ways of living and thinking. Reduce prejudice, and also encourage people to get out of their comfort zones.
I am the type of person who enjoys setting goals and find them useful in staying motivated and on track. For 2020 I have decided to set some annual goals but also some goals for each quarter. This year I found that my business changed so much from Q1 to Q4 that it made more sense to be focused on 3 month blocks rather than skip ahead too far.
Here are some of my annual goals for 2020*:
- Read 20 books.
- Take at least one full day off work every two weeks.
- Keep up a daily gratitude practice and write in my journal frequently.
- Travel to at least 5 international destinations, preferably places I haven’t yet been to.
- Re-wire my brain and speech to use less fillers (um, like, you know) and cuss less frequently.
- Save enough money to renovate the upstairs bathroom and paint the outside of our house.
Here are some of my goals for Q1 2020*:
- Open our online print shop.
- Complete my free blog resource library and have it live for everyone to access.
- Update my email newsletters and some design aspects of my blog.
- Update the About Me sections on my blog and Instagram.
- Update all my national park blog posts and related content.
- Reach out to all my dream 2020 clients and discuss partnerships.
- Complete at least one online workshop related to a skill I need to improve/learn.
* These obviously aren’t all of my goals because some are too personal to share with the entire internet. But that gives you a snippet of what I am working towards!
As a freelancer, so much of my work and travel is arranged last minute. In fact, I am pretty sure I only knew about our Finland and Ireland trips when I wrote my “2019 happenings” this time last year… and look what went on to happen haha!
So far I have the following plans for 2020:
- Matt and I will be taking an Oregon road trip in early January.
- This coming January will be our 5 year anniversary of living in the US!
- We will be moving into our new house in early March (fingers crossed!)
- During mid-March we will be traveling back to Australia for a family wedding.
- In July I will be traveling to Fiji to spend time with my family.
- Later in July/early August Matt and I will be teaching at the TripLit Conference in BC.
- We plan to spend most of October in Europe chasing fall colors.
- The goal is to be home for the holidays and spend Christmas in our new house!
There are numerous other *maybe* things that will hopefully happen. And I am so sure many other pleasant surprises will come up. But for now I am stoked with those plans!
Thank you for being here!
I hope you enjoy following along on my 2020 adventures. And thank you for being part of this journey, for your support, encouragement, and inspiration! I love this community – you guys are the best!! I would be stoked to hear some of your 2020 intentions or goals, leave them in the comments below 😊
Need some trip inspiration for 2020?