Goodbye 2017; for us it was a year of ups and downs (when is it not?) with some important milestones. In March, Emma turned three years old and I turned 40 (Still sounds strange to me!). We had family visits: my sister and her husband were here at Easter and my parents over the summer holidays, then Emma started Kindergarten in August.
I’ve decided this year that I am going to write a post about my goals for the new year. Rather obvious I know, but I think it will help me to clarify my aims a little more and make them more accountable if I write them publicly. I’ll also be writing quarterly follow-up posts to check in on my goals, make changes if necessary and keep myself motivated. That’s the plan.
I’ll start by looking back over the year just gone and reviewing my 2017 goals. I wrote a post on the whole goal-setting process, How not to fail at reaching your goals which was mostly about strategies for goal setting and achieving but I didn’t go into my own goals in the post.
So I will refer back to my bullet journal (abandoned by June and subsequently used as a multipurpose notebook… the pages kept falling out, so it wasn’t very practical and I ended up using Trello to organise and keep records of most of the information I was writing in the bullet journal so it eventually fell by the wayside).
Evaluating last year’s goals
I wrote down my Stretch Goals – my big long-term goals for the year. There were five:
1. Finish Emma’s British passport application. Yes! I did it! And wrote about it in How to apply for your child's first UK passport from abroad. I guess this was the easiest and most concrete of my goals. I didn’t make my self-imposed deadline of the first week in January, though. I finally got it done by the end of March, but I did it and Emma got her passport.
2. Monetise my blog. No. Failed miserably, didn’t even get close. I tried to run before I could walk by signing up to Amazon affiliates, didn’t take proper advantage of it and didn’t have enough traffic anyway so got rejected after six months with zero sales! However, I did have some small blog achievements that I’m proud of.
- I transferred my new domain name to my blog (all by myself!)
- I got rid of my horrible old header, finally, and although the current header is only supposed to be temporary (still have to get a proper header and logo), it looks a million times better, cleaner and more professional. I also changed my strapline to hopefully more closely reflect what my blog is about.
- My DA went from zero in January up to 25 in November. It went down again to 24 in December, but I still think that’s not bad considering how inconsistent I’ve been this year.
- My post 7 Pinterest-inspired Christmas crafts was a featured post in the #DreamTeam linky back in November - http://www.rhymingwithwine.com/dreamteam-linky-week-81/
- I finally set up a Facebook page for the blog in August – please follow me!
- I started using Social Oomph to schedule tweets, although only the free version so it is quite tedious and time-consuming and I haven’t been very thorough with it.
- I reached my Instagram goal of 1000 followers by the end of the year, and got close enough to my goal of 2000 followers on Twitter (just 8 short).
3. Organise my home and life more efficiently. Er…not so great! Must make more of an effort! That said, I made a start with meal planning, with some success for a while, at least. And when Emma started kindergarten I always prepared both her packed lunch and mine the night before to take to school in the mornings.
4. Take care of myself. Basically self-care routines and activities like going to the dentist, going to bed earlier and getting my haircut more regularly… I didn’t do any of it, except the 31 days of yoga challenge in January which I did complete – it took me somewhat longer than the 31 days, but I was doing a yoga session approximately 3 – 4 times a week and I felt the benefits. It’s a shame I started slacking off after that.
5. Learn to drive. The scariest of goals. I was going to do this over the summer holidays but I chickened out. No excuse.
So in general, I was not very successful at achieving my goals in 2017.
Where did I go wrong?
Lack of consistency, lack of focus, I didn’t schedule my posts or my time, I didn’t use my time as productively as I could have. I have so little time to dedicate to the blog and I really need to work on making the most of the time I have.
That said, I did learn a lot over the past year:
- How to enable rich pins on Pinterest (I did it!)
- How to use hashtags in Instagram
- How to use Social Oomph to schedule twitter posts
- The basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- How to create sign up forms for email subscribers
- How to batch different tasks (just need to put this into practice)
I know what I need to do; I just need to put it into practice.
So that brings me to my goals of 2018.
Most of them are the same as last year’s goals, or similar, the ones I didn’t achieve I’m carrying over, and a lot are things I need to do continually. I’m dividing them into three categories:
Blog – Home & Family – Me
Blog•Grow my blog traffic – depressingly low still so I’m not sure exactly how fast I can increase it. I’m setting the goal of tripling my number of page views and users per month during the first quarter of the year. Then depending on the results I can adjust the next goals accordingly. I need to work on most of the goals and strategies below in order to achieve this.
• Plan posts for the year (I’ve made a good start on this already).
• Make and stick to a weekly schedule of batching blog and social media tasks, to reduce wasted time, keep me focused and motivated and more productive.
• Be consistent, posting once a week, writing and scheduling posts in advance.
• Grow list of email subscribers to 100 by October 31st. That means an average of 10 new subscribers per month.
• Create two freebies per month as an incentive to email subscribers.
• Write a monthly email newsletter to subscribers.
• Write guest posts on other blogs – aim for one per month.
• Start my own monthly guest post series on expat experiences – to launch as soon as I have five posts ready to publish and to continue for as long as I get contributors for it (contact me if you’re interested! firstname.lastname@example.org)
• Focus on Pinterest as a means to grow traffic. Set aside time in my weekly schedule to pin and apply to join at least 8 group boards each month.
Home & Family• Meal planning – Refine my “ultimate meal plan” for the whole month, with some new recipes and variations by the end of the Christmas holidays (7th January in Mexico).. Once I have the plan I will also have a shopping and cooking plan to enable me to stick to the meal plan and save loads of time and stress every day. I’ll write a post about it once it’s all in place! Incorporated into the meal plan are lots of healthy dishes to make sure Emma is eating plenty of vegetables (not an easy task)
• Declutter. This is a tough one! Find a place for everything (especially toys) and get rid of things we don’t need. I know I need to be more specific with this goal, I’m still working on that.
Me• Learn to drive – start by the Easter holidays.
• Go to the dentist in January (tomorrow in fact!)
• Exercise – practice yoga at least 3 days a week
• Get regular haircuts (once every two months, so my next haircut will be end of February.)
• Sometimes put myself first – spend some money on things for me occasionally. I feel better about myself if I’m happy with my hair and what I’m wearing and how my skin looks and feels. I tend to neglect my appearance and not consider it a priority for my time and my budget, which I suppose it isn’t so it always gets squeezed out. In 2018 I allow myself to set aside some time and money for me.
• Read a book for at least 20 minutes before bed. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been reading the same book all year – and it is a really good book, I just haven’t made time for reading at all recently, despite it being an activity I love doing and despite there being so many books I want to read!
Oh my god, that feels like a long list! I can do it, though.
I have an extra tool to help with goal-setting and dream-achieving; this gorgeous Goals Journal, a perfect Christmas present from my sister.
I love this quote from the journal for the month of January.
I’ll leave you with my words for this year: FOCUS and DETERMINATION – what I need to turn my dream world into my reality and create the kind of life I want for myself and my family.