2013 was a bit of a game changer for us.
This exact time last year, we were home from Taiwan for a quick holiday visit. It was our first time returning to the US since we had moved to Taiwan a year and a half earlier, and an amazing reminder of why we do want to live closer to home one day. Most of our family and friends knew that our teaching contracts were ending in August. The conversation quickly then turned to our post-teaching plans. Where would we go, and what would we do? Luckily we had given it a bit of thought; we would apply for graduate school somewhere outside the US, preferably Austrlia. We were considering a few other volunteer programs and scholarships around the world, but the majority of our thoughts were dedicated to researching international masters programs (and subsequently ways to pay for them). We both always assumed we would go back to school, so it seemed like the sensible thing to do next. Looking back on it though, I don’t think either of us felt quite right about it. While we were telling our friends and family that grad school was the plan, we weren’t sure ourselves if we really wanted it to be the plan.
We rang in 2013 on a plane from Tokyo to Taipei. Just a few weeks later, we set off to Bali for our one-month annual leave, a bit of a bonus for renewing our teaching contracts with the same company. Bali was ridiculously amazing, because, well, it’s Bali! But more than anything else, it was a reminder as to why we began blogging in the first place. We rediscovered the thrill of blogging and how good of a team we are at it. We remembered what it was like to document new places, and to have a platform to reflect on and remember our travels. And even though both of us got ridiculously sick (thank you, Bali belly), everything about the trip felt so right.
It wasn’t long after our month in Bali that we found ourselves sipping wine in a private hot spring. It seems most of our best ideas come late at night over a bottle of wine, and this was no exception. We began discussing the whole school debacle. We had yet to fill out, or ever research, any applications—an obvious sign in itself. As we began talking about what we really wanted to do, we quickly came to the same conclusion: Bali. Not actually return to Bali, but we wanted the Bali experience. When reevaluated what we felt most passionate about, we were easily able to list: traveling, writing, and photography. We decided to shake hands on it. We would both give our alls to making the blogging thing work, at least for a year.
We received a lot of flack from people when we decided to treat our blog like a job. What do you mean you can’t go out tonight because you’re blogging? We received even more sarcastic remarks from people who honestly didn’t even know what a blog was. We stretched ourselves thin, often teaching upwards of 40 hours a week, only to come home and teach ourselves about SEO and marketing and social media.
I won’t say we ‘did it’, only that we are still doing it, slowly making our current dreams work for us. But it’s amazing to look back at only last New Year’s Eve, and to reflect on how much our goals have changed in just 12 months.
And though it took us 600 words, all we’re really trying to say is that we are really grateful for the past year, and really excited for the next one. In case you weren’t around for the whole shebang, here’s a bit of a roundup:
New Places Visited:
Writing our eBook
We still don’t really know what we were thinking when we tackled this project, but we are so glad that we did. Not only was the process incredibly rewarding, we have received daily feedback from readers thanking us for the resource. That’s a pretty cool thing.
It was clear that we were going to need a bit of a buffer in our travel fund as we learned how to become professional bloggers and freelancers. We amped up our saving efforts while teaching English a bit between February and August, something we’re really grateful for now.
Making our first $90 on the blog
It may not have been a lot of money, but it was proof to us that we could do what we set out to.
Dan had photos published, online, in print, and even for a campaign in Australia. (So keep your eyes peeled for a Taiwan hot spring photo if you’re in any elevators!) I also had my very first print article published. Small milestones on their own, but when combined, reaffirming proof that we are on the right path.
Eating stinky tofu
It’s important to remember the small milestones along with the big ones. And when that small milestone is eating something that smells like sewage, you definitely count it!
Trust Yourself. More often than not, we are our greatest poison. Don’t let self-doubt hold you back—have faith in your power to succeed.
When you’re doing what it is you are meant to be doing, things have a way of working out.
There’s not such thing as ‘not enough time’. Stop saying you are too busy. Everyone’s busy. Prioritize what’s important to you, and then make time for those priorities.
Saying that we are excited for the New Year is a bit of an understatement. In many ways, 2013 was the preparation for all we have planned in 2014. We were going to be all secretive and surprise you guys with our travel plans as they happen, but we all know we’re not very good with secrets. Here’s a bit of a preview of what the next year looks like:
January 3-February 28: Mexico!! That’s right- we leave on Friday!
March 12-June 1: Europe. We fly in and out of Stockholm, but we aren’t limiting ourselves just to Sweden.
June __ – Undetermined: Brazil for the World Cup, baby! We’ve yet to book our airfare yet, though we definitely have tickets to the England vs. Uruguay game!
The Fall: Undecided. We have to have a bit of spontaneity, right? Though if we’re being honest here, we already have a lot of ideas.
We used to say that we didn’t believe in resolutions. That’s not really all that true though. We are both very goal oriented people; as such we end up making resolutions for ourselves all year long. The New Year is a great time to make resolutions, as long as they are actually attainable. We’ll see how attainable ours turn out to be, but here they are as of now:
Stop eating processed food.
If we had a Trader Joes to follow us around the world, this one might be a lot easier. We aren’t very good at taking care of ourselves when we are on the road though; a lot of junk food we would never even consider eating in the US becomes fair game on a bus ride or in a hotel room. But this isn’t really who we are, and we want to make our health (and fitness) on the road a priority.
Start a photography website
Dan’s almost done with this one. Just a few more tweaks and he’ll be able to start the New Year with one of his goals already checked off!
Write three blog posts a week, assuming we have enough good content to talk about.
If we don’t incorporate this goal, we might be blogging about Costa Rica until it’s time to make resolutions for 2015! That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but we do want to keep our content as relevant to our current travels as possible. With so many stories to share, it makes sense to blog more throughout the week!
Start making videos
I’m pretty sure this was part of our resolutions last year, but this year we are going to make it happen. We really want to start taking more travel videos, and devoting a bit of energy to our YouTube channel. We know nothing about making video clips though, so if you have a few tips, send them our way!
Thank you for being a part of our 2013, and Happy New Year!
What New Year’s resolutions do you have? Any travel plans for 2014? What was your favorite memory from 2013? Reflect and resolve with us in the comments below!