Annual Review: Looking Forward to 2012

On Tuesday I shared a look back at my 2011. In this essay I'm going to take the time to look forward into 2012. Whether you want to set a ton of goals for the next year or you don't want to set any, I still think everyone should spend some dedicated time each year figuring out ways to continually improve their life in the future.

Does having goals mean that you aren't satisfied with your life? I'd argue that there isn't a direct connection.

I believe that there are parts of everyone that they can improve upon and goals are just one way of getting there.

I'd love to hear what your plans for 2012 are in the comments below this essay too.

Looking Forward:

BUSINESS

I have a lot of plans for this year that will I'll be unveiling publicly over the next few months. My main goal is always to help people make their lives better and I am planning to do as much of that this year as possible. The biggest goals I have for Pocket Changed are to:

  • Grow the audience (through guest posting and collaborations)
  • Refine my message (by publishing manifestos)
  • Provide actionable plans for people to change their lives (by releasing guides and offering services)

There are very specific targets for the metrics I am tracking to get Pocket Changed to where I think it can be a year from now, but I'll just be using those internally to track progress. I am also planning to spend a lot of time helping my wife build up her wedding and portrait photography business throughout Southern California.

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TRAVEL

After doing three months of non-stop travel, we are done being on-the-go for now. We are in the middle of another month of "transition" as we spend time with family for the holidays and wait for our next home (north of San Diego) to be ready in early to mid January.

Much like how Steve Kamb learned after 14 months vagabonding throughout the world that permanent solo travel was not for him, my wife and I have realized that continuous non-stop travel is not for us either. We would much rather go to just a single location, country, or city for multiple weeks or longer and really embrace the culture there than try to see as much as possible.

On the road we also longed for a "home base". When we got back from the trip all of our possessions were in a state of storage and although we are "home" it doesn't feel like we have stopped traveling because we are still basically living out of our suitcases. We have some North American trips already planned for this year including:

  • Seattle in May for a wedding
  • Portland in July for WDS
  • San Jose del Cabo, Mexico in November or December to relax

As for anything additional to these trips we are throwing around both Bali and New Zealand as our next destinations, but we are just going to play it by ear. Part of the freedom we have now with the lifestyles we have chosen is to just do what we want. We don't have to worry about not wasting our two weeks of vacation to travel to far off locales. We can do things at our own pace and right now we are choosing not to travel.

HEALTH

Leading up to the wedding in July and afterwards before we left Seattle in September I made great strides in developing healthy habits. My wife, who is much better at motivating herself to work out and eat healthier, helped keep me motivated towards continually getting in better shape. Yes, there were times when I didn't do anything positive in this department (i.e. Mexican food and lounging by the pool on our Honeymoon), but I generally feel like I made some positive progress in this area.

The three months spent on the road were hit and miss for living a healthy lifestyle. Some days were spent driving 14 hours in a car. Other days we walked miles and miles around cities like Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. My wife and I fit in workouts before we left hotels, went running through city streets, and tried to eat the best we could when food options were limited on random interstates. I'm ready to have a regular routine and plan time for work outs and trying out new sports (surfing and beach volleyball) again.

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MONEY

While this year had some big changes for our finances (with both of us leaving "regular" career paths to pursue our passions), we were able to do so without racking up any consumer debt. We were able to afford our wedding and the three-months of travel with the savings we had accumulated and we still have a $5,000 + emergency fund in case we fall on hard times. I haven't made contributions to my 401k retirement account since leaving my job in September, but I still plan to max the other half of my Roth IRA by the April 15th deadline.

By the end of next year we both plan to have income levels comparable to where we were in the first half of 2011, but the sky is the limit. We are both in the mindset that we want to work hard for the next five years to "set us up" for purchasing a home and having children by the time we are thirty. The only debt we have right now is my wife's student loans, so I would love to have those either paid off by the end of 2012 or at least cut in half. The main focus will just be on growing income for both of us this year as we already live relatively frugal and simple lives.

Theme of the Year:

Since 2011 was all about adjusting my circumstances and creating a different lifestyle for myself, the theme was change.

With my plans for making this year as big as the last, the theme of 2012 for me is growth. 

Growth financially. Growth online. Growth physically.

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What word would you use to describe your plans for 2012? I'd love to hear in the comments.

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