When the calendar turns January it’s like being smacked in the face with a mirror begging for reflection. Humans can’t seem to help but look back at what was and consider what’s to be.
It’s time for a belated end of the year review.
Hat tip to Chris Guillebeau for introducing me to his annual review concept. Here’s how it goes…
Just ask yourself a few simple questions and give yourself space to answer them.
What did I do right the past year?
What went wrong?
What are my intentions for 2015 and what do I need to do to accomplish them?
Many of the ideas here came during long walks up the mountain across from the cabin I was staying at with my wife Norway at the end of 2014. That photo at the top of the page is from the top of that very mountain.
Why Am I Writing This?
One of the many great things about a blog is that making intentions public here brings mere ideas to the realm of existence. It’s no longer just a thought, but a living, breathing entity you’ve birthed with a little soul of it’s own.
If you have something you want to do in the coming year, I highly recommend making your intention public. That’s what I’m doing here.
You don’t need a blog for this of course. Putting your big intention(s) on Facebook send an email or call friends and family and let people know what you are going to do.
It makes you more committed, provides focus and seems to materialize help from all sorts of unpredictable places. There is a stickiness that comes with putting what you want in writing and making it known. Helpful people, and surprising ‘coincidences’ lurk around every corner when your intentions hit the reality superhighway.
I have on big intention for 2015. Like the sun, it’s the thing around which all else revolves.
Before I get to that, I need to look back on what went right and wrong in 2014.
What I Got Right
I got married!
Our worlds collided in a hostel in Brazil nearly 5 years ago. We spent a few short days hanging out and had a brief but intense connection. It was complicated. A existing relationship coupled with the fact that she is from Norway and I am from the USA meant that no matter how magical it felt, this was not going anywhere beyond a short but beautiful shared experience.
We didn’t talk for almost 4 years.
Then one day we got back in touch and soon began writing letters (yes pen to paper through the mail!).
Eventually we made the leap to skype. Before that first call, my stomach was clenched tighter than a boxers fist. I hadn’t seen this girl in years and suddenly we were face to face in the digital world.
A short time later, we met up in New York and fell deeply in love.
She got away once, this time I was determined.
Shortly after NYC, I packed up my stuff, rented out my apartment, drove across the USA then flew to Norway.
After going back in forth from the USA to Norway for almost a year I asked her to marry me, and she said yes!.
We got married on a lake in rural Norway surrounded by friends and family.
You just never know where and when you’ll meet your life partner. I guess hostels aren’t just for random hook ups!
Time With Family and Friends
When it comes down to it, is there anything that matters more? I want my deathbed to be absent of regret in this department.
Traveling most of the time doesn’t make this impossible. It just makes it different. I didn’t get to see everybody I wanted but those I did see, I had quality time with.
Being a digital nomad means I can spend weeks or months at a time in various places, and I was happy to get to see my close family back in Philadelphia, my new family in Norway and with new and old friends in Scotland, Colorado, Portland, Vermont, Nepal and points in between.
It’s hard to ever say ‘I nailed this goal!” You can always see more people, have more time with loved ones but overall I’m happy.
Adventurous Travel With A Purpose
I interviewed Rob Greenfield a couple of times on the podcast in 2014. He travels with a mission to help make the country a happier, healthier place. Rob’s done some adventurous trips while raising awareness for causes he believes in along the way.
Seeing Rob travel with a greater purpose motivated and inspired me. When I decided to participate in a hitchhiking race around Scotland my friend Gary organized I really wanted to go.
(Note: Gary runs a wonderful Facebook group for Nomads if you want to meet other wanderers)
First, I wanted to meet some amazing people and see Scotland.
Secondly, it was an adventure I scared to do.
My hitchhiking experience was fairly limited. But even with 2 solid reasons to go, something felt missing.
It wasn’t until I decided to do a fundraiser for Pencils of Promise around the race that things fell into place and I knew I needed to go.
Having the greater purpose on that trip just felt right to me. It also helped me realize that my main cause in terms of charity will be education going forward.
Zero To Travel has also changed my personal travel style forever. When I launched the website I knew this would be the case, but didn’t really understand just how much it would impact my day to day travel life.
When I went trekking in Nepal in November, I loved recording audio along the trail knowing that I can bring the trekking experience to you through the podcast and articles.
I’d stop and chat with my guide, record sounds of the village, or just talk to myself spitting out nonsense, descriptions of the landscape, ideas, whatever!
Everywhere I go now, I can’t help but get excited about what I can come back with and share that will help others see more of the world.
Whether it’s fundraising, learning or just sharing experiences I love traveling knowing I am living my greater purpose to help others travel the world on their terms.
I feel really feel at peace with how I travel nowadays.
Being A Digital Nomad + Entrepreneurship, Partnership and Growth
This year was big in terms of business. Getting to travel the world and earn money from anywhere is a dream lifestyle. At the same time, it’s not easy!
I’ve gotten support along the way from close friends like the members of my mastermind business group; Emilie, Ethan and Jon…love you all! Without support it’s tough to get anywhere and enjoy the ride.
Zero To Travel has grown from just a handful of podcasts and articles early in 2014 to something much bigger.
Most importantly, the community has grown and I’ve gotten some heartfelt emails from people who have found value in the work. Hearing how a podcast or an article has helped someone in some way is what keeps me going!
I launched another big project just before my wedding.
Hint: Don’t launch projects before a big event. It’s total madness, unless….
You have an amazing business partner to help you!
At the WDS conference in 2013 I met a nice guy named Travis. I was surprised to learn he also had a travel podcast and website with a similar mission to help others travel. Trav also happened to be from the Philadelphia area, where I grew up. We got along right away as only two loud talkin’ east coast Eagles fans can.
Travis and I partnered up and The Paradise Pack was born. It was a success from a business standpoint, and we were able to offer something that would help others travel the world.
Behind the scenes Trav and I had a blast working together. It gets lonely being a ‘solopreneur’ so having somebody in the trenches with me was a blessing.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Travis’ wife Heather, we hung out in Portland again and I stayed with them both in Colorado where they were house sitting later in the year. Between the hot tub, delicious chili dinners, and brewery visits it was tough to get any work done, it was an absolute blast!
Wandering and working is a challenge and we both wanted to find a place meet some fun people living this lifestyle, building businesses and traveling.
The problem was, we couldn’t find a community like this that felt right to us.
So we decided to create one!
We are launching a new community called Location Indie, to help location independent entrepreneurs meet up.
Check it out, maybe you’ll find your next partner or just some new friends to help you on this crazy journey?
Thanks Trav! I LOVE having you as a business partner, admire your work, and look forward to more great things in 2015!
For the first half of 2014 I was deep into consulting work. I was proud of what I had contributed; playing my part in business development to help a small company increase their business nearly 40% over 18 months.
But I was getting burnt out.
I had been pulling quadruple duty. Working on my online B2B platform business, Zero To Travel, The Paradise Pack plus consulting work was too much.
Dropping my consulting work was a tough decision, but something needed to go. With my remote work agreement it fit into my lifestyle goals but ate up my time and creative energy. Leaving a steady paycheck behind is not easy. I’m still scared almost daily, but I know I’ve jumped into the right river and am flowing in the direction I need to go.
If not now then when?
What would be an end of the year list on a travel blog without some highlights? Here are a few:
Hanging Out In Vermont With My Great Friends And Mastermind Group
Meeting amazing people in Scotland including my hitchin’ partner Gary
Fulfilling a lifelong travel dream going trekking in Nepal
Hanging In Norway
From seeing the northern lights on Christmas night to a one-horse open sleigh ride and scrumptious home cooked meals, it was a magical Christmas in Norway.
Telluride Bluegrass Festival – Colorado Honeymoon Road Trip
What I Got Wrong In 2014
Pressure, Stress and Feeling Productive
Oftentimes I am too hard on myself. At the end of the day I go to bed thinking, “I didn’t get enough done.”
Although the world never ended at times it felt like it would.
Why do I let it get so bad?
I need to go easier on myself in 2015.
I can be more productive, more consistently and not lament days when I slip or take a break. Anxiety and stress doesn’t make the work better, or easier for that matter.
Trav mentioned something to me the other day that really hit home.
“Enjoy where you are.”
It’s a great motto for 2015. Wherever I am financially, physically, emotionally it’s important to enjoy the moment and have gratitude for the things I have.
Late Riser To Worm Getter
I value sleep so this one is tricky.
The rare times I get up early, grab coffee and get things done feels amazing. By 9am I’ve usually done more than I do all freakin’ day.
I’m not very routine oriented although I do like to do most of my creative work a couple hours after I get up. I’d like that to be earlier in the day by building a healthy habit of early rising without sleep deprivation.
Get Better At Outsourcing and Managing
When you are in the thick of your business it’s sometimes difficult to recognize which projects should take the front seat. It’s hard to know what will work.
I treasure my small team of freelancers and want to keep them working on the most important tasks at hand.
When things are hitting on all cylinders I can get 5x the amount of work done than if I was trying to do it on my own.
To reach my big intention this year (I’ll share it in a minute, I promise!) I’m going to need a lot of help.
It also means I need to plan further, take calculated risks sooner and push harder with less hesitation on decisions.
Invest More Wisely
I love to travel like I’m broke but don’t want to be broke!
After reading Tony Robbin’s new book on investing I am bent on getting a plan in place early this year.
I’ve made some horrid mistakes in the past that I’ll share in future posts and need to take a more active role on saving and investing.
Taxes and finances are boring but I know that having some level of mastery in these subjects will help me take things where I want them to go sooner.
Money is limited right now and it will be important to choose the right projects, investments and freelancers so nothing it wasted.
I get sidetracked more than a 5-year-old bowler playing with open gutters.
Multiple businesses pull me in different directions.
Ideas sweep me off my feet. Then I fall out of love and fail to ship.
Bad habits like constant email checks and social media trolling prevail almost daily.
Despite knowing what I need to do I just fail to do it most of the time.
BUT, the times I do focus in one thing at a time puts me at peace.
Why not do it all of the time?
This year will be filled with less jumping around and more focused effort. To reach my big intentions this is a requirement.
Not enough writing
Why don’t I write more often?
I don’t know what it is, but I have a hard time sitting down and putting finger to keyboard. I prefer conversing. That’s why podcasting suits me. Writing nags at me like an annoying teacher.
For one, my grammar sucks as you may have noticed already.
Secondly, I feel inadequate as a writer. I much prefer the spontaneity of conversation. Maybe the solution is to make my writing spontaneous and more conversation like? I don’t know.
Anyway, I need to write because it helps to organize thoughts and ideas in a different way plus I LOVE reading. I find value in books and ideas living on in the written word appeals to my desire to leave something behind after I depart.
Writing. Writing. Writing! I will develop a good writing and publishing habit this year.
My Big Intention(s) For 2015
It was the dead of winter 1997. I had just finished college and was staying at my Mom’s house.
I was $20,000 in debt.
I had around $1500 in the bank.
And absolutely no clue what I wanted to do with my life.
I only knew one thing…
I had a deep desire to travel the world.
It seemed like an impossible dream really. Who does that? How can I afford it? What about my ‘career’?
Can I make travel a life goal to live by?
I felt a little hopeless. I was scared that I would not fulfill my desire to travel and settle for a life in the suburbs going to work, coming home at night, watching a little TV then going to bed and doing it all again. It’s all I knew, and everything I didn’t want.
I remember this terrible feeling that everything seemed just out of reach. Broke ass post college grads don’t get to take off and travel.
They get sucked into the vortex of entry-level corporate America, earning to pay bills, creating more bills that need to be paid, going to some weddings, having one of their own, adding more crap, buying houses and cars, having kids, more bills, more work then death and a life unlived.
In hindsight I was being just a tad bit dramatic☺
For sure I was depressed.
My guts ached. Projecting too far into the future was a big mistake and had me worrying about leading an unfulfilling life before I even got started
There was a feeling of being defeated before beginning the fight. This can happen at any age and stage in life.
Eventually the idea light bulb of travel burned so brightly after a pep talk from Mom which helped me turn down a regular type of job, I committed to doing whatever it took to take save money for a backpacking trip the following summer.
Committing to travel was the key.
Once committed everything changed. I landed a job on tour in the event marketing industry. Got paid to travel for a year and a half then took a life changing solo backpacking trip to Europe.
Zero to nomad.
I have been traveling for most of my past 17 years. Travel is burned like a brand stamped into my soul. It’s impact immeasurable.
I don’t want anybody who has the desire and means to travel miss out. There’s too much to lose by staying at home.
I am hell bent on helping as many people as possible in whatever way I can to fulfill their wanderlust.
Support, advice, inspiration, motivation, tools, tricks, tips, strategies, philosophies, ideas, anything and everything in between that can help people take that next, or first trip.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because my big fat intention for 2015 has nothing to do with my own travels.
Helping others travel gives me equal if not greater satisfaction than having my own travel experiences.
Which is why I intend the following to occur.
Zero To Travel will help and inspire 1 million people to travel on their terms.
It’s an insane idea. One million is a TON of people.
But life is short so why not think big, right?
I can start each day with this intention and know I’ll be motivated to jump out of bed and do something that matters.
Ironically, this will also require me to travel less which I am totally ok with. I’ll need to have a bit more stability, routine and solid Internet.
This is why I’m headed back to Colorado for a bit. It’s time to share more and put whatever skills I have to good use to help the new nomads.
1 million people…it’s nuts!
I’ll show you how I’ve broken down this number. I keep this right by wherever I sleep so I can see if first thing in the morning.
I will create and publish an audio program tentatively titled “How To Design Your Life And Travel Full Time.”
Intention: 50,000 Subscribers
Zero To Travel has always been a hybrid personal blog and brand. This year, in the books category at least, I will be publishing other authors and let their expertise shine. The idea is to cover specific niches with books from experts to help as many people as possible to travel the world.
I will publish a minimum of 5 books on kindle written by myself and other authors who are experts on various travel related subjects.
Intention: 500,000 copies read
I’ll continue to bring on engaging and helpful guests, continue to improve as a host and add more creative elements to make the show stand out.
Intention: 445,000 listens
Although like anyone I am a nervous public speaker, it simultaneously gets me pumped up.
There is energy within a room full of people that cannot take place in the digital sphere.
How to design a life around travel is my expertise and I intend to share it through speaking anywhere and everywhere people will listen.
Intention: Reach 5000 people
Community + Paradise Pack
For those who want or have a location independent business I want to help.
Launching Location Indie will be a huge focus in the first part of this year. Numberwise we are keeping it small but we plan on this group making a nice big dent in the universe by the end of the year.
The Paradise Pack will be back in June and even better this year (if that’s possible!).
Intention: 250 Location Indie community
members friends by end of year and 1000 Paradise Packs distributed.
There will be charitable elements built into these various projects and my goal is scary big. I will continue my past work with Pencils of Promise and build 3 schools for kids in developing countries. At $25,000 per school it will take a lot of effort but I’m going big with this one!
Intention : 3 new schools for kids in need
There they are, my 2015 intentions. It actually nets out at over 1 million people reached.
This intention overview revolved around Zero To Travel but I also have intentions to grow one of my online businesses to equal a steady six figure automated income. This will take away financial worries and free up my day to focus on more creative work at peak hours.
Have you made it down here with me?
If so, I thank you from my heart for taking the time to read this.
Now it’s your turn.
What are your big intentions for 2015?
Please share in the comments with a link if you wrote about it somewhere.
We never know when our time will come. Here’s to a wonderful New Year and enjoying the moments of each day in 2015!