- S - Specific (or Significant)
- M - Measurable (or Meaningful)
- A - Attainable (or Action-Oriented)
- R - Relevant (or Rewarding)
- T - Time-bound (or Trackable)
With my 2012 New Years Resolution to leave for my trip by the end of 2012 all set and ready to go. I just needed the right tools to ensure my resolution is successful. I have broken it down into 5 smaller goals that I can easily keep track of my progress. These smaller goals are broken down into the different ways I am going to accomplish them. I can do these daily, weekly or monthly depending on what they are.
1. Save Money
This is the most important. Without a nice large sum of money I will not be able to go on my trip. I do not have a final figure in mind but I know that the minimum amount I want to save is $10,000. This number is doable for me. Once I cut out the credit card debt I will be able to put a decent chunk of money away. Unfortunately, I am not able to move home, sell my car or stop paying my student loans. All of which would significantly increase the amount I could save per month.
To successfully save money for my trip I am going to use the following to track my progress, keep myself accountable and to feel like I am making progress towards my goal.
-Track my expenses: I want to start this off by saying I know I can do this on a computer but I am more of a paper and pencil kinda girl. I am going to save all my receipts for everything I buy and report a monthly progress report on my spending habits. I’m sure I blow hundreds of dollars a month but I usually have nothing to show for it. I need to see where it’s going and reign myself in.
-Open a savings account: I use to have a saving account but it was the same bank that I had my checking account with. This made transferring money out of my saving WAY to easy. So I closed it. I need to open a new savings account. One that is preferably not with my current bank, has high interest rates and no fees.
-Save all my travel stipends from work: When I travel for work I get a stipend of $150 or $95 once it has been taxed and put into my bank account. I travel on average 2 times per month. That means I will be an extra $190 a month. This seems easy enough but I need to get in the habit of transferring the money to my saving account as soon as I get it.
-Left over money goes into saving: At the end of every month any extra money I have will be transferred into my savings. If I can do around $100 a month this should get me an extra $1000.
-Create a budget for myself: For the last few months I have done a very loose budget. I need to sit down and seriously crunch some numbers. I am aiming for $10,000. Anyone have any goods tips?
2. Plan my Trip
-Create my itinerary: One would think that this would be the first thing I would do. But my logic half of the brain knows that this is not the #1 priority on my list. It helps that I know I’m going to Southeast Asia. I was originally going to start in Bangkok but I am nervous that I will be very overwhelmed with the city so I might start somewhere slightly smaller like Chiang Mai. I finally ordered my Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a Shoestring guide book! So the real planning will begin soon.
-Create a To Do List- This will include all the things I have to purchase like travel insurance, buying my ticket and selling my stuff. Once I have this huge list I am going to break it up into months so it doesn’t become to overwhelming.
-Create a Packing List-I have lots of stuff I need to buy! The most important being my backpack, I can’t wait to buy it. I’m so excited to start hunting for one of these.
3. Better this Blog
I’m sure you can tell that I am not a great writer. I never kept a journal or diary. I always have run on sentences which I am trying to work on but I have a hard time realizing I wrote one. For example, I think the previous sentence is a run on but I’m not sure.
-What better way to get better at something than to practice, practice, practice! It makes you perfect. Or that’s what I heard anyway. I have come up with actions I can accomplish daily to help my blog.
-Write for a half hour each day: A half hour does not seem like much but I have to start small and work my way up to longer times. I don’t want to get so ambitious that I can’t stick with it.
-Comment on more blogs: I read a ton of travel blogs but I rarely comment. I need to make this more of a habit so I can start to become part of the online travel blogging community. I know how excited I get when someone comments on my blog posts so I want to give that same feeling to other bloggers.
-Facebook Page: I started to make one of these but I chicken out when I got to the part where it wants you to invite your friends. I felt so venerable. I am so afraid that I will do all this work and then not really go on this trip. I don’t want to talk a big game and then not go. I need to slowly build up the courage to share my dream with Facebook and all the people I know.
4.Take More Photos: In preparation for my trip I want to work on taking better photographs. I did a workshop at the New England School of Photography this fall and really enjoyed it. Every week I would have to submit new photographs of the new technique we learned. Now that the workshop is over I don’t set aside a few hours a week to take pictures anymore. I found a website that offers great tips and sets up assignments that you can participate in. To make sure I don’t slack on taking pictures I will be participating in the online assignments. I want to be actively taking photos for an hour each week. It can be all at the same time or broken up throughout the week. This will also force me to take a good hard look at my surroundings. The town I live in, the people I see everyday, I want to be able to take pictures of people and places that will make others want to go there and hang out with the people.
5. Find Joy Everyday: I am blessed with being a sarcastic pessimist. See, I told you. I always imagine of the worst possible situation and think negatively. That way when the scenario turns out better than what I have been envisioning I am not let down. So basically I never get my hopes up about anything. I want to change that. I want to be one of those people who seem to be happy almost always. Someone who smiles easily and can always find the positive in the situation. This is something I will have to work on everyday. Even if its a forced smile, its a smile. Eventually they will come easier…I hope.
Everyday I am going to tweet something that made me smile, happy, or just anything positive. This is a good way for me to keep myself accountable. And a good way for me to get in the habit of tweeting! I want to use that online tool to gain readers, help me travel better and connect with other travelers around the world.