I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. People make them, break them, and then feel guilty and regretful afterward.
So when I began my travel-writing career in the fall of 2014, I set a professional travel-writing goal the following New Year that I called a “promise to myself.”
I was approaching retirement and wanted very much to transition from my full-time job as a registered nurse to a full-time travel writer—especially after attending the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in 2014, which served as my inspiration.
But I knew that, to make this dream a reality, I’d have to begin by incrementally setting goals for myself. Here’s what I did, and how you can do it, too.
1. Choose one main goal/promise to yourself.
Choosing one goal versus several helps you stay focused on the race and the finish line. And it helps in keeping your priorities straight.
I’ve talked to several travel writers who’ll admit their goals were too many, too vague, or too lofty. This made them frustrated and wanting to give up.
2. Write down the promise.
I typed out the goal I wanted to achieve that first year and then hung it in my office. My commitment to myself was to have 50 published articles by the end of 2015. I not only met that goal, but I beat it. And it felt great.
Writing my goal down as a daily reminder to myself worked extremely well.
3. Make the goal reasonable and attainable.
Setting an unrealistic goal only sets you up for failure. It’s important to consider your personal circumstances when you’re making that commitment. How much free time will you have or can you make? If you’re working a full-time job or caring for children or an elderly parent, you’ll likely have less time than someone who’s already in retirement. So make that promise to yourself a realistic one.
My goals the following two years were reasonable and attainable, as well.
In 2016, I committed to adding at least 10 more paying and in-print publications to my portfolio.
2017’s goal was to be invited on at least eight press trips. Both goals were again met with success. Why? Because they were challenging, yet still achievable.
4. Commit to working daily toward the goal.
This may sound impossible, but I promise it’s not.
On my work breaks, lunch hours, or after work, I’d tackle something related to travel writing no matter how small. This could be as simple as researching new publications online or stopping by my local Barnes and Noble bookstore to peruse the magazine section.
Or, it could be more involved, like finishing a story or working on a query on my days off. However, it’s really important to stay in a rhythm when breaking into travel writing.
I’m currently setting my goal for 2018. But, rest assured, I’ll be using the same winning formula that’s worked magic for me in the past.
An anonymous author once wrote: “Choice, not circumstances, determines your success.”
So this year, instead of a New Year’s resolution, try making a promise to yourself about your travel-writing career that’s goal-worthy, specific, and still attainable. You’ll be glad you did.