A Big 2014: Goals for the New Year

Wow, 2013. What a year. To be honest this resolution post has changed so many times I wasn’t even sure I should publish it. So many things I thought I wanted to achieve: becoming a certified translator, attaining professional fluency in French, moving to San Francisco, I have crossed off the list to make way for other goals.

To be honest, and this is strange to admit on a travel blog, I’m perfectly content at home and the idea of travel does not appeal to me in the slightest right now. (Ask me again in another two weeks and I might have a completely different answer, mind you.)

So for 2014 I’ve come up with four points I’d like to focus on in the new year: career, health, spirituality and friends and family.

Career: In 2014 I want to make big strides in my career. Right now I’m weighing my options: diplomacy, marketing and hotel management are all on the table.

To be honest I’ve put my dreams of becoming a freelance writer on hold for now; this would take a while to explain, but essentially in this day and age it’s so hard to be paid fairly in a world where information is largely free (thanks, internet).

And I’ve learned I’m the kind of person who needs a certain level of stability in her life- four months in Asia taught me I’ll never be a full-time nomad. I learned that I’m much more of an expat than a backpacker- constant travel burns me out and ironically extinguishes my love for travel.


Health: My time in Bali was such a blessing as it gave me the chance to get back in shape, both mentally and physically. It also gave me a newfound and surprising love for yoga (surprising mainly because I used to be the most inflexible and imbalanced person on earth) and a desire to continue working on my health. In 2014 I want to keep doing yoga and try out some new workouts like Crossfit, Art of Strength and running a 5K Color run!


Spirituality: Bali also sparked something in me that I’m still struggling to understand, but all I know is that I have a drive to integrate spirituality into my life. In 2014 I want to make time for one big spiritual trip: the Camino de Santiago, studying yoga at an ashram and Burning Man all come to mind.

Friends and Family: In 2013 I learned that my happiness plummets when I’m not around friends and family for an extended person of time. So in 2014 I want to spend a lot more time with loved ones who are spread out across the globe. I’m so lucky to have such wonderful, supportive friends and family so in 2014 I want to make an effort to spend more time with them.


Not that that’s out of the way, how did I do in 2013?

Well here the goals I set at the beginning of 2013, a progress report midway through the year, one final recap of those goals I set.

And I’m pleased to say that overall I did pretty well actually!

1. Learn fluent French.

3/4 Check. I’d say I’m conversational and would need to go back to become fully fluent. Still, I made a lot of progress.

2. Get back in shape.

I am so much happier when I am in shape and so in 2013 I need to work out often and eat cleanly. 

Check! Though I still would like to tone up and lose a little more weight I’m feeling a lot better.

3. Build this blog.

I want to continue to build this blog to become not only a way to make connections with other bloggers and travelers but also to become a source of income. My measurable goal is a PR of 3 and $500 a month by June so that I can use some of the money to take that long-awaited trip to Southeast Asia.

Check! This blog has truly become something I see myself maintaining long-term… thank you so much guys for reading!

4. Freelance.

My current goal is to have a travel piece published at least once a month.

Eh, sort of. While I have a great job as a French Category Expert with Answers.com that keeps me traveling I didn’t get my work out in 2013 as much as I had  hoped. But I did have an article about Peranakan cuisine published The Culture-ist and had interviews and articles featured on lots of other blogs and travel websites – see my featured page.

Overall 2013 left me disheartened about freelance writing altogether. Read this New York Times’ article for more info.

What are your goals for 2014? I’d love to hear so comment below!

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

39 thoughts on “A Big 2014: Goals for the New Year”

  1. great recap and outlook for the new year! i completely understand about wanting stability and a routine, though. ive never been one to try to be a full-time nomad. i just couldnt do it. i love having a dog, health routine, etc. sounds like were very similar!

    best of luck with everything in the new year! hope we can connect face to face this year! <3

  2. Great post, Ashley! I like how you kept your 2012 self accountable and checked up on your goals for 2013. Congrats!

    I’m also grateful that you’re so honest about your feelings on freelance writing and long-term backpacking. They’re both things I’ve considered going into, but I still have big reservations; the former because it’s a lot work with low pay and the latter because, like you, I need a “nest” to return to after even 10 days on the road.

    Good luck with your 2014 goals! :)

    • I’m realizing more and more that a lot of people feel that way- so it makes me feel a lot better because I wasn’t the best long-term backpacker! Good luck with everything in 2014 as well Trevor, and I always enjoying receiving your thoughtful and interesting comments :)

  3. I seem to be commenting on every post of yours at the moment! (Obviously you’re doing something very right)

    I totally get what you mean about the issues with freelancing, I did a degree in journalism and got some experience at a few mags and papers and it just led to me realising how difficult and financially unviable freelancing can be unless you have brilliant contacts in the industry and enough funds to tide you over when your commissioners don’t pay out on time.

    I’m glad being home has made you feel better, I’m sure you’ll get the travel bug back soon though, I felt that way after getting back from SE Asia for a while, but by the end of the year I was dying to get away again. I also like having a base, I can’t imagine not having somewhere to call home. Travel seems so much more enjoyable when you know it’s not endless.

    Anyway, looking forward to seeing where the world takes you this year :)

  4. You accomplished so much, dear friend. I cannot imagine traveling for that long solo, but you did it and inspired so many, while learning so much about yourself. I cannot wait to see you accomplish all these goals in 2014!

  5. All your goals are so well thought out and positive.
    And you have accomplished so much in your lifetime
    of travel..Love reading your thoughts because you
    are so honest–makes the reading more interesting.



  6. I think too many travellers put themselves into a category of some sort, and it’s as if we should feel guilty or out of the cool kids club if we don’t like a certain kind of travel – i.e. non stop backpacking. That, and being away from family and loved ones. Some people are just “better” at it. I am with you. I am probably more of an expat and I need need need to be around family intermittently to maintain a level of sanity. They are the only one who have known me my whole life and have seen me through it all. I think the most important thing is to find what makes you happy and as far as travel goes, to find *how* it makes you happy and then to go for it. I’m so happy to hear you sounding so at peace in this regard. Not a lot of travellers are there!

    • I totally agree- some people are just “better” at it. Honestly for me it just makes me start to not want to travel- by the end of four months of backpacking I was just no longer interested in sightseeing.

  7. I love reading other people’s resolutions! It’s like a little snoop into their lives haha. I would love to hear more about how you built your blog up. As a baby blogger you are an inspiration. :)

    • I agree – I would also love to hear more about your process of building up your blog.

      Also, a huge congratulations on everything you’ve achieved in 2013. May 2014 be just as successful for you!

  8. I learned the same things about myself when traveling in Asia. Long term travel just isn’t for me, I’d rather be an expat and take shorter trips. And I need more structure than freelancing provides.

    But I’m glad you had such a successful year in other ways and I’m looking forward to reading about what you accomplish in 2014 (and hopefully joining you on some travels!).

    • Absolutely! We should definitely try to work that in :). And it’s good to hear that you weren’t a huge long-term traveler either- to be honest I felt incredibly guilty about it, and once I finally got home it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I think I’ll definitely stick to short trips and expat life from now on.

  9. Ashley, I think you’re giving up on the freelance writing too easily.

    I looked at your list of publications and I thought it was very impressive. I mean, come on – NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC?

    • Thanks, Monica. I guess what I was getting at is that paid freelance writing is hard to come by so I’d like to put it on the backburner for now- if it happens it happens, but I’m not going to beat myself up about pitching anymore.

  10. It’s a shame you were disappointed by the freelance options; you should stick with it though because you are such a good writer. Actually, keep up the blog and they’ll come to you! (as if I have a clue how it works lol) I also get homesick if I’m not away as an expat. I’ve been in India almost a year, but with a base. The longest I’ve gone backpacking is 3 months and I missed home so much! So you did really well going 4!

    • Thanks so much! And that’s actually my strategy right now- if newspapers and magazines approach me I’ll be willing to work with them, but I’m not going to seek out opportunities anymore. I’d rather dedicate my time and energy to other things.

  11. Ashley, I’m actually glad you have set new goals. .However, I really hope you continue to write even if its just the blog.
    I’d love to know more about your interest in “diplomacy” and what you are aiming for in that regard. As far as hotel management, if you need help in that area, and would like to move, I know a few people here in Nashville.
    Mind/Body connection is imperative with anything you do. Staying fit is a must. I wish I had started running when I was your age, so I’m happy to see a plan for a 5k. I still do yoga, swim, hike. Just be active! And centering yourself, learning to deal with anxiety/depression as it comes your way, will help so much in anything you do. Practicing gratitude and living in the moment is talked about everywhere. There is great truth in both. Start today and do it everyday.
    I think you are so awesome and amazing Ashley, and I just love you to death. I will support you anyway I can. Don’t give up this blog!! xox

    • Hi Marsha, thanks so much for this sweet comment. You’re such an inspirational and kind person and I truly hope to have a life like yours someday! :) and I will definitely keep writing this blog, I really enjoy doing it. And I totally agree- I’m so much better off mentally when I’m in good shape physically. Here’s to a 2014 full of activity and adventure! Hopefully we will see each other soon! :)

  12. I’m so with you on the part-time travel, I am holed up for the winter at the moment and not feeling the urge to go far for a while – though probably helps that I have a few plans for spring to look forward to. Think I’ve learnt that you’ve got to listen to your heart rather that doing what you feel you ‘should’ be doing. Hope you have a happy, healthy and travel-filled 2014 to come!

  13. Sounds like you had a great year. I have never tried traveling long term, but I think I would also miss my friends and family. Also, you have inspired me to set an unpublished list of goals for my blog and my new year. I have never been good at resolutions, but I like setting goals to accomplish!

  14. Hey Ashley, this is going to sound really stupid, but how do you get your blog out to others. I had reached out to you awhile ago when I randomly found your blog from creating one of my “B tabs” on my websites for “b abroad” and telling you about my ventures approaching to Italy and you were so kind and gave me so much information – but I don’t know if maybe I need to link it to like “blogspot” or something- but how do others find out about your blog besides through family and friends? I really want to share my Italy experiences with others!

    • Hi Ashley! That’s a great question. I’d say the main way I’ve gotten my blog out there is through commenting on other blogs and connecting with bloggers as well as guest posting on other blogs and websites. I’m kind of terrible at social media so that hasn’t done much for me. Also I strongly recommend you get a Gravatar photo so when you comment on blogs your photo shows up- that makes it so much more personal! Please email me if you have any more questions and best of luck :)

  15. It looks like 2013 has been a really good year, indeed! I’ve taken a different approach to goal setting this year… and published 3 words that most define what I want my 2014 to look like. Of course, I do keep monthly goals on a couple of things like learning portuguese, reading and obtaining an official certification as a project manager. But having seen how hard it is for me to keep yearly goals in an ever-changing scenario, I’m keeping it simple this time.

    I’m looking forward on more posts for 2014!

  16. 2013 was a good year for you! Good luck in 2014! I really want to read more this year! I was so slack last year and I feel like my brain is turning into a puddle of mush. Also becoming more proficient in German would be nice..

  17. Happy 2014! Congrats on achieving a level of conversational French. I was in Paris for a few days in September, and it made me realise how much French I’d forgotten! I could recall words, but grammar had gone out of the window. I’d like to reacquire what I’ve forgotten at some point.

    As for your resolutions, I had the same realisation as you re long-term travel. I much prefer being an expat, or at the very least need to spend at least a week or more in one place if I’ve been moving around a lot.

    Good luck with your resolutions, and hope you have a happy and successful 2014!

    • Happy 2014 to you as well, Tom! I know I’ve forgotten so much already as well… the only thing that is slightly preserving my French is weekly skype chats with one of my friends back in Paris. And your blog is one of my favorite’s out there so it means a lot that you read mine! :) Good luck with your move to Taiwan!

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