What Would You Do This Year if You Lived Without Fear or Excuses?

At the beginning of this year, I made many typical resolutions: floss, start a happiness jar, swear less, work out more.

While all of these are important resolutions, one question kept nagging me. I kept asking myself, if at the end of the year I looked back and felt proud, what would I have done?

If I lived without excuses, shame, or fear that I would fail, what would I do this year?

The answers came to me easy: I would do the things I’ve always wanted to do, but never prioritized. I would do the things I never felt I had time or energy for, but deep down I was just afraid to try.

Well my friends, the time is now. Here is what I want to accomplish this year.

Write a book.

Like many lifelong bookworms, I’ve always dreamed of writing a book. But every time I sit down to write fiction, I immediately criticize my own work and give up.

If I’m ever going to get anywhere, this self-sabotage has to stop. So I’ve decided I’m going to write a “practice book”. No one ever has to see it, as it’s just practice for the “real” book I’ll write eventually.

SMART Goal – write 80,000 words by the end of the year.

Learn how to shoot and edit videos.

I’ve always fantasied about making travel videos. But somehow, after 3+ years of blogging, I’ve never shot a video. While I don’t aspire to become a YouTuber by any means, I’d love to make a video of one of my travels and learn a new skill.

SMART Goal – shoot and edit at least one travel video by the end of the year.

Ride horses.


I know this sounds lame – what, am I 12? But I love to ride, so one thing I’ve started doing this year is taking riding lessons. It’s been a ton of fun and ideally I’d like to be able to co-lease a horse by the end of the year.

SMART Goal – Take a riding lesson every other weekend once spring rolls around.

Hike more, and by myself.

Although I’ve hiked a ton since I moved to Colorado, now that I live in Boulder, hiking is even more accessible. In order to take advantage of that and really enjoy the outdoors, I’ve made these three goals.

Goal #1: Try hiking by myself. 

Funny enough, I’ve never hiked alone. Boulder is incredibly safe, so I don’t have to worry about my safety. I have no excuse!

Goal #2: hike a 14er this summer.

A 14er is Colorado-speak for a 14,000-foot mountain. This summer I want to finally summit one.  This won’t be easy, and I’ll have to get in much better shape. (Uphill hiking is my my torture – I swear my hamstrings are made of iron.)

Goal #3. Hike after work.

Once the sun stops setting past five (ughhh) I can’t wait to hike after work. Nature is the best gym, am I right?

Get in shape.

After I came back from my world trip almost two years ago, I was in the best shape of my life. (Yoga school and hiking the Himalayas will do that I guess.)

Unfortunately, my level of fitness has greatly deteriorated. I don’t feel all that strong, flexible or fast right now.

So this year I want to finally stop making the excuse that it’s hard to work a 9-5 and also work out. Yes, it requires a bit more planning, but it’s 100% doable. Especially now that I have an eight-minute, not hour-long, commute.

SMART Goal: Work out 2-3 times a week at the gym, in addition to any skiing, riding or hiking I do otherwise.

Brush up on Spanish and French regularly.

Sometimes I feel ashamed at how much my proficiency in Spanish and French has deteriorated that I avoid practicing. Which of course, is totally counter-productive.

I need to accept that my levels in Spanish and French have slipped and that’s okay – I’m not living in France or traveling the world anymore! But I need to make more of any effort to keep them up – it took me a ton of work to learn them, so it would be such a shame to lose them.

SMART Goal: Go to at least one French or Spanish meet-up a month, and try online language learning services like italki.

Hone my marketing skills.

I’m really loving marketing – it’s the perfect career for a creative person with ADD, as you juggle many different projects at once and are constantly learning. By the end of the year I want to be proficient in all the programs we use, rather than just use them at the base level.

SMART Goal: By the end of the year I’d like to be (very) proficient in the following areas: Photoshop, InDesign, FinalCut, Facebook ads and Twitter ads.

And of course there are other things I want to do this year: volunteer, get better at adulting (aka learn how to invest money), travel, blog regularly, be kinder, listen more, make an effort to keep in touch and visit old friends. But these are the main things I feel I’ve been putting off and finally want to accomplish.

. . . . . . . . . . .

So now let me ask you the same question. What would you do this year if you lived without fear or excuses? What would make you truly proud of yourself?

Enjoyed this post? Subscribe here!

Subscribe here to receive new Ashley Abroad posts straight to your inbox.

I'll never send you spam. And you can unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). Please read my disclosure for more info.
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.

21 thoughts on “What Would You Do This Year if You Lived Without Fear or Excuses?”

  1. My dear granddaughter,
    I love all your ambitions and goals. It caused me to pause and ask—how does
    a lady my age fit in this “do, no excuses” area? Do you have any suggestions
    for me? You understand, I have not quit doing and bring active in this
    advanced age. I find it a little bewildering however…

    Love to an outstanding grand daughter,

    • Hi Gamma! Love your comments as always. I would say it’s up to you to decide if something is an excuse or not, as only you know your own true limitations. I have to check myself all the time in order to see if I’m using an excuse or if I just honestly can’t do something. I will call you today or tomorrow, love and miss you! Love, Ashley

  2. I like how you’ve made SMART goals for each thing you want to do, and I’m intrigued to read your updates throughout the year to see how you’re doing with all of them! A few years ago I started posting my goals for the year on my blog, and it has kept me so much more accountable knowing that they are out in the world for anyone to see.

    Recently I have also become interested in shooting videos. I, too, have no desire to become a YouTuber and have to deal with that kind of pressure, but I would like to have some short videos from life in India and my travels to go along with all of my photos. I’m heading to Pondicherry next weekend, so I think that will be a good opportunity to start playing around with this and to see how much time and effort I want to dedicate to it.

    And finally, if I lived without fear – and if money were no option – I would finally fulfill my goal of travelling the entire coast of the UK, from the southern tip of England up to the northernmost point of Scotland, stopping along the way as I wish and just living a simple life along the coast. I am working toward doing this next year – need to save the cash – but I would love to make it happen sooner rather than later.

    Great post! It’s good to push ourselves and make sure we’re not falling into too much of a rut.

  3. These are amazing posts! I share a couple of these: write a book, work on my French and Spanish. I’d also really love to improve my photography skills and learn to code (am actually starting an online course for this soon).

  4. Bravo to you, Ashley, for committing to writing a book of your own! It’s been a longtime dream of my own to write a book someday so you are literally an inspiriation :D

  5. Yay for learning to ride! I grew up and rode horses competitively while growing up, but had to sell them when I went off to college. I’m heading to Australia on a working holiday visa so I fully intend to work on a horse farm and live my childhood dream of becoming a horse trainer! Keep us updated on your goals this year!

  6. What an inspiring post! When I set goals, I try to make them as concrete as possible and set a date to have them completed by in order to hold myself accountable. I also write them on a post-it note and leave it next to my front door as a reminder each day. Definitely easier said than done, but it’s all about the process, right? Your blog actually inspired me to bite the bullet on a goal of mine… start a cooking blog! Thanks for that and keep it up :)

  7. What a great list! I hiked a 14’er, Bierstadt and wasn’t in that great of shape, so you can definitely do it! The views are amazing!

    My goals this year are to pay off all my debt so that I can quit my job and travel next year. I’d also like to learn Spanish as I’d like to spend a month in Spain. We’ll see…

  8. Great post (and blog)! I think it’s important to always strive for self-improvement and learning new skills, helps to keep life exciting! I’m also a former Michigander and aspiring travel blogger, as I’m working to become more location independent. I tried the 9-5 lifestyle for 3 years post-college and it wasn’t for me haha.

Comments are closed.