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?

Share it!

Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is an American travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Uganda. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Colorado. She's been to forty countries but somehow still gets lost in her home town. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour magazine.
Ashley Fleckenstein

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