What's Up in 2018: Goals, intentions, and transparency


It’s tempting to let my goals live quietly in the solitude of my journal, with only my eyes to see and judge them. This holiday/planning season has been by far my most productive. I churned out blog posts ahead of time, got most of my Christmas presents bought and wrapped more than a week before the holiday (but not all of them), and outlined a variety of planning activities from my experience than anyone can implement for a killer new year.

Once new year’s planning is over - then what? What will I write about? What will I do? How will I be useful? 

These are serious questions I ask myself. I find myself constantly wondering if I'm useful or impactful. Do you wonder that? 

Publishing my goals establishes a new level of accountability to my positive intentions. I not only want to be beneficial, but I also want to be efficient. I want to be inspiring. I want to be right there with you, in the trenches of this crazy modern world, creating a beautiful and gentle life. 

I have only four simple, personal goals.

  1. Move into the Slow Rolling Home and move it to the Lilly Pad in the Obed Wild and Scenic River
  2. Become an influencer, partnering with brands positively impacting the environment, the ethical and fair trade industries, and the decrease of rabid and thoughtless consumption.
  3. Live in love. 
  4. Cultivate grace.

These branch into a myriad of activities, mantras, ideas, and possibilities. Each of them reflected in my choices, priorities, and in the actualization of my goals.

  • Breathe fresh air
  • Help generously
  • Speak kindly
  • Forgive wholly
  • Create regularly
  • Read continuously
  • Decrease waste
  • Increase value
  • Connect deeply
  • Stay tidy
  • Care for myself and my family
  • Decrease possessions
  • Increase savings
  • Improve credit
  • Decrease debt
  • Journal daily
  • Rest well
  • Stay mindfully active

You may look at my goals and raise an eyebrow. Two are very specific; two are very vague. And the mantras below it are so vast - how can I accomplish them? While the principles of goal setting require that your goals be specific, measurable, attainable, etc., the bottom two stand as a reminder that every single day is a time-bound opportunity to be specific, measure my impact, accept responsibility (as I assign it to myself), and realize my true potential.

Moving into the Slow Rolling Home

On June 21, 2017, my beau Alhen and I purchase a 1989 Blue Bird school bus to convert into a traveling tiny home. While we sit at about ⅓ complete, the remaining ⅔ are rapidly tumbling into reality like dominos. We are currently converting the bus in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, but once it is complete with the basic living necessities: 

  • Bedding
  • Heat
  • Water
  • Composting toilet
  • Ventilation
  • Security
  • Engine readiness

we will drive the bus down our treacherous driveway for what we expect to be the final time. The folks at the Lilly Pad have generously agreed to host us for the duration of completion, and Alhen’s employment at the brewery is certainly a bonus for us. 

Our original goal saw us move into the Slow Rolling Home at the start of the new year, but we’re taking it day-by-day toward a safe, ready-to-move state before choosing a launch date.

Becoming an Influencer

What that even means nowadays is still unclear to me. I adore Instagram and my blog; I can’t wait to create posts, take photos, write captions, interact with hashtag communities, make new friends across the globe, and discover companies and makers who are challenging the status quo. I instinctively create collections, bookmark folders, and Pinterest boards of what I believe to be impactful, valuable, and worth noting. 

Is this a selfish dream? I think so all the time. There are so few people in my life that know I have aspirations even close to being an influencer because, unsurprisingly, I am dreadfully afraid of being judged as self-involved, a lazy millennial, or the worst: an attention whore. 

Writing that word makes me gag. There are so many talented people on social media who’ve done the hard work to connect with companies, makers, creators, and other influencers to bring incredible developments and opportunities to the masses. People gifted with words, photography, videography, taste and trends, algorithmic understanding, and marketing. Of course, there are those we see and think “how did they game the system?” But more often than ever, I look deeper into that person’s career to see that they’ve worked hard, found their niche, honed their skills, and built a formidable audience who supports their journey wholeheartedly. 

What does this mean for me, a relative nobody from East Tennessee who blogs about planning, travel, slow living, and inspiring stories? 

It means that if I want something badly enough, for my life and the future of my lifestyle, I’m going to have to work hard, plan accordingly, and go for it. 

What becoming an influencer looks like in the next three months: 

  • Keeping a local focus, highlighting makers, businesses, and opportunities for free and for pay
  • Accepting sponsored post and article opportunities that fit my model as outlined in the goals list above
  • Hosting Instagram giveaways and contests for products and opportunities in line with my model
  • Connecting with brands and determining how my collection of skills and experience can benefit their brand
  • Writing valuable articles, crafting authentic posts, taking photographs, and only sharing what I believe in and enjoy
  • Remaining open to the idea that my niche is still out there, waiting to be discovered and honed for the better service of my community

There’s still work to be done

I’ve taken my current work into account, acknowledged the undeniable youth and naivety in my experience as an influencer, and sprinkled this year’s theme all over my intended activities. When it comes to my freelance work, for which I am eternally grateful, I have succinct priorities: 

Write valuable and attainable articles for Ink + Volt on: planning, productivity, self-management, self-mastery, workplace enrichment, freelancing, and organization. Write at least one of those articles each week. 

Communicate effectively with the vast network of makers throughout the city and surrounding towns to increase connectivity, make available more resources, and grow a culture of supporting local artisans in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

Continue to serve small businesses and makers with simple, beautiful, easy-to-manage Squarespace websites that amplify their impact on their industry.

Connect with brands and causes for which my writing style and expertise could serve their audience. 

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to 2018

Ending articles is still tough for me, especially when they are as personal as I let this one become. Sharing my goals with you won’t turn into weekly milestones or minute tracking of activities - that’s not my style. But, this transparency with my priorities and commitments will continue. I want you, reader - friend - mom + stepdad (because I know you both read these), to know that as scary as it is to put yourself out there, you’re safe to do so. 

What are you big and small goals for 2018? Are you sharing them on a blog, Instagram, or YouTube channel? I’d love to know what you’re up to.

To let me know that this blog impacted you in some way, share in the comments what you’re looking forward to in 2018 and how transparency might help you get there.