2012: building, travel and a question

2011 was an unexpected surprise.  I didn’t know what to expect from it at the start, but by the time it finished I had worked for nine months, had the most inspiring weekend of my life, saved as much money as I could and moved to Thailand.

Not a bad year for someone who had no plans on January 1st.  Not a bad year at all, really.

But 2012 is going to blow it out of the water.


I make no secret of the fact that I am a big fan of Chris Guillebeau.  One of the things that he does at the end of each year is perform an annual review – dissecting the previous twelve months then setting goals and choosing a theme for the next twelve.  It is apparently one of the most helpful exercises he has ever done.

So I thought I’d do the same.

My goals for 2012 are many and varied, but they are much more specific than last year.  I am back in control of my life and that gives me the freedom to dream big and do what it takes to succeed.  An employer does not get to dictate how I spend this year.  I do.  There is nobody else to hold me back and nobody else to blame.

Committing publically also makes me more accountable.  A resolution written on a scrap of paper and stuck in the bottom drawer isn’t much of a resolution at all.

So here goes, in no particular order.  These goals all play into and against each other in some way, and I suspect my biggest challenge will be finding the right balance of time, energy and money to make them a success.  Only the next several months will tell.

The Goals

    1. WRITING:  I will be releasing two new websites by the end of February and nurturing them for the rest of the year.  One of these is related to travel, the other is not, and I am very excited about both of them.

They will be a serious time commitment both to start and to grow, but should give me a much better platform to write about all of the things that interest and inspire me.  Hopefully they might just interest and inspire you as well.

Keep an eye out for the first of those announcements coming in a couple of weeks.

  • PROJECT:  There is also another super-secret project bubbling away behind the scenes.  It may or may not come to fruition so I can’t say too much about it right now, but lets just say it is based around services rather than products or information, and will be a lot of fun to be a part of if it goes ahead.  You’ll hear all about it here if it does.
  • Holy man in IndiaTRAVEL: I will travelling much more this year, often to places that I have never been and scare me a little. The Middle East, northern Africa, India and Sri Lanka are all possibilities, and I’ll be spending significant time in some or all of them.


I plan to leave Thailand after songkran in April, bound for the cheaper parts of southern and eastern Europe.  A trip to the US for another World Domination Summit beckons by the start of July, then I’ll be back in Europe slowly making my way towards Turkey.  September holds the promise of a sun-bleached couple of weeks sailing around the coast with friends there.

Things get very vague after that – a road trip down through the Middle East to Egypt is a possibility, and perhaps continuing all the way through Africa after that. I’d like to do something epic with a group of like-minded people this year. Hands up if you’re interested.

  • MONEY: Sadly it matters – this whole travelling thing unfortunately doesn’t come for free.  By the end of the year I’d like to be making at least $3000 / month from a variety of sources – plenty to travel on in most parts of the world, especially when moving slowly.  This is my life now, not just a holiday.  It needs to be self-sustaining.  I have no desire to return to the cubicle.
  • RELATIONSHIPS:  My final goal for 2012 is to focus heavily on nurturing strong relationships with amazing people – the kind that:
    – I met in Portland last year and hope to meet there again this year.
    – I spend my life with here in Chiang Mai
    – I am fortunate enough to be related to
    – lift me up, bringing happiness and warmth into my heart.


More time with those who make my life better, less time with those who don’t.

I think those aren’t a bad set of plans for the next twelve months.  Many scare me and they all require a big commitment.  Perfect.

The Theme

After thinking about these goals the theme for my year quickly jumped out at me.

During 2012 I will be growing new businesses, travel experiences, relationships and maybe even my bank account.  I will be taking some things that have existed for a while and some that exist only in my head, and attempting to make them all something more than they are today

My theme for the year is building.

question mark

The Question

If you have managed to keep reading this far you might have noticed that I haven’t mentioned my plans for this site at all.  That wasn’t an accident.

For the next few months I don’t intend to change things too much.  I’ll still be posting three times a week, with the same mix of travel stories and random thoughts that I have written for the last two years.

After that things are up in the air.  As my other projects gather speed and I spend more time in the world of long travel days and shitty internet, my focus might need to change.  Or it might not.  I really don’t know.

So to that end I have a question for you.  Well it’s really two questions, but they’re related so close enough.

1.  What one thing do you like most about coming here that you wouldn’t want to see change?


2.  What one thing do you like least about coming here that you’d be happy to see disappear?

Please let me know, as I’d love you to help shape what this site becomes in 2012.  I’m more than happy for you to leave your thoughts in the comments – it’s that whole public commitment thing again – but if you’d rather send me a message privately that’s fine too.

Just say something, ok?

Here’s to 2012.  Let’s make it incredible together.


[Holy man image via Dennis, question mark image via alexanderdrachmann]

46 Responses to “2012: building, travel and a question

  • Hey Dave,

    Sounds like an epic year ahead. I posed my annual review the other day: http://www.andrewmcgregor.me/2011-annual-review/. It’s funny how both our reviews are inspired by the same person with nearly the same theme for 2012 🙂

    • Not such a surprise really mate, given how much we talked about Chris G last month! See you in Portland…

  • Dave these are some really good goals for this year and I really like your ‘Building’ theme. Also really looking forward to seeing your new website projects!

    Good luck and best wishes for this year 🙂

    • Thanks Beverley! It’s going to be a pretty amazing (if very busy) 2012 🙂

  • Nigel D
    6 years ago

    Hi David – It sounds like quite a year!!! If you only achieve half of it you will be doing really well. If you achieve all of it 2012 will be a year never to foget. Good luck!!

    • Thanks Dad … though if I only achieve half of it I think I’ll be disappointed to be honest!

  • Dave, those sound like great goals. I met you last year at WDS and it was indeed the most inspirational weekend of my life as well. Unfortunately I won’t be there this year as I’ll be leaving on my own travels around the world. Can’t wait to read your wrap-up of the whole event. Good luck and best wishes to you in 2012!

    • I remember you well, Kim 🙂 That’s a good enough reason not to be there I guess! Enjoy your travels … I suspect you will.

  • I love this post and how open you are. I’ll be at WDS as well so can’t wait to see you again.

  • Great goals Dave and very similar to what we are building this year.
    We are hoping to be in Europe for the summer too so hopefully we can meet!
    Enjoy the year and i love what you do on your blog. Your stories are always engaging and inspiring.

    • Thanks Caz, I really appreciate that! Same for you guys of course – you have built something pretty special with your site, and I’m sure it will continue to be a great success this year. Hope we can catch up in Europe, let’s make sure we stay in touch!

  • A real tough set of challenges there, good luck with them. Looking forward to seeing what the new Travel site will be like…

    • Well launch date will hopefully be Jan 16, so you’ll get to see it pretty soon! So much to do – erk!

  • Cole @ Four Jandals
    6 years ago

    You have inspired me to write a similar post! Thanks Dave and good luck. Bring it on I say.

  • I think it’s great to make strong goals for yourself. I’m sure you’ll be able to reach them in 2012.

    I’m never good at telling people what they should write about. I’d say write what about what makes you happy. Write about the things you want to write about. As long as you care about the subject, other people will care too.

    • I sure hope so! You’re right about writing about the things I care about … I can’t see that changing, it’s pretty much the core of the site I think. 🙂

  • 1. The inspirational stuff – the stuff that tells me to get my ass off the couch.
    2. If I had my way, you’d post more often!

    • Thanks Lauren, that’s lovely feedback! I’d love to post more often if travel blogging paid a bit better, but sadly a guy has to eat (and drink coffee) somehow. 🙂

  • Amazing goals–I particularly like how you worded the one about relationships. So important to build and nurture our relationships with people who lift us up. Cheers to an awesome 2012–and that our paths cross again! Wishing you the best of luck and plenty of success 🙂

    • Hope you’re having a great time in Bali, and I really hope to see you here in Thailand sometime in the next couple of months!

  • Here’s to a BIG 2012 🙂

  • I found out about WDS too late last year and can’t afford it this year….but I do live in Portland, so you better look me up when you are in town! That goes for all of you bloggers, especially the ones I met at TBEX this past year in Vancouver. I might even be able to host a few people….

    Dave, I love your blog, keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Hey Heather – we should totally catch up in Portland in July if you’re going to be around! Oh, and thanks 🙂

  • Hey Dave

    I’m just hitting publish on my word of the year which is actually two – Fierce Focus. I too was inspired by Chris G and his annual review and did mine on 31st Dec – would actually love your thoughts on it.

    As for what you should bring more of to this blog in 2012 – your refreshing honesty and transparency and love of life.

    People need to hear about your journey, your lessons and your adventures as that’s what inspires them.

    I may not see you at WDS but if you feel like an earlier trip to Africa I’m biking through it from March – come join me!


    • I liked your recap Natalie – read it the other day, actually. It’s been a pretty great year for you hey?

      Thank you for the confirmation and validation that I’m doing the right thing with my ‘voice’ on this blog – I really appreciate it.

      I’d love to join you for some of that trip – not sure if it’s going to work out time wise, but I’ve been telling people that you were going to do it ever since I met you last June! 🙂

  • Hi Dave what a great set of plans for next year. I too am a big fan of Chris G’s but I have encouraged my readers for disbanding the annual reviews (apart from goal setting) and focus on reviewing progress weekly. Lots of small steps are very much easier to achieve than big ones!

    With regard your website, I would encourage you to change something, because I think websites should always be evolving. But that’s my view!

    Good luck with your goals and plans!

    • Thanks for the insightful comment Matthew, I appreciate it! I actually tend to agree about lots of small steps vs one big one – the best way to eat an elephant and all that. I have broken down my big goals into deliverables each week or two and that seems to help me not get too overwhelmed!

  • Hi Dave,

    I’d miss your photos and realistic take on life, travel and blogging.

    Good luck in ’12

    Mike Milne

  • Leave your blog as is. I love the narratives. 🙂

  • Seriously, what a year! I remember how much you talked about the WDS when I met you in Vancouver and I’m glad that you have changed your life because of it.

    I think you have an awesome and very unique voice so whether or not you post three times a week or three times a month just keep on writing like you do!

    Good luck in 2012 and ENJOY!!

  • I wouldn’t want to see your voice disappear…that’s why I visit. As I’ve told you, your travel narratives are getting better and better…probably helps that you’re on the road again. Looking forward to seeing you at WDS again…

    • Thank you for the affirmation Gillian, I really do appreciate it! Looking forward to July so much 🙂

  • Great list of plans and goals, Dave. Our biggest goal for 2012 is continue our site’s current growth rate (1600% over the past 3 months since we started really focusing on it), create a small coalition of writers interested in ecotourism and adventure travel, and establish partnerships with major tour operators and DMOs in these fields who want to expand their reach. I think 2012 is going to be an exceptional year for all out friends in the travel blogging community!

  • Great post – I especially like the part about relationships. One of the things I am most looking forward to about traveling long term is not feeling obliged to maintain relationships that don’t feed my soul anymore. I’d like to hear more about your creative projects and how you balance work and travel. Cheers.

    • Yeah very much. There is a great quote that I’ve used in the past that goes something along the lines of ‘You are the average of the 7 people that you spend the most time with’.

      Makes sense to ensure those seven people are the best damn people you can find, no?

      Always happy to have a chat about projects etc – drop me a line if you like 🙂

  • Hi Dave – I recently started regularly checking out your blog because I love the mix of introspection, travel and being free from the cubicle! A process I am also going through right now. Please do keep the mix of those three on your website along with regular updates on what you have in the works. I am also trying to figure out how to best sustain myself and my love of travel all the while trying to avoid the cubicle and mind-numbing office life. Best of luck! I love the annual goals list – I am going to do that myself!

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