What I’m Doing More This Year

Last year I declared that my word for 2013 was flow. This time around, it took me a little digging to get my word for this year.

Maybe a lot of you have already set your new year’s resolution. Or maybe you are like me and you don’t have any. I’ve never been good at setting or keeping resolutions so I dropped it years ago. I even went goalless in 2012, which ironically happens to be the biggest year of my travel adventures.

Now that I’m back in the real world and I’m no longer doing long-term travel, I’ve started a new chapter of my life and knew it was time to set new goals. However, while I was working on them, I felt that most goal-setting systems are too rigid and too boring.

That was until The Desire Map fell into my lap. The concept of which all comes down to this:

Desire Map Question

Ahhhh….. YES!

When Danielle LaPorte, the author of The Desire Map said: “You’re not chasing the goal, you’re chasing a feeling you hope reaching the goal will give you.” , I knew it was a game changer. It is the goal-setting book for all the status quo rebels and truth seekers.

A sample of questions that I constantly ask myself:

How do you want to feel when you choose what to wear this morning?

How do you want to feel when you send that email?

How do you want to feel when you say yes or when you say no?

How do you want to feel when you write that blog post?

Because really, what’s the point of reaching a goal if you don’t feel good?

Feeling good is the whole point.

Mind blowing. Simple. Less Doing. More Living.

So this time when I was asked what’s my word for 2014, I said J O Y.

Joy also happens to be one of my core desired feelings, an anchor on which I make my decisions.

So in the spirit of declaring my intentions this year, here’s what I’m doing to feel JOY this year:

Be Kind

It’s easy to be kind when you’re traveling, living everyday with a huge smile on your face and living a free spirit life. I’m very lucky to have lived that kind of life. However, the real challenge comes to the times when life throws you curveballs. It’s so easy to get into a negative state of mind. I consider myself a work in progress so this is something that I’m still working on and for sure will be working on for many years to come. We cannot choose what happens to us, but we always have an option to choose to be kind. First and foremost to ourselves, then to others.

Sit Still in Silence

Last month, I joined a one month 1 hour a day meditation challenge. The first few days were a blast. By the fifth day, I already want to pull my hair why in the world did I join such a challenge. Not only do I have to wake up a lot earlier, it was also so freaking hard… But I did it!

Last month wasn’t the easiest time of my life but it also happens to be the happiest time of my life. Sitting in silence has given me so much joy that a couple of my friends who saw me last month told me I was glowing.

Here’s what I noticed after a month of sitting still an hour a day:

- I think before I speak. That little pause before I say something made a huge difference.

- It’s not about being perfect.

- It’s all about the commitment to the challenge and keeping the practice.

- I am willing to let go of things that don’t serve me, including negative thoughts.

- I am not my thoughts.

- One can never be lonely if one loves the company of the person she’s alone with.

Be More Present

I believe that one of the major causes of unhappiness in this world is wishing things were different from what it really is. We all undergo a series of ups, downs, great and messy moments in our lives but the truth is now is all we have and we’re given a brand new day everyday to be who we want to be. We can either allow our past to hurt us or our future to make us feel anxious. But if we permit ourselves to be more present, the more we can see how beautiful life really is.

Say NO often

I have a simple policy in life to keep my sanity and positivity to the highest levels: if someone lifts me up, I say yes and welcome them in my life with heart wide open. If anyone pulls me down, I politely stay away, say bye bye and leave their lives. Trying to please everyone is a sure way to failure and living a life of unhappiness. I’ve been there and here’s what learned- a woman on purpose doesn’t chase people to be in her life. Sure she will lose some along the way and she’s okay with it because she knows with certainty that she will gain new ones and attract the right kind of people who deserves to be in her life.

More Spontaneous Travels

People are too open with their lives and travel plans, and there’s nothing wrong with it. I just don’t belong to that group. I didn’t tell people, not even my parents that I was quitting my job to travel the world even if I bought tickets six months ahead of my departure date. You see, I’m extremely good at planning. The virgo woman in me requires that everything in my life has to be organized. But I spent all my life planning so many parts of my life. My travels are that part of my life where I don’t plan but I surrender and play.

I understand that this is not going to work for everyone. Heck, this will freak out most people add to that if you are a solo traveler, but this is the type of travel that I absolutely love. I love booking last minute tickets, saying yes to invitations, not knowing exactly what I’m going to do in a place and not telling people what I’m doing and where I’m going next. I love mystery. I find it fascinating when people tell me that I’m too adventurous with my travels, when it’s actually the most natural thing to do in the world for me. I think people need surprises. That’s what makes life exciting. I love surprises and surprising people. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Let Go

My travels taught me to let go. After planning every detail of my six month travels, and nothing happening exactly as planned except for the dates of my flights, I knew I had to let go. This is one thing that gives me an immense feeling of joy. Control is one of life’s biggest illusions. Once I accepted that truth, stay physically, mentally and emotionally healthy and started the practice of letting go, the more I can see the magic of life and everyday miracles. 

Choosing Love over Fear

People often tell me that I’m so brave to have done what I did with my travels. Majority of the time, I’m pretty fearless. But if there’s one thing that really scares me, it’s writing here. Writing here makes me happy but at the same time it takes a lot of courage for me to write my thoughts publicly. If given the choice to travel solo to Iraq or expose a part of myself here, I would choose the former every given time. That’s how scared I am to write here.

But why do I choose to write this? Because I believe in courage. Every great thing that happened in my life was a result of taking courage. I believe that every time I choose to inspire, I’m choosing love over fear. I trust that somewhere, somehow, I’m inspiring someone to live a more beautiful life. This is how I give back and why I live my life the way I do. I have no words to describe the joy I feel when I get a reader’s email that I inspired her life. It’s the same reason why I still write here even if I’m afraid. I have to be brave with my life so others can be brave with theirs.

To a year of magical feelings and creating a life you love,


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4 Responses to “What I’m Doing More This Year”

  1. January 17, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    Hi Ann,

    Sounded like you’ve had time to sort through experiences of ‘returned home life’. I’m in similar situation, where life feels reversed – the road felt more like classroom learning, and ‘home’ feels like real life where new perspectives are put to the test.

    Enjoy the writing and insights. Keep the posts coming.


    • January 17, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

      So true! Thanks Will!

  2. Kat
    January 18, 2014 at 1:08 am #

    Anna, I so admire you! Every time i read your blog, it adds power and guidance in my life. This is exactly what I want to happen this year and I’m so glad i found your blog… :) thanks

    • January 18, 2014 at 11:45 am #

      Awww… Thank you Kat! :)