At the beginning of 2011 I write a post by the name of 2011 Focus. In this post I outlined two major area’s and four minor area’s that I wanted to focus on over the 12 months of 2011. I think that if anything it is worth taking a look at these area’s of focus and see what if any progress I made within these area’s.
If you take a look at the year that has just passed for me, in all honesty it has been a very good year. While as you read the following post you will see that I really did not achieve well in some of the area’s which I was looking to focus in. At the same time I have excelled in others. As well as some steps outside these focus area’s that were positive.
I broke the six area’s of focus down into two major and four minor focus areas. The two major areas I wanted to focus on for 2011 were Travel and Earning on the Road. While the four minor area’s were Budgeting and Saving, Social Connections & Abilities, Photography and Product Creation. Let’s take a look at how I have progressed over the pas year in these area’s
Major Focus: Travel
If you have been reading my blog at www.joelbrown.com.au it will not be difficult to see that this area has been a major success. However it did not quite turn out how I initially looked at it last year. I was planning to take one extended trip around a major part of the world, this did not really eventuate. Rather I have taken two trips, one that was 2 months and the other approximately 7 weeks.
I think there were multiple factors at play here that affected the theory I based my plans on. The most important though was that it was a difficult step for me to go from a five week trip to potentially a 9-12 month trip. While I still at times think I maybe should have gone this route, I am still very pleased with the decisions I did make.
In all honesty setting Travel as a major focus was the right thing to do and it has come through as one of the primary things that I did focus on this year. Three trips that totalled 116 days away from home, including two cruises, and visiting 11 different countries is definitely up there with success in travel this year for me.
Major Focus: Earning on the Road
In contrast to the success that I had in travelling it seems that my other major focus kind of got pushed to the background. In fact until I checked back on my 2011 focus post, I did not even remember setting this down.
Throughout the year I have spent time working on projects that could fall within this focus area, such as this blog and my travel blog. There has also been thought about other opportunities that could provide some degree of ability to earn while I am on the road travelling. However to date nothing has come from this at all. So this I am calling a failure.
Unfortunately I can see very clearly what the problem was when I read back my original commentary on this area of focus. The problem was that I had no idea how this focus area was going to play out, and while sometimes that can be a benefit, in this case it really was not. I think this will be an area of focus again, however I will look at it differently.
Minor Focus: Budgeting & Saving
I am really unsure on just how successful this was. If you look at it purely as what the title is. Then Budgeting is still not a part of my day to day living, and saving has not really happened, due to the travel I have done savings have gone backwards.
However when you look back at what I discussed here at the beginning of the year some of it does make sense to some degree. While I still do not have any sort of budget when it comes to travel, living or anything else. I still do manage to be fairly cost conscious in all area’s of life. The biggest issue here is that I do not really honestly know what exactly I am spending when travelling, and also do make some silly purchasing choices at times.
On the front of saving in relation to the original plan, then I am succeeding somewhat. I do feel that I am doing the best I can on getting good rates on hotel rooms. Taking advantage of programs that I can save even more and will continue to do this.
Overall I would not call this area a success, however it is not a complete failure either.
Minor Focus: Social Connections & Abilities
In the essence of this focus I have succeed very well. In fact I have done much better then I ever thought I would in this area. In just about every city I have spent more then 3 days I have come away with new social connections. Pretty much all of this is due to Couch Surfing, but some of it is also due to just me, especially connections that were made while on the two cruises I was on.
In fact this area has in my opinion succeeded to an even greater degree then that of Travel. Although I still place myself to some degree within a socially inept category, I do think that I have gained a lot of ground here over the past year. While I am still not building relationships really well, I am creating connections and improving my abilities here.
Minor Focus: Photography
Photography this year has been to some degree a successful area for me. I have achieved a lot of what I wanted with my photography, I feel that I am taking better photographs now than I was a year ago, and I am better integrating them with my Blog. While at the same time not coming away with ridiculous amounts of photographs that I could never hope to sort through (like my first trip to Melbourne)
However when you look at this area in regards to what I expected, things did not go so well. I have still not made a single cent from my photography and have no potential in this area at this point either. I did experiment with some potential options here, however none have really turned out as I was hoping for.
I will still list this area as a success. For the primary reason that I have succeed un achieving something in this area even if it was not what I originally planned to achieve.
Minor Focus: Product Creation
This area is most definitely a failure. I have achieved nothing at all of any note what so ever. While I have still managed to spend a great deal of time actually thinking about different options here, with no real result. One of the things that I continually remember is that while thoughts are to seed, unless you take action those seeds will never grow, and this is somewhere that I really have not taken any action.
The biggest problem that I face in this area is taking action, which I believe is directly related to how I perceive what I can offer people. When it comes to the idea of writing a book or e-book, I may come up with an idea, which sounds good. Then when I use one of my qualifying questions, of What value can I provide to help people in this area. I cannot come up with an answer that I feel is satisfactory.
This is an area that I would like to continue with a focus on however that is something that I think needs me to be more clear about some things in this area, something that I need to explore.
And the Overall Result Is…
I would call the past year a success. While 3 of my areas of focus did fail, I feel I actually in some way set them up to fail, by either forgetting I was looking to focus on them, or not making it clear enough exactly what my expectations were in that area. Travel and Photography were two area’s that I expected would do well, while the social connections and abilities was an unexpected result.
However there are also some other factors outside the focus areas that I have listed here that have been successful as well. Things like Zip Lining while in Costa Rica. I never though Zip Lining would be something I would do, to risky or scary or something, however it is something that when I saw it as an option I jumped on it right away without a second thought. There are others as well but to many to list at the moment, I will likely cover some of the more specific achievements in another post.
I like successful years, and as such I will definitely be repeating this process for 2012. However in doing this for 2011 I did learn some valuable lessons in setting area’s of focus and what are some of the essentials you need to keep in mind.
- Be clear and concise about what your focus area is an what your expectations are
- Put a system in place to remember what you are focusing on and what the expectations are
- Challenge yourself, put focus points in there that will be a challenge not just an inevitable successful outcome.
I hope that the past year has been as successful for you as it has been for me, and the best of success in 2012. For some tips on finding your focus areas for 2012, I have put together a little post check it out here.