My 2013 New Year’s Resolutions

Last year, I published some travel resolutions of which I was actually really good at keeping. so I thought I’d do it again this year.  I’m not one of those people who is really keen on making large lofty goals.  However, I do believe that it’s important to set benchmarks of where you would like to be as a human being over a certain period of time.  I think it’s important to take time and reflect where you are in life and where you would like to be.  I do believe that people get themselves into trouble when they set goals that are too far-fetched.  As you’ll see below, all my goals are quite easily achievable, it’s just going to take some will power to get there.

howth ireland

But first, I think that in any bit of goal making, the most important thing to do is to reflect on your prior goals. So here’s a bit of a recap of last year’s goals.

  • Volunteer: Well maybe I haven’t done as much as some, I’ve done a bunch of volunteering from Haiti to Sierra Leone.  I even managed to organize a fundraiser to get an orphanage bunk beds for the kids that had been sleeping on the floor prior.  I feel good about this and hope to build on it in the new year.
  • Take a Picture a Day: I’m not sure if I kept this one.  I was really good until about day 250 at which point I lost my GoPro.  I stopped keeping track of whether or not I had.  There is a possibility I skipped a day or two, but I was close if I didn’t make it.  I’m glad I did this one.  There were days I didn’t want to take photos and when I went out I go some great stuff.
  • Never Say Never to Food: I was good on this with one exception.  A friend named David in Cote d’Ivoire offered me “trou de cul” which means asshole in French.  He was literally trying to get me to each chicken rectum.  I turned it down because I had just eaten but I wasn’t exactly sad I did.  Other than that, I was pretty good.
  • Workout More: Well, this was a massive fail.  I think the entire year I worked out maybe 20 times.  I think this will be a repeat on this year’s list
  • Call My Grandparent’s More Often: Well, I think that naming this “more often” probably gave me too much of an out.  It wasn’t hard to beat the previous year.  I wish I had done better.
  • Remember How to Speak French: Although my French is certainly accented now, I’m back to being fairly fluent.  Months in French Africa has been really good for me, it’s just too bad that most of my French gains have meant that my Spanish is starting to slip.
White Sands

This Year’s Goals

  • Speak the Local Languages More: Last year I was decent at re-learning French, but now I’m about to leave French Africa so it’s time to learn something else.  When I first got to Africa I was really good at learning a bit of Wolof and Fulani, but as time passed the number of languages became overwhelming.  From now on I really want to speak much more of the local languages, especially the important languages in the regions I’ll be heading through like Yoruba.
  • Work out at least 3 times a week: I’m not in terrible shape, but my figure is starting to resemble that of a hip-less woman.  I need to start eating more and putting back on some of my muscle.  I’ve lost about 10 pounds in Africa thus far and really need to stop skipping meals, and work outs.  3 times a week is my goal and that can mean a hotel room workout, a hike, a run, anything active really.
  • Contact Relatives More Often: I’m really independent, so much so that I often forget that other people want to hear from me.  I am going to do my best this year to make sure I get a hold of my relatives on a somewhat regular basis.  I’ll never be one to call weekly, but every-so-often would be an improvement. motorcycle driver africa
  • Make it to Cape Town: I’m about 800km into my African Scooter Rally, which means I only have about 13,000km to go.  I’d love to get to Cape Town by the start of July, but to be honest arriving in itself is a big mission.  In travel, I’ve rarely failed to complete a mission, so I’m sure I’ll have the resolve to get it done, I’m just hoping there aren’t any extenuating circumstances that keep me from making my goal.
  • Meet my Niece and Nephew: My sister had twin babies this winter and it made me realize that I have obligations as a family member and as an uncle now.  From the moment they were born everyone has been asking me: when are you going to finally meet your niece and nephew?  The truth is, every time someone asks I feel a bit like shit.  This year, I will meet the little monsters!
  • Find a Home for Vagabundo Magazine: I fully expected to run Vagabundo Magazine from the road for a couple years.  However, it has taken off so quickly over the past year that I’m feeling like I need to actually find a time and place to make sure it runs smoothly and that we are taking advantage of the opportunities we have.  I’m hoping by late in the new year I’ll find a place worth settling down a bit and becoming semi-nomadic.  I think at this stage in the game, I have to decide to grow rather than hold on to the status quo.
  • Take fewer pictures: This past year I had the goal of taking a photo each day of the year.  It was a great experience and I love how it forced me off my backside and out with the camera on days I was being lazy.  This year, I’m hoping to take fewer pictures.  This idea came about when I was photographing a grizzly bear about 10 meters from me in British Columbia.  At one moment I pulled the camera from my eye to look the griz right in the eyes.  It was a “holy shit” moment when it was only at that point I felt as close to the grizzly bear as I really was.  I think quite often I’m so worried about getting a shot I forget to get the moment.

Anyways, that’s it for my annual goals.  I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below; what are your New Year’s resolutions this year?

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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  1. Hi!Could relate so much to what you have listed..esp the Take a picture a day – that was to be on my resolution list too this year, but failed miserably. It will work in 2013!

    Good luck to you with your resolutions and happy new year!

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    • Thanks! Good luck on your new year’s resolutions, and happy new year!

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  2. Couple of easy ways to keep that work out goal – dancing and running. Easily packable, little “gear” is required and if you feel the need for weights or resistance, just use your own body and spice it up -run a bit and do pushups off the ground or the side of a bus or a wall (if embarrassed, dance at ‘home’)

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    • Maria – The only problem is that whenever I’m dancing it’s with a calorie filled beer in my hand haha

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  3. Turning down chicken rectum? Never thought about that one. I once ate both sets of intestines of a cow. It was all you can eat and quite terrible. Maybe I should have turned that down, too.

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    • I don’t really mind cow intestine… but chicken asshole… yuck! haha

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  4. Hey Brandon, nice to see that what you have achieved last year of your, lets face it, high expectations! Don’t be bothered about the workout, though – we all fail here 😉
    Good luck for the next year, you’ll be busy to say the least!

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  5. I like the idea of having benchmarks (KPIs?) even if they’re not imposed by a boss.

    I think I might start with “don’t go broke” and work from there.

    Happy new year bro and thanks for all the good stories from 2012. Good luck in 2013!

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    • Thanks Will… the idea of “Don’t go Broke” is something I fight nearly every week haha.

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  6. Making it to Cape Town stands out as the most important goal there, otherwise you might have problems with the others…

    I had a daily picture project myself, on top of it it had to be at 4 pm, followed by a story. Three months into it I gave up, but I wish I wouldn’t have, it was a good way of keeping me on my toes.

    Great achievement with Vagabundo btw, will be curious what the new year brings for it. Happy 2013!

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    • Thank Pal, The daily picture thing is tough enough without being at a certain hour of the day, wow!

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  7. Great stuff! As a habitual setter of ambitious, far-fetched goals, I’m incredibly curious about your views on how such goals can get one into trouble. Care to elaborate?

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    • Haha, Steph… believe me, any goal of mine has the potential to getting me in trouble. I think, the driving from Mali to South Africa, through countries like Nigeria and Congo alone will likely cause that to happen haha

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  8. They sound like pretty good resolutions – all achievable with some determination and challenges! I particularly love your ‘family obligations’…I think we forget when we’re having fun, that sometimes our family do miss us and we shouldn’t neglect them.
    I’m planning on leaving on a 4 year (minimum) trip this coming October and one of the biggest goals I’ve set is to teach my Gran how to use Skype on a tablet…kill me now haha

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  9. Nice list, Brendan. I need to add contact my relatives more often. I’m shite at keeping in touch. Cheers for sharing!

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    • Thanks Angela… yeah, one of my major flaws. Here’s to hoping I’m better at it in the New Year!

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  10. Interesting comment about taking fewer photos – have to agree with you. Sometimes we’re just to busy trying to get the perfect shot, frame it right, do I have the right settings, that you actually forget WHERE you are and what you’re looking at.

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  11. A great set of goals that are personal to oneself is always important I think. Good luck with them. I hope you can balance all of the languages that phrases you’ll be learning without forgetting the old ones!

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