I read this awesome post by Denise Duffield Thomas about her year in review, and it inspired me to write my own. Every Christmas, I spend some time reviewing the year that has almost finished because it helps me to appreciate how far I’ve come, and it helps me work out where I want to go next.

I remember how slow it felt like time was moving when we were in the middle of moving to Australia. It felt like we spent all of our time waiting around to get to the life of our dreams. The reality was that we weren’t just sitting around waiting – we were working hard to achieve what we wanted from our lives! There was so much going on during that time, and I really didn’t stop to appreciate everything that we’d achieved – from getting a successful skills assessment and my husband passing his IELTS to selling our home within a few days of it going to market and decluttering ready to ship our belongings to Australia (all with three kids under five in tow!)

It was only after we made it to Brisbane that we stopped to take in everything that we’d achieved over the previous year and we realised how far we’d come and how each of our small steps had taken us closer to where we wanted to be.

It was at that point I realised that I needed to start looking back before I looked forward every year, and my new tradition was born.

Want to help me review my year? Please visit this page and complete some of the short surveys to help me understand your experience better. 

Last Christmas I discovered a new annual planner that has really helped me nail down my life plans and I recently bought the new version so have been loving spending some time reading and filling it in. You can read more about my favourite planner and why I set goals here. 

This post contains compensated links

I also always buy the [easyazon_link identifier=”1948836114″ locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]Leonie Dawson[/easyazon_link] annual planners (I like the [easyazon_link identifier=”1948836114″ locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]biz planner[/easyazon_link] but she also does a [easyazon_link identifier=”1948836106″ locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]life planner[/easyazon_link] which is great too).
[easyazon_image align=”none” height=”500″ identifier=”1948836106″ locale=”UK” src=”https://www.smartstepstoaustralia.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/51vFvr3W0cL.jpg” tag=”smartsteps-21″ width=”387″]

[easyazon_link identifier=”1948836114″ locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]Get your 2019 Shining Year Biz Goals Workbook from Amazon[/easyazon_link]
[easyazon_cta align=”none” identifier=”1948836114″ key=”wide-orange” locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]

You can’t begin to look forward until you’ve looked back!

I think it’s important to do, no matter where you are. Whether you’re just starting to plan your move to Australia, or you’re already living here and enjoying your new home, you still need to be setting goals and making plans for your future. Things don’t just stop once you land Down Under!

What I said I wanted more of in 2018 versus what I actually got



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Loving having lazy days rolling out in front of us here. #fijilifestyle #Fijilife #holidayvives #beachlife

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I said in my planner last year that I intended to travel more in 2018 and have more beach days. Spending time with my family exploring and at the beach were key things I wanted to do more of in 2018. Moving to Brisbane took up a lot of years – both for the planning and relocation and then buying a house which turned into a money pit. While we’d done a few short trips, we finally wanted to start enjoying our surroundings and having some fun!

I knew we’d taken a lot of trips (both day trips, short breaks and holidays) over the last year, but I’ve just looked back and done a tally of them. Wow! The result: We took 12 trips in 2018! 12! That is just a little bit insane – it’s no wonder we’ve felt so busy.

We visited:
Brisbane on a weekend city break during the Science Festival (a travel writing trip for Australia and New Zealand magazine)
Brisbane on a weekend city break for Riverfire weekend with family
Byron Bay (a travel writing trip for Australia and New Zealand magazine)
Gold Coast (a travel writing trip for Australia and New Zealand magazine)
Gold Coast hinterland to stay at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (a travel writing trip for Australia and New Zealand magazine)
Tamborine Mountain (a travel writing trip for Australia and New Zealand magazine)
Sunshine Coast beaches and attractions (a travel writing trip for Australia and New Zealand magazine)
Sunshine Coast hinterland (a travel writing trip for Australia and New Zealand magazine)
Tangalooma dolphin feeding day trip (a travel writing trip for Australia and New Zealand magazine)
Whale watching trip from Redcliffe (a travel writing trip for Australia and New Zealand magazine)
Fiji (Ok this was just me travelling with a friend so technically not a family trip but I’m still counting it as it was the first time I’d left Australia since we moved here four years ago!)
Noosa on a family holiday (you can read about one of my previous visits to Noosa here)


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Today we are feeling well and truly spoilt. A wildlife show, a bird of prey show (which was a real highlight for the kids!), a couple of dips in the spa on our deck and I even sneaked in a massage as an early Mother’s Day treat while the kids had a swim in the infinity pool! * * * This is a great weekend getaway from Brisbane with loads to entertain the kids (and parents) – I just wish we had a bit more time to explore and enjoy it all! So many amazing walking tracks to take in and the wildlife is awesome. @oreillysrainforestretreat is a big hit with my gang. * * #hosted #famil #presstrip #travelwriter #australiaandnewzealandmagazine #oreillyrainforestretreat #oreillys #lamingtonnationalpark #visitgoldcoast #destinationgoldcoast #familytravel #expatadventures #downunder #familyholiday #familytime #familyfun #exploreaustralia #visitgoldcoast #visitqueensland #thisisqueensland

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Oh my gosh – I am feeling slightly exhausted just reading through that list. I guess the logic is, be careful what you write down and wish for because it might come true! I did so many trips as I ended up with a lot of travel writing commissions from Australia and New Zealand magazine. Some were places I’d pitched and others were places they approached me to write about. I love writing travel features, so this year has been amazing for me!

I had a week-long holiday to Fiji to just laze around and recharge (in the rain, unfortunately) as my hubby had won two free flights in a work raffle so I sneaked off with a friend to use them, and we had a proper family holiday to Noosa in December which was awesome. I definitely exceeded my goals for more travel!

We also went to lots of live events in 2018 too. We took the kids to see Deadly 60 Live and The Wiggles, and my hubby and I went along to concerts including Bryan Adams, Biffy Clyro, Stereophonics and Ash. It felt amazing to be getting back into the groove with seeing live events again as it was something we used to do often in the UK. I’ve just booked tickets to see Eddie Izzard in March, so am starting 2019 as I mean to go on!

2019 will continue to be about travel experiences – there are so many places we want to explore and I want to go to lots more live events too!


I haven’t managed to get as fit as I wanted to this year although I’ve made some positive changes. I’ve cut right back on drinking wine. I used to love a couple of glasses with dinner at night but it was becoming too regular, so just before Christmas last year, I almost stopped drinking. Now I will have the occasional glass but more often than not you’ll see me on Instagram drinking a range of soft drinks and alcohol-free/reduced alcohol booze as I love to try different things.

I LOVE the taste of wine and beer, but I just don’t like how it gives me a headache almost immediately, plus I feel so lazy after drinking so I get frustrated at myself for wasting time that could be put to better use. I feel so much better for it!

I’ve dabbled in phases of doing YouTube yoga as committing to a class with a husband that works shifts is really tricky. I’m planning on trying to make this a solid part of my routine in 2019. I’ve been exercising a lot more this month although it is hard as it is SO HOT right now!

I’ve started getting up early to do work and that is a game changer. It’s a routine and I need to make myself stick to it ( I LOVE SLEEP!) but I get so much more done when I get up early and I have so much more energy for it. When I get up early, I also have more time to sort out slow cooker dinners which in turns is making us all eat better too.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve started eating less meat. After listening to this Tim Ferris podcast with Suzy Amis Cameron and her husband – director, James Cameron – I was inspired by the idea of eating a plant-based diet for the good of the planet (you can learn more about it on Suzy’s website OMD for the Planet). Unfortunately, a little thing called satay chicken exists which means I could never see myself eating a totally plant-based based or even vegan diet but I have ditched some meat from my diet and am feeling much healthier for it too. I’m dairy intolerant so my dairy intake is pretty minimal already anyway. Eating more vegetables can only be a good thing!

At the start of the month, I set myself a goal to lose one stone during the summer holidays. I lost 6 lb easily over three weeks and then I took two days off the health kick for Christmas to eat all the food so I’m back on it again now and determined to reach my goal. Like everything, once it is written down it becomes much easier to stick to and focus on!

I intend to make 2019 a year to become healthier and I know that feeling healthy also makes me happier so it’s a win, win.

Smart Steps to Australia

My website traffic has trebled in 2018 and my organic traffic has quadrupled since 2017.
My Facebook group has more than trebled in number since last December.
My income from my website has more than trebled in 2018 compared with 2017.

The majority of the content that I write is available for free for everybody to read. My Facebook group is free to join and I spend a lot of time in there answering questions. I currently sell my Ultimate Emigration Checklist and will be adding a number of new paid products to this in 2019 but I will continue to write mostly free content because I like being able to help as many people as possible.

Someone told me earlier this year that I should stop writing all of this free content and instead I should become a relocation agent offering my services to VIPs who have lots of money to spare. This didn’t sit right with me – I want to be able to help support families like mine and I know that when we moved we were on a tight budget for everything! It may not be the path to the greatest riches, but I’m following my gut and feel very satisfied with what I’m creating.

On the flip side, someone also recently told me it was wrong of me to try to make a living from helping people to move to Australia. That really offended me as this person hadn’t been to my site and hadn’t been in my group. They had zero idea how much time I give to this or why I do what I do. Running a blog doesn’t make you immediately rich – it can take years before it generates a solid income. It takes an awful lot of determination and self-belief and a LOT of groundwork. People don’t start blogs to become millionaires fast – they start blogs because they love to write and they want to help people. There is nothing wrong with earning an income in return for working online. Nobody would expect a plumber, cleaner or dentist to work 30 hours a week for free but strangely some people seem to think writers shouldn’t get paid. It’s a strange world!

In 2019, I will continue to grow my business and I’m really excited about the future! 

Relationships and family time

My husband and I have struggled to find time for one another this year. He has been working long hours and on his days off I am usually working. It’s something that I know a lot of families who have moved to Australia struggle with as we don’t have family around the corner to babysit while we go on a date night and paying a babysitter adds $100 to the night before we’ve even left the house. I also think my husband goes above and beyond for his job (taking on extra shifts when he is asked) because he is so grateful to have found a job that he loves!

Striking a better balance is something we will work at in 2019. I’ve decided that I’ll take off a day a month during a weekday when my hubby is off so we can spend the day together at the beach or exploring somewhere new together while the kids are at school.

My nine-year-old twin boys have decided they want to get involved in blogging (Ok, really they just want to be Dan TDM!) so I’m excited where this takes them in 2019. We briefly dabbled in setting up a site in 2018, and they’ve been doing lots of filming of new videos over the Christmas holidays. Their venture is called Dinosaur Squad and it’s a place for them to share their love of dinosaurs with the world. It’s something that will involve me spending a lot of time working with them as I help with editing the videos and optimising the posts for search engines but I’m looking forward to teaching them about the world of online marketing and spending some time with them on this! Visit Dinosaur Squad here. 

As a family, we’ve spent a lot of time together making memories this year while travelling so that has been a huge plus. My kids are growing up fast so these experiences are priceless for me.

We’ve sandboarded down giant dunes, hand-fed wild dolphins, held snakes, dug for thundereggs, watched whales, been on a few horse rides, body boarded, been on wildlife walks, sat in front of log fires and so many more experiences! Read more about our experiences in the travel section of my site.

Something that I’m keen to try in 2019 is outsourcing some tasks we hate like cleaning and gardening so we can maximise our family time instead of using it to do jobs. Watch this space – my hubby hates the idea of outsourcing so I have an argument on my hands! Also, it’s always that balance of paying someone to do a job that you could do for free, but I’m sure it will free up our time for more positive things.


I’ve been trying my best to not let other people’s words have a negative influence on me. I hate that other people have the power to suck my positive energy from me and make me angry. But I know that I’m the one that allows it to happen. This year I’ve tried to protect myself by avoiding talking with negative people as much as possible. I choose my reaction to their words – I am in control of my own behaviour! I still have a lot of work to do on this in 2019, but as I’m getting more confidence in myself it is becoming a little bit easier to ignore others in favour of believing in myself. It really doesn’t matter what other people ‘think’ – all that matters is what I know is real!

This quote in Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is just amazing and it applies to both business and life!

‘People refuse to take chances in business, because they fear the ctiticism which may follow if they fail. The fear of criticism, in such cases is stronger than the desire for success.’


‘The marjority of people permit relatives, friends, and the public at large to so influence them that they cannot live their own lives, because they fear criticism.’

Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. This is a motto that I intend to take with me into 2019.


I’ve read a mix of fiction and non-fiction this year. These include: the four books in [easyazon_link identifier=”B00U5ZZUIM” locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]The 100[/easyazon_link] series, [easyazon_link identifier=”1405931566″ locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]Big Little Lies[/easyazon_link] (which was awesome – I’d seen the series but hadn’t realised the book was set in Sydney!), [easyazon_link identifier=”1906465592″ locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]Think and Grow Rich[/easyazon_link] by Napoleon Hill, [easyazon_link identifier=”0552172359″ locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]Happy[/easyazon_link] by Derren Brown, Life and Love plus [easyazon_link identifier=”B07FGW6DTJ” locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]Money and Mindfulness[/easyazon_link] both by Lisa Messenger, [easyazon_link identifier=”1612680194″ locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]Rich Dad, Poor Dad[/easyazon_link] (a second read as I love it), [easyazon_link identifier=”0730309231″ locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]Unprofessional[/easyazon_link] and [easyazon_link identifier=”B01DCKX1CS” locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]Unwritten[/easyazon_link] by Jack Delosa, [easyazon_link identifier=”0062105248″ locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]The Happiness Project[/easyazon_link] by Gretchin Reuben, [easyazon_link identifier=”0399176713″ locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]Mastering Your Inner Mean Girl[/easyazon_link] by Melissa Ambrosini and I’m currently re-reading The [easyazon_link identifier=”B006X0M2TS” locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]Four-Hour Work Week[/easyazon_link] by Tim Ferris (a book everyone should read as even though I don’t follow a lot of the concepts, it has some really wise words in it).

Worth singling out is the [easyazon_link identifier=”0730324214″ locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]Barefoot Investor[/easyazon_link].

[easyazon_image align=”none” height=”500″ identifier=”0730324214″ locale=”UK” src=”https://www.smartstepstoaustralia.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/510oZZpkvTL.jpg” tag=”smartsteps-21″ width=”390″]

[easyazon_cta align=”none” identifier=”0730324214″ key=”wide-orange” locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]

I’ve read it a few times now and I still have jobs to do from it (must get on to that!) but love his style and his concepts. It’s a must-read book for everyone, but especially if you’re living in Australia or moving here. Right now, I’m also reading the [easyazon_link identifier=”B07HF947WW” locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]Barefoot Investor for Families[/easyazon_link]. I am very excited about starting this with my kids to help them learn money management skills! [easyazon_link identifier=”B07HF947WW” locale=”UK” tag=”smartsteps-21″]Get your copy of The Barefoot Investor for Families: The Only Kids’ Money Guide You’ll Ever Need[/easyazon_link]


I’ve continued to listen to the Smart Passive Income, Ask Pat and the ProBlogger podcasts. I’ve also become an avid listener of the Tim Ferris podcast. I’ve been aware of him for a long time having read the Four-hour Work Week ages ago, but it’s only recently that I’ve started really listening to his podcast all the time and I’m working my way through a long back catalogue.

I dabble in others but those are the ones I come back to every time. I look forward to continuing to listen and discover more podcasts in 2019.


I don’t really watch TV very often other than bingeing on tv series’. My favourite pick from 2018 has been 13 Reasons Why – really thought-provoking, great acting and heartbreaking too. We’ve spent a big chunk of the year watching Suits (very easy viewing, I like it but am not that invested in it to say how many hours we’ve been watching!), and while my hubby has been working night shifts I re-watch my old favourites in the background while I work on my laptop so I’ve watched 24 from the beginning (again) and the Vampire Diaries because who doesn’t love a good teen vampire drama?!

In terms of real TV programmes, I’m LOVING the Last Leg with Adam Hills (yes, it’s a UK show with an Aussie comedian). I think he is very smart and funny, and I love the balance with Alex Brooker and Josh Widdecombe. I also love how diverse the panel and guests are – it feels like the show is breaking down some massive barriers by normalising the fact that we are all so very different!

Positive changes

In 2018, I’ve been taking a much keener interest in the environment. I use reusable cups now everywhere I go, I have reusable straws in my handbag that I pull out for the kids when they get a milkshake (they made excellent stocking fillers!), I take my own bottles of water rather than buying bottles (but if I do need to buy some while I’m out, I try to buy ThankYou water), my kids and I even asked our school to consider how the school’s free breakfast club is impacting on the environment as they give out hundreds of plastic knives, little tubs of butter and jam and plastic cups every morning. We got a very positive response from the headteacher about it. They’ve now started buttering the toast from a large tub instead of using hundreds of tiny plastic tubs so it’s a start but there is a long way to go in 2019 and we will keep chasing it!

I think all of the travel we’ve been doing has really opened our eyes to the environment and how fragile this planet is.

I’m looking forward to finding ways we can continue to have a positive impact on the world in 2019. 

For 2019….

I’m going to spend time creating new content and writing new products for my site. I still feel like there are a lot of subjects missing from my blog so will be looking at covering more subjects this year. I’m also redesigning the navigation of my blog and slightly changing up the angle to make it fit with where I want to take things over the coming years. Watch this space for news!

I will be working with a lot more brands in 2019. I want Smart Steps to Australia to be a bit like a lifestyle magazine for people interested in Australia so I want it to be a space to link my readers to brands they might not have heard of that can add value to their lives in some way. I will also find some new charities that have a good synergy with my Smart Steps brand and explore ways in which I can help raise their profile or work with them.

I will spend more time with my husband and kids having fun together.

I will smash my income and traffic goals in 2019 because I’m being laser focused. I have some massive long-term goals written down in detail (like owning a beach house!).

Have you written down your detailed goals yet and made sure they are goals that can be tracked and measured?

What are your plans for 2019?

If you haven’t set your goals, now is the time to do it! Do you want a new career? Are you saving for a dream holiday? Want to buy yourself an inflatable jacuzzi to put by the pool (OK that might just be one of mine!)? Read more books? (Yep, another one of mine!) Whatever your goals, now is the time to write them all down!

Is your goal to move to Australia?

Are you in the process of moving to Australia and need a little help? If so, have you seen my Ultimate Emigration Checklist as this walks you through the things you need to do before, during and after your move? Are you in my Facebook group for support?
If you’re in Australia already, do you want to travel more? Or start a business? Or change career or just start to settle in and put down roots?

Whatever your big plans and dreams, I hope that I can continue to help you in 2019. That support doesn’t disappear as soon as you arrive in Australia. Be sure to visit this page and leave me your feedback so I can continue to create the content that you would like to read next year. Visit the survey page here. 

Whatever 2018 had in store for you, here’s hoping 2019 is even better. Wishing you and your family all the best for the New Year – I hope it will be incredible for all of us!



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