It’s that time again to look back over the last year and see what has been accomplished. I think it’s a really valuable thing for all of us to do. It’s too easy to think you haven’t done much, but when you sit down and start thinking, you’ll find you’ve actually achieved a lot more than you realised. It’s a task that I look forward to doing every Christmas and I even get my kids involved in helping me to remember everything that we’ve done through the year as it’s fun to look back and be grateful for all of the things we’ve done together.

This year has been a quiet one compared with last year but we’ve still managed to cram a lot in.

If you haven’t done it, I really urge you to give it a go! Grab a pen and some paper and sit down and fill the page with all of the things you’ve done, the places you’ve been and the things you’ve achieved. It feels so good!

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Travel in 2019

I travelled a lot in 2018, and while I absolutely love travel writing, organising a trip for an article can take a lot of time as there are a lot of moving parts to it. This year, I didn’t pitch any travel article ideas to my editor and I focused on writing for my own site (the one press trip I did take was one they approached me for which is really great feeling for a writer). Next year, I’m keen to do some more travel writing again though, so I think my end of year review in 2020 will look a little different!

We did the following trips:

A weekend on the Gold Coast in an Air BnB for our daughter’s birthday

A weekend in Brisbane city for a magazine travel writing trip

A week in a beach front apartment on the Gold Coast for a family summer holiday

And I think that is it. It’s not like me to travel so little but different things came up through the year that kept us at home which was fine. Not having our citizenship yet meant we avoided going abroad too as it would have cost us $2000 in Resident Return Visas to be able to travel (we’ve since passed the test and interview and are waiting on our ceremony so next year an overseas trip is on the cards!)

Entertainment in 2019

We didn’t go to many live shows this year. There weren’t many tickets that caught my eye, so I’m hoping more people I like will be touring in 2020!

We saw Eddie Izzard in March (hilarious!), and we saw Dan TDM The Contest for the kids in November (I love Dan TDM – I think he’s a really switched on YouTuber who tackles some really cool big projects like live stage shows and interactive movies like the one we saw this year. He’s a great influence for the kids even if they do all want to be gamers when they grow up!).

We went along to Night at the Museum at Queensland Museum for Halloween which was awesome and I’d highly recommend if you’re in Brisbane – they run the night events a few times a year and it was so much fun. I think it was our best family night out this year and I really can’t wait for them to run another one. Attending was part of the Brisbane press trip I did, but I was going to book tickets anyway before that opportunity appeared.

 

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Did somebody say #Halloween?! ???? Oh my gosh we have had so much fun tonight at @qldmuseum’s #NightattheMuseum. These guys held huge spiders ???? (seriously – so brave – I’ll post the video when I get chance to edit it!), played science games, watched a watermelon wrapped in elastic bands explode ???? (it took 200 of them before the pop!), danced to Thriller, avoided brain eating zombie acrobats ????‍♂️ ????‍♀️ and saw bogeys and eyeballs ???? get frozen and smashed on the floor!! ???? Can we do it all again tomorrow? This has been my favourite way to enjoy the museum – I can’t wait for the next night at the museum event. #famil #hosted #presstrip #queenslandmuseum #visitbrisbane #brisbaneanyday #australiaandnewzealandmagazine #spooky

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Another really lovely experience was having a riverside picnic beside the Brisbane River with Popolo Italian Kitchen and Bar. They provide the picnic blanket and hamper of delicious food and you enjoy it with a bottle of bubbly as the sun goes down. It was a really special experience that we got to enjoy as part of a press trip I was on.

 

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We had such an incredible experience last night enjoying a gourmet picnic washed down with a chilled bottle of prosecco ???? ???? from @popolobrisbane It was part of a hosted press trip for an upcoming article about visiting Brisbane with kids for #AustraliaandNewZealandmagazine. You go into the restaurant to place your picnic order (you can also call to book ahead), collect your stripy picnic blankets and then go out to enjoy the river views and set up your picnic spot while they prepare your order. Then they bring the food out to you in a picnic basket! It was the perfect way to end a busy day exploring the museums and galleries in #Brisbane. The pizzas ???? and antipasto ????????were absolutely delicious – we will definitely be doing this again. From past experience, we know that taking little kids who are a bit overtired into a restaurant at night can be hard work so this was great to give everyone some space and fresh air. Sara who looked after us (hope I’ve spelt the name right!) was fabulous with the kids, making them laugh and giving high fives and making the important task of pizza-choosing fun for everyone. Thanks so much to @popolobrisbane for looking after us and giving us such a lovely evening. It was such a memorable experience watching the city lights come alive from the side of the river while enjoying everyone’s favourite dinner (pizza!). After we’d enjoyed our dinner, we strolled across Goodwill Bridge to see the fairy lights at the entrance to the #BotanicGardens. If you haven’t done this before, you need to add it to your must-do list (the lights are just a few minutes walk from River Quay so it makes it the perfect evening combo to have the picnic and then go in search of fairies)! My littlest went specifically looking for the tooth fairy to tell her that her tooth fell out and she needed to come to our hotel instead of our home with her money! #toocute #explorebrisbane #brisbaneanyday #presstrip #hosted #famil #travelwriter #familytravel #experiences #familytime #makingmemories #brisbaneriver #picnic #picnictime #gourmetpicnic #picnicinbrisbane #brisbanepicnic

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Visitors in 2019

We spent about three months of the year with visitors – my cousin came out to stay during winter and my parents came to stay through the early part of summer. My in laws were planning on also coming out but they had to change their plans and are now looking to come in a few weeks instead. It’s lovely having people come over – we do have to take bookings in advance though as it can get tricky with people wanting to come out at the same time!

Health in 2019

Something I’ve been working on for the last few years has been improving my health. I cut back drinking wine a couple of years ago now which really improved my health and wellbeing, and this year the biggest change for me has been about committing to doing regular exercise.

Since moving here, I’ve become quite unfit. I used to walk everywhere in Hampshire, but here I drive. Places are often too far to walk, and it gets so hot (not to mention severe storms that randomly appear without much warning). This year, every weekday morning during term time I’ve been going for a walk after dropping the kids off. Halfway through the year, I discovered the outdoor gym near my kids’ school so I started having a walk and doing a workout in there too. It’s free and it’s lovely exercising outside in the fresh air surrounded by nature. I even saw a kangaroo on my walk one day. What could be more Aussie than that?

I’ve also signed up to a friend’s new amazing mindful movement virtual studio which means I get access to her awesome yoga sessions from the comfort of my home so I have no excuse that I don’t have time to get to a class! If you’re looking for some kind and gentle movement where you’re supported in being kind to yourself, making space to notice your habits and encouraged to move even if you only have five minutes free, then have a look at the membership here. Doors reopen in February and you can get on the waiting list. I am absolutely LOVING it!

Mindset in 2019

An absolutely massive change for me this year has been around my mindset about what is possible. I discovered Jim Fortin and binged all of his podcasts. I’ve also read all of the books he suggests (Dollars Flow to Me Easily by Richard Dotts, The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D Wattles, The Complete Works of Florence Scovel Shinn and I’m about to order The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy).

It’s all about opening up your mind to what is possible and not restricting yourself by always living within the same context. Another big thing I’ve learnt from Jim has been around changing habits. I’ve learnt how to create new habits by being the kind of person who does the thing I want to do, how to stay in integrity with the promises I make to myself and how to be the kind of person who already has the things that I want. Jim has been a big part of me taking up exercise and sticking with it – I’m now somebody who exercises every weekday so there isn’t even a question about whether I’m going to or not in the morning – it’s a given that I am going for my walk and workout. Easy!

I can’t recommend Jim’s podcasts enough – everyone would benefit from listening to them!

Books in 2019

I’ve read quite a few books this year although I wish I’d read more as I love reading! Aside from the ones above that Jim recommended above, the books that made the most impact on me have been: The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath, Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, Your Dream Life Starts Here by Kristina Karlsson and You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero.

A lot of them have been around the mindset needed for the growth of this site – I think expanding your mind is one of the most important things you can do in your life, otherwise you just live within the confines of the stories you tell youself and never find a way to uplevel (that is some of Jim Fotin’s teachings right there!).

Podcasts in 2019

Aside from Jim Fortin’s podcasts, I’ve been listening to Rachel’s Hollis’ Rise podcast, The Manifestation Baby, James Wedmore and Goal Digger with Jenna Kutcher. I get to listen to one on my morning walk – it’s so hard trying to decide between music or podcasts though. I try to mostly do podcasts as I love growing my mind, but music makes working out so much more fun and much easier.

TV in 2019

I’ve binged Pretty Little Liars, V Wars, Dark, Sense8 along with a few crime series like Unbelievable,  The Disappearance of Madeline McCann and Manhunt: Unabomber. I also got talked into watching Game of Thrones by my husband who is obsessed with it – he made me watch it from the beginning. It’s not really my thing but I humoured him and watched it all and I did appreciate that it was a good series (even though I had to hide behind a cushion for a lot of it!).

I’ve been going to bed early and getting up early this year though, and Netflix really doesn’t help with that habit as it’s all too easy to put on just one more episode!

SmartStepstoAustralia.com in 2019

The biggest thing I did with my site in 2019 was totally overhaul the design and navigation. We relaunched with a brand new layout and expanded the focus from just being about migration and travel in Australia to include the lifestyle in Australia too. I know that moving is only the first step in the process to creating your new life here – it’s a bit like having a baby how you plan the pregnancy and birth and then have to learn how to actually take care of a baby when it arrives! I’ve received lots of positive feedback about the changes and I feel so happy with the direction the site is going in.

The site has been growing and evolving through the year. I’ve created articles with lots of sponsors this year (including Ausrental, amaysim, Buddy Wagon and Philips to name a few). This has not only been a lot of fun but it has funded me to write articles that I know will be useful too. I’ll be doing more work with sponsors in 2020, but you can be assured that I’ll continue to choose them carefully to make sure they’re going to add value to my site.

My traffic has dramatically increased this year which is so exciting for me to see – this month it is on track to be more than four times what it was in November 2018. My hard work is paying off!

2020 is going to be all about product creation for me. I had planned to create some new product offerings in 2019 to add to my Ultimate Emigration Checklist, but I shifted focus to create more free blog content and get some foundational admin systems in place so that I was ready for the site to grow. Next year will be about creating some new digital products which you can buy to help you thrive in your new life in Australia so watch this space! I’ll also be continuing to create heaps of free blog content too.

Overview of 2019

I feel like in 2019 I’ve begun to live more intentionally. I’ve been thinking more about improving my health and my mind. I’ve been spending more time feeling grateful for what I have. I’ve been thinking more about our planet and the changes we can make that might make a difference to climate change.

I’ve been worrying less about how many social media followers I have and making more of an effort to show up authentically. My life isn’t perfect, I don’t take great selfies and my life is often busy and messy but I love being able to show a bit of reality about our life in Australia. I’m not all about air brushed, professional photography images – I’d rather have 1000 real followers than 45k people following a fake, glossy version of reality. It’s a good feeling to be comfortable in my own imperfect skin at last!

Thank you so much for being part of my journey this year. Thanks for following me on Facebook and Instagram. Thanks for being in my Move to Australia group and my Thrive in Australia group. Thanks for reading this blog and for buying my Ultimate Emigration Checklist. You have no idea how much I appreciate each and every one of you. This really is my dream business and I couldn’t be more excited about growing it and helping to support even more people as they create a dream life in Australia.

However your year has gone and where ever you are in the world, I would like to wish you a very happy Christmas and send you best wishes for an incredible 2020. 

If 2020 is the year you’re moving to Australia, don’t forget to pick up my Ultimate Emigration Checklist. It brings together all of the things you need to do into one handy list saving you hours of time and stress.

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