Every year, I like to spend some time looking back on the year that has gone (you can see my 2019 and 2018 reviews here). I know 2020 was a ridiculously crazy year, but all the more reason to reflect on it!
I think around New Year, it’s the perfect opportunity for all of us to stop and think about what we’ve achieved in the last year and how far we’ve come. And this year, more than ever, it’s good to think about the things we’ve achieved and the things we can feel grateful for.
Grab a pen and some paper and do the exercise with me. It really does feel good. Just start writing down all of the things you’ve done and everything you’ve achieved over the last 12 months!
Here’s my list:
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We became Australian citizens!
This is the biggest thing that happened to us in 2020! We applied for Australian citizenship in January 2019 took the citizenship test and interview in September 2019, and in February 2020 we had our Australian citizenship ceremony which meant we could apply for our Aussie passports and travel freely again (without needing Resident Return visas!)
This felt amazing to us – this is our home and now it’s official.
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Travel in 2020
Hahaha OK, I know that heading sounds hilarious. Of course, major travel was off the cards in 2020, but we did manage to take a couple of trips.
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We went on…
– A holiday to Turtle Beach on the Gold Coast in June (about 1.5 hours from where we live). COVID numbers were very low (as they still are) and it felt safe to take a local trip. There were some restrictions on numbers in the pools, but it was a really lovely winter break after our lockdown in April/May.
– An 11-night roadtrip up to Bargara (see the cover pic) with stops at Noosa, Hervey Bay and exploring all along the Sunshine Coast. We stayed in a mix of cabins at holiday parks and apartments, all booked on Booking.com (it’s really handy planning a roadtrip in one booking platform as it lists your accommodation in order of your stay and just makes it really easy to organise).
The highlight of the trip was seeing a turtle come in to lay her eggs at Mon Repos at Bargara near Bundaberg! (I’ll have to write up a full blog post about this soon!) It was also so good to explore some places not too far from home on the Sunshine Coast and really have the time to enjoy them. We ate lots of ice cream and fish and chips, and we spent A LOT of time in the ocean. It wasn’t a trip filled with expensive attractions – it was all about enjoying simple pleasures of picnics and beach BBQs. I think it’s one of my favourite trips we’ve done since moving here.
Trips that didn’t happen…
We had planned to spend June and July in the UK (our first trip back since we moved to Australia over six years ago). We’d been considering adding in a Disney trip either to Hong Kong or Paris too. That obviously didn’t happen, and we knew that was off the cards early in the year as Matt works for an international airline and his hours were hit from January (he was officially stood down to zero hours in March but has been able to work part-time hours since). His company has a very positive outlook for the latter half of 2021 so we’re hanging in there and feeling hopeful for 2021.
We had also been considering taking a three-week Queensland roadtrip in December (we hadn’t decided where to – just that we wanted to take the kids exploring, either the Dinosaur Trail around Winton or up to the Whitsundays or Port Douglas). We did end up taking the shorter roadtrip mentioned above, but we scaled it back and will do a longer trip next time.
I was due to go along to a conference in Sydney and had been planning on staying for a few days to explore (I haven’t been there since 2008!). The conference went virtual instead though so I didn’t get to travel there.
It feels so strange that we only took two trips this year. We usually go away a lot more, and I usually have quite a few travel writing commissions but Australia and New Zealand magazine is on pause at the moment. I can’t wait to get back to exploring properly again and taking some bigger trips.
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I am SO grateful that we live in Queensland as we love it so much here so it doesn’t feel like too much of a bind to stay local. While state and territory borders have opened up at different times, they can also close again quickly so we’ve decided for the foreseeable future to stay in Queensland. There is so much to see and do here, and the weather is perfect for us.
I think that is something important to consider for anyone moving to Australia – choose somewhere you’ll be happy to stay for a while if things like this prevent you from travelling (hopefully it’ll never happen again but nobody has a crystal ball). Everyone thrives in different types of locations and, for me, it’s all about the tropical, laid back Queensland lifestyle – if I was going to be trapped anywhere in the world, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect place to be stuck (I just wish I could fly my family out to join me here!)
Entertainment in 2020
We usually go along to shows and gigs through the year. Not this year though. We had quite a few gigs and shows cancelled or postponed and there were tickets I just didn’t bother booking as I knew they’d get cancelled. I think the only event we made it to was Operation Ouch Live in Brisbane back in January 2020 (it was so much fun. I may have pretended I booked it for the kids but truly Chris and Xand make me laugh so much and I think I was as excited as they were!)
The first of the 2020 postponed shows is coming up this month (seeing Mamma Mia on stage at a local theatre). I’m really looking forward to getting back out to the theatre! I’ve missed live entertainment so much. Virtual entertainment is amazing but you will never be able to replace the feeling of actually being somewhere live.
I feel very lucky that we’re in a place where cultural activities have been able to return (with strict health and safety policies in place).
Visitors in 2020
In 2019, we spent a good chunk of the year with visitors in our home which was lovely. In 2020, we weren’t able to have any, unfortunately.
It is hard not seeing family and not knowing when we’ll see each other again. Matt’s parents come out every year usually and it has now been more than two years since we’ve seen them. It’s just over a year since I last saw my parents. We have no idea when we’re going to be able to see them again and we’re obviously worried for their health too.
Thank goodness for communication tools like Facetime, Messenger and Zoom though. It could have been much worse if they didn’t exist.
Health in 2020
For me, 2020 was another year taking steps forward to improving my health.
I’ve continued to drink a lot less alcohol (I regularly go weeks or months without a drink and I don’t miss it but I do love wine so it’s not something I’ll totally give up), I’ve been exercising in an outdoor gym at least three days a week when the kids are at school (sometimes more when I can fit it in as I absolutely love working out in the fresh air). I do regular yoga at home through a fantastic virtual studio.
I signed up to Noom to help me eat more mindfully (I love it because it’s all about creating better habits and I know that what we eat is more about what is going on in our minds than anything else). I’ve lost about 10lbs this year, and I have more to go, but it’s less about losing weight and more about feeling strong and healthy in my body and mind.
I FEEL so much healthier and more energised! I’m now BEing a person who makes healthier choices in life (if you follow Jim Fortin’s podcast you’ll understand what this means!)
I’m excited about where I’m going to take my health goals in 2021!
Books I’ve read in 2020
I read quite a few books in 2020 although I did find myself often falling into Internet rabbit holes with the news instead. It’s hard not to keep reading news because what is going on in the world has such a big impact on each of us.
Most of the books I read in 2020 were around mindset, creating an abundant life and quantum physics – subjects that I find fascinating!
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A few of my top reads in 2020 include:
She Means Business by Carrie Green
E2 by Pam Grout
Quantum Success by Christy Whitman
Superfans by Pat Flynn
The Power of Your Unconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy
Cadence: A Tale of Fast Business Growth by Pete Williams
Chillpreneur by Denise Duffield-Thomas
Super Attractor by Gabby Bernstein
The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton
And my FAVOURITE of them all and the best discovery for me in 2020: A Happy Pocketful of Money by David Cameron Gikandi. (You can actually listen to the entire thing for free on Youtube if you’re interested). I loved it so much I read it twice!
Did you read anything amazing in 2020?
Podcasts in 2020
I love listening to podcasts. I listen while doing the school run, while working out at the outdoor gym, on walks and while cleaning or cutting the grass – I get through a lot of episodes every week!
My favourite podcasts this year have been:
She Means Business by Carrie Green
The Membership Guys by Mike Morrison
Mind Your Business Podcast by James Wedmore
Leonie Dawson Refuses to Be Categorised by Leonie Dawson
Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn
Hear Me Raw by Lisa Messenger
Business and Life by Angela Henderson
I just love listening to content while I’m on the go! I’ve got so into podcasts that I’m actually going to be releasing one myself in 2021 (watch this space!)
TV in 2020
This year, a lot of binge-watching has been taking place!
I started watching Gilmore Girls from the beginning (there are A LOT of episodes) so this has been an easy bit of background telly for me this year that takes no brainpower and is exactly what I needed as a distraction. I watched the new season of Virgin River. My hubby and I binged our way through Cobra Kai and loved the nostalgia. And we’ve also been watching Friends from the beginning because he has honestly never watched it! I don’t feel like there have been many stand-out TV moments this year though.
We spent a lot of time re-watching classic movie series from the beginning (we did Harry Potter twice! Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Die Hard and anything we could find that had plenty of sequels!) It was all about watching things that weren’t too taxing on the brain so we could escape from the news!
SmartStepstoAustralia in 2020
I have to admit, I let the world situation slow me down a bit with my blog this year. I didn’t keep to my regular blog posting and emailing schedule because I knew things were hard for so many people. Traffic to Australian travel sites tanked in 2020 (initially it was thanks to the bushfires and then the pandemic). It made it difficult to think about giving people guidance on how to migrate to Australia or travel in Australia when it wasn’t possible for many people at that time. I felt like everyone needed a bit of space while the world settled down so I relaxed things a bit.
In May, I created the Migration Matters video series where I interviewed a range of professionals in the relocation and migration niche to talk about how the world situation was impacting migration. I had such an incredible response to it and it made me fall in love with the medium of video! (This video series was publicly available for a short time and now it’s available to watch on-demand in the Migration Mastermind membership community).
Shortly after the Migration Matters series, I launched my Migration Mastermind membership community. The plan had always been to launch a membership community to take the stress out of relocating to Australia (and make the whole process more fun!), but I felt it was even more important than ever to create a way for me to support people who were taking action on their dreams during this challenging time. I’m loving creating videos, interviews and checklists for my members that take the stress out of the move and help them get organised so they’re ready to move as soon as it’s possible and safe to do so.
My free Move to Australia FB group grew by 50% in 2020 which is great with the world situation as it is. I love that it is another way of supporting people who are moving (or who have moved and are getting settled).
My Ultimate Emigration Checklist is still my core product and I love that this year people have continued to use it to plan and organise their move to Australia and continue working towards their dream life. I’ve received some gorgeous testimonials about how much time and stress it has saved too. It really makes my day every time I receive a kind note about it. You can find out more about it here.
I’m so excited and fired up about what 2021 looks like for Smart Steps to Australia – I have lots of exciting plans up my selves for my blog and also for my Migration Mastermind membership community!
Highlights of 2020
I feel like 2020 has thrown a lot of our plans up in the air. And it has brought many challenges with it (with a hubby working in international aviation and me working in migration and travel!). BUT there have also been so many things to be grateful for too…
Matt was off work during the initial lockdown in April and May. He was the main homeschooler of the kids (with some support from me as I continued to work where I could). As much as he found it challenging, he also really enjoyed it and the kids actually thrived under his teachings because of the personal attention. He usually works very long hours and random shifts so to have him home so much more has been really lovely. He has been doing more shifts for the last few months, but he’s still on a lot less hours than before. We’ve never had this much family time before and it is just lovely and something we want to hold onto going forward.
As we’ve had no visitors all year (for the first time since we arrived over six years ago), we’ve been able to get started with some messy renovation jobs on the house. There is a long way to go and we’re doing it slowly (partly to spread the cost out and partly because of lack of time) but it feels brilliant to get it underway after years of talking about it. So although lack of visitors has been a big downside, it has come with this unexpected upside so I’m trying to see this as a positive.
A top memory for us in 2020 was the ‘restaurant’ meals we cooked at home. We did a few themed restaurant dinners where we got dressed up and came through our front door as if we were entering a restaurant to a table laid out and authentic music playing quietly in the background! I think this was one of my favourite memories of the year! It was even better than going to a real restaurant as we could get changed into PJs the moment we’d finished dessert! I know the kids, in particular, had a lot of fun with this (and our eldest loved learning to cook the meals with me too). It’s definitely something we’re going to keep doing in 2021!
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Another lovely thing I can appreciate from 2020 was creating a stronger connection with our local community. A neighbour in our estate sent notes around about setting up a What’s App group for the local community so we could all support one another so we’ve now got a community What’s App group. My next door neighbour set up a free neighbourhood book swap and my kids went around the streets with chalk drawing arrows to direct people to it. It felt great to live in a place where we were connecting even during difficult times.
Yes, it has been very hard being so far away from family but one important thing to be grateful for is that we have the opportunity to connect online in so many different ways. For Christmas, I sent my family photobooks and photo calendars of the kids. We shared What’s App photos of the kids opening presents. We Zoomed and we Facetimed. Being far apart doesn’t mean we need to be totally disconnected from the people we love.
I’m getting clearer and more laser-focused than ever on my values and my vision. I’m so excited to keep showing up authentically as my real self and to continue helping you to create a life you love in Australia. Running this business is about so much more than making a living for me – it’s about helping you follow your dreams and it’s about providing support and inspiration to make transforming your life easier and a lot more fun.
2021 may bring with it new challenges, but the thing to remember is that our plans can change, but our big vision for the life we want doesn’t need to. We may need to pivot, adapt or delay some of our plans but giving up isn’t an option. My favourite quote of the moment is from Carrie Green: Successful people hang on when everyone else lets go.
Happy New Year and thanks for all of your support this year. I really appreciate every post that you read and share, I appreciate every purchase you make through one of my affiliate links, I appreciate every product that you buy from me but, more than anything, I appreciate you being here and being part of this wonderful supportive community.
I hope 2021 is a positive and happy one for you and your family. Lots of love and best wishes. xx