Personal Stories

A Mantra for 2018: Work, Travel, and Life

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Another year, come and gone.

It’s funny because as a blogger, I mark so much of my success with time. Visitors per month, income per month, recurring annual posts like my 40 Before 40 series and my favorite meals or photos of the year.

Yet each December I feel somewhat unpleasantly surprised when one year winds down and another comes barreling along.

Mantra for 2018

The History of Yearly Mantras

For the past two years, I’ve joined my friend Malia from Shoyu Sugar in choosing a ‘word of the year’ or mantra to guide my efforts and intentions. In 2016, my word was ‘minimize,’ and in 2017, I chose the word ‘muse.’ While each year, my yearly mantra hasn’t exactly taken the form I’d expect, it’s been an interesting hallmark of the year.

For example, in 2017, I thought muse would guide my creative efforts and endeavors; in reality, I learned to surrender to creative curiosity and accept more structured projects (like my job) when they presented themselves to me. Sometimes, I was in control of the muse, and sometimes she exerted more control me.

Mantra for 2018

Looking Back on My Yearly Mantra to Muse

Last year, I made some hypotheses for what muse might look like in a concrete way:

  • Continue writing on this blog and sharing stories from around the world.
  • Finish writing a book I started writing in September.
  • Continue freelance writing and publishing with travel magazines and sites.
  • Embrace my new role as managing editor at Go Overseas, and cultivate a culture that encourages my writers to do their best work.

Some of these projects came to fruition; some stepped out of my spotlight; others not on this list became much bigger priorities than I expected.

I definitely did a lot of blogging here, and on my website, Space Tourism Guide. I did not finish writing my blog, and I was much less active in freelance writing. While in January 2017, my role as Managing Editor was a contract, part-time, remote role, in January 2018, I am full-time in-office employee for Go Overseas.

These opportunities – to work and to give up other kinds of work – required a bit of surrendering on my part. Sometimes, I had to accept the opportunities I didn’t know whether I really wanted, and hope that they would produce something greater than I could foresee. (It usually did!)

In short, both definitions of muse came true: “the source of inspiration for a creative artist” and “be absorbed in thought.” I thought and worked and was inspired. In its way, muse was the right word for 2017.

Mantra for 2018

Deciding on my Yearly Mantra for 2018

As usual, I haven’t really known what my yearly mantra might be. I’ve considered many words…


As you can see, my thoughts have turned toward health and wellness and my relationships. While I’m doing great at work, life isn’t just about work. I want to practice better wellness (I am in my 30s, after all!), and I want to be stronger, both physically and emotionally. I want to take better care of myself and the people I care about – and my relationships with them. Each of these words, like contenders from other years, was right in some ways – but not all ways.

Mantra for 2018

My Yearly Mantra for 2018: Balance

In the end, one word stood out to me over and over. It came up as I thought about self-care. And my relationships. And my work.


This word stuck out to me, as muse did, for its multiple definitions:

noun: a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions

verb: offset or compare the value of (one thing) with another

In many ways, I need more balance in my life. I work a lot, but I also want to balance my full-time work and responsibilities with my personal passion projects. I want to balance personal time, work time, time with friends, and time with Mr. Valise. I want to work on my health and wellness, and balance that with the permission to indulge from time to time.

I’m sorta hoping, as in years past, that the word I choose will as much guide me as shape me and my life in 2018.

What I Predict Balance Will Mean in 2018

As in years past, I want to set some concrete ways I think balance  will manifest in the coming year:

  • I predict I’ll get better at setting a semi-consistent schedule for work and non-work time.
  • I want to balance work and time which is truly not work (something I’m not good at!).
  • I’ll get way better at standing poses in yoga, and possibly add a few inverted poses to my repertoire.
  • I will balance more doing and measuring the impact of what I’m doing. In most projects, I have a tendency to get caught up in the data and not do any work.
  • I’ll work on better balancing my health, particularly focusing on getting better hydrated each day.

I’m sure there are other ways I will find balance, and I’m planning to put a sticky note in both of my main workspaces with BALANCE on it. (As a friendly reminder.)

So that’s it from me. What are your resolutions or mantras for the new year?

Happy New Year, friends!

Help others discover this post too!

I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.


  • Bisa

    I started coming up with two words for the year a couple of yours ago as part of therapy. My words for 2017 was Faith and Acceptance. Which I think I did. For 2018 I’m leaning towards commit and focus. The prior words wore more personal. I want to be more committed and focused on the blog and writing.

  • Amanda Carnagie

    Happy New Year, Valerie! Balance is SUCH a good word for 2018. Are you using any tools to help you achieve that balance?
    I think my goal/word/mantra for 2018 is “share” – can you believe that I am STILL paralyzed by lack of confidence when it comes to sharing and (ick) self-promotion? I hope I can finally get over that wall this year! You’re so good at it. I need to look to you for inspiration.

    • Valerie

      Omg, girl, you should embrace self-promo and own it — you’re amazing! Share is a great word for you, if it’s something you need to focus on! I saw this great quote on Oneika the Traveller’s instagram: “In 2018 I promise to promote myself and my projects shamelessly. No more playing small.” << that's your quote of the year 😉

      As for me and balance, I don't have any tools, but that's a good idea to look into some!

      • Amanda Carnagie

        Woo! Thanks for the positive reinforcement. 🙂

        And thank you for sharing that quote from Oneika… powerful. Reminds me of when I listened to a local entrepreneur talk about her journey in business. She said everything changed when she decided, “Y’all gonna know me.” So yes, in 2018 ya’ll gonna know me and my shameless self-promotion because I’m going to share, share, share. 🙂

  • Caitlin Elisabeth

    Happy New year friend! this is SUCH a great word for the year ( and def one im looking to do as well ) ! thanks so much for sharing and being so personal on your blog!

  • Belle Bermudez-Tubel

    Balance – such a great mantra for 2018! It’s so important yet so hard to achieve! I hope you get to achieve your balance!

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

  • Marette Flora @ Floradise

    I like how the word balance plays into so many aspects of your life. I chose believe this year for many reasons!

  • Taylor Epperson

    I actually thought about having Balance as my word for 2018. In the end though I chose abundance, I want to recognize the good that I have around me as well as fill my life and home with things and relationships that fill me up!

  • Cristina

    That is such a nice idea, never thought of it.
    I think balance is quite difficult to get. Of course it’s not impossible, but it takes a lot of work and practice.

    Cristina | *janded

  • Shannon

    Balance is such a great word and something I think everyone struggles with, so I love that you’ll spend a whole year focusing on it!

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