2019 Reflections and 2020 Goals


2019 was a really amazing year, and probably one of my favourites so far. After months of uncertainty and doubt, I finally decided I was ready to leave London after living there for 6 years. So in June, I packed up my flat in London, said goodbye to my friends and family, and moved to Vancouver on a 2 year working holiday visa.

It was by far the scariest decision I’ve ever made and a huge leap of faith. The last 6 months have been an emotional whirlwind to say the least! I won’t lie, it’s been stressful and emotional at times but I have no regrets.

The last 3 months of 2019 were a little bit hectic at work and as much as I enjoyed every opportunity, I felt mentally drained by the time I flew back to the UK for Christmas. Time has flown by recently so as we head into a new year (and more importantly, a new decade!), I wanted to take some time to reflect on the past 12 months; the highs, the lows, and the lessons I’ve learnt along the way. It’s also the perfect time to set some goals for 2020.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to each and every one of you who takes the time to read my blog – thanks for being here and supporting me on this journey!

The Highs

2019 was filled with highs. The two biggest ones were moving to Vancouver and starting my new role in the brand marketing team at Rocky Mountaineer. I went to Vancouver with my mum on holiday in January as I had to activate my visa. At the time I wasn’t sure I was even going to move.

We spent a week exploring Vancouver and quickly fell in love with Vancouver’s natural beauty. The air was so fresh and the scenery was beautiful beyond words. I came back feeling inspired and excited about life.

I was still unsure if moving to Vancouver was the right decision. My heart wanted to go but my head kept questioning everything – I would be giving up a good job and leaving my friends and family for the unknown. I didn’t have a job lined up and didn’t know anyone in Vancouver. It was a complete leap of faith. After months of back and forth and endless conversations with my family and friends, I finally realised that if I didn’t go and at least try I would regret it forever. So I handed in my notice and booked a one way ticket to Vancouver.

I was really worried that I wouldn’t find a job in marketing and my career would take a hit so I feel so grateful to have landed a role in the brand marketing team at Rocky Mountaineer. It’s so nice to finally combine my marketing skills and my love of travel and get to do something I really enjoy.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Another high was getting to explore more of the UK. One of my goals for 2019 was to take more micro-adventures and see more of my home country. The beginning half of the year saw me getting outdoors with my camera and exploring places closer to home. In February I hiked the Seven Sisters, a 22km trail from Seaford to Eastbourne over the famous white English cliffs. It was a challenging hike but the scenery was incredibly beautiful.

Day Trip to Seven Sisters
Seven Sisters Trail

In March, my sister and I spent a weekend in Dorset hiking the dramatic Jurassic Coast, England’s first natural UNESCO World Heritage Site. It boasts some of England’s most spectacular scenery, including the iconic Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. We also visited the romantic ruins of Corfe Castle which is a really unique piece of English history.

Corfe Castle, Dorset
Durdle Door, Dorset

As you can probably tell, I’ve always loved being outdoors in nature and that was a big factor in my decision to leave London and move to Vancouver. Since moving here my weekends have been filled with outdoor adventures, from hiking in provincial parks to camping in the backcountry. It feels amazing to finally be doing the things that I’ve dreamed of doing for years.

Summer involved a lot of hiking around Vancouver and BC. My favourite hike was to Garibaldi Lake with a group of friends. We had planned to hike Panorama Ridge and camp overnight in Taylor Meadows campground but unfortunately the weather and an aggressive bear meant that we had to rethink our plans. We ended up doing the Garibaldi Lake trail which was so beautiful in the snow – it felt like we had walked into Narnia!

Things to do in Squamish - Garibaldi Lake
Garibaldi Lake, BC
Taylor Meadows, BC

In October, I had the amazing opportunity to go to the Canadian Rockies with work to manage a destination shoot. I spent a week in Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper working with Hadron Films to capture new footage of our destinations to use in our marketing campaigns.

I got to go back to places that I’d visited the year before with my sister (Lake Louise, Bow River and Lake Beauvert to name a few) but I also went to new places that took my breath away and made me feel incredibly grateful. Looking out over Lake Moraine and finally seeing the vivid shades of turquoise with my own eyes was definitely a ‘pinch me, I can’t believe I get to do this for work!’ moment.

Over the past few months, I’ve made so many new friends, started dating an amazing guy, and have begun building a life that I love here in Vancouver. I’m really excited to explore more of BC this year and can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store!

Moraine Lake, Alberta
Lake Louise, Alberta

The Lows

It was a great year but it definitely had its challenges and low moments. I’m so glad that I found the courage to move to Vancouver but it has been overwhelming at times.

Starting a new job, trying to make new friends and starting a new relationship all at once, in a new country has been challenging at times. I’ve found myself really missing my friends and family back home, and the time difference has made it a lot harder than I expected. By the time I finish work at night they’re already all in bed, and by the time that they get up, I’m in bed. It has definitely made it hard to stay in touch with friends and family as much as I would like to. I’ve felt very lonely at times despite the friends I’ve made here and I’ve suffered from home sickness.

In October, my best friend’s dad sadly passed away. He was such a lovely and kind man and he had been part of my life for more than 10 years so it was a very upsetting time. It was devastating for her and I hated the fact that I couldn’t be there in person to comfort her. It was the first time that the reality of moving abroad really hit me. I can’t just jump on a train or a quick flight back when things happen and it has been really difficult to accept.

Lighthouse Park, Vancouver

What I’ve learnt in 2019

I learnt a lot of lessons this year, good and bad. Some of them are too personal to post here so here are just a few of the main ones:

1. Trust the timing of your life

I spent the first half of the year questioning whether I should move to Canada and whether it was the right time. By the time it got to May, I felt like I should have gone months ago and was annoyed at myself for wasting 5 months of my visa. But as the old cliché goes, everything happens for a reason. Looking back I’ve realised that I probably wouldn’t have met the friends I did or got the job I have now if I’d moved any sooner or later. And I probably wouldn’t have met my boyfriend either. My mum is a firm believer that every chance encounter, every obstacle and every opportunity happens for a reason and that despite what you do and how much you worry you’ll always end up exactly where you’re supposed to be. As someone who likes to plan and be in control it has been a difficult lesson to learn but it’s one I’ll be taking into 2020 with me.

2. If it makes you happy, no one else’s opinion should matter

This is certainly easier said than done but if I’ve learnt anything from this year, it’s that you have to trust your own instincts. When I told a few friends and work colleagues that I was moving to Vancouver they were quite negative. They couldn’t understand why I’d give up a good job and move somewhere new without anything lined up. It made me start to question my decision all over again but I realised that the only opinion that matters is my own. I knew in my heart that it was what I needed to do.

3. Focus your energy in the right places

During the first few months of living in Vancouver, I filled my weekends with activities. I said yes to almost every opportunity as I wanted to meet new people, see new places and make the most of the summer. But by October, I felt so tired and run down and I ended up getting pretty ill. I learnt that I need to be more selective about how I spend my time and energy and that it’s okay to say no sometimes. Over the past couple of months, I’ve got better at prioritising tasks and relationships and feel a lot happier.

Stanley Park, BC

My goals for 2020

I’ve always liked setting goals as it helps me to stay motivated and focused. Last year I set some pretty big goals which just weren’t realistic so this year I’ve been careful to set smaller, more manageable goals for both myself and my blog. These are just a few of the things I’m working on this year:

1. Take time to reflect and practice gratitude

2019 has been a bit of a rollercoaster and at times I haven’t felt very present. I’ve been rushing from one thing to the next so this year I want to make more time to reflect, practice daily gratitude and write in my journal.

2. Read 12 books

I used to love reading but over the years I’ve stopped reading as much. This year I want to read a new book each month and am planning to join a book club to keep me on track!

3. Explore more of BC and the Pacific Northwest

There are so many places I want to see this year in Canada and the US. I want to explore more national and provincial parks, plan camping and hiking trips, and make the most of living in this beautiful part of the world.

4. Improve my flexibility and strengthen my knee

I have had issues with my knee (patellar tendonitis) for the past 2 years and whilst it’s a lot better than it was, it did flare up a few times whilst hiking this summer. So in 2020 I want to (finally!) incorporate yoga into my exercise routine and take more time to stretch and strengthen my knee.

5. Write 2 blog posts per month

The last 6 months have been so busy that despite my best intentions I’ve had to put my blog to one side. This year I really want to focus on my blog again and produce lots of helpful and interesting content about moving to Canada and life in Vancouver and BC. I want to inspire people to get outdoors and enjoy being in nature.

6. Drive more traffic to my blog

As I mentioned above, I’ve definitely neglected my blog over the past 6 months but one of my big goals for 2020 is to create more valuable content and increase traffic to my blog through Pinterest and SEO. I’ve been using Pinterest for a while but this year I want to develop a Pinterest strategy and learn how to use it properly.

Moraine Lake, Alberta

I wanted to end this post with one of my favourite quotes, and one that has helped guide me in 2019:

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Thank you again for the ongoing support and encouragement and for being part of my journey. I’d love to hear how 2019 was for you and your goals for 2020. Let me know in the comments below!

Love from Steph

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