Setting 2021 Goals (like a chess player)

by | Last modified on Oct 16, 2023 | Personal journal

One of my favourite things I read last year was this article by Mark Manson. He interviewed 1,273 people to ask what they had learnt about 2020. If ever there was proof that this has been a shared experience then this article is it!

The lesson that struck me most from the list was ‘Most Things Are Both Good and Bad at the Same Time’.

There is no denying that last year was a pretty terrible one for me on a personal level. Like so many, I had my life turned upside down, made worse by the fact that I was also pregnant. I have never felt anxiety like it before and so much spontaneous crying, that I could blame on the hormones but I knew was a reaction to feeling all the hurt in the world and the acceptance of loss.

But looking back on the last year, almost everything bad had a silver lining. And some of those were pretty good. So it would be wrong to just label 2020 as bad.

Side note: If you’ve ever thought about starting a blog, you really should. I love reading back over my old posts. I read my reflections and goal-setting post from last year and it’s comical in places…..that pure naivety we all had for the year ahead….

We were so lucky to have made it to Israel for a full month so Rivi could meet her grandparents at last!

Was it good or bad?

….I had to postpone the Women’s End2End relay and cancel over a year’s worth of Love Her Wild trips and expeditions. All that hard work for nothing! Having said that though, this has been the most active and engaged year yet in the community. We’ve grown to over 25,000 members across our national and regional groups!! Also, my blog finally reached over 25,000 visitors a month. I launched my YouTube channel and have already had over 7.000 views.

….Losing my work like that really felt like I’d lost a big part of who I was. But with no trips on, it also gave me the time to finally address the fact that I was letting lack of confidence get the better of me when it came to writing a book. I wrote a first draft, got a literary agent AND then landed myself a book deal!!! That was a serious life dream come true.

I grab any time I can to write….even if it’s a quick 20mins in my PJ’s before breakfast!

….I lost so much money and all my income. I’m literally tens of thousands of pounds into losses and, thanks to it being timed with me going on maternity, I’ve missed out on the little support from the government I would have otherwise got. However….just when things were looking really desperate, Gil got a permanent part-time job and a much-needed steady income to keep us afloat. So grateful!

….We moved to a new area 2 days before the first lockdown and it was really hard being in a place where we knew no-one, 6 months pregnant and in a pandemic. However, I have completely fallen in love with Frome. The walks and countryside here have kept me going. I LOVE our house (especially as I had a home birth) and we somehow landed on a little street that is already an established community with a communal garden and (in normal times) kids playing in the street, gatherings for singing and parties, the sort of dreamy neighbourhood you’d expect to see in the Waltons.

…..And finally, the most significant moment of the year. I had my baby girl Rivi! She’s wonderful, a complete joy to have in our lives. I was blessed with an incredibly positive and empowering birth (thanks to Chloe from The Mindful Birthing Company) and a dream baby who sleeps great and laughs lots. That being said, being pregnant and becoming a mum in these times has been the absolute hardest to deal with. I wrote honestly about the losses I felt when the pandemic hit and I was pregnant. And I still feel those losses almost daily. There is no silver lining for me when I think of all the loved ones who have yet to meet her. It has been so hard raising a baby stuck inside all the time, not able to have a break or have the much needed physical support from others. It’s been a challenge and continues to be one and I’m sad that I missed out and we were isolated during a time that should have been shared.

But I want to finish on a positive. So here’s a video I took at the celebration of Love Her Wild turning three back in February….very different times! This was the result of 45minutes of laughter yoga. It makes me laugh every time!!

Thinking like a chess player

Setting goals for 2021?! Ha! All those ‘next year will be better/2020 is a write off’ statements forgot that the virus doesn’t work on a calendar.

It might seem strange to set goals in the midst of continued turmoil and a year that, let’s face it, is still going to be heavily dominated by restrictions. But goal setting is something that is so ingrained in helping me reflect and celebrate successes and then ensuring that I continue to spend time on the things that matter. So I will be setting goals this year like any other.

But it’s important to set goals smartly. Adapting to the environment and recognising what is realistic.

If we are a chess player, the board represents our next moves and the other chess player represents life. We can only respond depending on what move ‘life’ makes. We can anticipate the moves ahead to some extent, but what we can do with certainty is look at the options in front of us and decide what moves to make next.

My lovely friends organised a virtual baby shower for me. And Gil organised this amazing cake….for 2!!!!

My 2021 goals

Writing: Get my book published and have a book launch (in real life I hope!!) I also have another book I’m working on with Soraya Abdel-Hadi which I’d like to finish – it’s an extension of this popular blog I wrote about getting into marine conservation without any qualifications.

Relaxation: I want to get back into a softer version of my old morning routine as I recognise this is the only way I can keep up healthy daily habits. I’m blessed with a smiley babbly 6am alarm clock so before checking my phone I want to have done some gentle stretching and breathing/meditation.

Talks: Give 8 talks including at least 2 festivals (last part is an optimistic goal!)

Fitness: Do a couch to 5km. Pregnancy/birth destroy me….I’m starting from basics!

Blog: It was great seeing my blog soar so much in the summer! I’d like to write another 10 guides this year and update my most popular blogs.

Podcast: Launch a podcast!! All about living life well as a family. I’m really looking forward to trying something new and stretching my comfort zone. I’ve got a name. and the kit…now I just need to get the first guests booked…

Are you also setting goals this year? I’d love to hear what you have planned? Thanks for reading and a late happy new year.

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Bex Band

Bex Band

Welcome to my blog! I'm an award-winning adventurer, bestselling author and founder of Love Her Wild. My work and adventures have featured in BBC, The Guardian and Condé Nast. I love nothing more than travelling and getting outdoors on solo and family adventures. Using my years of experience, I provide advice and inspiration on various topics, including wild camping, charity challenges, glamping and travel itineraries.


  1. Steph

    I agree that 2021 goals need to be fluid and adapted with what is going on at the time. I’m hopeful this year will be much easier than last year!
    I love Frome – my mum was born in a tiny village just outside of Frome so many childhood holidays were spend around Frome and the neighbouring part of Wiltshire with family x

    • Bex Band

      It really is a great area. I haven’t managed to experience it not in lockdown times so that’s something to look forward too.
      I hope so too Steph!! x

      • Gail Muller

        Thanks Bex. I love the value and honesty in all you put out, and it inspires me! I also had to trim back on some sponsorships etc this year but am so happy to keep supporting you on Patreon because you really ARE worth it and give such incredibly useful advice. I tell lots of others about you too. Excited for your goals – I have a book launch this year too and I am trying to launch my blog and plan my long distance hikes. Fingers crossed for us all!

        • Bex Band

          That’s really lovely of you to say…thanks so much Gail! It means a lot to hear that my honesty and blog does help others and it keeps me motivated to keep going. It’s always so nice to feel like you are making a difference.
          You’ve got such exciting plans ahead. I hope you are also able to use this time to write and do the groundwork for your projects. When will the book be launched? I hope I get to come?! x


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