2020 Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and Lessons Learned

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Can we talk about the fact that 2020 is

ALMOST

OVER?!

The end of the year—any year—is always my favorite time.

Not just because of Christmas, but the twinkling lights and apple cider definitely help.

But because we are about to get a fresh start. A blank slate. A whole new year.

It’s Heath’s fault that this is currently stuck in my head.

​Heath and I are obsessive about goals (in case that wasn’t evident already) and these last few weeks in December are a chance to reflect. Rest. Figure out what’s next.

I’ve been thinking about everything that happened in 2020. The good, the bad, the crazy difficult, the first two months of the year, which felt like a different WORLD than the rest of 2020.

One thing Heath and I always do on the blog is to share our year in review on the previous year and our goals for the next. (I’m saving the goals for after Christmas.) Let’s start with the good stuff.

OR you can listen to this blog post in podcast form:

2020: The Good

Travel

Okay, first of all, we spent over a month in Florida last January, and guys, why did we not do this every year as RVers? It was everything I needed in life.

Heath and I switched up our travel schedule this year to fit better with an active baby. This meant staying in places for 2-6 weeks at a time and slowly exploring an area.

We LOVED traveling this way, especially when it meant so many options for enjoying fall across Colorado. I see more leisurely long stays in the future.

Business

The camping industry SOARED this year. Heath and his team grew Campground Booking 244%. (I’m about to turn 30 and I still can never figure out how people calculate percentages over 100, but I know that’s really good.)

And my book, published over three years ago now, outperformed last year’s sales. This could be because so many more people bought RVs this year, but I also think it’s because I took the time to update the book’s content.

(We have a phenomenal guest post from author Lindsey Nubern on how to know if you should update your book. If you’ve got a book that needs a boost in content or sales, I recommend it!)

Heath & I also got to work with our friends Kara & Nate to plan and emcee their documentary premiere back in January—a lifetime ago! Someone told Heath this year that being an entrepreneur is an excuse to work with friends. We so agree and love any time we can say yes to projects with friends. More of that in 2021, please 🧡

A good portion of our business energy this year went toward learning about buying and operating a campground.

We’ve toured properties, met with contractors, talked to realtors, investors, mentors, friends—aaaand we haven’t pulled the trigger on a property yet. We’ve been close—multiple times!—but things keep falling through. So I guess this a good thing that happened in 2020 but also a frustrating and difficult thing.

We have some irons in the fire that we are currently pursuing, but property owners don’t want us making anything public until the ink is dry, so we’re going to be pretty tight-lipped on any property details.

But the actual coolest business thing of the year was probably being on the cover of Rootless Magazine.

This is a total vanity thing, but since I was a kid, I always wanted to be on the cover of a magazine. I thought it would be as the world’s first prima ballerina/pop singer but a magazine issue devoted to being an RV entrepreneur is pretty awesome too 🙂

Family

And lastly, pretty much everything about Ellie. This year she learned to crawl. Walk. Talk. Jump. Sing. Dance. The other day she walked over to our advent calendar, pulled out a Hershey’s kiss, unwrapped it, threw the wrapper in the trash, and yelled “more!” before she even ate the chocolate. She’s a genius, and clearly her mother’s daughter.

But as much as I love her, perhaps the biggest win of 2020 was finding childcare for Ellie this fall from a stay-at-home mom in town. There’s only so much work I can do during nap times and now Ellie has a BFF.

Full-time RVing this year, being a full-time stay-at-home mom and running a business, AND trying to buy a campground…it was a lot. And I wasn’t doing anything well. Now I have 20 hours a week that I can be productive on the business, and it feels so GOOD.

2020: The Bad

In comparison to so many others, nothing terrible happened to us in 2020. But we did have some truly hard moments and fell short of goals, because that’s life.

The biggest moment was canceling our conference in March, even though we already had 100+ attendees on-site for the event. What a crazy time.

We talked on the podcast about how we made the quick pivot to a virtual event, handled partial refunds, shipped out t-shirts to attendees, and blazed onward (episode 201).

We haven’t closed on a campground yet, like I already mentioned, which feels like a major fail for 2020 since that was our #1 goal this year. But goals shift and we realized back in July that we needed to find a house first and a campground second. So we will be full steam ahead on a campground in Q1, AND we will finally launch the Campground Startup podcast on February 1st (another project we were going to start in 2020!).

I think one of the worst parts of 2020 for me was feeling like I couldn’t do anything the way I wanted to. And not in an “I want to take Ellie to the pool and teach her to swim, oh wait all the pools are closed forever” kind of way.

I started working on my next book this summer, like really working. I wrote multiple chapters. Felt really good about it. Words were flowing. Post its were everywhere. Stories and memories flooded back to me.

It’s the book I wanted to write back in 2014 when we first started RVing, sharing stories from our travels and what life on the road was like.

But then we were caravanning with friends. Ellie switched from two naps to one. Heath started working more hours to raise money for Campground Booking. Family was driving up from Texas to visit us. I was behind on a course we were launching that needed attention. I didn’t have any child care options, only late nights and early mornings.

I didn’t feel like I had any control over my time.

So I have a few chapters of a book written that I haven’t looked at in far too long, even though I planned on publishing it this month.

This was a big emotional battle for me and a big theme for us for 2020. I couldn’t be a mom, a traveler, an entrepreneur, and a writer all at once. I needed help and I needed to cut back. (This is something Heath has felt too as he is now running a 9-person remote business with employees all over the world.)

Which is why childcare felt like such a big win for me. And why it was the right time for a sticks and bricks.

And so again I learn the lesson, I can do everything, but I can’t do everything at the same time.

So finishing my next book goes on the list for 2021 along with our podcast and our campground. It’s going to be a busy year, I can already tell!

2020: Major Lessons Learned

In addition to learning for the millionth time that I can’t do everything all at once, Heath and I learned a few other big lessons this year.

Life is too short to not do things you want to do, even if you do them badly.

In November, I partnered with my friend Barb of RV Foodie Kitchen to host a nightly cooking show. It was a dream come true.

Except I literally messed up cooking ALL my recipes. And I would’ve done a million little things differently.

But it was really fun.

I did it, even though it was scary. Extra work when I didn’t have extra time. I was not at all equipped or skilled enough to do it. Ellie ate raw batter while I was distracted talking to the camera. I had a million excuses not to try (I’m moving into a house right now, we have friends visiting, I’m not a real cook, the list goes on).

But I still did it. This is a lesson I try to lean into a little more each year: do the things you want to do, even if you’re not ready. I regret never trying more than I regret making mistakes as I go.

Give yourself grace.

I think 2020 taught us all how to give ourselves grace.

How to let go of our carefully constructed plans. How to pivot. How to go with the flow. How to not hold ourselves to metrics or numbers.

But instead, focus on progress.

I didn’t do yoga 365 times, but I did 150 times (thanks to Yoga with Adriene). And that’s waaaay better than last year.

Progress > perfect, as they say.

You do you.

There was a time when I would reply to emails always encouraging people to also try full-time RVing. We loved it so much OF COURSE these total strangers on the internet will have the same magical experience.

But over the past couple of years, I’ve changed my approach. Because full-time travel isn’t for everyone. Starting a business isn’t for everyone.

And that’s something we’ve shifted on our website this year. Like more resources for remote work and being a digital nomad in general, instead of only resources for starting a business. You do what’s right for you (and I will post the resources, interviews, and guest blogs from allllll the traveling experts).

This is something I want to do more of in 2021—more guest blogs and interviews with people who are smarter than me.

We are ADULTS.

Heath turned 30 yesterday. I turn 30 in two weeks. (Ellie will never turn 30 as she agreed to stay tiny and adorable forever.)

And we are embarking on a whole new decade of life.

Our 20s were amazing. We met and got married. Traveled more than we ever thought we could. Had a baby. Bought a house. Started a bunch of businesses. Paid off all our student debt.

I expect 30 to be chock full of even more adventures.

More on setting goals and making plans for 2021 next week 🙂

Until then, wishing you safe travels, good health, but an unhealthy amount of Christmas cookies. Tis the season!

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