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Its the perfect time of year to start thinking about our goals. Goals we’re working on, ones we’ve put on the back burner or maybe even create some new goals.

I’ve always loved to travel. Since I was little I always dreamed of jet setting across the world. Italy, Germany, Morocco, Argentina, Australia. In fourth grade I would write extra credit reports about the far away lands I was drawn, to like France and Egypt. Eiffel towers and pyramids. This what I always wanted.

Belém Tower Portugal or the Tower of St Vincent Lisbon

But as we all know, sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes all the things we love and want to do don’t always align. My love for travel didn’t exactly mesh well with my love for having dogs. And I would never trade the time or care I gave to my dogs. But any pet owner knows its hard to travel when there’s a pet waiting at home. Whether your pet is being boarded or even if you have a close friend or relative watching, you still get feelings of worry and guilt. Any time I would go away, usually for business, I would rush home to make sure my little pooches were okay. They were my responsibility and I loved them. But now the pooches have past on, I don’t have kids and my work is flexible. Its time to start traveling again.

Let me be honest I haven’t been a complete and total travel slacker. I’ve actually traveled quite a bit through Mexico and the Caribbean on business. But, that was business. It was necessity. I’m looking to inject a little whimsy and spontaneity in my travel.

So I’ve decided its time to sit down and reevaluate what my top travel goals are. Its now or never. Nothing is holding me down now. Right?

Just one thing…

The funds to make a serious trip of a lifetime happen. Yup, the green stuff. Money.

Traveling is one of the most important and rewarding things someone can do. It opens your mind and shifts your perspectives. You don’t have to get on a plane or go to another continent. Sometimes just getting in the car and driving an hour north or east is all the change of scenery you need. And I love doing this. But, I’m ready to get on a plane. In order to make this happen I need to take a serious look at my finances. Reaching any goals require planning. Especially when finances are involved. This is what it takes to start living your life differently. Confidently.

I will start achieving my travel goals by:

1) Creating an Itinerary: I’ve decided just now I’d like to first go to Spain & Portugal. But this isn’t going to be a quick 5 day thing. To see these places properly I will be traveling there for at least 2 weeks and maybe longer. These beautifully rich and diverse countries need to be experienced and enjoyed.

2) Setting a Budget: Once I know exactly where I’ll be going I can calculate how much money I’ll need for plane tickets, ground transportation, lodging, activities and most importantly food. This is critical for the success of the trip.

3) Opening a Travel Specific Savings Account: I think its important to dedicate an account specific for travel. I’ll be able to keep track of how much money I’ve saved for the trip. Watching it grow will motivate me to save more and allow me to reach my financial goals faster.

Once I complete these preliminary steps I’ll figure out ways to make more money I can sink into that travel account. I’ll check my spending and see where I can save more? Perhaps start a side business? See what I can live without now so I can live a little more on my trip. I can surely go without that weekly sushi. Forget $4 lattes. Coffee can be made at home.

So what are your goals for the new year? What are the things you want to do that may require a little planning? We want to hear your inspiring story. What are you going to do to start living your life differently?

Maybe you’ve already achieved some goals. We’d love to hear about those as well.


*This is a sponsored conversation written on behalf of Northwestern Mutual. The opinions and text are those of Better Living.