Goodbye, Costa Rica and Hello 2023

Goodbye Costa Rica

Goodbye, Costa Rica.

For now.

I’ve been pondering this decision for a while now, even though I said I would stay for two more years at the end of my 1-year lease last year.

Many factors have contributed to my decision to move back to the states, but the biggest one is family.

My Dad is 78, and while he’s already had some health issues, they seem to be compounding or worsening. Most people who know him would probably look at him and not think twice. Still, after spending so much time with him over the holidays (I hadn’t seen him for a year in person – he was going to come to Costa Rica, and I got Covid the day he was to fly down), I’ve been reminded that time is precious.

I never saw my Mom age since her passing at 71 was unexpected. Even though I watched all four grandparents age, it’s an entirely different feeling when it’s your parent.

Maybe because, secretly, it means I’m aging too.

I noticed a significant slowing down with my Dad, which I’m sure is partly due to age and health concerns. My aunt also had some health challenges this year (my Mom’s younger sister, who I’m incredibly close to), and I want to be closer.

Other factors that contributed to saying Goodbye, Costa Rica

I’ve had my own fair share of challenges this year (don’t we all), and being in a foreign country steps things up a bit.

Having to take my dog in for surgery on both back knees – and then a second time, because something happened to one of the knees, was a little traumatic (I felt like I’d failed her)- then to have surgery on my back?

It was a lot in a short period of time.

I also had visitors every month through August, except for February, and while I wouldn’t trade it for anything (I also had some incredible experiences), it was a little hard to start and stop so much (with work).

Having just launched “Create It,” I’m pretty head down with my business right now (the new content planner). I think it will be easier to manage things in the states than here. This might sound a little strange since it’s a digital business, but here are a few reasons why:

  • Shipping: we’re shipping the initial orders and will hopefully switch to a distribution service by the second quarter, but we’ll be the shipping department (my daughter and me).
  • Events: with the world opened up. I’d like to get back to networking and traveling to events. I’m looking at joining an e-commerce mastermind to scale the new brand, and there are quarterly events, which are much easier to get to from the states.

Another factor that I kind of can’t believe I’m sharing here (although why not? I share everything else, and knowing me, I’ve probably mentioned it in another podcast) is the dating scene.

It’s pretty non-existent.

I’ve shared before that the area I live in, while amazing, feels more or less like it’s made up of retirees and families (because of the proximity to the international schools).

I’ve had my fair share of younger Tico’s ask me out (when I was getting out and about more, haven’t done a whole lot of that over the last 4+ months with my back), but that’s not my jam (as flattering as it may have been haha).

When I had started thinking about moving back to the states, I had originally been thinking of Oregon or Washington, so I was still close enough to drive to see family.

Then it seemed silly to move back to be closer to family and not actually be close (I know, I’m a genius). So it’s back to Northern California, I go. I’ll land at my Dad’s for a few months while I scout different areas, but I won’t be in the Bay Area proper (I have some friends there still, but all my family has moved out of the Bay Area).

I don’t think I could handle the traffic, the people, the constant activity…

I have definitely acclimated to a slower pace of life in Costa Rica and want to keep it that way.

I’m currently thinking of a little city, Auburn, above Sacramento and below Lake Tahoe. There are a handful of small cities around Auburn as well that I’ll check out. I have a lifelong friend in Auburn, and it’s kind of a mix between the country and the mountains.

After being in a condo, I’m ready for space again (and a yard for the dogs where all I have to do is open the door and let them go!).

I’m going to watch the real estate market, so I will rent for a while, but ultimately, I would like to find a place to buy in the next year.

Does California cost more?

You bet.

But to be near people I love?

Totally worth it (and honestly, anywhere I’d want to live in Oregon or Washington, I wouldn’t be saving that much).

I’ve got one month left (I gave my notice to my landlord on January 1st). Basically, all I need to do is sell everything I can (my car and some other big things I’ve purchased or brought down), pack my clothes, personal belongings, and computer, and get the dogs ready (trip to the vet to see what’s required for entry back into the states) and book my flight.

I have no doubt that the month will go fast.

A friend is coming for a visit on the 13th (the one who lives in Auburn) and offered to take a couple of extra suitcases back with her, so that helps quite a bit.

All I plan to do with my last month here is spend as much time with my friends as possible and make frequent beach trips. I want to savor every moment.

I’ll definitely be back (especially since I have friends to visit and can stay with), so it’s just a “Goodbye for now.”

What I’ve learned from my time in Costa Rica

More than anything, I’ve learned a lot about myself.

I am incredibly proud of myself for having done this. I literally moved to a country I’d never visited and made the most of it.

At times I questioned whether or not I was seeing enough of the country… and my therapist reminded me that this experience didn’t need to be anything other than what it was for me.

Much of that came from a former friend who constantly told me I needed to get out and do more, but I don’t “need” to do anything other than what I wanted to do.

I’m a grown-ass woman, and I do what I want! (I had a poster that said that – I think I need to buy another one when I’m back).

I’m writing an entire post on my experience in Costa Rica and how it completely changed my life. Who I am, how I move through the world, what I want, and my perspective on so many things.

Stay tuned for that, but now I want to talk about 2023.

Hello 2023

Since I shared a bit about what I went through in 2022, I’m not going to repeat much of it here other than how it relates to what I’m doing moving forward.

As much as I love doing year-in-review posts, I’m feeling the pull to focus on moving forward (and it was a great year).

After my two-week trip to California for Christmas, I’m looking forward to being back and settled and then next Christmas being in my own space while also getting to spend the holidays with family.

Since moving to Costa Rica, the only travel I’ve done is back to California for visits – so I’m really looking forward to some other trips and experiences this year.

Planning for 2023

I love planning (since I have a Content Planner business), but I haven’t had much chance to take a minute and do any business planning for 2023.

And that’s O.K.

I’m not behind, and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong, and it will happen as it’s supposed to.

I’ve started a mind map for this brand (using MindNode for Mac, which I’m kind of falling in love with), and have goals for Create It (which I created when I did the content plan for the sample planner), but the planning I’m talking about is the big picture planning, which always starts with how I want my life to feel.

Life Plans for 2023

  • Find my new spot within 3-5 months of being back in California. I’ll land at my Dad’s and start checking out different areas. As he calls it, start “shopping” for where to live. Having lived in Northern California all of my life (up until 2020), I’m pretty familiar with the area I’m looking for but haven’t done it from the perspective of living there.
  • Start dating! EEEK! I’ll probably wait until I get settled in my own place, but I’m actually looking forward to this.
  • Spend more time with family. I want to hang out with my aunt more, go down to visit my daughter in LA, and spend more time with my siblings and my nieces and nephews (since I’m living with my Dad for a bit, we’ll get plenty of quality time together).
  • More time with friends! Some of my closest friends are from high school (and even elementary). The older I get, the more I cherish time with my friends. I’ve always prioritized my friendships, but they feel deeper and richer as I get older. I’ll also spend time with dear friends I’ve only connected with online in person… we’re already planning a weekend on the Oregon coast together!
  • More time for hobbies! I am SO excited to return to my watercolors, pens, drawing, etc. All of my art supplies are in storage… but not for long!

Interesting that as I look at that list, everything I’ve listed is about time.

And primarily, relationships.

It’s lovely.

I also think this is the first time I’ve put my life plans first!

Usually, I start with business… interesting.

Business Plans for 2023

Here we GOOOOOO!!!!!

As excited as I am, there’s a level of calm confidence I feel as I look at the year ahead.

After 15 years in this online space, there’s a knowing about what needs to be done, and I’m doing it.

Let’s look at both brands (KimDoyal & Create It).

Cleaning, clarity, and consistency are my priorities.

  • Cleaning: my site needs a good amount of cleaning up. That means cleaning up content, broken links, shortcodes in posts missing images from older posts, etc.
    This also means a new website. The goal for completion of the new site is the end of the first quarter. I’m also going to move all of my courses into Circle. I’m using Circle for Create It, and it makes more sense to use one platform for all courses on both brands (they’ll be separate accounts).
  • Clarity: As someone who has fallen in love with writing, I need to be way clearer about who I am and what I do. Right now, it’s kind of a mystery (a little bit of this, a little bit of that). My focus is on email marketing, newsletters, and #FtheHUSTLE. People love #FtheHUSTLE, but it’s also a bit of “I get it! What a great name. Now, what is it?
  • Consistency: I have to hire help—end of story. The only way I can create and produce what I want is to have help with the things I don’t enjoy doing or want to do (podcast editing, video editing, reposting my newsletter as blog posts, and social media). The one thing I’ve been very consistent on is the newsletter, but that’s about it. My poor podcast has been neglected for too long.

Within those themes are additional elements, but I’m not going to get into the weeds with them.

In terms of content for 2023, I want to revamp my YouTube channel and focus on written content that I can repurpose (long-form blog posts, podcasts, and the newsletter).

What that looks like in terms of social content, I’m not exactly sure, but I want the majority of what I share socially to come from organic content I’ve published on my site first.

I’m working on new keywords and a pillar content strategy.

My intention isn’t to produce “tons” of content… it’s to produce quality content that I can get more leverage from. In the Create It Content Planner, I’ve created a strategy focusing on three different types of focus content: Evergreen, Topical, and Connection.

I’ll ensure my content for KimDoyal always falls under those three buckets.

Email list growth: add 10k subscribers to my email list.

I’ll do this organically and with a paid traffic strategy.

Now let’s look at Create It

Whew! It has been a whirlwind getting that up and launched.

The physical planners are shipping to us, and then we’ll ship them out (and by us, I mean my daughter, who will ship the initial presale planners). After looking at the cost of shipping the planners from Atlanta to California, I think it might just make more sense to go with a distribution center for the next print run.

I have REALLY big plans for this brand!

The first thing I’m going to do is hire a traffic company. I’ve already had a call with the agency I’m going to use (female owned), and they’ve been running ads for another planner brand for THREE years (not a competitor), and she loves this space.

We’ll start with Facebook and Instagram and will add YouTube and Google next.

I learned a lot with the first planner and have already created a higher cart value from what I learned the first time.

I know I can grow this much faster (again, I learned a lot the first time).

I don’t want to divulge too much here regarding additional products, but they’re coming! I have a second planner I’d like to release by the end of Q2, but I won’t do that until we have the paid traffic, funnels, and content running (with my tiny effective team).

I will also join an e-commerce mastermind run by my friend Trey Lewellen. I initially thought I’d sign up in January, but I told him it would be February instead once I was back in California and settled. He’s a master at e-commerce, and I know he can show me how to scale this quickly, source other products, and really grow this.

Build my Tiny Effective Team

I’ve talked about this a bit before, but that term is from Jenny Blake’s book “Free Time.”

I’m willing to do what it takes to get this going (I already have), but I do NOT want to be so “in the weeds” with the day-to-day (creating content, social media, tech mgmt, etc.).

I have a few people in place already.

Next will be a VA/project mgr/right-hand person (does that exist in one person? initially, it might have to), then social media, and more content creators (my daughter is knocking it out of the park with our Creator’s Weekly newsletter!).


Right now, the priority is simply getting the main website up. The pages are done. It’s just down to me editing copy and adding product descriptions, images, etc.

Then pulling the trigger.

I mentioned in the episode that I started writing this post a few weeks ago (finally having recorded it in the 4th week of January).

A few things have changed:

  • I extended my stay in Costa Rica by nine days
  • I’m going to use something else for courses, but I think I might keep Circle for the community piece (i haven’t decided)
  • I will start running ads at the end of February or early March (so I’ve had time to settle in California). The same is true with the mastermind I want to join, but both are happening.

I’ve got some interviews I’ve already recorded that I’ll be publishing over the next few weeks, and will be back with a solo show and updates after that.

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