Before the start of every new year, I list down all the things I want to achieve for the coming year. I start the list with my usual header that goes: *INSERT YEAR HERE* WILL HAPPEN (not CAN happen because using the word CAN leaves room for doubt) and below this are all the goals I set to achieve for myself.
I put together my goals into 3 simple categories: 1) Personal goals (which includes goals on self-development) 2) Career goals and 3) Travel goals.
So before 2015 started, my list looked like this (and for personal reasons, I will not divulge everything that I had listed):
2015: WILL HAPPEN
1. Take photography classes
2. Become a member of an NGO
1. Hit the KPIs for all my platforms
All the places I wanted to go to per month of the year, subject to adjustment and spontaneity
Having a concrete list of goals that I could always keep coming back to when times get really busy and when my head is all over the place has helped me to not lose track of my vision. Whenever I look at the list, I am reminded of the reasons why I listed them down in the first place. Every time I see an X mark beside an item, I get a sense of fulfillment. Knowing that I am able to cross off items on the list has also become a source of motivation for me to continue working towards crossing off all the other items on the list.
Through the years, I’ve also learned to develop SMART goals- not just in my work but also in my personal life. Meaning, all the goals I create for the year are:
By following this framework, I assess what goals I can possibly achieve for the year. I don’t just set goals for myself out of nowhere, with no basis. I dream big, but I also ground myself on realities, my current disposition, and what I believe I can generate so that I don’t set myself up for disappointments. The goals are there because I believe that I have what it takes to reach them within that 1-year period. That’s not to say though that I don’t make room anymore for opportunities beyond what I could have imagined. The truth is, you’ll never really know what can happen and along the way, you might find yourself facing a great opportunity that you would have never expected. That’s why an important ingredient in this list is preparedness. I believe that one has to continuously learn, evolve, and grow and prepare one’s self for the best that is to come. A great opportunity may come but if you aren’t prepared for it when it does, then you will miss it.
The bottomline is: while I like to dream and create goals, I make sure to embrace the right attitude and equip myself with the skills that I need to make them happen. And during times when I drown in tasks, I take the time to step outside of my bubble to go through my list and remind myself of my priorities. A mentor once told me, “Everything is important, but not everything is urgent.” If what I am doing is not in any way helping me achieve my goals, then I have to either take on a different approach or completely eliminate it.
I don’t know if this approach applies to others and if anyone sees value in it, but it has worked well for me. It’s just the end of January but I have already crossed off 2 major goals from my list, and some minor goals (like the places I wanted to see for the month). Some may call it applying “the secret”, or some may call it fate or just a stroke of luck, but whatever you call it, in the end I think the recipe for making things happen is knowing what it is exactly that you want and actively working towards achieving it.
The photo above is the chalk art I did during our very first Brew Your Best Year event during the start of 2014. It represents one of my life mantras and serves as a reminder for me to keep pushing and to keep dreaming.