I’m a self-confessed productivity and personal development addict. My Kindle is full of business and self-help content (although not the cheesy kind), and my browser history even more so. Whenever I’m walking, I’ll plug into the latest podcast episode on how to make the most out of life and work.
So I’ve known about goal-setting and how to do it for a pretty long time. Even then, I never really managed to set meaningful personal goals. I would write a list of things that I thought would be nice if they happened, like learn German, or run a 10k, but never wrote them down with serious conviction. Within the first couple of months of the year, I would forget all about the lofty goals I had set, and find myself again at the end of the year without having achieved any of them, or not really remembering what I had written in the first place.
That’s all changed this year
Once I realized that 2018 would be the year to finally move back home after 8 years abroad, I knew it was high time to kick my life into gear, and get myself primed for new opportunities and make the most of my remaining time in the region. So for the first time, I got serious about my goals for the year.
This meant actually writing them down in a place I could easily access from all my devices (i.e. not the latest pretty notebook I would buy and later misplace), and reviewing these goals on a frequent basis. Placing my goals front and centre of my attention meant I could no longer procrastinate on actually taking action on them.
By doing this, I feel like I’ve already achieved much more in four months than I have in three years.
Now I really wish I had taken goal-setting more seriously before.
So with the purpose of really taking my goals seriously, I’m publishing most of them below, with notes on the progress I’ve made so far. I don’t believe in sticking to unrealistic goals. As long as I’m making good progress, I see no problem with deleting or refining them depending on the circumstances.
Main 2018 Goal: Quit my job, go travelling around Asia for three months, and be back home in time for Christmas.
Progress: I quit my job this week! It was a huge relief to get this off my chest and let my colleagues know so we can work together on making this transition work well. I’ve given five months notice, so I’ll be working hard to contribute as much as I can, and helping to recruit someone awesome to replace me.
Savings Goals: I like financial goals because I can track my progress every month when I fill out my little spreadsheet. I really need to try to maximise my savings right now because I don’t know if/when I will be getting another steady job, and I’m going to be heading back to a place with MUCH higher living costs.
Goal 1: Increase my net worth by 20% from the December 2017 figure. This is quite modest, since I won’t be working for the last three months of the year.
Goal 2: Average 60% savings rate from January – September.
Progress so far: Although these seemed so reasonable at the beginning of the year, I’m actually now doubting I will meet these. My net worth is only up by 4% as of March, because the value of my investments in my ISA and pension taking a hit over the past few months. My expenses in April were also super high for reasons related to other goals, and this will knock down my average savings rate.
Earning Goals: I’d like to delay getting back into 9-5 work as much as possible once I’m back home. Commuting and getting to grips with a new job doesn’t leave much headspace for figuring out what I really want to do with my life. So I need to prep myself for alternatives.
I’ve known for a while that I should look into different side hustles, and try to develop passive income. Apart from earning a few bob here and there for some short online tasks, I’ve never put in the work to develop bigger side projects that might net me some passive income, or new income streams. I haven’t set a goal to earn a certain amount of additional money this year, but I have committed to learning about different opportunities, and taking action, however small.
Progress so far: I’ve made a list of possibilities for little businesses and side hustles, and have spent some time investigating some of these. I’ve started putting some steady work into one particular idea, but have to do more research into other ideas.
Learning Goals: There are so many skills that I have wanted to develop in recent years, and some of these are related to exploring alternative income streams. This year I plan to read 52 books (fiction and non-fiction), enroll in different courses related to my career and interests, start learning German again, and develop some mentoring/coaching skills.
Progress: I’m a bit behind on my reading goal because I mistakenly chose to start reading Les Miserables, which clocks in at 1,232 pages! But I’m sailing through on other goals. I finished up a course book on accounting that has been sitting in my office for two years, I started doing 10 minutes of fun German learning a day (thanks Duolingo), and I just enrolled on a two-month sewing course. Since I’ve been wanting to develop my mentoring/coaching skills, I applied and was accepted as a mentor on a program that mentors future female leaders in Asia. After spontaneously starting this blog this week, I can add other skills/knowledge to the list.
Health Goals: My goals for this year are about experimenting with different challenges/detoxes to see if any of these habits stick. This includes doing a dry month (no alcohol), trying out veganism for month, exercising every day for a month, giving up sugar for two weeks, and going on a social media detox (for mental health).
Progress so far: I successfully completed a dry January and vegan February, and tried to exercise every day in March (January was surprisingly much easier than the other months). I took some action on deleting a bunch of addictive apps on my phone (I’m looking at you, Instagram), but still need to do a proper week-long detox at some point, since I know the unproductive side of the internet will hook its tentacles around me again as it always does.
Travel Goals: Since this will be the last year my partner and I will be living in Asia, I really want to make the most of my time by exploring more of Bangkok, going on trips while I’m still working, and planning our three month adventure at tail end of the year.
Progress: We went to China this month, which has been at the top our our travel list for ages. And we’ve gone on a handful of microadventures around Bangkok, exploring little neighborhoods we’ve never been to. We’ve still got to do a lot of planning to pull together a kick-ass itinerary for October to December.
And that’s a wrap
Phew! It was a bit exhausting running through all the things I want to do this year, but this impending life change has forced me to finally get off the couch and take action after years of reading and listening to advice about designing a new life on your own terms.
It’s amazing to see what I’ve already managed to accomplish with some razor sharp focus. I hope to keep up the momentum, motivation, and energy so I can report back at the end of the year with some good results.
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