Year-end is a great time to review what we have done during the whole period. It’s time to reflect, ponder about what we have/have not accomplished so far, so that we can see whether we’re on the right track, or off track, whether there should be some course correction; or, better or worse, depending on how you look at it, we need to tear off and re-write the whole script completely, like what I did 6 months ago.
How often do you think a company should review its plan?
And how often an employee gets performance evaluation? Too bad we rarely see the need to review our own plan. I believe that if we all treat ourselves, and our lives, as if they were Fortune 500 companies, our lives would be much better on Earth.
Anyway, too much rambling, 2017 is a strange year for me. If someone had told me how my life would turn out like this after one year, I would have laughed in their face. See, I used to live with broken dreams and promises. Each day in life floated away the same way. Each night I laid down trying to sleep at night…feeling disappointed and unhappy with myself. You know what’s the worst kind of unhappiness? It’s self-unhappiness. I was in constant depression, because of knowing that so far I’d just wasted another day accomplishing nothing, and so tomorrow would continue to be dark & confusing for me. Then I would soothe myself by
happy pills promising that tomorrow I will try quitting cigarette another time, and this time I will succeed…Below are two of the many depressing entries I wrote in DayOne app during that period. Forgive me for the broken English. (If you’re currently in bad mood, then consider jumping to the next section)
“Reflection on the difficulty of quitting cigarette:
You want to get rid of it, and the moment you decide to leave it for good, you feel relieved, you feel good to be free at last. Yet, the next days finding yourself yearning for it, depending on it, seeking it, and yet you feel secretly disappointed when you smoke it. Such is the feeling, on the one hand, you want to be free, you know it’s harmful; on the other hand, you can’t break free completely. Imagine having a wife with the same situation. You want to leave, yet you can’t, for one reason or another. It’d be miserable if that’s the case.
That’s why i vow not to ever let myself into such situation, getting married with such a lady. I’d rather be alone, than to be with somebody, whom I later regret to get married, who would never let me go.”
“Reflection on the day before New Year Eve:
Another boring day goes by and I’m feeling more boring. I dont know what to do during the day, except reading PS Tinh Khong, sitting idly in coffee shop, and doing shows. I must find something meaningful to do. How can I fall into such a life? Because of my cowardice, my impatience, my lack of discipline, my laziness, my timidity.
I wonder when will I finally change, since I don’t even know to what I would change into? I don’t want to repeat ky days like this nothing to do, always failure and disappointment. What the f.c.u.k!
Ok so if I can’t quit by going cold turkey, then I’ll try the gradual way. Currently I don’t often smoke during daytime, only after sunset.
So, I’ll try from tomorrow until Sunday, to only smoke after sunset, max 3 cigarette daily, unless I have a party or something big happening.
Then, during the next week, I’ll smoke max 2 cigarette after sunset.
And the week after, I’ll smoke only 1 cigarette after sunset.
And then the week after that, I’ll smoke 1 cigarette every 2 days.
And then afterward, I’ll smoke 1 cigarette every 3 days.
Then, 1 cigarette every 4 days.
And so on, until I complete the week during week I only smoke 1 cigarette during those 7 days. Finally, I will break free from smoking.
A week considered to be successful, if I only blunder 1 time. For example, next week, during which I’m supposed to smoke only 2 cigarette after sunset, it would be successful if I fail only 1 time, meaning I can smoke more than 2 cigarette in any one given day, but no more days other than that particular day.”
So, a year went by, and things changed swiftly, so fast that I still think I am dreaming right now. I made 3 big achievements:
1. Quit smoking;
2. Become a vegetarian;
3. Start this blog.
Below is a full list of things I’m proud of:
1. Quit smoking since Jun 10, 2017 – This is not simply a goal, it’s my obsession. Every daytime I thought about it, planned for it, struggled with it; every night I dreamed about it. Even now, after 6 months going smoke-free, I still have nightmares about it sometimes, that I deliberately smoke back, and secretly enjoy the taste!
2. Stop reading trashy news (Internet, Facebook, YouTube)
3. Exercise daily, including weekend
4. Practice Muay Thai 2, 3 times a week
5. Meditate at least 1 hour daily including weekend – I’m a Buddhist practitioner, and my meditation involves chanting Amitābha (pronounce [əmiˈt̪aːbʱə])
6. Run 15 kms (9.3 miles) non-stop (total time 1h34’; avg pace 10’09” per mile) – I know it’s nothing compared to YOUR record, so I’d be pleased if you will look at it from the perspective of a guy, who’s never exercised a single day during the past 10 years
(Updated on May.3.18 – Run 32 kms (19.9 miles) non-stop (total time 3h44’; avg pace 11’15” per mile)
7. Become a vegetarian – I don’t eat meat, fish, or anything involve killing animals. I do consume eggs and dairy products
8. Wake up @ 4:30 am & Go to bed @ 9:00 pm daily including weekend
9. Adopt positive thinking mindset (find out more on this blog)
10. Have a place for everything, both physically and mentally
11. Start this blog
13. Develop over 10 good habits to turn my life around
And that’s why I call 2017 the best year ever in my life, so far, I hope. Apparently, I haven’t become financially independent, nor built a successful business, nor saved the world. But I’ve kept my own promises, started doing something that I’m passionate about, headed a new direction, turned my life around, and redeemed myself in the process.
Some people hold an opinion that New Year Resolutions do not work. There is a lot of truth in it. One reason is an ironic fact that very often we go great length to keep promises made to someone else, but not to ourselves. We’re all incurable failures at keeping our own promises.
Now is the time we reverse that trend. 2018 is the year that we turn our lives around.
On goal setting, I strongly believe that, a goal with a deadline without a list of daily actions is as good as a dead dream. A goal serves as the inspiration that gets us start; whereas daily actions are what get us finish.
Suppose you want to run a marathon in one year, your plan may involve daily running, controlling your diet, doing strength and cardio training NOW.
Or you dream of becoming a freelance writer by Jun 2018, your daily actions include, obviously, writing EVERY DAY FROM NOW (no? You’re kidding yourself, right?); learning what a normal life of a typical writer would be like; researching what sources of writing income are available, and which one you want to earn, and how to get that, etc.
Or you have a creative idea and want to build a successful business in 5 years, your daily action plan could be refining the product and attracting more customers.
So, I prefer goals that have: specific start date, flexible due date, and clearly-defined daily actions.
Besides, it’s critical to set goals in all major areas of life, which are: career, finance, health, personal development, social, spiritual. Each of these aspects stands like a column supporting a building; and if neglected, would wreak havoc on the rest of the structure.
And that’s exactly what happened to me in the past (read my story here). So, do not neglect any of these, one neglect leads to another. Do not pursue one goal at the expense of the others.
Moreover, having goals in all major facets of life allow us to switch our attention from one goal to another, depending on the scheduled activities of our days, so that we’re always working on our goals.
For example, at work, you’re working on your career goal. After heading home, you continue working on your social/ family/ relationship goals. Then, during your free time, you can start working on your health, personal development, finance, or spiritual goals.
Having goals in all aspects of life doesn’t mean we’re multi-tasking. It simply means we know exactly where we are heading to in life, and consciously choose the course of our life, rather than letting someone else, or the circumstance, dictates for us.
On the other hand, each area shouldn’t have more than one goal. Otherwise, we would spread our attention too thin. Focus on one thing at a time.
You will get a step-by-step guidance on setting goals that are not only inspiring, but also achievable in my next post. From my experience, whether we will achieve our goals in the next trial depend on 4 things:
1. First and foremost, we must try!
2. Outside help
3. Self help
Outside help is merely auxiliary. Helping ourselves, with a bit of luck are decisive factors.
Having said that, here are the major things that I will work on in 2018:
1. Meditate 1.5 hours on Mon-Sat, and 2 hours on Sun
This is to be done in 3 sessions. 1.5 hours is the time I’m planning. Yet, due to writing commitment, I might trim it down to 1 hour every workday and 1.5 hours on Sunday.
2. Earn at least $313 weekly from blogging (or $15,000 annually before tax) from Jun.30.18
I’m working full-time building EnjoyYrJourney.com. Right now I’m living on my saving. I know that following this path is much more challenging than working for paychecks. Even worse, I have no experience in writing and blogging. So, I aim to earn this much as a minimum to support the very basic living costs, so that I can continue working full-time to develop this blog without the need to find freelance work elsewhere.
Note that, in addition to meditating, this is my main focus in 2018. In fact, this is the only major goal that I have for 2018, namely, to create a sustainable income from EnjoyYrJourney.com.
However, this doesn’t mean I focus only on work and ignore all the remaining aspects of life. Actually, I’ve set some sub-goals to ensure the accomplishment of this goal, and these sub-goals cover the other areas: health, personal development, social, and spiritual.
3. Develop good habits
Habits dictate over 90% of our behavior. Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny
Right now I’m sowing the desire to build certain habits on paper. Then day-by-day I keep the list, perform the habits daily, and I update the list often.
And the rest remains to be seen.
4. Everyday living my dream life
I’ve laid out a set of daily activities for my dream life. Every single day I try to follow the schedule faithfully. This one certainly needs clarification. A dream life I’ve been longing for comprises 4 elements: freedom, challenge, self-expression, and contribution.
- A free life is when everything I do, I do it because it is an end in itself, not being a means to achieve the desired end. Ultimately, we all want happiness, yet not everything we do will bring us happiness. For example, we may work on a contemptible job to get money, then use the money as a means to pursue happiness. My dream is to be able to do the work that I love, no matter how much money I earn from it.
- My dream life must be challenging enough, so that it forces me stepping out of my comfort zone, not 24/7, but often enough so that my soul won’t die from boredom and routine.
If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It is lethal ~ Paulo Coelho
- Thirdly, I strongly believe that although everyone originates from the same life source, it’s our desire, and duty to express this sameness in a unique way. EnjoyYrJourney.com is my way of sharing this similarity. My story will be totally different from yours. Yet, you would find pieces of your own while listening to my struggles.
- Lastly, without meaningful contribution, we won’t be happy no matter how much productive we are. In a rush to climb the success ladder, people work hard to care for themselves and nothing else. Well, all by myself it’s a lonely life. We’ve all heard countless stories, of the successful, and depressed; of the rich, and self-indulgent; of the having-too-much-to-live-by, and nothing-to-live-for.
5. Finish reading 10 books below to improve writing skill
- Becoming a Writer, by Dorothea Brande
- On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, by William Zinsser
- Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder
- Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing, by Larry Brooks
- Naked, Drunk and Writing: Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay, by Adair Lara
- How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-by-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling, by James N. Frey
- CA$HVERTISING: How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone, by Drew Eric Whitman
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott
- Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, by Natalie Goldberg
I’ve set aside 1 hour daily dedicated to study and practice writing, of which 30’ spent on reading these books.
Note that I plan to “study” them carefully, not just read for entertainment. So, that may involve re-reading several times and practicing the concepts/exercises suggested in the books.
Thus, I don’t make a big deal that I must complete the 10 books by 2019, but I will study them from now on. For how long? As long as it takes, until I’m satisfied with my writing skill.
I don’t kid myself that my writing is perfect, and I treat writing just like any other profession; no longer a hobby, where I’d been on and off whenever inspiration struck me.
6. Gain basic blogging knowledge
I’ll spend 15’ daily studying blogging’s technical aspects. Actually, 15’ is minimum. I created EnjoyYrJourney.com on Dec.26.17, following exactly this guide. Surprise, surprise! It turned out, bringing the blog live is ONLY the first step on the journey of ??? steps, because there’re numerous other things I need to do (well, you can see for yourself by looking at this blog right?).
Yet, I don’t care however longer the heck it’ll take, I will work on refining it on daily basis.
7. Build sufficient audience
It’s hard to quantify an amount here. Readers are the lifeblood of a blog.
So, dear friend, I need you!
This means networking. However, this doesn’t mean I will spam everyone on Facebook, Twitter, etc. It means I will be more active on social media, rather than passively consuming news without interacting/commenting.
I will also try doing guest posts on popular blogs/sites/magazines. Will send them at least once weekly.
Next, will join freelance/writing/blogging communities to interact with the like-minded in the field.
Likewise, I will attend social events, seminars, local meet-ups, etc.
What Kind Of 2018 Would You Like?
Now it’s your turn. What kind of year would you like 2018 to be?
You want 2018 to be the year, when everything stays the same but better? Perhaps you yearn to take a diversion? Or you are in a slump and wish to turn your life around, like I did?
Think about it. Whatever we do, 2018 will pass by anyway, and we’ll all be 1 year older, but still have nothing better to show up on our cards. How many 2018 do we have? Only one.
Are you forever waiting and never arriving? For those who say “I’ll wait until…”, time won’t wait, time flies swiftly by. And there won’t be another better time to start.
The best time to start was yesterday, the next best is now.
And the third best, well, is the time you wish you would have started, when you sit there tiredly, exhaustedly, boringly, and regretfully reviewing your life, and it dawns on you that you’ve just wasted a lifetime of un-productivity, or idleness, or meaningless and passionate-less pursuits.
Perhaps you would moan, “Ahh, nothing hurts as much as life!” (My favorite line in Witcher 3 game). Well, it’s better to get hurt fighting for something that you want, rather than dying from the boredom and regret of a life not lived.
So, suppose you’re turned on, suppose you buy my idea, you may be unsure of what to do after you start your journey.
Don’t worry. Start the journey boldly, stay on the path, and tune in to this blog.
Here you will find inspiration and ideas to not only reach your destination, but also enjoy your endeavor.
In fact, I will show you how to set goals that are not only inspiring, but also achievable in the next post. I will be on your side.
Together let’s do something marvelous! Let the journey begin!
If you benefit from this post, share it with your loved ones, so that they benefit, too. When somebody shares, everybody wins!
and until our paths cross again, enjoy your journey!