How Do I Take My Goals Seriously Enough To Achieve Them?

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(Image: Ethan Lofton)

“Hi Celes! I have a question. I’m having a hard time getting to where I want to be on life, because I feel like I’m not taking myself seriously, and hence wasting my potential. How do I take my goals seriously enough to achieve them? Because I find myself slacking and being late to important places.” — Mirna

Hi Mirna, about 2.5 years ago in 2009, I did an exercise to predict my future.

I predicted where I would be a year from then, based on how I was leading my life. The evaluation was done based on the key areas of the life wheel. I was already taking action on my goals then and was building up my personal development business with good results, but I felt that I was not moving as fast as I could. I felt like I was stagnating, in a way.

The results I got jolted me out of my state. What I saw was nothing to be proud of.

In my career, I was working on my personal development business almost daily then. However, I was doing it in an untargeted fashion. I was spending a lot of time on the unimportant, 80% low-impact tasks vs. what mattered. I predicted that by continuing what I was doing, I’d have a bigger blog a year from then, with 4-5k subscribers (I was at 1-2k subscribers at the time).

While it would be higher than my subscriber base of 1-2k subscribers then, it was nothing impressive. It was a given that my blog would grow since I was devoting due time and effort, but 4-5k subscribers weren’t anything to shout about — not if that was my key metric of performance, and not if I had been running the site for two years.

Finance-wise, I was earning about S$1.5-2.5k per month then, a positive start for a new business. However, I was focusing on building my business vs. revenue generation, and was not executing any new monetization strategies. Hence, I predicted little change in my income a year from then. I predicted that I would probably be earning about the same amount.

Health and fitness-wise, it wasn’t good too. I was on a vegetarian diet but was bingeing ever so often and eating junk food here and there. I was making an effort to exercise, but it wasn’t as frequent as I would want ideally. Prior to that, I was slowly gaining weight year-on-year for the past 5-6 years. I predicted I would gain 1-2kg every year moving forward.

With my relationships, I predicted I would be with the same friends, at the same level of connection, not having moved forward in how we relate with each other. With my family, I predicted it would get better since I was making effort, but only marginally so. With love, I predicted I would still be single, and not have found someone I was truly interested in.

The picture I saw was depressing. It wasn’t in line with my ideal vision for myself. In my ideal vision, I saw myself doing much better in my career. I wanted to be at my ideal weight, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. I desired to have more meaningful friendships than what I was having. I wanted to be in the best possible relationship with my family. Income-wise, while I was able to sustain myself on that income (in 2009), I wanted to see progress as part of a growing business.

It was a huge wake-up call for me. From that moment on, I was on a mission to get my act together.

I prioritized the areas to work on, with career being the first, followed by health, then relationships. I saved the prediction results in a simple text file on my Windows desktop, as a reminder of what my life would be if I continued what I was doing. I would open the document every now and then as a comparison checkpoint on how I was doing vs. the prediction.

For my career/business, I set myself out to achieve 10k subscribers and more for PE. I devised a traffic generation plan and set out to execute that. I went on a massive guest posting spree, writing over 40 quality guest posts in the next year. I advertised my blog on selected, targeted sites. I also marketed my content regularly on key social media channels.

By the end of 2010, Personal Excellence hit 20k subscribers, was featured in international media such as CNN and Business Insider, and became one of the leading blogs on personal development. I was featured on national TV (Channel News Asia, a reputed Asia news broadcaster) for the first time, a huge milestone in the development of my business.

Income-wise, it has grown multiple-fold in the past couple of years. Today, I earn more than enough to sustain my goals and expenses. The bulk of my income is also now passive, whereby I don’t need to trade my time for money, hence allowing me to pursue my personal endeavors such as traveling and connecting with people around the world. Read: Ask Celes: How Are You Earning Money When You Don’t Have a Job?

While I continued to grow my blog/business, I worked on my health and fitness next. In January this year, I conducted the 21 Days To Live a Healthier Life Challenge as part of my desire to improve my own diet and fitness. In Feb 2011, I went on a 21-day fast and cleansed myself physically and emotionally. I lost 8kg of actual weight (not water weight) from the fast, adopted a healthier diet thereafter, and restored my relationship with food.

In the meantime, I worked on improving my relationship with my parents. In May this year, I finally achieved resolution which I wrote about in the series How I Found Peace in My Relationship with My Parents. Today, I’m at peace in my relationship with my parents. We’re able to speak to each other in a way we were never able to do so before. We express concern in our language of love and appreciate each other for who we are.

For my friendships, I developed closer bonds with my friends. I established new friendships with like-minded people. My travels in the past few months (around Europe) have led me to meet many amazing people, a number of which have come to be best friends, and who are so close that I regard them as family.

As for romance, I came to many new realizations in this area recently. I gained insight into the kind of person I would be interested in. I realized I was placing a lot of expectations on someone who didn’t even exist in my life yet, and began to let go of these expectations. I realized that to be with someone should not be a goal, but should only happen when I meet someone who shares similar values and agendas in life as I do. I realized that I’m totally okay not to be with someone or not to get married, because I’m complete as myself.

My reason for sharing all of the above is to let you know the point when things changed was when I decided to stop screwing around and get my act together. I realized that unless I changed my actions, nothing was ever going to change.

Life is a choice. Our life is what we make it out to be. If all we do is sit around and slack, while lamenting about how we are slacking, then we *really* can’t blame anyone when we end up with a life of nothing, because that’s our fault. If we decide to get our act together and take action on our goals though, then that’s what we will get — due results in those areas.

If you feel that you’re not taking yourself or your goals seriously, you need to ask yourself this — Are you okay to live a life of mediocrity? Are you okay to waste your life away? Are you okay to screw up your life, which you only get to live once, or are you prepared to get your act together?

Because if you truly understand the above, you wouldn’t be waiting around for things to happen. No one’s going to come in and achieve your goals for you. You’ll be taking action as if your *ss is on fire and like there is no tomorrow, simply because you know that nothing is ever going to happen as long as you don’t act on your goals and dreams.

Stop being the howling dog. It’s time to get our act together and live the life we are meant to live.

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