What is the point of this blog?
After much thought and careful consideration I decided to write a blog to re-focus my energy and to give myself the motivation to get stuff done and hopefully improve many areas of my life.
To be honest, previous attempts at self-improvement by myself have failed and having done some reading on this recently I believe I have discovered why.
Firstly, in the past, I’ve never really had a clear image in my mind of exactly what I wanted to change and I’ve never visualised what my life would be like if I had achieved my goals – This begs the question, would my life have been better or more fulfilling if I had?
Secondly, none of my previous goals have been specific enough to be measurable.
As the saying goes, “if you don’t know where you are heading how do you know when you have got there?”
Setting up goals is easy enough, though. It’s the execution of said goal that fails!
On reflection, in the past my goals have failed because they were too general and not measurable.
There is a theory that goal setting works best if they are specific, and are measured. There should be a clear road map for achieving goals, typically this means splitting them down into chunks (milestones if you wish).
What Am I looking to Improve?
I have broken down the goals into 5 pillars “Health”, “Family”, “Work”, “Finance” and “Personal Development”.
When you have big goals a really great way to make sure you keep going and keep improving has been shown to be splitting your tasks into smaller more achievable goals. Your micro improvements these compound over days, weeks and months until you reach your bigger goal.
A great book that looks at how making small insignificant actions can create huge transformations can be seen in The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.
For each of the Five Pillars I intend on improving, I will outline the following:
- The Goal outcome
- How I intend to measure the goal
- What action I will take to realise the goal
Executing Multiple Goals
When I set out my goals I was concerned about creating several simultaneous goals and if they would impact on each other, which would ultimately mean I was setting myself up for fail at the very start.
When you learn to juggle starting with 5 balls is a bad idea!
I read a great article by James Clear that discusses the scientific approach to goal setting it gives some great ideas on what to avoid when setting goals and how best to achieve them. If you’re interested in getting the best out of setting goals I highly recommend reading this article!
James advises and this makes sense against setting too many goals at once, as they may compete, meaning it’s better to focus on one goal at a time.
With this in mind, I have decided to split the goals into different periods of focus.
The issue with goals is often not the problem of goal setting but goal selection.”Says James Clear.
Whilst the advice suggests focusing on one goal and trimming the “goal fat” so to speak, my overall target is over one-year so I can focus on one particular goal or related goals at one time.
For example, my health and work goals will be on going for the whole year and beyond. In contrast my personal development goals will be focused for a particular period.
Also some of my goals I’ve set for myself can be attained by focusing on them for just a few minutes each day.
As I said in my about page, my health and fitness levels for the last 20-years have been fairly poor. I can go about daily life as much as the next person, but with lowered immune system, I pick up colds/infections quickly and attempts to get back into regular exercise have always been short lived, this has certainly had both a physical and psychological effect on me.
My health one-year goals:
- Reduce fat and maintain a healthy body weight – I am currently 67kg and clearly have belly fat (and very likely more dangerous visceral fat around my internal organs)
- Improve fitness / strength – My current level of fitness is low anything mildly strenuous takes a long time to recover from. I am looking to do simple body conditioning exercises 3-4 times per week.
- Improve energy levels – I have noticed that playing with my kids really takes it out of me. This is only going to get worse with age! I need to improve my cardiovascular conditioning and will look to be more active in general – walking/swimming.
How will I measure my health goals?
- Weight and more importantly body fat percentage – will use weighing scales that can calculate the body fat percentage and track these over the year in weekly intervals. Other health parameters to measure could be cholesterol, blood pH etc.
- Increased Strength – Simple body weight exercises; measure press ups, crunches and tricep dips. Which will be a simple count of how many of each exercise I can perform.
- Cardiovascular improvements – will use daily steps as one of the measures to show increased activity, which should coincide with better cardiovascular conditioning. [how about simple cardio test?] How will you measure the improvement
What action will I take?
- Start regular activity by increasing my daily steps
- Weekly and then daily body conditioning exercises for 5-10 minutes. Exercises such as crunches, press ups, star jumps and planks
- Activities with the wife (steady!), such as tennis or swimming
I have to admit I struggle being a family man. I believe I am selfish (some of my friends/family think so too – see feedback from family and friends).
Ever since my daughter was born 5 years ago, I have been determined to hold onto my independence. I regularly need time on my own.
So I find that incredible my wife, prioritises our kids over her needs/desires much better than me, which doesn’t leave a great feeling, don’t get me wrong, I love my family and I get great satisfaction from seeing them learning and growing up – It’s just my patience and willing to do “family stuff” can be sorely tested and often find I am not “in the moment”, where they are concerned.
In a worrying trend these days, I seek distraction with my mobile phone checking out more often than not, mindless fluff on social media. I suspect it is safe to say that the transition from carefree traveller to Husband and then Father hasn’t been as great as it could have. Things would have been considerably worse though, if my wife hadn’t been as tolerant and as amazingly supportive as she has.
My family one-year goals:
- Be in the moment – To quote a great dance tune by Armin Van Buuren, I want to “be in the moment” and be less prone to distractions, from my mobile phone or “work” when spending time with the family
- More wife time – It’s time for me to redress the balance where my wife and children are concerned and I want to place a greater priority on the time I spend with my loved ones. Specifically I need to devote more “us” time and rekindle the time we had together prior to children
- Reduce stress and frustration with kids – There is no denying it, I can get very stressed with the kids. The frustration has had me shouting at them and then I’ve avoided spending time with them
How will I measure my family goals?
- Tracking the mobile phone usage
- Record the number of “dates” with the wife
- Record the number of “stressful” moments
What action will I take?
- Reduce mobile phone usage during family time
- Set aside weekly “alone time” with the wife
- Spend more quality time with the kids, playing wth them and adopting strategies that will keep me calmer around the kids
- Meditation exercises to develop a calmer mind
After selling and closing all my previous business ventures I’m now without an income. This is really unsettling for me.
Even with savings, I want/need to be earning money, so I can be comfortable in the knowledge that my family’s net worth is increasing. This is in part because I have never had a sound investment plan – see my Finance Goals below. But also, I want to work as I really do enjoy working (despite what some of my friends and family think).
The 4-hour work week is not my goal, but the 4-hour work day would be perfect for me!
This approach would give me time for my online business ventures and give me time for my family..
My work one-year goals:
- Set up and grow a sustainable business – Have an online business that generates revenue and that can be a saleable asset in 2 – 5 years
- Improve my knowledge of online and social marketing –
- Improve my knowledge in paid traffic, namely; Facebook, Instagram
How will I measure my work goals?
- Setting realistic turnover and net profit goals
What action will I take?
- Research online opportunities
- Complete a couple of courses I have paid and undertake paid and social marketing
For years my financial goals were simple; own a UK property, be mortgage free and save into a pension, with enough to generate a reasonable retirement pension.
I did manage to have a mortgage free UK property and was saving a healthy amount into a UK pension. This all changed when we became expats living in Malaysia and for reasons outside of this particular article we sold our UK property.
So, my simple investment strategy changed dramatically, almost overnight.
Because I am an expat and the UK pension regulations I am unable to invest any significant money into my UK pension..
I am now faced with looking at other investment options, there are of course plenty – in fact there are so many that it’s downright confusing. The last thing I, or anyone else for that matter, want to do is to lose money after years of working hard and saving, right?
So this goal is about developing a strategy for my finances that will suit our lifestyle and the financially independent approach we have, I want to have, now and in the future.
My finance one-year goals:
- Passive investments for future growth – To put money into investments with a growth strategy for future spending
- Passive investments for income – Investment that can provide an income should we need it. Otherwise this can be used for future growth
- Reduce shopping – I really like shopping. This is fine to a degree but whilst I am not earning an income it’s not a good idea to be spending savings. I need to reduce this.
How will I measure my finance goals?
This will be fairly straight forward, in that I can use Net Worth as the main quantitative measure going forward.
During the last 6 months I have been tracking net worth in a simple excel spreadsheet. This allows me to easily see movement in various assets and how much savings are going down.
What action will I take?
- Research and speak to professionals in this area for solid finance strategies
- Consolidate existing investments with a strategy for each one
- To reduce spending I can track my outgoings and to keep to a more realistic budget
Personal Development Goals
I nearly didn’t include this here but wanted to have other outside interests that aren’t work related. It’s about balance at the end of the day isn’t it?
In the past I have really enjoyed music; more specifically producing dance music using my computer and a synthesiser.
My personal development one-year goals:
- Create a dance tune – It’s been a long-time since I have spent time producing music at home. Although I did invest in some software a few years ago I have yet to produce anything
- Learn Mandarin – My wife’s native language is Mandarin, her mum speaks little English, and my kids are becoming more fluent as the years go on. For years I have attempted to learn, but now I need to pull my finger out
- Picking my fingers – Since I can remember I have been picking my fingers red raw. A nasty habit that not only makes my fingers often look terrible, it’s truly unhealthy having open wounds on my fingers. In the Malaysian climate, It’s only a matter of time before I get a serious infection!
How will I measure my personal development goals?
- Easy, to have a dance track finished and published on SoundCloud and therefore available to anyone who wishes to download and listen. It would be amazing to have my track(s) played in a nightclub but I need to be realistic – but hopefully this will become a reality!
- In one-year’s time I should be able to hold a basic conversation in Mandarin with my family. I will research some linguistic tests so I can have a more quantitative measure of my ability.
- Instances of picking fingers should be zero, or at least significantly less than now. I could measure the times I pick my fingers
What action will I take?
- Set aside time to learn the software and creative time playing the piano to come up with a tune that I can use
- I have lots of books, CDs and cards at home to learn Chinese, so I need to devote the time and energy to go through them.
- I need to research techniques with which to stop this habit
Kicking off My One-Year Goals
Most goals are set in January with an optimistic aim of changing your life for the year ahead. Like everybody I have done this only to find a few weeks later they have gone by the wayside.
I am keen to act sooner than 2019.
I am going to kick start my one-year goals from the 1st October 2018, with the aim of achieving them by 1st October 2019.
I appreciate that this article glosses over the execution and measurable parts of my one-year goal setting. So for each area I will produce a follow up article that focuses more on that particular subject, in order to more clearly define the goal, actions and measurable.
Each month (or quarter?) I will be updating my progress for each of the four areas outlined above. I hope you check back and hold me to account.
I am interested to know any strategies to make this process easier – if you know or follow a particular approach then please do let me know in the comments below.