If you are already living a successful and happy life, you should not read this article. If there is a void in your head that your life is not as successful or as happy as you want it to be, then read on.
Words do not come to me easily so I always like to start my blog post with a quote. Here we go:
You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands, your own — Mark Victor Hansen
There is something about writing down your goals. It helps to solidify and prioritize your goals. It allows you to examine and determine which ones are important, and which ones are not. It also make it possible for you to review your progress on those goals later on.
The purpose of this blog post is for me to put my goals in writing, make it a bit more mentally solidified or concrete for me so that I can review my progress on these goals later on. Some people believe that goals should be kept private fearing that if someone else know your goals, they can do things to prevent you from obtaining those goals or harm you in some ways perhaps emotionally, mentally, or physically in some way.
Some people recommend that you should tell your goals to your close friends like a declaration so that they can occasionally ask you about where you are with your goals and perhaps help you to obtain those goals. I am in a position that I do not care if any people know my goals.
I also hope to share with you some of the things that I learned from other people about setting goals so that you can be on your way to living a successful and balanced life, a life that we are all meant to live.
It is now September 16, 2016. I am currently without a job, and it is not a good situation to be in regardless of whether you love or hate your job, especially if you are the only source of income for your family. In some way, the concept of a job is the worst invention ever. It is a form of modern slavery especially if you do not enjoy what you do or you do not have any influence because there are too many changes at the top level and your voice just get lost in the ether.
There were times that I love my job. There were times that I severely hate my job. Being so tied to a job can severely damage your personality and destroy your life. You just have to know when you need to move on, and sometime you just have to hang on to it to support your family or yourself.
There were also times that I hate my job, but appreciated the fact that I have a job because it is better than not having one. One of the secret to living a happier life is to count your blessings, and appreciate what you have. It could be worse. You may also have heard the expression that when one door close, another door might be opening. We just have to look for it. I am optimistic.
Let me back track and talk about my background a bit. I came from a communist country, Vietnam. In Vietnam, my family was heavily suppressed for political reason. While growing up in Vietnam, I did not have hope for a better future. Everything was very dark and hopeless. Fortunately, thanks to the help of Vietnamese people living abroad in America, and the US government, my family came to America as refugees when I was 15 years old (more than 25 years ago) through an agreement between the US government and the Vietnamese communist government. I heard that the US government paid the Vietnamese government some money per family or person.
After leaving the suppressed Vietnam and came to America, the sky was the limit for me. I attended high school for 3 years, went to university for a year, but due to severe back pain, my doctor recommend me to join the military, or he would have to smash my backbone and reassemble it. After spending 4 years in the US military, I went back to school, but then find myself having to get a job to support myself and subsequently have to drop out of school. A couple of wrong decisions or unfortunate situations can really throw your life off course, and really screw your life up (it will never be the same as you want it to be).
So far I have been part of the civilian workforce for about 15 years now, and this was my third lay-off. Each time I was laid-off, it took me about a year to find a job. My first real job was really stressful. I had a bad power-strip boss. She was not actually my boss, but she made trouble for everyone. The economy was not doing well, and I was expecting my first child. The lay-off caught me by surprise. The second lay-off was similar to the first. At the time of the second layoff, my second child was at least 3 or 4 years young.
Because my wife stay at home to take care the kids, I am the only source of income for my family, and we learned from these layoff experiences. We save as much as we possibly can without sacrificing too much of life’s little pleasures. We still take the kids to movies and ice cream from time to time, and enjoy vacations, and do fun activities. We are not rich, but we have a decent amount of money save in a few retirement account, and we can tap into those in the worst case scenario.
We are optimistic people. We learned that we will always survive somehow. This is my third layoff, and I doubt that it would be my last if I continue to work at the lower level as an engineer (I have ideas on how an engineering department should be run, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to be part of such engineering department yet). I used to think that having another layoff would have a devastating effect on my self-esteem, but this time it does not seem like that, at least not yet. Sometime I have bad thoughts, worries, and nervousness, but so far, it is manageable.
Somewhere along the way, I somehow got an idea in my head that I must be super successful by climbing to the top of the corporate ladder, which is somehow quite hard for me to do ethically. I have friends that do better than me. I am not jealous. I am happy for them, but it seems that I do not have as much luck as them. I must be doing something wrong, or life seems to always give me difficult situations. Or, I have not been thinking enough about how I want my life to be.
Like most people, I heard about the benefit of meditation, and yoga, and one day in 2013, after a long day at work, I went to YouTube to find out how to do meditation. The search result also included videos on other things, such as music to help you sleep, the law of attraction, the law of success. I’ve always been interested to know more about scientific and psychological laws, so I search deeper into these laws.
As I watched these “meditation” videos and “law of attraction” videos, I realized that my life was off-balance. I was trying too hard at getting success and not having enough time for my mind to rest and enjoy life with my family. Since then I knew that having a balanced happy life is important, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I still felt that success is still important to me. Somehow, I felt that I have to prove to the world or someone that I can be super successful, otherwise, I have not given it my best effort, and is not living to my full potential. I felt that I have to figure out my life’s single ultimate passion and purpose.
Along the way, I questioned myself “why should I climb the corporate ladder when we can create it?”. I think that many people living in the US had hoped to be loved, appreciated for their effort, promoted, and financial promotion is a typical way for company to express their appreciation. In other words, I think that majority of people want to climb the corporate ladder. Maybe you are lucky, you enjoy your job, and you have a good boss who take good care of you, and you don’t care about climbing the corporate ladder.
For me, I haven’t got much success with climbing the corporate ladder. I also realized that I do not have to climb the corporate ladder if I can create the corporate itself, but creating the corporate itself is also a lot of work. I am not afraid of hard work. I tried, but did not succeed. I am not giving up, but I question myself:
- How much effort and sacrifice am I willing to put in in order to get there?
- What is my lifelong purpose and passion after I get there?
Surely, there must be more to life than financial success. During a trip, I realize that perhaps my lifelong purpose is not financial super success, and perhaps I was trying too hard to get there that I burn myself out from time to time. Perhaps the purpose of life is for you to enjoy it, and make a little positive difference in the life of others if you can.
Here are a few more quotes about life:
God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well – Voltaire
If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way – Napoleon Hill
Are you not having goals, and not living a successful and happy life because you are still looking for your life’s single ultimate passion or purpose that is so high that you are suffering from it?
For a long time, I’ve struggled with figuring out my life’s purpose, but here is the thing: We do not have to figure out our lifelong goal, passion, or purpose. Those can change as we go along and learn new things.
It good to have realistic achievable goals, and it is also good to have a relatively stretched goal. As long as you keep achieving those those little goals, doing little things that matter, enjoy doing it, you are living life.
We just have to keep trying different strategies, tweaking, and be persistent. Failure is not necessarily a bad thing. Failure is the mother of success. You don’t fail until you give up. And giving up on a small thing so that you can focus on a bigger thing is not really giving up.
If Darwin was right, human had been living in the cold for billions of years, and we invented all these nice things that we have, so the purpose life must be to enjoy those. On the other hand, if God made us in his image, I am sure that he want us to enjoy life too.
If can’t figure out what your life’s big ultimate purpose is, at least you can make your life impactful in some way. Life is a gift, live it, color it, enjoy it, make it great, and make it impactful in some way if you can.
We do not have to care about what other people think of us. We do not have to prove anything to anyone. The only one that you have to prove anything to is yourself. We may never be able to find our life’s single ultimate passion or purpose unless keep trying different things.
Here are my goals:
- Get a single family house that is bigger than my current townhouse. It should have a garage for two cars, a room for exercise equipments (a treadmill, a weight bench, a gym rack that I can bench, do chest exercise, pull-up, leg exercise, a boat rowing thing), a room for ping pong), two rooms for my kids, a room for other people, a room for my office, a master bedroom, a living room. This is not my ultimate dream home yet. I will eventually also acquire another separate home as my ultimate dream home, which is based on this but without the rooms for other people. Instead of the rooms for “other people” that I am currently living with, there will probably be a couple of rooms for guests, or I will be using those extra rooms for reading, entertainment, etc. My dream home would also include sky lights, a patch of asphalt or concrete so that I can walk on it with my barefoot, and enough space for my grand kids and guests.
- Acquire a four-plex. I may need to accomplish this goal first and use it as a stepping stone to accomplish the first goal.
- Have 10 million dollars in the bank by my 50th birthday. I am 42 years young now. When Jim Carey set his goal for 10 million dollars, he give himself a 3 year span. Perhaps other people give themselves a 10 years span. But I rather accomplish this goal by my 50th birthday rather than my 52nd birthday. If I do not fully accomplish this by my 50th birthday, I am ok with that as long as I am on target to accomplish it by my 52nd birthday. Even then, this is still a soft goal as long as I am on my path to accomplish financial freedom or time freedom and enjoy my life responsibly.
- Establish a foster facility. At this age, It is humanly beyond my capability to go back to school, and be able to create my own corporate, or figure out my lifelong purpose. If I missed my chance, at least I will have the pleasure of raising a child that can do spectacular thing for me. My two kids are good kids, but as most kids, they want to live their own lives, and that is ok. My foster kids probably won’t do spectacular things neither, and that is fine too, as long as I make a positive difference in their life. In a way, I feel obligated to help someone else because I was helped, and I just want to pass on the favor.
- Get involved in politics. It is 2016, an election year in the United States, and there is a lot of information on the Internet but it is not very clear, unless you can afford to take time to verify the information. 2016 is also the year that I started to learn how to use Twitter, and after sometime, somehow Twitter started to suggest that I should follow politicians and most of their profiles say “proudly serving …”. I guess that they all start out with the passion of serving people, but with so much corruption, I wonder if these politicians still have the integrity in them. Somehow, along the way, I had the notion in my head that public position is about serving the people, and advancing humanity, and if I want to make my vote count, I need to be a truth seeker, or be involved in politics. I need to work for a news organization, be deeply involved in some non-profit organizations. I may eventually run for a public office. If I do run for public office, I have to be mentally prepare to deal with corruption. The idea of working for an “open government” or “government 2.0” company is very interesting to me.
- Operate (or perhaps own and operate) a recycling center, and learn how to use robots to improve the recycling operations.
I have other goals and ideas written down in my Google Drive. Those are probably less important, but I probably should review those some other time. When establishing your goals, it is good to be concrete and specific. When setting your goals, it is important to include yourself and your family. After all, you and your family are an integral part of this world. It is important to know what you want. Put yourself first. When you can experience the life that make you happy, you have more energy to be of service to others.
When setting your goals, it is important to have strategies or plans on how you will accomplish those goals. The first two goals seem realistic for me. Perhaps I can achieve the first two goals by finding another job, or two, or try some ideas from another article listed below (actually it is a discussion on Quora). The other goals are a bit of a stretch for me. I do not know exactly how I can accomplish those, but I trust that I will find ways to accomplish those somehow.
If you find it hard to set your own goals, adopt my goals, or just make up a simple arbitrary goals that seem relevant to you. As long as you try out different things, push your boundary or comfort zone, and enjoy life, you are living it.
There are a few other realizations that I want to share with you (perhaps not directly related to setting goals but more on living a happier life):
- Bad feelings such as depression or feeling sad do not do any good. As soon as you notice feeling sad, change your thinking, do something different, watch a funny video on YouTube, exercise, do something that are productive or meaningful for you or other people. Do not let those sad feeling permeate, get to you, or affect you. There is no point blaming yourself if you fail to get stuff done for whatever reason. Just pick it up and continue where you left off.
- If you feel angry at someone, regardless of who they are, talk about it with that person, scream about it at that person if you have to, get it out of your system, and let it go. Holding on to anger is very harmful to your health and your life.
- Not having goals is fine if you are already living a happy life. Financial success may not be worth it if you have to sacrifice your happiness, time with your family, or little life pleasure.
- Your health is an integral part of living a happy life. Eat the right thing. Consume only as much as you need. Sleep and exercise. Take good care of your health.
- Every day, every minute, every second is a blessing from the sky. We do not know what may happen next. Live the moment to its fullest.
- Serving people. When reading the Mark Twain’s biography, I realize that perhaps he enjoy being a steamboat pilot because he was serving the people. Good chefs, restaurants, and hotels make their profits focusing on serving people.
- Life can be as miserable as it can be, or it can be as happy as you choose to see it. Just get out there and do thing the best way that it can be done, create, enjoy, and share the fruit of your labor.
Here are some more quotes to digest and think about:
If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember also that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped – Melinda Gates
Good things come to those who wait… greater things come to those who get off their ass and do anything to make it happen – Unknown
You will find the key to success under the alarm clock – Benjamin Franklin
Don’t let success go to your head, and do not let failure get to your heart – Will Smith
Fall seven times, stand up eight – Japanese proverb
Here are some interesting videos:
- Morning Ritual – How To Be Productive, Happy & Healthy Everyday
- The Key to Working Less and Making More Money
- What Oprah Learned from Jim Carrey
Here is the link to the discussion that I mentioned above. It is about 160 pages when printed. It contains a lot of replies from different people offering insight on how they make money and enjoy life. To read this discussion, visit: https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-realistic-ways-to-get-rich-in-5-years.
Stay hungry, foolish (open-minded), positive. Create, invent, and share your creation.
About me: I am a software engineer. As I write this post, I realize that my passions include protecting the environment, fighting for social justice and causes, and sharing the good life.