Finding Clarity


It is somewhere in the second week of Feb and I feel like I am just now waking up. While I do admirably well with keeping up appearance, I am arguably one of the most scatterbrained people I know and every day seems like an experiment in maintaining some semblance of order. Yes I make ‘To do’ lists faithful, and there are days when I actually spend 4 hours at my desk working, but it is hardly ever in accordance with the list. It is almost like having an item on the list actually encourages me to veer off to another. In the end the lists become reminders of all the things I should attempt to do the next day.

Surprising though, I do manage to get out of bed, perform the customary hygiene maintenance routine, get to work, put in the hours, feed and find my way home and somewhere along the way I leave behind, unfinished text messages, phone calls that were never returned, emails forgotten in draft mode, and books that never got read to the end.

As part of the endeavour to put my life in order, I set myself goals and challenges and sign up for paid memberships and so on and so forth. This, as anyone that has ever suffered from serial procrastination knows is not a real deterrent.

At the beginning of this year, holed up in an upstairs bedroom in an apartment in Haarlem, The Netherlands, watching the never ending fireworks display, I took the time to consider what I had set out to do in 2015  against what I achieved (The easier thing to do would have been to only consider what I achieved)

2015 Goals  vs Achievements             

  • Make More Art: I did, I ventured into more drawings and learnt a lot from that
  • Read at least 2 books a monthI did, and even more but the quality of some of the books was not that good to be honest. My favorite was Stephen King’s Memoir on writing which I hope to read again in this life time. In 2016 I hope to read more worthy material.
  • Learn French: I did not *hangs head in shame. Somewhere along the way, I met a wonderful Dutch girl and decided to start learning Dutch instead. This month I got the babbel bill for 20 something dollars – in the course of 3 months, I had only gotten as far as 4 of 21 lessons. 
  • Visit Malaysia: I did not, I ended up going to the Netherlands to spends some time with the afore mentioned  Dutch girl. Malaysia, and my friend Maya are still high on my list. 
  • Meet soulmate:  I know, this is an odd thing to have as a goal, but really what I was trying to do with that is be more outgoing and make more of an effort or accept the possibility of dying alone. So I took out a paid membership on two websites, met some interesting people and somewhere somehow met someone in a place I wasn’t even looking. 
  • Eat Healthy, exercise 4 times a week. I did not do this to the degree I wanted, but I started making my own meals which has been really good. Exercise had good months and slow months and I kept switching up the routine. I intend to have a more stable routine this year.
  • Write short story (ies): I did not write last year and did not contact my writing coach once, I don’t know where the year went, but I blame it on me. I need to stop talking about this and just do it. 
  • Save 25% of my income: This worked out quite well, I have increased that number to 30% for 2016

I started this post to talk about my moment of clarity and then went off on a tangent.

So the 2016 focus in personal development is going to be Working harder on the creative side and starting a business. I am not quitting my day job but I am going to try to put my creative side to good use, so I will be building websites and doing commercial art (illustrations). In languages I will stick with my goal to learn Dutch.

The other endeavours like reading, writing, eating right, exercising and being more frugal are more long term lifestyle choice and not exactly goals or targets, they will not end after the year does, those are a constant that should remain.

How have you planned your 2016?

New Year, New Goals

It is now exactly 6 months to my 32nd birthday and I find myself almost 3 weeks into the new year and still putting the final touches on my goals for the year. At the start of the year, I was wondering why I bother when I could just pull up my goals from last year and start all over again. Since 2013, I have had the same items showing up on my list – Read two books a month (if Zuckerberg can find time to do it, surely so can I), Write creatively, Make More art, Save 35% of every franc I make, Eat clean, Lose weight – In 2013, I was around 64kg/132 lb,  my goal had been to bring this down to the recommended 60kg/120lb for my  5,1′, frame. I am now 70kgs and my goal is more modest – first, make it back to that 64kgs that seemed so undesirable all those years ago.

This year, I have added a few more items to the list, and also changed my approach to attaining those goals. This is my new list.

  • Read at least 2 books a month – Y/A books don’t count since I can go through one of these a day on a weekend.
  • Write a short story or 1500 words a month towards a novella.
  • Meal prep my lunches
  • Order out at most one meal, once a week.
  • Make $300 in nonsalaried income a month. – easiest strategy for this would be a good art or design project
  • Save 40% of every franc I make
  • Walk at least 3 days a week for at least an hour
  • Formally register and start a part time business.
  • Be kind to people
  • Retain my inner sense of peace
  • Be a better partner
  • Be more frugal. Initial strategy, only buy what I need, let go of what I do not and for heaven’s sake, clean out my closet!

That is it. I figure it is easier to break it down to small achievable goals, rather than giant far away targets. I am certain that I can easily do these without much more effort on my part from what I am currently doing. In fact this is the baseline. What I am really hoping for is to astonish myself by exceeding my own expectations by a whole lot and as an extra bonus prove to myself that I am much better than the procrastinating time waster I have slowly been turning myself into over the last few years.

Here’s to a glorious 2016.