Tag Archives: i set goals

The problems with goal setting

I’m sceptical whether it is worthwhile to set up a set of goals for 2013, seeing that I’m annoying myself with not having achieved the goals I set for myself in New Year’s Resolutions 2012.

I became quite good at undertaking face to face interviews in 2012. I’ve learned to routinely establish rapport and professional authority with strangers within a few minutes. I’ve become good at putting on a professional act on the phone and in face to face meetings. I’m calmer and handle most people interactions better than before. I take uncertainty and changes in a calmer way.

Those are ‘life acting skills’ that come in handy – are essential even – in professional and social situations. But they were not on the list… I didn’t quite follow my plan for developing certain specific skills. Neither were any of the other things I gained & learned in 2012 planned and written down in advance. They also were not SMART:





Time bound

which is what goals ought to be according to conventional wisdom; otherwise it is hard to tell if something has been achieved or not.

I earned about 70% of the (low) income goal and worked towards getting better organised with mixed success.

Household chores board
Probably abandoned idea for household chore management

There is nothing wrong with the goals for 2012, except that I didn’t achieve them. They are all still valid and they did help to think through what I need to do and set a direction. That’s useful.

So should I a) congratulate myself for what I have achieved, or b) beat myself up for not achieving the goals I set? Not sure.

What I really want to achieve

I want to stop feeling lost. I want to know what I want. I want life to be meaningful. I want to understand the people dimension of life well enough to make sense and succeed as a human being. I can play roles, apply complex rules and appear perfectly human but underneath it all, I’m confused and busy mapping behaviour patterns and making new rules to fit. I break down the meaning of things meant to be take for granted. What I really want to achieve is clarity and direction.

And like last year and many years before, I need to find out how to develop professionally, find somewhere to belong and solve my income problems. I can think of ideas to achieve it, but I don’t believe in any of them. [— whining over —]

These are the essential issues so they are highly relevant, but as they aren’t quantifiable, specific, measurable or time bound, and maybe not even attainable, they won’t work as practical goals. Goal setting isn’t the right setting for essential goals. So here comes instead:

SMART goals for 2013

(Little steps in the right direction)

1. Read 10 booksI’ve set it up as a reading challenge on GoodReads. I like reading books, but these days the Internet is a major book-rival with its multitude of short-attention-span articles, social media and search functions. I want to read books to wind down some of the Internet flickr, focus in-depth more and over time become a better writer

2. Learn CSS, so I can design and/or tweak website layouts. A website is an essential element of virtually any business today, so I reckon that learning CSS plus spin-off knowledge can be a useful tool as a freelancer or graphic designer-copy writer team. And this time I have a simpler and better plan to carry out the learning objective.

3. Develop musically vocally and on piano. I’ll keep it brief: I’ll consider this objective met by 3 singing lessons and learning to play 3 songs on piano during the year. Ultimately I would like to be able to ‘sing & play’ for an audience on piano and vocal, but that’s a wish, not a goal.

4. Run every day like I used to. Running has for many years been my everyday ‘breathing hole’ that helps to keep everything else in balance. The challenge is to make it relaxing and recreative to run with our two big dogs that are now mandatory running buddies.

That means to keep working with them to make them cat- and dog- and surprise proof, calmer, fitter and faster* . And buy better equipment so I don’t need to hold on to the leashes all the time and fear to be dragged over the ground as after a band of wild horses.

Keeping in mind that these objectives aren’t the essential goals, I think that pursuing and achieving them will bring satisfaction and maybe even help to achieve the essential goals. So that’s it for 2013.

L.A. King and C.M. Burton in an article entitled, The Hazards of Goal Pursuit, for the American Psychological Association, argue that goals should be used only in the narrowest of circumstances: “The optimally striving individual ought to endeavor to achieve and approach goals that only slightly implicate the self; that are only moderately important, fairly easy, and moderately abstract; that do not conflict with each other, and that concern the accomplishment of something other than financial gain.

Psychology Today: Why goal setting doesn’t work by Ray Williams

Related stories

*How it is now: they love to come on the runs but quickly tire and then tow after me like giant snails with legs. Until they eye a cat and suddenly explode… or their leashes get tangled, in which case they stop and wait to be untangled (happens a million times on each run).


Life goals revisited

Earlier this year I outlined five major goals for 2012:


  1. Income: earn enough to pay my fair share of the bills and stop panicking about payments
  2. Professional development: find / develop a sound professional niche
  3. Time management: get important things done in time and learn to manage work efficiently
  4. Marriage: contribute more and pay more attention
  5. The fun side: develop musically and in other life quality aspects


Calvin and Hobbes
or maybe not (Calvin & Hobbes)

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Employment obstacles in Sydney’s Southwest (for me)

There are not a lot of jobs down here where we now live. That became obvious when I searched for jobs on the usual major online job portals like SEEK and Australian Job Search and added in our new postcode, or filtered the job results for ‘Sydney Southwest/M5 corridor’.

I am looking for menial pay-the-bills jobs like cleaner, data entry, basically anything I can do*, and the result list was ridiculously short.



I could of course look for work in Sydney and commute. Commuting comes with a cost in terms of time, petrol, road toll**, and wear on the car (= workshop bills), though, so the income needs to be worth it. For a part time job, the insane travel time and cost of commuting to Sydney is unlikely to pay off.

The average peak hour travel speed on the M5 motorway, which is the geographical life-line between the Southwest and Sydney, is about 35 km/hour (the Daily Telegraph quoting RTA, Feb 2011) although the speed limit is 100 to 110 km/hour most of the way. And it isn’t only bad in peak hours, see:



There is also a nasty long tunnel to trap people underground in bumper to bumper slow motion for a looong time. I don’t complain: this the price people like us pay to afford a house. We are “Westies’ now, and happy … well knowing how lucky we are to have a house.

So in the near future I’ll have a closer look on the work-from-home options, such as:

1. Try harder with freelancing

I start to think that work-from-home isn’t just an option, but my only option after all.
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