When you were little, did you dream of being successful, of traveling the world, and accomplishing something bigger than yourself?
I woke up today dreaming about the past.
When I was in school, I felt everything was possible. I had endless potential to accomplish everything — as a matter of fact, I did accomplish everything that I set out to do as an immigrant moving from Taiwan at the age of 12. I wanted to make sure I’d be accepted into good colleges, make tons of friends, and push my limits athletically. It was nothing out of ordinary, but that was what I wanted to do, not what my parents wanted me to do or anyone else.
College was very much the same except my dream grew much bigger through the influence of others. I realized that goals and dreams should be greater than just getting into college. It should be about making a bigger impact in the world than when I first entered it. I saw amazing school projects that were funded and turned into great companies, I met people who traveled the world during their time-off, and I saw people who downed 20+ shots and could still manage to walk straight.
Therefore, I came up with a list things my junior year that I hoped to accomplish during my twenties, but…I fell short. I still remember that devastating feeling that I had in my late twenties knowing that I wasn’t able to accomplish everything that I had set out to do.
- Study Abroad (done)
- Live/Work Aboard (incomplete)
- Start a company (tried and failed)
- Get married (done)
A co-worker once told me: “You are afraid of failures because you haven’t failed enough.” It’s not that I never failed but it’s the importance of what you failed on. In this case, it is my life; a validation of being successful and completing my list during my twenties. The x-factors that I didn’t know before but I now know are the responsibilities and the limitations that come with getting older. It wasn’t as simple as studying hard, getting good grades and graduating. You’re now responsible of your own destiny, there is no curriculum you can follow nor will someone tells you exactly what to do. Real life requires sacrifices and it can really take away from who you are if you aren’t careful. So here are a few tips I came up with to make sure I don’t repeat the same mistakes in my 30’s, 40’s, and so on.
1 .Come up with a list
Just like work, there are KPIs (key performance indicators) to evaluate the success of your performance; I believe there should be the same for each stage of life. Think about what you look to accomplish in the next 1, 3, 5, 10 years, however long you think is appropriate, and it will help drive your focus despite the everyday noise.
2. List out the milestones for each goal
Just listing out your goals is not enough (at least not for me), it can still seem overwhelming and it’s impossible to accomplish — especially when there is more than one goal.
I would try to break it down into digestible action items and daily/weekly/monthly or annual milestones. For example, if you wish to learn how to play guitar you wouldn’t just go buy a guitar and hope that you magically learn how to play. You would do your research on what basic skills you should learn week by week and in what order. Furthermore, how many hours per week you should practice and when.
3. Be happy with yourself before you take care of others
This is the one factor I didn’t apply during my twenties. Far too often, I find myself listening to others’ opinion than my own, they are not necessary naysayers but it often delays or worse, destroys any unique opportunities that come my way. I believe life is about compromises, but if that is all you do then you’ll regret and resent the choices you made when you realized that you accomplished nothing for yourself, but for others.
As a manager at work, I firmly believe: happy employees -> happy customers -> happy company -> happy employees. I always try to place myself below my reports and always try to empower them positively because success is a collective effort. What is the fun in winning when you have no one to celebrate with?
Same goes with life. If you are not happy then how do you expect yourself to be a positive influence towards others, especially your friends and family? This doesn’t mean you get to be an ass**** at the expense of others, but put yourself first from time to time.