I’m no where near completing any of my 2018 goals.

And a happy new year to you too.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I started writing this piece in May. It’s been a draft since then, and for some reason, I couldn’t finish it.

Finding the right voice for it was challenging.

And I realize now that the reason why I wanted to write it back then was to reassure myself, sell myself… validate myself.

Now, it feels a little different. A bit more peaceful and acceptant. Less externally focused. Rather than seeking validation, I feel like sharing the journey I’ve had since then.

Back in June, after I quit the startup I had joined as a co-founder, I went back to read the goals I had set for myself for this year.

I was appalled.

I’m no where near completing any of them.
I’m not even on the track for any of them.
Yoga teaching was not in the horizon.
Learning how to play the violin — not in the horizon.
Visiting two new countries — no idea when I’ll do that.

You get the idea.

At first, I was so, so bumped.

Did that mean I had achieved nothing this year?
Is everyone else moving forward while I’m stale?
How am I ever going to have the time to do all this now?
Is it too late?

Hmmm. Interesting how the ego tries to play us with such thoughts. Let’s step back.

Rather than accepting these thoughts, I quickly let go of them. Not out of meditative wisdom, but because I had to — they were excruciating.

I made myself step back and list all the things I did achieve in 6 months.

Laila, you’re fine.
You have been through a lot physically and mentally during this semester. And you’ve added a lot of out-of-scope achievements, like moving to New York, and hustling your way into product management.
So, please cut yourself some slack, thank you.

Another thought that soothed me was focusing on the word I decided to honor for the year: self-actualization.

It’s not a trivial word to define, but one definition that resonates with me goes as follows:

The need to be good, to be fully alive and to find meaning in life.

When I chose this word for the year, I saw it (and still do) as digging into my true self, and finding what that actually means.

Arguably, all the goals I had set were supposed to help me find meaning and be fully alive.

Thus, I accepted that any other endeavor that would do so in the same intensity -amongst others, finding the city and the job I felt resonated so much with my soul- should count as fulfilling achievements although I hadn’t planned for them.

Now, we’re in September. I started working as a product manager at an amazing company. I’m settling in my little nest in Manhattan.

And… still haven’t achieved those goals.


I’m looking into yoga teacher trainings for end of year, or early next year. I’m organizing around finding a violin teacher, and planning upcoming trips that might very well squeeze in two new countries for the year (or maybe not, but that’s okay).

What happened to the goal: “founding an amazing company”?

Well, that went out the window for now, as I empowered myself to accept it was not the right moment in my life to do that. Who knows when (or if) it will come back on my radar, but it won’t until it can happen in a self-fulfilling manner.

In the end, after I got the foundations of my new life right (or so I think), after I started grasping what truly matters to me (never-ending process), and after stepping back enough to revisit why those goals served me in the first place (are they aligned with my values?), I get to act on them as much as I can (and want).

And I tell myself: If one or the other is carried over to 2019, you’ll be fine ;)

I used to say: “Setting high goals matters to me because it pushes me to achieve more, do more, even if I don’t reach them all.”

But now, I rather take a different perspective.

Setting goals helps me because looking back on them, and asking why I chose them in the first place, it gives me direction while training myself to be flexible in what I do to make sure I’m always aligned with my own fluid values.
And I prefer to use these goals as a mean to self-actualize, rather than an end to be externally validated.