Tag Archives: goals

Can’t get no (lasting) satisfaction? Here’s why

I wrote an article on medium not too long ago titled “The Real Root Cause Behind ‘I’m Bored'”, where I basically (spoiler alert) said that humans crave a goal or purpose to fulfill (this is not a new idea, I admit). Perhaps part of the reason why some people keep working even after they’ve won the lottery is because no one really wants to just sit around watching TV in their underwear all the time. It might seem pretty awesome at first, but I think eventually they would get bored and want something more meaningful.

Then there are people like me who are so obsessed with goals and creating meaning, that I try to do too many things at once and just get frustrated that I can’t clone myself or grow a second pair of arms, or never need sleep.

Well, Psychology Today has a good article titled “Why You May Never Be Truly Satisfied, and Why That’s Okay”, which also touches on this issue. With actual science to support it, rather than my attempt which was mostly just personal experience.

Have you ever set a goal, achieved it, became content, and then went looking for the next thing? It’s fascinating how quickly our lives adjust to reaching a goal: We get our dream job and, soon enough, start wondering when the next promotion will come. We move into a new house and then, a few years later, start dreaming of the next dream house. We quickly adjust our realities, constantly creating “new normals.” And then we want more.

That has been my experience lately. For me though, it’s more a constant question of “can I do this thing?”. Like, can I, as an individual, physically and/or mentally step up and get through it? And once I’ve answered that, I test the next thing. There are some things I don’t particularly care to know if I can do or not, but asking myself “what can I learn from this?” has done me very well since I started focusing on that question.

We all have different goals—different mountains to climb. One person’s climb may be about sobriety; another’s may be about diet; and someone else may be trying to find a passion. And we often think we’ve reached the top of the mountain, only to realize it was really just the base of another, larger one. And so we start out again. Generally, this works: If we had to reach the zenith all at once, we might be too intimidated to begin.

Popular inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant puts it another way, positing that there are curves in the road because if you were shown how long a stretch you actually have left, you’d never drive yourself there. These curves that only show a little bit of the road at a time so you can just focus on that piece. The lesson? Today, focus on the piece that’s in front of you. The better you manage that stretch, the better you’ll be set for the next leg, whatever it is.

I’m feeling this right now. I’ve figured out I have been pretty successful in doing a lot of incremental learning/goal tackling. Currently, I have several ambitious goals, they’re all larger, and I’m battling my brain because I want to do them all at the same time, but not all the little steps (feels too unproductive), so I’ve actually been procrastinating somewhat.

Those goals (in case you’re curious)
-finish learning how to program so I can make an app (this will take months of learning to code bit by bit, and I don’t really want to deal with that right now)
-re-learn website coding so I can built a website idea I have
-finish the curated book I’m working on (probably the most nebulous)
-finish developing the card game ideas I conceived recently (need to playtest)
-finish recording/producing an album I started 6 years ago (only a few things left to be recorded, then lots of editing/mixing which I am not in the mood to do)

The question, then, becomes how we balance being content—and grateful—where we are, while also being okay striving for something still greater. It’s not easy: Oprah Winfrey once said, “I got so focused on the difficulty of the climb that I lost sight of being grateful for simply having a mountain to climb.”

On the plus side, one of my other admittedly larger goals is happening – I’m currently learning ASL (American Sign Language), and unsurprisingly, I’m really benefitting from the formal classroom environment that I’m learning in. It’s incremental, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. I know I could just discipline myself and do these other things incrementally, and maybe that would work better if I didn’t have that many things I want to do (all right now, not one now, the rest later). Maybe it’s time for me to get an accountability coach. When I get in a groove, I’m really good at not procrastinating, but right now I honestly just can’t seem to bring myself to pick one thing to focus on (well, aside from ASL).

The reality is that our journey stretches as long as we live, and if we ever think we’ve made it to the end, we might be limiting ourselves. We just don’t realize it when we set our current goals. This is why so many of us never feel truly happy, or fully satisfied. We want to see today’s goal as a destination because that allows us to feel a sense of certainty, finality, and accomplishment when we reach it—as it should.

However, there is another piece that often gets lost, which is that we’re always in a state of change. It’s not about wanting more, but about being present for where we are, and the people we’ve become at every new stage of our journeys. It’s not specifically about the better job, home, or relationship—the truth is that wherever we are, there will always be something more to reach for.

One thing I can definitely say since I got on this persistent quest for learning, skill building, and personal growth, is that I have been exposed to some things I never expected, met some really cool people, gone to some cool events, and ultimately inspired and enriched my life quite a bit. In my “old life”, I never would have thought someone like me could have some of these experiences, all I had to do was try. I was afraid, I was unconfident, I didn’t think I deserved it in some cases. Now I just want to encourage others (which is why I started a bucket list group with some friends on facebook, so we could attempt to tackle some of these things together), and that has really helped me not feel so unlikely to accomplish some of my goals. I’m in that ASL class because of a friend of mine who I didn’t even know was interested in ASL. She’s my accountability buddy. And I’m loving it. I’ll be writing about it later, but I’m excited by the possibilities it creates, and the ability to interact and connect with people I couldn’t before.

I’ll leave you with one last quote, from Jon Bon Jovi: “Any time that you think you’ve hit the top of the mountain, the truth of the matter is you’ve just reached another mountain. And it’s there to climb all over again.”

Motion vs Action aka Planning vs Progress on goals

I just read an article on Medium called . It was one of those things where I stumbled across the article at just the right time for where my head is at.

I’ve been updating my bucket list lately, planning to try and tackle a few more things, doing research into how/where/how much. The article calls this “motion”:

Motion is when you’re busy doing something, but that task will never produce an outcome by itself. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will get you a result.

  • If I outline 20 ideas for articles I want to write, that’s motion. If I actually write and publish an article, that’s action.
  • If I email 10 new leads for my business and start conversations with them, that’s motion. If they actually buy something and turn into a customer, that’s action.
  • If I search for a better diet plan and read a few books on the topic, that’s motion. If I actually eat a healthy meal, that’s action.
  • If I go to the gym and ask about getting a personal trainer, that’s motion. If I actually step under the bar and start squatting, that’s action.
  • If I study for a test or prepare for a research project, that’s motion. If I actually take the test or write my research paper, that’s action.

Sometimes motion is good because it allows you to prepare and strategize and learn. But motion will never — by itself — lead to the result you are looking to achieve. It doesn’t matter how many times you go talk to the personal trainer, that motion will never get you in shape. Only the action of working out will get you the result you’re looking to achieve.

And this next bit takes a stab at just what is the crux of why so many of us often don’t get past motion and into action:

Sometimes we do it because we actually need to plan or learn more. But more often than not, we do it because motion allows us to feel like we’re making progress without running the risk of failure. Most of us are experts at avoiding 铁汇 criticism. It doesn’t feel good to fail or to be judged publicly, so we tend to avoid situations where that might happen. And that’s the biggest reason why you slip into motion rather than taking action: you want to delay failure.

What I have been doing lately is, as the article suggests, setting dates. “I plan to tackle X activity/goal on X date”. I do the research beforehand so I’m ready to go on the day of. It seems to be working fairly well so far.

It’s worth thinking about, and trying to set more specific goals, both in the actual activity itself, as well as when, where and how you’ll do it.

Daily Habits That Will Make You Smarter

Business Insider has an article,  which was culled from a Quora thread .

Here is the list they distilled (check out the thread or the article for the meat of each point)

1. Come up with 10 ideas every day.
2. Read the newspaper.
3. Play devil’s advocate.
4. Read a chapter in a fiction or non-fiction book.
5. Instead of watching TV, watch educational videos.
6. Subscribe to feeds of interesting information.
7. Check in with your favourite knowledge sources.
8. Share what you learn with other people.
9. Make two lists: a list of work-related skills you want to shadowsocks教程 learn now and a list for things you want to achieve in the future.
10. Make an “I Did” list.
11. Write down what you learn.
12. Stimulate your mind.
13. Take online courses.
14. Talk to someone you find interesting.
15. Hang out with people who are smarter than you.
16. Follow your questions.
17. Use a word-of-the-day app.
18. Do something scary.
19. Explore new areas.
20. Play “smart” games.
21. Set aside some time to do nothing.
22. Adopt a productive hobby.
23. Apply what you learn.

How many do you feel apply to you?

Some of these I do on a weekly basis, but not daily. If I count both daily and weekly, I give myself 19/23.

Productivity Software Quick Review (Todoist, WeekPlan and Mind42)

Over on the Puttytribe, I saw a recommendation to try out two productivity apps – Todoist and WeekPlan.

Since today is a holiday, and I’ve just finished setting up my new desktop and am now trying to get re-organized, I decided to give them, both a try. Also, @LalikPatnaik on twitter recommended I try some Mind Mapping software, so I did that too.

First, the planner apps.

In recent past, I’ve tried several of these – HabitRPG, WorkFlowy, Trello, and Rescue Time (which I have yet to do a post about).

HabitRPG I think is most useful for people who struggle with procrastination (as opposed to just too many goals as I feel is my issue), and who are gamers or like that approach to things.

WorkFlowy I liked but the trial version is very limited in functionality so hard to get a good read on ultimate usefulness.

Trello is good for a free service, but also seems kind of limited.

The services I have just tried are both clearly focused on task organization/prioritization and on helping you stay on point and get more done.

Here are my thoughts after setting up both (WeekPlan first, because their introductory email was very well done and instead of just saying welcome, included illustrations and tips). I spent probably a combined 45 minutes between them.

-The interface is cleaner and more refined (closer to WorkFlowy/Asana both in appearance and functionality). It also kind of stacks up a bit like Outlook reminders, which to me, is not really a positive.
-It seems to track your progress/productivity much more clearly than WeekPlan (gives you a rating and a graph), so that’s a bit more like Rescue Time. I like this, and would like to see it over a period of time (which means I’ll have to stick with it for a bit).
-I find setting the priority and due date of tasks to be cumbersome (you have to mouse over a small spot on the screen and make 3 to 4 clicks to set both, more clicks = less efficient! This is precisely what I dread when trying these systems out, when the set up is even a little bit tedious I’m far less likely to keep using it unless other features totally blow me away.
-Seems a little more power-user focused, but again the fact that it reminds me of Outlook, just with a nicer interface is ultimately a strike. But that’s just because I don’t consider Outlook to be a great organization tool. Email organization yes, task organization, no.
-One positive, despite the tedium of setting up all the tasks, setting priority and due date, I *did* like that when I went to the “overdue + 7 days” view that it automatically allocated and ordered everything, so it was very clear what I had to do and when (but that didn’t make up for the time it took to SET the priority and due dates for every task).
-One notable downside here – the priority is shown by way of a light blue (low), dark blue (med), or red square (high priority), which visually just isn’t really that distinctive. I’d have gone with orange or yellow instead of dark blue, because low and med priority being different shades of the same colour is not a good design choice in my opinion. So even though it auto-orders everything by priority, *visually* the tasks aren’t well distinguished. The category colour marker is on the other side, but the visual separation, at least for me, is not great. I would suggest maybe a light background fill colour around the task name instead of the coloured dot on the right, maybe even make the fill colour darker, or striped to indicate priority.

-seems good for power users
-auto organizes tasks for the week by priority (if you set the priority)
-priority visualization falls short (in my opinion)
-relatively easy to add things, but customization tedious
-refined interface, but things are smaller and can be harder to click/access
-looks/acts a bit like Outlook (if that’s your thing)

-I actually started with this one because they sent a lovely intro email with illustrations of how it works and how they recommend using it. That was a great start and inspired me to get tinkering.
-Adding categories and tasks is SUPER EASY. It was very fast to set up and allocate things.
-Week view is displayed like a calendar, not a list. Personally, I like this a lot better than the list view of Todoist. I don’t know if Todoist can be changed to that style of view, but I would like it much better.
-Colour coding is more apparent this way which makes it a lot easier to quickly scan my tasks and decide what order to tackle them, though priority doesn’t really show up as obviously (unless I missed the option to make it more visible)
-Progress tracking is supposedly a bar that depletes each day and refills as you check things off, I haven’t seen this in action yet, but I kind of like that idea, since I’m pursuing goals/tasks in several areas and I like being able to see progress by category vs total overall progress.
-The “future” preview shows up as an 8th calendar day, which I like and should help me with my personally preferred style of future visibility.
-The interface is definitely more “fast and loose” but as I said, for me that was great for getting set up quickly, not having to futz around too much
-Setting “due dates” is as easy as drag and drop (and you can easily move things to another day, any time) which is fast and easy. It didn’t seem like I could drag/drop anything in Todoist which was a disappointment.
-It doesn’t look very “pretty” but going from this system to a pretty but slower to set up system, only made me like this one more.
-The overall functionality/interface *does* seem a bit limited, but for quick task tracking/organizing, I really like this system.

-Fast to set up/allocate (better for average user)
-Really visually distinct/easy to read interface. Someone glancing at it over your shoulder would know exactly what they’re looking at. Todoist almost requires a bit of visual parsing/decoding (in my opinion)
-Basically a colour-coded calendar with drag and drop functionality.
-Future preview looks good (for my preferences)
-Only strike really is in setting priority, it does have the settings they just aren’t as immediately obvious (maybe I need to explore the settings a bit more).

Supposedly both offer email reminders for daily and upcoming tasks.

Verdict: I personally prefer WeekPlan based on a initial dry run. I would need to compare the premium services of both, but for my purposes, and for my preferences, WeekPlan is the better fit and easier to use.

To the makers of Todoist – I’d recommend trying to make it just a tad bit more average user friendly (you can do this without penalizing the power users). Even just the simple act of not having to mouse over to set priority and due date would save time and clicks and wouldn’t significantly clutter the interface. Also, the priority colours and calendar view. If you made all these changes, I think your service would be the best one that I’ve tried.

Mind Mapping (Mind 42):

I tried Mind42, which I’d seen screenshots of before, and it seemed like it would take a lot of time/effort to set up and organize, but actually that was not the case at all. Within minutes I had created several branches and nodes. Unfortunately there is no android app for this (as with all other services mentioned in this post), but that’s OK.

As I am trying to organize several different goals, plans, initiatives, plan topics to post or write about, organize podcast scheduling, and more – This service will definitely help me maintain visibility on all my ideas and projects. Once I get into the flow of task tracking and get comfortably established there, I’m very optimistic about my productivity going forward.

Also, while I’m talking about Productivity, Tim Ferriss had a recent Podcast episode about this. He’s done a couple of short (<20min) episodes about productivity tricks, hacks, and no-nos.

HabitRPG – Round 2

A little while ago, I posted about a productivity app called HabitRPG, I ultimately recommended checking it out, though the mobile application (the only thing I tried at the time) really didn’t win me over. I haven’t really had a problem with motivation for a while, moreso just actually doing things in a good order (ie not getting distracted and falling down a facebook rabbit hole instead of doing more productive things first).

Last night I was hanging out with a friend who pulled HabitRPG up on their computer while we were talking and I stopped and said “what’s that?”. The web interface looks virtually nothing like the mobile interface. It’s far better, in my opinion.

And after just a couple hours of having it set up, and adding and checking off tasks as I go about my business, I have to say there is something immensely satisfying about being able to physically check something off when you complete something. Rather than just say to myself “cool, now that’s done”, I can actually click a box and get some points for it. It pushes my desire for accomplishing things into the red zone. And that’s good. It provides just that little extra bit of incentive for me to put really productive things first, and ignore distractions.

For others, I imagine it will just serve as an extra boost to get past the initial procrastination stage.


Things I did in 2013

I just published a new article on Medium earlier today – “Things I did in 2013”. It’s my year-end recap basically. I think I’ve mentioned on here before that I like keeping track of things, whether in journal form, list form, spreadsheet form, whatever. It’s always interesting to look back and realize you’ve probably done more than you think (likely more than you remember on first blush).

I’m not big on the idea of “new years resolutions”, because I think anything you aren’t willing to start doing immediately is probably something you’re going to have trouble sticking with. And January is the worst time of year to try and form new habits.

For the post, I went through on a monthly basis and recapped the things I remember doing. Not all of them are necessarily “achievements” in the traditional sense, but many of them are. It is my hope that perhaps sharing these successes and accomplishments will help inspire others to set their sights higher, and maybe even join me in forgoing the “January 1st” rule and start something right now.

A brief overview – my year involved second languages, work successes (and failures), new creative projects started, academic progress, some amateur journalism, much self-discovery and mental expansion (not due to recreational drug use), and more.

So, go and have a read, and feel free to leave a comment to share your successes this year!

Finding Meaning vs Creating Meaning

This is part of the origin story of this site. If you’re interested on what factors and ideas combined to help spur it into existence, read on!

burdened with glorious purposeI tweak my twitter bio from time to time, one incarnation of it concluded the statement “if I can’t find meaning, I’ll create it”.

I posted that sentiment on facebook yesterday and had a friend ask me “what is the difference?”

Good question, allow me to answer!

To me, “finding meaning” is more about seeking it externally, trying to find opportunities to ‘get to’ do what you want to do, ie allowing others to dictate your happiness and the terms by which you live. “Creating meaning” is more about rolling up your sleeves and making your own opportunity, living on your own terms. If you want to do X but no one will hire you or give you a chance to do X, then what else can you do but manufacture a way for yourself to get to do it? Continue reading