On Setting Goals


Begin with the end in mind, Stephen Covey said.

Define your Definite Chief Aim and read it everyday as instructed by Napoleon Hill.

So what is your life goal?

What is mine?

I asked myself this question many times over recently.

I had one many years ago but I guess things didn’t exactly go according to plan.

So is setting life goals pretty pointless?

As what one of my friends put it, is it just a way of just setting yourself out for disappointment?

Well, no one can really guarantee you the future, but putting a stake down in the ground and marking your way forward will probably get you a lot closer to where you want to go, as compared to wandering around in circles.

And more importantly, without a goal you can’t score. 

When nothing’s for sure, anything can happen.

Have a rough plan, figure out the details along the way.

So what’s my goal in life? What’s my definite chief aim?

Well I have my pen and paper in front of me.

It’s time to write.

On Making Money.

Part 2 of Project D.

Now you got your dream mapped out, you’ve summoned the courage to start, what you need next is the resources to get you to where you want to be.

Money is a very important thing in life, there is no escaping from it.

My mother always used to tell me (in an old Chinese saying), that with money you cannot do everything in life, but without money you cannot do anything in life.

I’ve always believed that money is just a means to an end rather than an end in itself. What’s the point of having all the money in the world if you’re not going to do anything in your life with it? It’s not like it’ll be of any use when you’re 6 ft. under.

So here’s everything I’ve learnt about money summarised in a post, whilst I don’t pretend to be very rich or successful, these are the ideas that got me to where I am and I hope by sincerely sharing it with you, you can use these ideas to get further than where I’ve ever managed to go.

So what is money? How do we make more of it?

Here’s the secret, you have to realise that money is just a piece of paper.

It is a piece of paper that is meant to be a representation of value, the paper itself is pretty much worthless.

A good read or watch to understand this concept is the Ascent of Money (a book and documentary series by Niall Ferguson). Basically money evolved out from the barter trade system to ease transactions, i.e. trading a quarter of a live cow for a few pairs of sandals is pretty difficult, especially if you want to keep the cow alive, hence a common denomination was needed.

Thus the simple rule is: To make money, create value.

It’s amazing how many people seem to not realise that.

Money is not going to drop out of the sky, you can hope and wish all you want, and maybe you might win the lottery if you’re lucky, but for me I’d rather make my own chances.

A craftsman creates value by making goods. He creates goods that others need or want so that they can lead better lives.

A merchant creates value by bridging geographical distances. He buys goods from one area and sells it in another.

An investor creates value by bridging time. He buys when the market doesn’t need or want a certain thing and holds them till the market does.

So you have to ask yourself in whatever circumstance or situation you are in, how are you able to create value? And then ask yourself how can you monetise it?

No one’s circumstance or situation is ever going to be the same as yours, so you got to stop looking outwards for someone to give you a specific plan or instruction.

When I decided I needed quite a big sum of money to fund myself overseas to study and train, I knew I had to do something different from a part-time or salaried job because it would never pay me the kind of money I needed in 11 months.

I noticed then an opportunity to sell electronic systems and components to corporate clients as a finished product. Basically I started off by selling 2 television sets with peripheral equipment, provided the installation and typed out a set of instructions on how to use the system as a whole. Electronics and computers have always been an interest of mine since I was young and hence it came quite naturally to me. The value I was able to create was to simplfy and deliver a complex system that could be used by an everyday man. And for a couple days’ worth of work, I was making a very decent profit.

One project lead to another and things got big very quickly thanks to the economic boom back then. But at the peak of the boom, I decided to quit because I had the money I needed and decided to go pursue my original dream.

Must say it was tough to walk away because, I’ll be honest with you, earning lots of money and the things you can do with it is a very good feeling indeed. But as I said, you always have to remember that money is just a means to an end, and that was probably what saved me.

The market crashed in 2008 pretty much right after I pulled out of the market and took whatever money I had out of it to come to the UK to become a decathlete. If I stayed on to work instead of pursuing my dream I probably would have lost everything.

You have to look inwards and dare to take on opportunities. There’s going to be a lot of bloody hard work involved so don’t expect an easy ride, but let me tell you this, it is possible.

To end off here’s 4 books that I think anybody who’s interested in their own financial well-being should read.

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clarson – Greatest personal finance book you’ll ever need. ‘A part of all you earn is yours to keep.’ Learn the rules, live it.

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki – Great concept written in an easy to read manner that will make you realise why it is important to spend money on buying assets rather than liabilities. Do be careful though; Do not fall into the trap of buying book after book or attending those exorbitant seminars by the same group of authors thinking there’s a specific set of instructions in there for you to earn your millions, there isn’t. Learn the concept, look inwards for the way forwards.

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill – Interesting thing about this book is that not everybody will get it. When I bought this book many years ago an older gentlemen in front of me in the queue noticed I was going to buy this book and he told me he read it and it doesn’t work. Read it with an open mind, the secret is that your mind sees exactly what you want it to see.

The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham – Written by someone who is widely regarded as the mentor of Warren Buffet. Took me 3 years to actually read through because it is incredibly dry, but learn the concepts involved and you will learn how to value and price anything.

Thank you for your read and I sincerely hope these ideas can help you achieve your financial dreams.

Stay tuned for the next post in the Project D series: On How to Free Your Mind.

Some of us, we were born to fly.

On New Year Resolutions.

Only thing you can depend on, is you.

2012 day 2, gone.

Feel any different? No, I don’t either, so stop pretending that a number change makes a difference to your life or your resolutions.

What can change is the thing you’re looking at the mirror every morning.

Decide, move.

I have decided as one of my goals this year is that I will attempt to teach you, through my blog, everything I know. Everything that has allowed me to get to where I am from where I was in this journey of chasing my dream.

I don’t pretend to be particularly successful or achieved anything great, but I have come a long way and by sharing these ideas and steps I have used, I hope you can get closer to your dreams than I ever had with mine so far.

Giving you the exact steps is pointless because there is no such thing. Be careful of anybody who is trying to sell such exact plans to achieve your dreams (such as financial freedom) because the paths are infinite and ultimately different for everybody.

What is constant is certain underlying ideas or philosophies that can be applied onto any scenario and direct your life towards where you want to be.

I will name this series of post as ‘Project D’ and you can follow it in the category list on the right. I will aim to post once every fortnight in this series and cover a whole range of topics such as how to earn enough money to do what you want, point you towards good books to read and what I had to do myself to become the person I wanted to be.

So first up, a quick talk about resolutions and goal setting.

I’ve always thought about setting goals as something like this:

I still draw and write like a kid. Nevermind.

Goals are but markers for you to aim your effort towards moving you closer to your dreams.

Think of it like this: In the physical world, to get from point A to point B, you need to first know exactly where you are (in this case point A) and where you want to go (point B).

You then get out a map to mark out the two points and then look for the fastest way to get there, through small roads leading to the major motorway and then towards your destination.

The only difference from this and chasing your dreams is that the map of life isn’t as clear beyond your immediate self and that many a times you will only be able to find out the rest of the roads you need to take when you actually travelled far up enough along it.

So this is how I do it:

Step 1: Write down what you want to be eventually, what is your big dream? Be as specific as possible because only then would you mark out the X brightly enough.

For me 6 years ago I wanted to win a gold medal for decathlon in the 2012 London Olympics.

Step 2: Make an honest assessment of where you are right now in relation to your dream.

I was in the army with a busted left knee, having only been a shot put thrower at a domestic school league level when I was younger.

Step 3: Trace back the steps from your point B to your point A.

To win the Olympic decathlon, I had to score close to 9000 points. To score 9000 points, I had to do those 10 events at a very high level (I worked backwards from an average score to find out exactly what I needed to do). To perform at such high levels, I needed to be at a place where the best athletes and coaches in the world are training at. To be able to join those guys for training, I needed to be able to run, jump and throw. To be able to run, jump and throw, I needed to fix my busted left knee. To fix my busted left knee, I had to visit my physiotherapist every fortnight and do every exercise in the program and research on how else I can get back to walking and running normally.

Step 4: Take that damn step forward daily. Have a clear to-do list every single day based on the steps you know you need to take. A to-do list has been my best weapon against procrastination I know till date. Somehow writing it down makes it real for me and then I feel compelled to complete it.

After 9 months of rehab I finally was able to somewhat jog again, not bad for someone who’s meniscus had degenerated on the left knee and had problem climbing stairs to begin with.

Step 5: You are going to hit road blocks along the way, don’t give up, figure it out and keep going.

I decided the best place in the world for me to chase my dreams was at Loughborough University, whilst doing a degree in Sports Science as well to give me the knowledge I needed to excel in the sport. Great idea, parents didn’t agree to what I wanted to do with my life, not smart enough to get a government scholarship to fund me. No matter, all I needed was a lot of money to fund myself and pay my school fees.

Back to step 3, worked out exactly how much I needed and figured out what I needed to do to earn that kind of money within a short period of time. Decided that the sums of money I’m talking about will never be earned working part-time jobs with a fixed salary. Saw an opportunity in the electronics market, went in and ran with it.

Step 6: Just keep going.

So there it is, my road map to chasing your dreams. Doesn’t matter what day, what date, what time, where you were or where you are. Find out where you want to be and start moving towards it immediately.

Once again thank you for your read and I look forward to you taking that step towards your dreams.

Oh and one more thing, you mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling. 😉

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