meaningful goals

Published on May 6, 2020

Every day I want to raise the bar.

In some way, I want to get better at being me. This may mean that I strive to go out for a walk on a day when I do not have the energy. Or it may mean trying to pay more attention in a conversion when I notice that my mind is drifting. Whatever I do, I want to raise the bar.

My life is a competition with who I was yesterday. If I feel like I am getting better, then I know that I am on the right track. I know that progress is incremental, so I am not interested in reaching big goals every day -- it’s the feeling of making any progress at all that counts.

This has become important to me because I realize that, on days where I feel like I have raised the bar, I feel happier. I feel like I have accomplished something meaningful.

One thing I have noticed, though, is how easy it is to focus on goals that matter to other people, and to lose sight of the goals relevant to your growth.

I have been reflecting a lot on what values matter to me, and one of the things that has come up time and time again is whether I want to work on side projects.

Side projects, indeed, are a good way to build “career capital,” and to create value for society. I know many people who are building side projects right now, and many more who are about to start building something new.

For me, though, side projects do not matter so much. I am more focused on becoming a better version of myself, and right now I think I can accomplish that through leveling up my reading habits.

This realization took a long time for me to arrive at. Being immersed in the tech industry, I have always seen people working on side hustles. That has led me to think that the key to growth in tech is to always have something cooking -- a project that takes up some of your free time and keeps your mind active outside your job.

But, on evaluating the nature of side projects, I know that they are not meaningful for me at this point in time. So, I am not working on any side projects right now.

One thing I know that I want to improve at is being more direct. That’s why, in my communications, I am being more transparent. If I have something I think I need to say, even if it feels uncomfortable to share, I am going to share it.

This is one of my goals for each day -- to be more direct.

Indeed, working on a side project could provide me with some value, but it’s not a goal that is personally meaningful at this stage. There are other places in my life that I feel I can improve in more, and hence I am going to focus on those areas.

The goals I set for myself need to be personally meaningful. They need to be based on a value that I feel I want to cultivate in my life.

Some of the goals I have set in the last year, like trying to eliminate most processed sugars, were not set because I felt they were relevant to me. I set them because I saw a lot of people talking about the goal, and I thought it was a good idea to set a similar one for myself.

This is the wrong way to approach setting goals. I need to evaluate the question: what is it that I need to improve in on a daily basis? Then, I need to set actionable goals from there.

What I need to do to improve is different from what others need to do. Like, for instance, I know that I need to be more direct, and I also know that I need to work hard to set more boundaries between my personal and “professional” identities. Your goals may be different, and that is acceptable.

This is all part of being just me; not being someone else. I am my own person, and so I need to have my own unique goals. Sure, eating a “perfect diet” may help me level up, but I feel like I am doing fine in the diet department. There are other areas that need my attention.

Do you have any feedback on this blog post? Send me an email.
Do you want to hear more from me? Subscribe to my weekly Coffee with James newsletter.
Subscribe
Made by @jamesg_oca. Code on GitHub.