Goal-Setting and an Example of Why I Love Lists

I’m going to warn you from the get-go: it’s 1:30am, I’ve been awake for awhile, and I should be in bed.  Instead I’m writing a blog post.  Take that as you will.

So as my above tweet claims, I’m a fan of making lists.  You see, at any given time, there’s a hundred different thoughts racing through my head, all vying for my focus.  Sometimes I’ll manage to snag onto one and follow it through before prioritizing and figuring out what to conquer next, but every-so-often something important falls through the cracks and gets lost in the noise until I inevitably get sent an email warning me that a bill is due in less than 24 hours (which I consider the danger zone; to date, I’ve never been late on a bill payment.  Close!  But not late.).  I also can’t go grocery shopping without a detailed list of everything I’m missing at my apartment or else I end up buying random stuff like nutmeg and not stuff I need, like toilet paper.  Needless to say, I’ve got lists all over and in every format imaginable.

On my phone I use GTasks as a to-do list and Out of Milk for my grocery shopping lists.  I’m also not afraid of emailing myself a quick reminder to get something done if I know the deadline’s fast approaching, mainly because I hate having unread emails so I know for sure I’ll get around to that email quickly.  I also have two whiteboards – one by my PC and one on my fridge – that I add on to and edit almost every time I walk by them.

5 year olds have better penmanship than I do

The whiteboard on my fridge

For me, making (and following) lists helps me to prioritize and focus on getting done what needs to get done promptly and without forgetting anything.  Lists hold me accountable for accomplishing my tasks and give me a visual so I can structure my thought processes to a point where I don’t feel like I’m swimming in a pool of discord.

There’s been a lot of changes in my life lately.  One of my more recent posts mentioned that my job wasn’t really working out so well for me, so I started sending my resume out once more with the realization that I had to be pickier with my next career move.  I ended up taking my time and interviewed at a number of companies over three months before making a decision that, for the first time in my life, I’m feeling totally optimistic about.  For any frequent readers of my blog or Twitter or anyone who knows me on a personal level, I’m sure it’s obvious that optimism isn’t a feeling I often experience; I actively look for flaws so I can identify them and develop ways of countering them, but for once, this job choice “fits” into what I want from life.

Without going into too many details, I’ll be going into a career as an insurance agent.  I’ve always been interested in the financial side of insurance and investments so I’ve already got the passion for the products and I really love the potential for job growth.  Not to go off on a tangent, but I think my generation has been generally taken advantage of by companies.  There’s no more loyalty from employers like there used to be, where people worked at one single company their entire life.  The job market – at least where I live – feels very cutthroat and impersonal.  As much as I’ve wanted a career, it’s felt like finding one would be impossible, but I think I found the needle in the haystack.  I have full intentions of making a career out of this job, something I made sure to drive home during my interviews for this position, and one that my bosses seemed really receptive to.  From my research into the position and observing how the company operates and the other agents I’ve met so far, I think I’m correct in thinking I’ve found a career and a company I can grow in and I’m very, very optimistic and positive about what the future holds in store for me not only on a professional level, but on a personal level wherein I can afford to finally – finally – structure my life in a less chaotic and haphazard way.

With very few exceptions, since getting my first full-time job, I’ve lived paycheck-to-paycheck.  Growing up in a family where finances were a very real concern and worry, I’ve never not experienced the overwhelming necessity of having to budget for every penny earned.  It’s one of the major causes of my anxiety.  I’ve never had the desire to be stupidly rich; all I’ve ever wanted is to have enough wealth to live comfortably and without the weight of wondering how I’ll get money to make all my bill payments and put food on the table.  As long as I work hard and dedicate myself to success, this job will eliminate my financial concerns.  But it’s caused me to think about the direction I want to take my life and what goals I need to set for myself.

A lot of my posts over the past year have dealt with me shooting for and reaching my personal goals.  Since the time I turned 18, I wanted to move out onto my own because I saw that as the first and largest logical step towards “being an adult.”  Over the summer I acquired a full-time job, saved up, and moved out onto my own.  Goal #1 achieved.  Then I dealt with a bit of an existential crisis brought on by wondering, “what next?”  When you have one major goal and finally, after seven years, you succeed at meeting that goal, you feel a bit empty and lost.  I did, at least.  My first couple of months living alone were very strange.  Not only was my apartment empty (needing to buy a new car two weeks before moving in set back my furniture budget), but I felt I no longer had direction in life.  I just worked through each day and took what life had to offer a day at a time.  I don’t want to make that mistake again.

I’ve decided instead to set some goals for what I want to accomplish in the short- and long-term now that I feel like I’m finally on a career path I think will support those very goals.  Partly because I have no other place to put these goals, partly because I want to write them down anyway, and partly because I feel making them public on this blog (that I don’t think anyone reads, but I don’t check the stats anyway) holds me accountable, here’s a list of goals I have (in no discernible order; like I said, they’re short- and long-term, and mainly just meant to give me things to focus on).

  • Find someone to settle down with.  I’m finally content with myself to the point where I won’t feel guilty about sharing my life with a woman who complements my life as much as I complement hers.  I want a relationship where we can both grow together as people and enhance one another’s lives in a positive way.
  • Work towards starting a family.  I’m at an age and level of maturity where I think I’d be a great dad.  I of course need the above goal to be met for a decent length of time before I’d even consider having children, but kids are a definite goal and I think I’d do a great job at contributing raising some awesome kids.
  • Pay my parents’ house off.  My mother would kill me if she knew this was a goal of mine, but my parents have struggled with finances all their lives and I want to be in the financial position to one day say, “Hey, you know how you said you’ll be working until you’re dead?  You were wrong.”  My parents and I have not always been on the greatest of terms, but their love for my brother and me has never been questioned, and the sacrifices they made for us both are far too many to count.  If I can make some of their financial burdens dissipate, I’d gladly do so.
  • Get into real estate.  One of my first jobs ever was helping a neighbor who got into real estate and I became very interested in it.  All I need is the capital, and it’s definitely something I’ll pursue, both as an investment opportunity, and because I genuinely think it’s fun and interesting.
  • Get published.  I have so many book and story ideas that I want to put out into the world.  I need to quit doubting myself and commit to writing, shutting up my inner critic, and accepting that I’m not going to be the best author in the world, but I don’t need to be.  Whether through traditional means or self-publishing, I want my stories to be told.
  • Travel.  As you can see on my to-do list photo above, I wrote that I want to get my passport.  This world is too big and too unique to sit in the same place for the entirety of one’s life.  I love traveling, despite having only left RI twice (once to Pennsylvania for a day and once to Baltimore for a week of training).  Top places I want to visit are Iceland, Romania, Israel, Iran, and New Zealand.

I’m sure this list isn’t exclusive, but for now, it works.  And for the first time in my life, I’m happy, independent of anything else.  Feelings of depression come and go, but I’m still working on combating it and learning from the negatives so that they don’t control me.  I’ve grown more as a person in the past six months than I have at any other point in my life.  I’m getting confident, becoming assertive, and fighting for the things want in my life.  I’m realizing I can’t always allow myself to be so nice that I’m deemed a pushover.  Nor can I let myself be my own worst enemy anymore.  With all of this combined, and a list of goals to attain, I’m finally at a point in my life where I’m comfortable with myself and know what I want from life, and that’s a great feeling.

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