I kind of hate myself at the moment. I’ve let more than two weeks slip by without posting anything. It’s been so long I’d forgotten what this website even looked like. Bleh. So much for self-discipline. I swear, unless it’s marked in my calendar with a chisel and hammer, I’ll forget that it needs to be done. Unless of course it has anything to do with housework… because who can forget the house needs cleaning when their 2-year old keeps trying to eat week-old Cheerios from the dining room floor.
Which isn’t to say I haven’t been up to much. If anything, the silence on this blog is reflective of the cacophony of things happening in my life right now. I am up to my ears in projects… and lists of things that I need doing. I’m not quite sure how to handle it all. (Wait — no, actually, I’m handling it all with this handy, free tool called Trello, which is like meth for obsessive-compulsive list-junkies like myself). I use Trello to stay on top of the projects – and tasks within the projects – that have been consuming my life in the last month. Because stupid me decided to embark on a journey of soul-searching, value-setting and career-rejigging in early April.
This journey (which I thought would be little more than a weekend trip but is now starting to resemble a decade-long odyssey) began when I started to crumble under the ~60 projects that my team (of 2) and I have been assigned at work. I was eating dinner at my parents’ house one night and my Dad, ever so observant, asked me what was wrong. I told him I was stressed about life. About work. About the sheer volume of never-ending things to do and goals to pursue. He listened politely as I vented my frustrations and outlined what I thought might be a possible course of action for dealing with what felt like a lost cause and glum situation.Then he said something that made my nerves tingle. He said something simple, but that something stuck:
When I was your age, ‘success’ meant something very different to what it means to me today.
I paused, spoonful of rice and chicken adobo half-way to my lips and waited for him to continue.
Right now you might think it’s your career, or earning enough money, or buying a house. But you might realise later, that those things don’t actually matter that much. You might realise, like me, that real success doesn’t look like what the world tells you. You need to work out what ‘success’ really is.
These sage remarks, so casually spoken in my parents’ dining room, reiterated what so many other people – friends, coworkers, mentors, a random psychologist – and four different articles and two other books had been telling me for the past two months.
- “Work out what really matters.”
- “Work out the big goals, then all the little decisions will be easier, because you’ll only choose things that help you achieve the big goals.”
- “Determine your values.”
- “Decide what you want first, then figure out how to get it.”
So that’s what I’ve been doing.
And it’s not easy.
It’s like any deep-diving expedition. It requires prep-work, patience and discipline.
But the exercise of actually working out what is is I actually care about, what I want my legacy to be, what success looks like to me — not now, not ten years from now, but 50+ years from now — is amazingly rewarding. It provides a framework for why I do the things I do and devote my time to certain tasks and with particular people. It has helped me set my short-, medium- and long-term goals.
And it has kept me unbelievably active and focussed over the past couple of weeks, setting up side-hustles and ticking off little achievements from my ever-growing collection of Trello boards. I only wrote this post as my way of coming up for air, before deep-diving again.
But if you feel like you’re drowning and there’s just too much going on: pause, take a breath, and heed some advice from my Dad. Go and work out what ‘success’ really is for you.