2023 Goals Review

While this is not the 1st year I have set goals, this is the first time where I have a deeper understanding of the cause-effect mechanisms of goal achievement. There really is a physics to it, not just woo-woo law of attraction. It is also the first time I see the role and limitations of motivation and emotion behind goals.

My learning so far is that motivations and emotions are fleeting, but powerful. I cannot rely on them solely, but my goals need to have a deep enough well of emotional resonance that I can tap into during difficult times. And it gets hard very quickly. Even for goals for which I have a clear line of sight, the execution gets boring 3-4 weeks in.

Whereas in the past, I chalked up that disillusionment to unrealistic goals, I now have the benefit of maturity to understand that this is an inevitable part of the journey. So here are my goals and progress upon them so far:

  1. Build Glints Vietnam to the biggest job marketplace in Vietnam (32k monthly connected opportunities per month in Dec'23)

This is the biggest one so far, and I don't have a full line of sight towards its achievement. In fact, I had spent the better half of Jan and Feb getting the basic chat features out with the team, and also mapping out the growth model. In my original plan, these were foundational work that were meant to be knocked out in 2 weeks to get us ready for execution.

I think it's a failure in both planning and execution. I have been way too optimistic about the velocity we could execute at with a new team, but it's also been slower than our potential limit. On a personal front, I had been too distracted with other competing goals coming online, as well as the usual distractions of internal processes like performance management. In short, I have lost sight of the big picture too often.

In building the growth model, I had also been too fixated on precision and not enough on its usefulness. I also need to cap my planning and thinking time so that we can get to execution faster.

On concrete next steps, I will a) work the growth model backwards to the levers that will hit 32k monthly opportunities, b) work out the demand-supply operations plan with a data drivetrain with city, industry and job category breakdown and c) plan out next release.

2. Get to 75kg by 30 Sept 2023

There is a measurement issue here, I am not sure that my home's weighing scale is accurate, but I shall assume it is for now for directional improvements. I am getting the workouts in, but I don't get to muscle failure due to fatigue from triathlon training, and also insufficient sleep. Finally, I am not sure if I am eating sufficient calories; I worked out that I needed 2000 calories daily, and had anchored on a few eating rules and choices, but I guess I am not hitting them because I am not even tracking. I also feel umcomfortable from the increased food intake, so I'm hoping that this is just an adjustment period.

Concrete next steps, a) plan my day before so I can sleep by 10pm every night (this is a non-negotiable) b) track my food intake to ensure I hit 2000 calories.

3. Complete an Ironman by 30 Dec 2023, qualify for Kona by 30 June 2024

I was most confident about the 1st half of the goal because it is quite proven and just takes discipline. Turns out the discipline it required is not trivial. All in all though, I am quite pleased with my progress. I have a coach designing workouts for me, and I had been putting in 1 hour per day of training for the past 2 weeks without any break. My body has taken some time to adjust to the training volume, and there are days where the fatigue feels very heavy physically, but all in all, things are trending positively. This has also taken the most out of me physically and mentally away from the other goals, despite being ranked 3rd.

I won't change anything here, except to dial in my schedule further as there are still days where I spend too much time deciding when to fit the workout into my day. Based on science, my body will adapt to the volume and my mind will also adapt to the feeling of fatigue to still operate well. The tricky part is the 2nd half of improving my timings to qualify, but that is something for my coach and I to think about after reaching the first.

Concrete next steps is to sign up for an Olympic distance triathlon but I will do that after my April half-marathon.

4. Converse in Vietnamese for 15 minutes by 30 June 2023

I picked this goal because I had always loved languages, and pick them up quite easily. However, I have not pushed past the superficial direction-asking level for any languages other than English and Chinese due to my sole reliance on exposure to the daily conversation and the patience of foreign friends. I am quite pleased with my action taken thus far, which is a 3x-a-week flashcard habit to expand my vocab, and a 1x-week lesson with a teacher who is big on jumping into conversations. Took me 3 trials before I found someone suitable.

There is however still a qualitative leap from memorising vocab, grammar and pronunciation to making conversations. For this, I will have to design intermediate tests to practise making an unassisted conversation with a local. My immediate next goal is to memorise 1000 words, and maintain a conversation with my teacher for 10 sentences without assistance. This will likely take the form of polite pleasantries and simple questions at a 10-year-old level. My teacher actually has the curriculum planned out as such, anchoring on real-life conversations, so I just need to put in the time to learn. My limiter here has been my consistency and number of hours invested in personal practice.


I had a couple of other goals too, but I am dropping them to preserve focus. Problem was that I had set these goals in a comfortable place in a blast of optimism, but I am now hitting the road with my rubber, and the road ain't smooth.

Another takeaway is that I don't have to reinvent the wheel, and enrolling other people's help is a huge time-saver. In the case of triathlon training and Vietnamese learning, my progress had a step-change after getting a coach and a teacher. Whereas before I was spending inordinate amount of time reading up on sports science and planning out my training plan, I now just have to train. Same for language learning. That background on the fundamental cause and effect was useful, but translating it into a training plan or curriculum is not the best use of my time. Plus, having another person invested in your success does wonders for your discipline. Fear is a bigger motivator than pleasure, and for me, fear of embarrassment and disappointment of someone who believe in me is a major fire.

At a meta-level, there are several keystone habits that I need to nail down even more tightly, for they directly impact my goals. My biggest limiter thus far had been my time and energy allocation. 1 is consistently planning and sticking to a weekly and daily planning ritual like a religion. This will then make everything else easier, like working out right away, sleeping by 10pm, meditating regularly and making progress against my goals.

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