Concrete Goals Over Sweeping Resolutions

What a year. A lot has happened in the last 12 months, both in my life and around the world. Before I start thinking about the year ahead, I reflected about all the major events…

In my life:

  • For 2 months, I worked for an Internet start-up company, Moving Off Campus. As I collected and organized data, I listened to three full audio books – the final Harry Potter book was amazing.
  • I graduated Washington University with a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and minors in French and Business.
  • I spent 3.5 weeks traveling with my brother and two friends to Israel, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia. In Serbia, the Crown Prince and Princess hosted us at the Royal Palace.
  • I relocated to Cambridge, MA and started a job with AIRINC, an information services company that designs, provides data for, and supports expatriate compensation packages for global companies. As a surveyor, I travel 4 times a year to collect pricing data and, so far, have had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica, St. Vincent, Grenada, Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkmenistan.

Around the world:

  • Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, and while the United States, Britain, Germany, France, and several other nations recognize it as a sovereign and independent state, many still do not.
  • Fidel Castro stepped down as Cuba’s leader.
  • In America, the S&P500, an oft-used metric for the stock market, plummeted roughly 40%. Despite the financial turbulence, Barack Obama, once a virtually unknown politician, was elected the country’s 44th president. Tina Fey also did a remarkable impersonation of Sarah Palin.
  • In the Middle East, fighting between Israel and Hamas has continued.
  • Scientists fround frozen water on Mars.
  • Russia elected a new president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, but Vladimir Putin still maintains power as Prime Minister. In August, Russia and Georgia engaged in a serious conflict over South Ossetia, catching the world’s attention.
  • Terrorism surfaced in Mumbai.
  • In Geneva, Switzerland, the Large Hadron Collider was completed. Nine days later, operations were halted due to magnetic issues. No more experiments until summer of 2009.
  • Michael Phelps won 8 Gold Medals at the Beijing Olympics, beating Mark Spitz’s previous record of 7.

And there’s so much more. These were the world events that caught my attention – which ones caught yours?

On January 1st, 2008, one year ago today, I wrote about how making concrete goals is much more beneficial than making broad, sweeping resolutions. Here’s an excerpt:

Instead of “getting in better shape,” why not try to run a mile under 7 minutes or do 20 pull-ups without stopping? Instead of “eating better,” cook a balanced meal at home twice a week. If you want to do something advantageous for your life, there’s probably a way to quantify it. Goals that are well-defined are much easier to tackle psychologically!

This year, following the unconvential advice of Chris Guillebeau, I conducted a basic version of hisĀ  Annual Review. On the airplane from Nashville to Boston earlier this week, I thought about all that I had accomplished last year, and what kinds of goals I wanted to make for 2009. Here’s what I came up with:

My mantra in 2009 will be the “Year of Discipline.”
I look forward to a fruitful first year in the real world. I created a healthy list of goals to help trigger that productivity, but only with noticeable level of discipline will I be able to achieve them all. Each quarter (every 3 months), I will review my progress and report my results through this blog.

The goals, in no particular order:

  • Run 5 miles in 35 minutes.
  • Reach conversational level in Spanish.
  • Read and take notes on 3 books from the Personal MBA‘s recommended reading list of 77 books. At this point in my life, I can’t see myself taking out more loans for business school. The Personal MBA will serve as my business school replacement, and over the next few years I hope to create a categorized portfolio of notes from each of the 77 books.
  • Compose a photo-journal coffee table book of my abroad experience in Nepal.
  • Expand my blogging audience to at least 100 RSS subscribers.
  • Clean up my 40 page research paper on vertical farming and send it to Dickson Despommier at Columbia University. I have a business idea to build a vertical farm in Nashville, and I think this is a solid first step.
  • Complete the Hundred Pushups challenge

What goals have you made for 2009? Any suggestions?

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