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Goal setting, health and happiness Goal setting, health and happiness
by Joseph Gatt
2021-03-18 08:52:28
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The general idea is you want to have a big project for life and several side-projects for life. The project takes shape, evolves, encounters new realities as you enter the future.

How does this work?

In real life, you will have an idea for a life project. You could encounter supportive friends and peers who will support your project all the way. Or your friends could oppose your project.

heahap001_400Your friends could oppose your project for two reasons. Either your project is not realistic (in which case you need more realism). Or because they have no projects of their own and people with life projects don't fit into their circle.

I don't believe in self-help gurus who claim that you need clear “goals” in life and that those goals need to be measurable and realistic and that you need to count every action that leads to that goal. Life is about improvisation as much as it is about predictable actions.

So the first step is you need a moderate-sized project for life, and a few smaller-size side-projects. Why do I say “moderate-sized” project and not “big project”? Because all big projects started off as moderate ones. All those startup unicorns were in fact small to medium-sized projects that really took off after a couple of years (or more) of hard work, toil, and a little bit of luck as well.

Projects are not dreams. The difference between a dream and a project is that a dream requires imagination, when projects require real work.

So how do projects work?

First off, you need to hang out with friends who believe that life is about having projects. You need to stop hanging out with people who believe that life is totally about improvisation and that you need not think about tomorrow or later in life.

This is very important. I've encountered people in Korea, in France, in the US, in Algeria, in name a country, who sort of believe that “only losers have projects in life.” So if you hang out with that crowd, they will either shoot down your project, or won't allow you to talk about your project.

Second off, once you hang out with a gang that has their own projects in life, that's when you can discuss yours and get feedback on whether your project is realistic or not. The pitfalls, the structure of the market, what tests or certifications you will need, perhaps a good book or two you could read and so on.

But your gang will not help you shape your project. Now you need to study your project. You want to open a language school? Check out what the demand is for studying languages, who your potential clients will be, who your competitors will be, how language schools are structured, how to finance a language school, where to find teachers, how to train teachers and retain them, so on, so forth.

Want to start a bakery? Same thing. You want to check what competitors do, what you can do differently, what the demand is for baked products, what dates and special events attract more customers, what material you will need to bake your products, display and hygiene procedures, where you can find good bakers you can hire and retain.

So the general idea is you want to work with a project in life. Any project. Could be starting a business. Could also be getting a job in a certain trade. Could also be freelancing. Could be different combinations of working and business.

Then the nature of business and jobs is that they evolve. If you focus all your energy on one project, and that the market changes, you will lose everything. That's why you need a few side-projects in case that big project fails.

I used to work with South Korean diplomats a lot. Diplomacy was their life project, and they sometimes studied for 10-15-20 years before they became diplomats. Problem is: they put all their eggs in the diplomacy basket, and the Korean diplomacy basket is a real pressure cooker. Some of them quit to become teachers or test-prep tutors, while others quit using the connections they made to work as middle-men in business (those were their side-projects). But a few of them do not have side-projects, and I wonder how they go to sleep at night.

So you want to leave a few projects on the side if the big project does not evolve well. If your big project is a bakery, you want something as a side-project. Could be catering. Could be cooking. Could be catering for big events. Could be helping plan big events. Could be baking equipment installation. Could be selling kitchen equipment. You want look at those things as a side-project.

So how do you work on projects? A little bit of daydreaming. A little bit of learning. A little bit of planning. A little bit of evolving. A little bit of testing. And, more importantly, meeting a few people in the trade, and discussing your projects with a few people who believe in people who have projects.

Eventually your project planning will reach saturation and you will be ready for action. Everything will become rather clear, you will know what to do, and your project will come to fruition, and be more or less predictable, while you will have to improvise your way through it a little bit.

Many factors will predict the success of your project. But one of the main factors will be the “debt to income ratio” or the “investment to income ratio”.

That's why I like to tell people to start small. Small is a great place to invest small sums, to learn, to observe, to learn through trial and error, and to eventually master the trade.

I'll finish with this. I like to use this as an example. I only really picked up reading books around the 2008 American presidential elections. Back then, I didn't daydream about reading an entire library. I didn't set myself the goal to read a thousand books in a few days.

I focused on one book at a time. Then one book became ten books. Then a hundred books. But each book had its story, its narrative. And I had a specific goal reading each book.

So the general idea is Yossi Gatt knows more in 2020 than he knew in 2008, and knew more in 2008 than he knew in 1996.

Your project will work the same. You will know a lot more people, tricks and pitfalls in 2030 than you knew in 2020. And you will know even more people, tricks and pitfalls in 2040 than you knew in 2030.

Which brings me to health. A lot of anxiety is caused by not having projects, having vague projects, or not finding people who believe in your projects. Even more anxiety is caused by having one big project and no smaller side-projects.

So you want to work on projects, and life to be about projects. Good luck!

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