How to achieve your goals – a story

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“Fearing change limits your ability to enjoy life (or be happy) in this ever changing life.” I wrote this in a journal entry on August 18th, 2005 (11 years ago!). I don’t usually write a journal entry unless I’m traveling, and luckily I wrote during a trip in 2005. I had just finished a 3-month trip in Latin America with Sara (my girlfriend at the time) and was on a flight from Sacramento to Ontario, CA to pack my life before moving to New York for my new job in consulting. Below is a story on how some of my goals were achieved.

I was 24 and life was exciting. I had just taken a break from my PhD to go get some work experience in consulting, but during the 6-month break between finishing my Masters and the start of my new job, I had time to kill — so we went traveling!

I was going through some old boxes this past week and I found my travel journal – I flipped through it and this one entry surprised me – I don’t remember writing it yet the content of this entry shaped my life without me knowing it from 2005-now. I’m amazed at how much impact this one entry had in my life – it appears the impact was done subconsciously because I don’t remember ever looking back at it or writing it.

I will share this entry now in the hopes that it will be useful to you — and to provide an example of why writing down your goals is so important (bold comments are my 35-year-old self):

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August 18th, 2005 (written in Spanish but translated below)

Incredible, all this change, so busy yet not so busy. I don’t really know what to write about, maybe about change. A few days ago I had written on my MSN chat status: “Fearing change limits your ability to enjoy life (or be happy) in this ever changing life.” Is so much change good for you? Maybe Ruben has some reason that change limits you to plant some roots …. but why are roots important? (funny – in the last 11 years Sara and I have lived in 16 different properties in 7 difference cities until we just recently bought a house — I wonder how long we’ll stay here???)

goals_setting
A week after I wrote this entry I flew to Maui with the family.

I think that instead of planting some roots, the ideal scenario is to think of family and have a united family… is that what planting roots mean? Roots of a family tree? Maybe …

I don’t like to think and reflect in life so much, I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

I feel bad having my family far, but, it’s an excuse for them to travel.

I think I’m reaching a point in my life of acceptance and happiness. I’m proud of what I’ve done until now. I was afraid of not having any new concrete goals — but now I finally have new goals! I realized that there is nothing wrong with not conforming. I’m a person with goals and that helps me have energy and take advantage of each day and moment to the max.

My new goals are:

  • travel the world for a year (check! done in 2011-2012)
  • Go to a top 10 MBA (did not happen but pursued a PhD)
  • Buy real estate (check, twice!)
  • Get real estate license (did not happen but now it’s a potential new goal)
  • Travel with ZS Associates, my new job (check! with it I went to Colombia, Argentina, and across the US)
  • Marry Sara (my favorite goal – check!)
A day before I wrote this entry - Continuing my Hard Rock collection in Sacramento
A day before I wrote this entry – Continuing my Hard Rock collection in Sacramento

I hope to do this in no more than 7 years from now. I think that once I have all of this done, I can think about having my own family. I’m starting to think like an adult, yuk! =) As long as the parties continue I’ll be OK (check! organized a 400+ party last night with success!)

How do I think to pursue an MBA?

  • Make sure to get good letters of rec
  • Read books/articles from Harvard professors and find a way to meet with them
  • Study for the GMAT
  • Get raises and bonuses at work

How do I plan to buy Real Estate?

  • Save $45k
  • Study the markets in Sacramento, Victorville,
  • Buy between $200-250k
  • Increase my credit score
  • Spend frugally (this took some work — NYC was not a place to save money, ask my coffee break group)

How do I plan to travel the world? (by the way, this is 6 years before I went on my trip!)

  • Save $10-15k (it ended up costing $30k for two people, so I was on budget!)
  • Get airline miles
  • plan my MBA around the trip
  • not going into debt

How do I plan to marry Sara? (at the time I was going to move to New York and Sara was moving to San Diego for medical school)

  • Put effort in the relationship to ensure it continues to have the spark and energy it has today
  • See each other as much as possible in the next two years (we flew SD-NYC (vice-versa) every two weeks for a year)
  • Transfer to Los Angeles in 2 years, no later than Sept 2007 (I ended up moving in Sept 2006)
  • Don’t be an idiot (No ser mula!)

Well, having goals is not that bad, it’s helped me go forward and feel like I’ve achieved my dreams. The important thing to have in mind is that not everything that I want is possible and that maybe one of the goals above won’t be achieved and I shouldn’t feel bad for that.


Wow — translating this and re-reading it really trips me out. I was writing down my future and most of it came true! Freaky! I recall in 2005 I had probably $5,000 to my name and I had like $8,000 in credit card debt and $10,000 in student loans … in other words, I had negative net worth. Why would I think I can get an MBA ($200k!), buy property, or even travel the world … in 7 years?!

The journal entry above taught me a few things:

  • Never doubt your ability to achieve your dreams … you just have to want it enough
  • Write down your goals, as stupid as they may sound
  • Write down how you plan to achieve your goals (although, one of my favorite quotes is “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans” … luckily I’m agnostic)
  • Keep a journal, you’ll learn something from yourself in the future

I’ve always told Sara that I think I’m very lucky in life. Life has treated me well and I cannot complain. She sometimes disagrees and says that it’s not luck, it’s the effort and dedication I’ve put in. Maybe she’s right … and I should give credit when credit is due.

But luck does have some role in all of this, you just have to be ready when luck is knocking on your door.

I’d love to hear from you – how do you achieve your goals? Was this helpful? Leave a comment!

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