The Journey to Success Begins With Setting Goals ― Not Dreaming

Let me preface this by saying I have, by no means, arrived. I still have a long way to go and several goals to tick off my list. Nevertheless, I am exactly where I want to be at 33 years old. In fact, when I closed my eyes as a teen and envisioned a life of peace of prosperity, this is what I had in mind, down to the very last detail. Yes, even the RV, the FJ Cruiser, living in the desert and having a black cat.

That should tell you something about me already:

I don’t dream. I set goals.

I don’t just wish. I plan.

Throughout my journeys, I’ve encountered a lot of millennials and older persons who neither set goals nor plans. Consequently, they haven’t achieved any of the things they wanted. Sadly, many people don’t even know what they want at all.

What Do You Want?

Gift or curse, I’ve always known what I wanted, and I pursue that relentlessly until I do. Want a perfect example? I decided at two years old that I wanted to be a writer. Not just as a fun hobby but as my job. All my life, people told me it couldn’t be done. Writers are starving artists struggling to get by.

Well, I got the last laugh.

Nothing I have achieved has been by accident. As a foreign-born minority in America, I don’t have the privilege of connections and failing upwards. Every small step forward has been deliberate and resulted from concerted efforts to reach specific goals.

So, do you know what you want? If you don’t just yet, it’s not the end of the world. Take some time and give it serious thought. When you envision your place of peace and prosperity, what does it look like?

Saying you want to be happy is not enough. What does “happy” look like, smell like, feel like? When you can answer that question, that’s where the real magic begins.

What Are You Willing To Sacrifice To Get What You Want?

Several years ago, I made friends with a guy who described himself as happy-go-lucky and dancing above the stars. That was true for the first week. Then, all he ever did was complain about his life.

I can understand expressing some sense of doom about the world we live in. We can’t control that. But, your individual life and contributions to that world are entirely up to you.

One day, I asked him why he was so angry at himself and the world. He told me, “I’m 32 years old. I should have an established career, my own house, and no debt. I should be successful!”

I asked him, “What have you done to earn that level of success?”

He widened his eyes at me and said, incredulously, “I’m 32 years old! I’ve been working since I was a teenager.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “You and almost everyone else. So, what have you done to achieve those things that everyone else hasn’t?”

Needless to say, we didn’t remain friends for very long. His melodrama drove me nuts, and my enthusiasm for life made his melodrama worse. Nevertheless, I pose the same question to you:

What are you willing to do differently from everyone else to achieve extraordinary results?

When Will You Start Working Toward Your Goals?

I recently made an excellent friend who is very much like me in personality but not in goals. He certainly wants to travel and see the world, but not now. First, he wants to buy a house and commit to a 30-year-mortgage. He expects to be in his 50s before he gets to live a life of adventure ― after he has built stability.

Honestly, this is a mature approach to finances and life. At the very least, he knows what he wants. But who wants to wait until their 50s to truly live? Living until your 50s isn’t even guaranteed. And, at the rate we’re destroying the planet, who’s to say it will still be habitable in 30 years?

Most people on the road tell me they wish they had lived their younger years the way I do. They wish they had traveled and lived for experiences instead of things. Now they are too old to truly enjoy it. Life is not promised, and health, even less so.

Don’t start working on the things you want tomorrow, next week, next year, or in 30 years. 

You could be dead by then.

Start working on it TODAY.

What Is Your Motivation for Success?

I know someone who worked hard to earn a medical degree because their parents pushed them into it. At first, the prestige and money that came with being a doctor in America was great motivation. But, beyond that, there was no actual passion for medicine itself. Within a few years, they quit their job and started looking for work in a new field.

What is your motivation for success? Is the end goal something you want because it speaks to you personally? Or, are you pursuing an idea of success that society or parents forced onto you?

You might think of me as successful, but I want you to remember a few things. I am glamorously homeless, but I am homeless all the same. I also make much less than the national average salary in America. I just know how to live on less, courtesy of being born, raised, and employed in a developing country before moving to America.

Many other people frown at the way I live. Some others believe it’s an excellent way to live, but I am undeserving. Old White men, especially ― who would probably kill to have my life ― regularly leave me nasty messages on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. They are sometimes also extremely racist in person. I have met more good ones than bad ones but it doesn’t change the fact that I encounter bad ones almost daily with several repeat offenders.

If I weren’t motivated by my own idea of happiness, I probably would have quit this life a long time ago. Maybe fear for my safety in rural and potentially racist areas would have already gotten to me. As it is, I don’t see myself giving up nomadic life in the foreseeable future.

Will your motivation be as unshakeable? That all depends on the reasons behind it. Be honest with yourself about why you want the things you do.

What’s Your Master Plan?

A few weeks ago, I found one of the old notebooks I used to scribble in before hitting the road. I had written several lists detailing my plans to become a digital nomad and the steps I would take. Hilariously, I followed those plans to the T.

What is your master plan to achieve your goals? Are you just coasting and waiting for “the right opportunity, ” or are you actively seeking out possibilities?

Are you adjusting your plans as new opportunities arise?

Are you taking deliberate steps?

What are the milestones?

I believe that you have no goal if you don’t have a plan. All you have is a dream. You might get lucky or have the privilege of failing upwards in a biased society. But, for the rest of us who want to live extraordinary lives and achieve incredible things, we need plans. 

We need real goals.

16 thoughts on “The Journey to Success Begins With Setting Goals ― Not Dreaming

  1. I agree 100% that people who are happy in their lives have no reason to be angry or vindictive towards others. I never desired to travel so when the opportunity to visit other countries arose I jumped on the opportunity. Always do what makes you happy.

    1. Some have every reason to be happy and are still miserable. So maybe I should specify, the people who have lived fulfilling lives. 😂

      I’m glad you’ve also had the chance to explore and pursue what makes you happy!

  2. Another great read, Alexis. Like you, I’ve always had goals and a roadmap in my head.. but funnily enough, my roadmap ended at 23 (i.e. graduating from med school without student loans). After that, I sort of just assumed the other things like a car, house etc would fall into place. I went into a quarter life crisis when I realized that my road map ended…. But I’ve now created a new road map of exciting goals not linked to my career and I’ve fallen back in love with life once more. Keep living life on your own terms and inspiring us all!

    1. A similar thing happened to me when I graduated UTech. My whole life had led up to that moment of graduating and then I couldn’t find a job. Then, when I found one, it sucked. It was a huge letdown, as if it had all been for nothing. But, I am so grateful for that. Because, feeling like I had nothing to lose ultimately meant I had everything to gain, so I felt more open to risks and opportunities. They paid off!

      I’m glad to hear you’ve fallen back in love with life and living and that your roadmap is up and running again. ☺️

  3. I actually spent my life without such overtly clear directions, but find that my underlying goals have guided me throughout. I look at my daughter, my grandchildren, my home, my faith life, my friends, my library and my writing and find I am exactly where I always really wanted to be.

    1. I’m glad you’ve found your own path to happiness. I think our differences in paths might reflect our differences in goals. Society prefers that women find happiness in family and faith, so that’s a path we’re almost pushed and encouraged into. I, on the other hand, have rebelled. 😂

  4. Wise words, Alexis. I’m turning 30 next year, and although I definitely have a better idea of who I am compared to my early (even mid-) twenties, I recently have been going through a sort of crisis (is it still quarter-life crisis, or…one-third life crisis? I don’t know, haha). While I do have a very-stable job, it’s also a 9-to-5 with pretty-strict regulations on taking time off, which is stifling to me, who would like to travel more than usual, especially with the world re-opening to travel with COVID…and although I know that I’d like to stay working in the public sector, this particular department is definitely not one I’d want to stay in forever. To some extent, I feel stuck, because I am at loss of how to change, to do things differently, etc. And even I don’t even know what my goals are anymore! Definitely a lot to think about as I get older, but this post served as a wake-up call for me to actually try something new, and to go forth and take the risk. Wishing you a wonderful journey of discovery for yourself, too!

    1. I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling stuck at work. But I’m happy to hear this served as a wake up call for you. ☺️

      Life is short. Sounds like it’s time for change!

      I will say that many people I know who worked in the public sector were able to retire early so I would hold on to that. But definitely find something more flexible. Good luck!

    1. Thank you, VJ! I hope I inspire people to do more than window shop the lives of others. It’s so much more fulfilling to build something that makes us happy.

  5. A marvellous lesson, Alexis, for those who will listen, and act. I’m at the other end of the journey, settled down and relaxing, refusing to take on the stresses and tribulations of the world as much as I possibly can. Well done, and I hope you are successful in the rest of your life plan.

    1. Thank you, Peter! May we all make it to our senior years with the level of peace and quiet that you have achieved.

  6. Those old white men are just jealous of you because you’re doing your thing at a time when you can enjoy it. They missed out and now they are bitter. The life I have lived has been my own. Some have lived better some have lived worse but my life was mine. I have climbed mountains and walked in deserts and slept in forests. I have tasted the Waters of several oceans many rivers and a few lakes. I have met many people along the way and some of them I have helped continue their life and also been with them when their life has ended. I have outlived way too many furry Friends. As an old white guy, I am not jealous of your life but I admire that you are living your life on your terms as there are many out there who are not. Carlos Castaneda wrote in his book, “The teachings of Don Juan” death is always your companion and he lives over your left shoulder. If you turn fast enough you just may catch a glimpse of him. I have seen death, but I was out of his reach. One day he will catch up to me I will see him over my left shoulder one last time. Live your life, follow your own journey for it is yours Alexis. There will be many more people that you will meet a long the way. Success is Not for them to define for you. It is for you to define for yourself. There is a song by John Denver titled “poems prayers and promises ” and when I heard that song oh so many years ago, I knew it would tell the story of my life.

    1. Thank you, Buddy. I find that the people who are already living fulfilling lives are in a better place to be appreciative of where I am and where they are, as well.

      If those men spent half the time investing the life they have left in worthwhile things instead of trying to troll me, they would be so much happier with themselves. But, alas, harassing me is easier than changing their perspectives and bad habits! 😂

      May you not see death on the left shoulder any time soon!

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