Let’s talk goals.
My stay in Shanghai will be (already has been) fraught with new challenges, experiences, and triumphs. To make sure I spend my time well here, making and keeping track of a few goals will allow me to look back on this year as time well spent. At least that’s what I’m telling myself, a mere month in and already behind on my publishing schedule.
If you aren’t familiar with what a S.M.A.R.T goal stands for, it means that a goal is:
Specific: Nothing as broad as ‘become a better man,’ but instead focused on one aspect of one subject, such as ‘run :30 faster in my next 10K.’
Measurable: This can denote whether or not you’ve reached your goal (some goals will be zero-sum games), or how far you’ve come. Becoming more open-minded is not a measurable goal because there is nothing you can use to measure your success. Changing the goal to something like ‘read 4 articles a week about things you don’t like’ is better because you’re exposing yourself to different viewpoints and choosing an objective that you can measure progress with.
Achievable: As often as you’re told to ‘shoot for the moon,’ setting goals too high will make them seem like pointless endeavors. Instead, focusing on something that’s right within your grasp can lead to more productive goal setting. For example, saying that you want to run a minute faster on your mile run is far too large of an improvement. Instead, aiming for a few seconds at a time will provide a constant feeling of achievement and progress by setting new goals once the one you have is done.
Results-Focused: A clear outcome should be obtained from achieving the goal. Generally speaking, improvement in the endeavor you set out on will work, or success in a zero-sum type of goal will mean that the goal is centered around obtaining a positive outcome through your efforts.
Time-Specific: Keeping to a timeline helps you track your progress (another aspect of keeping your goal measurable), and creates a feeling of urgency and intrinsic motivation you might not have otherwise if there was no time constraint. For the sake of my time here, all my goals will generally be things I can achieve in a years’ time.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it.
Complete book 1 of my Mandarin Chinese language text, and become conversational in Mandarin by the end of the year.
I’m not entirely sure how achievable this goal is as Mandarin has proven to be a daunting language to learn (as I had expected) and my studies have been delayed by a combination of the busyness of settling down in China and laziness in not committing time every day. As a small goal, I aim to spend 15 minutes a day for the first month studying Mandarin, but have only done so 2-3 times a week. By slowly increasing the frequency of my study sessions, I think I can get to a point where I can up the study time and take on more material. This will also likely be easier once I start learning my job as a teacher and having to sink less mental resources into that endeavor. My result will be signified by the completion of book 1, the development of daily study habits for Mandarin, and the ability to eat, travel, and communicate my basic needs to native Chinese speakers.
Out of all my goals, this one is the most important to me because the transferable skill of learning another language can be very advantageous for if/when I return to the world of advertising. Especially in Hawaii, where a huge portion of the tourism income is now coming from Chinese tourists, it’s important to understand the language and culture to successfully appeal to them. Living among Chinese people without trying to understand them and their culture seems like it would do a disservice to my personal and professional growth, so I intend to absorb as much as possible in my time here.
Write this series weekly, focusing on a wide range of topics and keep my writing skills sharp.
Teaching kids and teens for year is significantly less demanding for my English skills than it would be to write new content regularly, so by thinking of this blog as exercise, I can hopefully keep my writing skills near the level they were previously at, and maybe even improve my short-form skill. Professionally, I’ve had the most experience so far as a copywriter and social media manager, and managing my blog would allow me to stay decently up to date with social media trends while staying ready to jump back into content creation if the opportunity presents itself in the future.
Travel and see more of China.
Not specific, measurable, or results-focused enough! So to specify, I want to see the Great Wall, Beijing, and Hong Kong in the year that I’m here.
Certainly, an appealing factor for teaching in China was the opportunity to see a foreign country, take in beautiful sights, and connect with half of my ancestry. Because getting a visa to stay in China has been such a struggle, it seems like seeing as much of China while I still have it would be a good way to get the most bang for my buck in regards to the cost of obtaining the visa. Additionally, living in China and not seeing these famous places at least once would leave me feeling like I left without experiencing important places for this country, full of history and tradition I am admittedly ignorant about. Since vacation might be hard to come by, I might have to make some compromises on traveling to all the places I want to travel to, but if I at least see Beijing and the Great Wall, I think that I’ll be able to mark this goal complete.
While these are goals I’ve set for myself, they’re on a smaller scale and importance than the first three. These include: playing piano for at least 15 minutes a day and learning one new song by memory, doing 100 pushups and sit ups a day, and eating somewhere new at least once a week. As mentioned last week, piano is something that I want to continue brushing up on and even improving. Also, as an athletic guy, keeping in some sort of shape will help me maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep my spirits up when things start to feel like they’re dragging along. Finally, experiencing new foods was a huge draw for me to come to Shanghai, so I want to take advantage of the opportunity to try as many different foods as possible, especially dishes that are unique to Shanghai.
Hopefully by illustrating my aims for coming to this foreign land, it’ll be easy to see whether I’ve made good use of my time here.
Wherever you are in the world, finding something you want to accomplish and getting down to accomplishing it is no easy task.
But it starts with a step, and regardless of where it ends, you’ll find yourself farther down the path than where you started.
What are your goals for the rest of the year or next?
See you next week*