Goodreads reading challenge 2020 (24 books)

Every year for the past six years, I have participated in the Goodreads reading challenge. It is a challenge of setting yourself a goal; the number of books you would like to read for the year. And throughout the year, you track your progress, marking the books you have read, and selecting the books you are currently reading.

The lowest target I set myself was in 2017 and 2018, where I set myself to read 16 books. This is lower than my usual 24 books for the year, mainly because I was doing my part-time Master’s study at NUS while working at the same time. So I figured that I shouldn’t torture myself and set a goal that was simply unattainable given my workload and the amount of required readings for my Master’s study.

However I managed to reach my reading goals for 2017 with 19 books read, three books more than my original target set at the beginning of the year. But I wavered a little bit in 2018, with two books short of my 16 book target. It was still a decent milestone though and I was quite proud of myself in being able to set aside time to commit myself to reading a book every now and then.

2019 was the year that I set a really lofty target; 30 books. I initially wanted to make up for lost time, now that I had graduated with a Master’s Degree, I should have more time catch up on my reading. I was wrong. I was short by 8 books, reading only 22 books in 2019, 2 books short of my usual 24 books a year goal typically set in earlier years. The fact that I was 8 books short, meant that I was distracted by a lot of other things that was happening in my life.

This year, I am trying to be kinder to myself and set a goal of 24 books to read for 2020. I suppose that after all these years using the Goodreads reading challenge, 24 books seem to be my sweet spot. I have exceeded that goal a few times before, usually by one or two books.

It’s mid January and I have completed reading three books. I am not celebrating just yet, but I am confident that I am off to a great start in reaching my goals of reading 24 books this year. I am currently ahead of schedule (although who knows what is in store for me in 2020 that might ultimately derail my reading plans) and who knows if I might eventually reach 30 books by the end of the year, the highest goal that I have set for myself but fail to eventually reach it. Maybe 2020 is the year where I will smash that 30-book goal set in 2019.

Happy New Year!!

There is so many things to look forward to in 2019. My New York and Morocco travels are the biggest events I am looking forward to the most, especially in the first half of the year. Things are a little hazy in the second half. Graduation ceremony will take place in the middle of the year and I am looking forward to walking on that auditorium, receiving my Masters Degree certificate on stage.

I am optimistic about 2019. Good things are going to happen in 2019.

As part of my process in finalising my New Year Resolutions for 2019, one of the resolutions that I will be writing it down will definitely be writing more in this blog. I will commit to spending more time sharing my life in this blog, the good the bad and even the ugly. I will update more often throughout the year, even writing about the mundane stuff. Previously, my blog updates were sporadic, writing only about significant events that happened in my life. This year, will be different.

Some of you may have noticed that I have not finalise my New Year Resolutions for 2019 yet despite the fact that 2019 is here. That is fine by me. So long as I come up with a finalised list soon in the coming days, it’s still not too late.

Next up, I might be talking about my fitness goals for 2019.

Reading goals for 2019 (New Year Resolutions 2019)

I am an avid reader but not a voracious one. I suffer from episodes of intense reading sessions followed by absolute disgust for books. I go through these cycles several times in a year.

Apart from the magazines and news sources that I subscribe to, I am quite conservative when it comes to deciding just how many books I want to read for the year.

The goals that I have set in recent years have always been to read about 24 books a year. That works out about 2 books a month. Totally achievable. 2018 was different. I was busy with my studies. So I lowered my bar to 16. It’s the final days of 2018 and I am short by one book. And that is ok. I still find reading 16 good books in a year an achievement. Furthermore, I never lose sight of my goals and still kept at it even when the going got tough, juggling work, school and a multitude of things that have happened in my life in 2018.

2019 is the year where I swore to push myself even harder in almost every aspect of my life. 2019 is the year where I will push the envelope, going further, harder, faster and deeper. I am setting my sights higher in every aspect of my New Year Resolutions.

So what is my reading goal for 2019? I have decided to read 30 books in 2019. This is the most ambitious goal I have set for myself when it comes to reading.

Will I be able to reach my goals? As of now, I am pretty confident that I can achieve it, provided that life doesn’t throw a curveball at me.

I am going to do it. This will be set in stone as part of my New Year Resolutions 2019. Soon, I will compile my resolutions into a list so that I can write it in a brand new Moleskin notebook that will serve as a constant reminder whenever I write stuff in the notebook.

New Year Resolutions 2019.

I need to find time to craft my new year resolutions for 2019. For the past few years, I have crafted them and it seemed to have helped in achieving most of my goals and put my life in order. Although not foolproof, writing my resolutions and goals for the year has helped me keep my life in order. I have maintained my fitness, achieved my fitness goals, achieved my financial goals and other personal development goals that I have set myself.

There are definitely a couple of goals that fall short. Like for example, my reading goals were not achieved. But at least I tried my best in trying to achieve the goals I have set for myself. It is true in what they say when it comes to writing down those goals; physically writing them down is half the battle won. The other half is ensuring that the goals are specific, with numbers that are achievable and not based on some benchmark that makes your life hard. New year resolutions’s are not there to make your life difficult and miserable. They are to keep your life in order, in a way that would make you happy. They are the rocks that anchor your life, and keep you rooted in reality. They are your companion in reminding you that the time given is a blessing and that you should make the best use of them. The goals are meant for you and you alone, and it should not be compared with others. Write goals that are specific, with a number on it and that is realistically achievable. This means having to spend time reflecting on the past year and on yourself, and try to craft goals that are achievable based on your abilities. It can be a simple goal you set for yourself, as long as you make the effort in reaching those goals.

Sometime we lose track of those goals and set out lofty goals that make you miserable, because you know it is a huge challenge to achieve them. That should not be the way. Like I mentioned, it is ok to set out an easy goal to achieve; writing them, sticking to them and achieving them is far better than merely dreaming about them and not doing them.

My trick in making an effective New Year Resolution is to craft goals with milestones on them. For example, If I set myself to read 24 books a year, which is achievable without too much difficulty, I can set a second milestone of 30 books to push myself harder if I so desire. Same goes for financial goals. If I set myself to save $12000 a year, which translates to $1000 a month, I can set a second milestone of $15000. Since I know for a fact that $12000 is easily achievable, as I have done in previous years, crafting second milestones, would remind myself that I can do better with added effort. Ultimately at the end of the day, you can set a goal that is easily achievable and set a second milestone goal if you have the capacity to push yourself a little harder in achieving them.

I think one of the biggest mistakes in people crafting their own resolutions is making them ambitious and lofty, which leads to people lapsing on their goals as the year progresses, or crafting goals that are increasingly difficult over the years, which makes them more miserable as more and more of those goals are left unattainable because of unrealistic expectations.

Come up with goals that you know you can achieve them. There is nothing wrong with creating a goal in your resolutions that are simple to begin with. You can always write a second milestone goal for the added challenge.

I am writing goals below that will be part of my new year resolutions lest I forget:

Financial goals:

1. Moratorium on buying a new smartphone. No new smartphone purchases for 2019.

2. Moratorium on upgrading my computer. No computer upgrades for 2019.

New Year Resolutions 2017 is shaping up

I am in the process of writing my New Year Resolution for 2017. Emphasis will be given on advancing my career, making preparations to embark on a new journey. While I am doing that, I am also emphasizing on doing well in school, now that I am going back to study, enrolling myself on a Master’s Programme in Science Communication. This two-prong approach will allow me to gain new skills, and apply those skills that would be relavant in making my switch away from research. I think it is time I make my way out and find new career opportunities with my new skills and credential.

It is going to be a touch 2-year journey. But I am confident enough that I will be able to make it through.

Apart from that, financial goals are relatively unchanged from last year’s. I did managed to achieve my savings goals for 2016 and then some. This time round, I going with a tiered-goal approach. Reaching the base goal in terms of the amoung I am required to save (which is mandatory) before reaching the next tiered goal in savings. I added incentives that would reward myself if I achieve all the tiered-goals I have set for myself (which is mainly having lots of savings in my bank account, making it look good, nothing fancy.) So in other words, more belt tightening, focusing more on my studies, without neglecting work, while juggling all that, setting the foundation for new career opportunities that might come knocking at my door.

Where is my new year resolution?

It’s often a tradition for me to come up with some new year resolutions. Whether it is in a form of bullet points or sweeping goals that I set myself to achieve during the year, at least it serves as a signpost on how I should lead my life in the year ahead. To not be too muddled or distracted in things that do not bring happiness or improve my life. To at least provide some sense of direction in improving oneself, or achieving something in your bucket list.

The truth is, it’s hard for me to come up with one now. My employment prospects are still in limbo. If it falls through, it will be months before I get a job. And that by itself would be depressing, which will lead me to not be able to come up with a firm resolution that would properly serve and guide me throughout the year. So I am holding that for now.

But what I can say is that the resolution to get fitter and eat healthier is definitely in the cards. And I will commit myself to be more discipline when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and get even fitter this year. I started running  since March last year on a regular basis and adding new routines every now and then to strengthen myself and get fit. I have not an ounce of regret. I am going to continue to run and get fit and maintain my fitness, which can be even more difficult that initially starting out getting fit by itself. Let’s just say that I do not want to waste my months of effort to get to where I am right now. Regular exercise by itself has made me a better person as a whole, and I know that getting fitter would bring in more benefits. I don’t like exercising, but seeing its benefits, i think its a good pill to swallow, no matter how bitter it can be.

Apart from my career, (Should I hold a job in the next couple of weeks. Everything hinges on that email that I am waiting from my prospective employer.), I think one major addition to my resolution, is to perhaps find a way to find someone whom I can start sharing my life with. In other words, get into a relationship. I think it’s time. But the problem is I just don’t know where to start. In addition to my new start to my new career in the near future, finding someone and starting a relationship, is perhaps the next sensible step I should take. And it should not be just for 2014 but in the years ahead. The very thought of it is overwhelming, but I am going to take it step by step. I don’t care what people say, but I am going to take the first step even if it’s a slow and cautious one. I think it’s time to not only move on with life, but move forward to become a better man.

So a meaningful relationship is in the cards. I am also going to continue to expand my circle of peers and acquaintances. Travel is in the cards as well. The details of all these have not been worked out yet. Also in the cards are things or habits that I should take up or refine to define who I want to be in 2014. Details are sparse at the moment. I need time to brainstorm quietly and think through my life and what I want to accomplish to be happy.



It ain’t over till the fat lady sings

A friend of mine commented this on my facebook status, after mentioning that I finally achieved my goals I set out for myself when I first started school in NTU. That goal was to achieve at least a second class upper grade at the end of my four-year journey in NTU. And I did achieved it, at the 11th hour, after the final results for my FYP grades were released.  The grade that I gotten for my final module, was enough to pull me up to achieve my goals. I am ecstatic. Truly I am.

And what my friend mentioned, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” couldn’t be more true. Before I decided to do my FYP, I was so close to achieving my second class upper. But I wasn’t there yet. FYP was my last ditch effort to increase and pass that elusive 4.00 threshold that would deserve a second class upper standing. I told myself, this is it, this is the final chance for me to do my very best, pull it up one last time. After that, there is not more chances in changing your grade. So I chose to do FYP instead instead of an internship, where you merely get a pass/fail grade. My decision was probably the best decision I have ever made in so many years.

And the day came when the results were out. Which was today. And lo and behold! My GPA increased! I really did achieve my goals at the 11th hour. It was a close shave, one last push, which I did not take it for granted and the efforts really paid off. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings. You should never know the outcome till everything is over.

I have a lot of people to thank for. Particularly my mentors and supervisors who helped me along the way in my FYP. I definitely have to write a letter of thanks to them tomorrow, telling them how grateful I am for rendering lots of help along the way and for playing a crucial role in achieving my goals.