Goal Setting & S.M.A.R.T Goals

As updated in my last 2 blog entries, did goal setting (as a branch) 2 weeks ago ….. and subsequently managed to find time last night (or rather this morning before bedtime) to complete the booklet.

Given it was back to regular PPI / focus group after combined branch goal setting the week before …… and Hari Raya Puasa (public holiday) last Monday …… and a good 3 weeks since we met up (as a small group) …… 1st half hour of the session was dedicated to taking about weekly activity commitment and tracking.

In fact, as I was filling in the booklet last night/this morning, I sort of had a mild epiphany. More often than not, we continuously set goals, only not to follow through on them as we get distracted by many other stuff going on in our lives, thus forgetting about the goals we have originally set for ourselves …… and losing focus as a result.

One common recurring theme that I hear more often than not is the phrase called S.M.A.R.T Goals. When broken down, it means:






More detailed explaination of each component can be found here – http://topachievement.com/smart.html

Setting goals and writing them down is not difficult. In fact, writing them down is the easiest part of the entire goal setting process. It is following through them, keeping to them and actually acheiving them that is the most challenging/difficult. Simple case in point – how many a time when we were all enthusiastically writing down our new year resolutions at the beginning of each new year …… but only to totally forget and lose track of them as the year goes along, and when we reach year end, bemoan what is NOT done.

Not only that, just writing them down, as much as it is the very 1st step is not good enough. As per the S.M.A.R.T formula, first things first, the goal(s) written must be Specific. Can’t comment on others, but for myself I finally realised many a time, my goals/resolutions ‘fail’ because they are too general, and lack a timeframe (to be done/acheived).

For instance, just saying “I want to lose weight” …… “I want to plan for retirement” …… is not enough. There has to be a timeline (by when) …… a target result (how many kilos, how much $$) – which comes under the 2nd M – Measurable. If we do not keep track, how are we supposed to know how close are we to our set goals right? Tracking and keeping regular updates on our progress is also another key component that we fail to do. So end of the day, if we end up as ‘headless chickens’ feeling like we have acheived nothing, it is more important that we take responsiblity for the lack of commitment in tracking 1st, rather than blaming the environment and external circumstances for our ‘failure’.

This is also what happened to me as my lack of enthusiasum resulted in me slacking off my tracking/monitoring …… thus my year end banding goal fell short of expectation. Lesson learnt on my part! And not just work. Like what CP has shared on more than one ocasion on her weight loss experience, tracking her food intake, exercise output and measuring her weight daily – the consistency of these activities day in day out meant that she was successful in her weight loss goal. Definitely something we can learn from and apply as well.

As I write, doing the S and M components right would mean that the A component i.e. Attainable is acheivable as well. And of course they must be Realistic. As highlighted in the link above, a realistic goal is one which you are both willing and able to work towards.

To give a very specific and real life example. In the course of my work, I always hear clients/prospects telling me they want to save and invest for retirement, only not to follow through using lack of time, no mood as excuses not to take action. Generically speaking, saving and investing for retirement sounds simple enough …… but how as a financial planner are you supposed to be able to guide your client/prospect towards this ‘simple’ goal when they are unwilling to do the following:

1. Commit a cash flow amount for saving/investing
2. Refuse to do up a basic Income & Expenses data sheet after saying they have no idea how much they save
3. For those who say they need time to think about it, they end up chucking it aside, using no time as an excuse. A common thread is also that there is also no timeline/time commitment on their part to get this done-up as it is up to them only when its convenient and when they are in the mood.
4. Refuse to engage in further discussion – either not picking up calls, responding to emails, refusing follow-up appointments etc. In my view, this is 100 times worse than being risk-averse and not having much left to save as it is irresponsiblity and rude-ness at its core.

So how am I suppose to ethically advise a client, be considerate to ALL their needs (they will tell you they don’t want to buy too much insurance because they need to set aside for retirement and property purchase. Fair enough, so where is the cash flow breakdown??) …… and yet a simple thing as Net Income, Net Outflow and Net Savings also don’t want to give …. don’t want to engage ….. so basically these people are just wasting our time giving opaque and unrealistic goals given how totally unwilling and unable they are to work on it.

And the last T – apart from it being Timely (grounded within a specific time frame) …… it should also be Tangible. A tangible goalis one where you can experience it with one of your senses – be it taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing. Rather than going into such sensory aids, I would say, if we can see results/things happening by the actions we take …… we are 1 step closer to the goals that we have set out to acheive!

But of couse in order to see the results that will keep us motivated towards reaching our goals, we have got to do our basics right i.e. the S, M, A, R before the T comes into play.

So at the end of the day ……



Some Thoughts On Work Life Balance

Starting another entry on the go as I head to Bugis for a Saturday pre lunch workout!

A topic/subject that has been very close to my heart and which I have made as one of my key 2014 resolutions – Work Life Balance.

What prompted this entry was the below which I chanced on a blog earlier in the week ……


My usual workflow habit for the past couple of years has always been to hit office (on non-appointment days) after lunch from 2pm onwards, and work late till 8pm at least (7pm would be considered early). Even earlier departure on workout/running days. So this gives me at best 5-6 hours in office, plus given the 1 hour commute to Beach Road, 1/2 day easily whizzes by without managing to do much productive work. In fact there are days where I could well possibly be more productive working from home (since 2 hours is saved on traveling).

Thus it has always been a long term goal for me to overhaul my bio-clock and sleep patterns, so that I can start the day earlier, and get more done in the day. Another motivation would be the health aspect of it, as a more ‘normal’ bed time and earlier waking hours helps me lose weight 😛

Of course the most important motivation is that I have my evenings free for work appointments, daily workouts and runs, family time, time to catch up and re-connect with friends – while still getting in 6 hours in the office on a non-appointment day.  In the past, the old me had always thought that I can compensate by staying late beyond 8pm. But that leaves me tired (after late dinner and the 1 hour commute home) and the cycle repeats again and again. The need to really change and overhaul my bad work habits accumulated over the years came acutely after my Japan trip where I had the time to think through what I really want going forward, and the life I ideally want to live. And the action plan to make it happen 🙂

What further prompted this entry also was my observation of seeing SS work late for the past week in office. Due to whatever reason, they usually reach office around lunchtime or after lunch, and are the late night owls that stay beyond 9pm. On first impression, you would think they are hardworking reps who are dedicated to their work, and have a lot of clients to serve – thus the late night hours. But from some time last year (2013) onwards, after our move back to Shenton Way, I have come to realize that it is more likely that they are not as efficient and effective as others would think they are, as versus to the impression they are giving off. So this is one thing I must never learn from these so-called achiever(s)- and also a push factor for me to change before its too late!

From there  I can understand better now why one of my clients elect to bring work home to do rather than stay late (so that he gets family time at the dinner table with his girls before retreating to his study room).  And essentially I have came around to lugging my laptop home again everyday (changed back to using the Acer document bag so that the load is lighter) in order to catch up on work (comparisons, research, email) and do my travel blogs. So no more leaving office beyond 8 to 830pm on most days. Thursday is a departure from norm as I went back office to collect my laptop after appointment – while on the way home.

As much as I should be spending more time with clients outside rather than being in office (another key motivation for the change) – the original 3 days per week in office rule as I have originally intended is not practical anymore as business activities have increased now the festive season (Christmas and Chinese New Year) is over and we are going into the last lap of the banding year. I have been diligently noting down my timings (sleep, wake up, leaving home etc.) in my little diary …… This has the effect of making me more mindful of how I spend my time. And am happy to note that I have been improving on my sleep-wake cycle and getting to office earlier. Still some way away from the ideal wake up 8am, reach office at 1030am to 11am target …… but am definitely working towards it! Hope to report my progress on this blog as I go along ……

Note: Finished this up on Sunday 16 Feb 2014 before heading out for lunch.

Getting Started Again ……

One of the most challenging things in life is getting a goal/project going – and sticking to it! It can be something simple – such as eating less carbs, sleeping earlier …… to something involving higher stakes such as a new job, prospecting in a new target market, sticking to a budget etc. ……

One of my main 2014 new year resolutions is to run a PB for half-marathon this year. The only race that I have signed up to date was the 2XU Compression Run (most likely to give Sundown a miss as I prefer to use the time to concentrate on production matters for the last lap of banding year without the distraction of training). However after being sick since before Christmas (started with sore throat and mild flu from 20th Dec 2013) …… to the irriating cough that refuses to go away well into year 2014 (until mid of last week), workouts and training runs (if there were even any at all) have to take  a backseat.

So rather than setting goals to run X km and doing X workouts per week (as per a prescribed training plan that you can get online from Runner’s World for instance), the one simple goal I had for this week was simply an easy run (at least 20 min and 2km covered) to get back into the running cycle again. No long workouts as it is usually not wise to start long after a long break from the activity (in my case, my last run was the Great Eastern Women’s Half Marathon back in early Nov!) ……

The original plan was to get a run workout in on Tuesday (14th Jan) followed by spin class on Thursday (16th Jan). Bad habit of dily-dalying, thus left office only at around 720pm. Then another bad habit of not fueling up sufficiently pre-workout (the small cheese stick from Sophies was not sufficient as I felt my stomach rumbling) – thus had to get a chicken wing at Old Chang Kee before heading to the gym to change …… Then had to take in a client phone call about some issues. Sighz ……

By the time I got changed, it was already 5 min past late. Decided to abort the plan of an outdoor run, and simply do 15 min on the threadmill instead. However after warm-up and some hip abuctors (machine), was so bothered by client’s phone call that I decided an outdoor run was necessary after all (to clear my mind and also to get training going again) ……


Lousy statistics indeed but I guess the most important thing is that I have acheived my goal of a run (on Tuesday night) to get my running activity going again. As an analogy to life, we have to start taking action first, before taking the next step of keeping the actvity going and developing it into a lifelong habit!

Ending of with a favourite quote of mine,

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
~ Lao Tzu

Saturday Musings Part 1: Some Fengshui Tips … Hmm

Despite the title, this is not so much a blog about my thoughts on fengshui.

Rather, I came across Lynn Yap’s entry a few days ago and felt a strong resonance with the topic – do you set a goal or target for yourself?

This is very relevant to myself and my daily work/life. To extract specifically from her entry, these few paragraphs really strike a chord with me, thus logging it down here:

Personally, I don’t set any but I do have a certain sales target that I need to achieve in a month. I set reasonable and achievable targets for myself and as like I said, I am only answerable to myself and to my own pocket.

After setting a big plan, now plan monthly then plan weekly and then daily. work and work till you earn your first million, net worth for one. Then plan and go higher till when you wake up, you found yourself at 55 or even 60 then count…….what is your net worth. Hmm……a couple of millions and very comfortable, then tell yourself, you have done yourself proud and well.
It’s your narrow mindset that sets borders for you and then limit how much you can achieve in your life time.

Long Weekend In A Whizz

A very rare long long weekend just flew by, with 2 PH back to back (Hari Raya Puasa on the 8th & National Day on the 9th) …. followed by Sat & Sun, which makes it a 4 day long weekend (almost feels like a work week itself), ha!

To recap backwards slightly, chose to get my right wisdom tooth done on 2nd Aug (Friday) – which meant the next 4 to 5 days was on MC/rest …. and only got back to work on Tuesday, before long weekend beckoned again!

Long weekend would’ve been the perfect time to plan a short trip …. but did not have plans for that (due to wisdom tooth removal) …… Also good for catching up with clients/prospects, but due to my break for wisdom tooth removal, didn’t manage to have that set up. So decided to make full use of this downtime to get some personal projects done up, notably

1. Draft Budget For My Nov Holiday & Firming Air Tickets
2. Annual Personal Financial Review & Update (also a way to re-acquainte myself with the financial planning software again)
3. Investment Overview & Update (For the investment side of my business)
4. Catch Up On My Movies/Drama/Variety Show backlog

On top of that, had tickets to catch NDP live this year & a family gathering yesterday (Sunday) ….. So still a busy long weekend after all!

And in the end, only got to do 1 & a little bit of 4 …. Whole of Friday was burnt heading out for NDP at Marina Bay Floating Bay (out of the house at 2, reached ard 3, got in the quene at 4, show started at 5, ended at 8+, reached home at 10. Feels like such a long day indeed) ….. Slept in on Sat, out on Sunday as well to aunt’s place …… Did manage to archive up some articles and cleared a couple of old newspaper cuttings in the process 😛

Ended up with zero workout (wanted to finish up the meds before kickstart again, but didn’t manage to do so over the long weekend) ….. And totally missed my daily goals/activity setting on my Wunderlist app – which may seem very minor but after building the habit of updating on my daily MRT journey every morning, has a role to play in helping me keep to my daily goals 😀 …. Will be resumed full swing as we are now back to work!

Week 5 April

Starting up an entry whilst waiting for my lunch @ a food centre in Bugis (Albert St) ……

Hectic end to April. Technically 2 more days before May beckons …… Only realized late last week (Fri) that Wed is a public holiday (May 1st Labour Day). Indeed a very much needed public holiday to catch up on personal pursuits + a work appointment that I did not manage to set for last weekend!

Good problem perhaps …… Before I can finally sit down & start to follow up proper on various work matters discussed, already have people coming back to me & ‘chasing’ …… Fingers crossed that it all translates into a ‘bountiful harvest’ in time for close of banding year! 😀

While waiting a good 15 min, thought might be a good idea to jot down what needs to be done in office today ……

1. Finish up the comparison from last Sat & email out proposal to client

2. Portfolio rebalancing matters for same client – firm up by tonight latest

3. Portfolio rebalancing matters for N – called today to ‘chase’

4. Wed appt stuff – doing it up today instead due to lunch appt tomorrow & workout plans on tue evening

5. Tmr lunch appt that was fixed only today – printouts.

6. A much needed run for tmr evening esp.after skipping Spin yesterday (Sunday)

7. Finish up 2 intended blog entries for April

Do not intend to lug laptop back tonight as well (2 weeks of lugging back and forth is seriously enough) …… so gota have to work fast when getting back to office!

Before I end up, after 15 min of waiting, my lunch is finally here! Cheap ($3) and easy to eat hor fun from Four Seas Zhu Chao that is pretty popular …….