We’re almost halfway through the year, so it’s a great time to check in with your goals or resolutions for the year. How have you been doing? Have you been doing them?
Even if you’ve forgotten about your goals entirely, the year is not over yet. Not even close! It’s not too late to re-evaluate, re-configure & re-commit to your goals. Here are my top tips for sticking to your goals right up until December 31st (and beyond!).
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good
On my list of 26 things I’d like to do before my next birthday, I included the item “collect quotes”. Not only was this very vague (more on this in a bit), it also conjured up fantasies for me of how best to go about completing this goal. Maybe I could make a beautiful collage on my wall! Maybe I could sit down and hand-letter all of the quotes and later bind them into a book! Maybe I could write each of them on a slip of paper and put them into a lovely jar!
But then I realized that it was a month after I created the list and I hadn’t written down a single quote. All of the above would be amazing options, but waiting until I could implement one of those plans would slow me down or even completely prevent me from following through on this goal. So, I opened up a Google Doc, titled it “Jar of Quotes”, stuck it in my Bookmarks Bar and went on with my day. Maybe later I’ll make it into a beautiful book, but for now I’m just happy I’m doing it at all.
Pat has just written a new book called Will It Fly?, which is about testing out your business ideas to see whether they’ll take off and be successful or never really get off the ground and flop. His techniques are designed to stop you pouring time and money into ideas that aren’t going to work.
One thing I found very interesting about his approach was that he suggests not only market-testing, but self-testing. That is, he’s not only interested in whether a particular idea is a good fit for your audience and the marketplace, but whether it is a good fit for you. In the episode he shared one type of self-test in particular that I found very powerful, called the Airport Test.
Here’s how to do the Airport Test:
1. Imagine that five years from now, you run into an acquaintance at the airport whom you haven’t seen for the past five years. They ask you how things are, and you truthfully respond with, “Things are absolutely amazing! They couldn’t be any better.”
2. Get out a piece of paper and divide it into four sections
2. Write down the four most important areas of your life as headings for each section – for example, family, professional, health and finances.
3. Fill in each section with the ideas that come up for you as you imagine that airport scenario and how it would feel to talk about all the wonderful things happening in your life.
What I love about this exercise is that it includes an emotional component. You have to think about what would make you feel like everything is going beautifully in your life, and that makes it a little easier to imagine what those things might be. I ended up having some insights and ideas that I didn’t even see coming.
I also love that it makes things clearer and it becomes easier to see the bigger picture. You can see what you want the general themes of your life to be, which can help you to decide between various options starting from today. It can help you identify whether a certain job, activity, or relationship is going to get you closer to that vision of the future or steer you further away from it.
Of course, dreams change over time and we should try to stay open to new opportunities and types of growth. I also think it’s important to trust your gut and check in every so often to see if you feel differently. But I think having a guide, even a rough one, to where you want to go can help you make start to make smart, thoughtful decisions right now.
With only a month and a half left in Korea, I’m currently in prime travel-planning mode! I am very inspired by gurus like Nomadic Matt and Chris Guillebeau for travel-hacking and am always trying to learn from them as much as I can, but I’m definitely not at their level yet. That being said, I have discovered these two great websites that are helping me book cheaper travel recently.
This website is awesome for a couple of reasons. My favourite feature is that they offer a “round-trip” search option that is actually a multi-city search. This means you can search for a one-way flight that stops somewhere else along the way, without paying more. Obviously this won’t be helpful for every kind of trip or travel plan, but if you’re looking at more long-term travel and one-way flights, this can be an awesome tool.
I’ll give you an example. When I booked my flight home from Asia to Toronto, I wound up booking a flight from Bangkok to New Delhi, with a “layover” for 6 weeks in New Delhi for my yoga teacher training, and then a flight from New Delhi to Toronto, all for the price of a flight from only New Delhi to Toronto on other search engines, or about $700 USD. Considering that a flight from Bangkok to New Delhi is about $150, I am saving at least that much overall.
I will say that in my experience there are a couple of downsides to this website. First, you sometimes have to do a lot of trial-and-error searches to find out which routes and airports will be cheapest for you. Second, I’ve had to make minor changes in my itinerary twice due to changes to my flights made by the airline, which is obviously not Cheapoair’s fault. Both times, Cheapoair let me know, sent me an email, and made it easy for me to switch to a different flight with only about an hour’s difference from my original itinerary.
I absolutely love this flight search engine. It is modern, well-designed, clear, and easy to use with a lot of awesome features.
The best feature is their rating system for flights, where they compare price vs. flight length (including the number of layovers) and give you an overall rating out of 10 for any particular flight path.
There are lots of other features that I love as well. They show great graphs of price fluctuations for different days of the week and times of the year so you can more easily choose a cheap flight. They source flights from almost every airline, even the small budget airlines that don’t always come up in engines like Kayak (a site I also love, by the way!). When I booked my flight out of Korea, Momondo showed me a flight on Jejuair, a tiny airline that surprisingly cheaply flies direct to Bangkok from Busan every night.
One thing I will say is that I have found that on their app (which is just as easy to use!), I am not always able to find the same flight prices as I can on the website using my computer. They seem to be higher in general on the app than they are on the website, I’m not sure why.
This is something I’m still looking into right now, but it looks incredibly promising for travel within Southeast Asia specifically. You can buy 10 flights for a period of 30 days for only about $167 USD total – yes, for all 10 flights, plus some airport taxes. These flights go between the major cities on Air Asia’s routes, including Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Laos. It’s a really exciting idea and seems like a really affordable way to make the most of your travel time without spending a lot of money.
Are there any websites you use to book cheap flights? What’s your favourite website for booking travel in general?
Yesterday, I signed up for my yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India. This exciting decision has been a long time in the making, and like any big decision, not without its fair share of uncertainty.
For me however, things that are exciting can also be extremely overwhelming. Things that make me anxious can end up being exactly what I need to do. I’m still working on figuring out which signals are red flags that I should listen to, and which are just par for the course when you’re making the kinds of choices that push you far outside of your comfort zone.
Last night when I was turning this decision over in my head, at one point I just Googled “How to make decisions”, and the first result was a TED talk by Ruth Chang. Her talk (which you should really watch) really resonated with me because it articulated something I feel I’ve known and acted on intuitively but never realized it’s what I was doing.
Her idea is that hard choices are hard precisely because both options have major upsides and downsides, making neither necessarily better than the other. She says: it is not that one of the two options is better and we are too stupid to know the difference. Instead, the two options cannot really be compared because hard decisions like these are driven by our personal values, not statistics or objective data.
Her recommendation is to see hard choices as a chance to create our own reasons for making a particular decision. We can use hard choices as an opportunity to express our personalities and become the people that we want to be.
That was what I subconsciously did when I chose my wonderful university in a vibrant city over the other great one that I also loved the idea of. It’s what I did when I mapped out an itinerary for myself traveling by train through countries in Europe I’d never visited. It’s how I decided to move to another country instead of settling down back home and starting a 9-to-5 job. And ultimately it’s how I decided to travel to the birthplace of yoga in northern India next year to study, even though the idea of it intimidates me.
All of the big choices I’ve made in my life have not been immediately obvious to me as the “right” or “perfect” decision. All of them have scared me both before and after I made them. And all of them have led me to exactly where I feel I was meant to be. One of my favorite quotes from Marie Forleo is: “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.” You may only know what’s right for you once you start walking down the path, after you make the decision and take the risk.
I know I want to be a person who follows her heart, who does things that scares her, who invests in herself, and who pursues adventure despite uncertainty. These are the things I hope my choices reflect.
The truth is, I am so lucky to have had these decisions to make. I try not to take them or myself too seriously, because as one of my great friends says, “I have no reason to doubt that everything will work out just fine”. After all, it always has so far.
The next time you find yourself faced with a big decision, realize that the answer may not be as simple for you as checking in with your gut, and that’s okay. Try using the choice as an opportunity to make a statement about who you are or who you want to be. See what happens when you make your decisions a conscious blend of intuition and intention. Ask: