3 reasons why setting DEFINITE goals DON’T work



1. The only constant in life is change.

There are changes in our lives all the time.

Having goals (or intentions) is important. It’s just that we should not make our goals too definite.

For example, while one of our goals may be to buy a car in six months’ time, there may be other priorities that come up such that we will direct our focus elsewhere out of necessity . For instance, maybe housing prices are better in half a year’s time, and we purchase a new home instead.

We may also want to join a gym club in a month’s time but soon learn that yoga and pilates are more suited for our body types.

Hence, too specific goals do not work most of the time.

We should have general goals, and choose to to go with the flow of life while adjusting our goals accordingly, which is what most successful businesses do.

As what Jon Acuff said in this book “Start”, we know where we start but we do not know where we finish when it comes to accomplishing our goals. Often enough, we end up not where we thought we are going, but somewhere even more fantastic.

2.  You can’t enjoy life’s journey when you are too focused on your goals.

Personally, I do not think that life wants you to go where you want to go. I think life wants you to enjoy the journey more than the destination (which is what you want to achieve).

It is not surprising to see many people defining happiness as a process, and not a destination. It is the same for life.

“The joys of life is savoured along the way, such as spending time with your friends and loved ones. It’s not as if someone reaches a place called Life’s Destination and say, “Oh wow!!  I have reached my goal. Now it’s time to be happy!!”. Nay, it’s not like that. “

In life, it’s human nature to want to achieve things for themselves but that’s not the primary purpose of life.

“Some people just have the knack for understanding life. For these individuals, they also have life goals that they wish to achieve. What makes them different from the rest is that after they have put in their best efforts,  they smile and just be – regardless of the outcome.”

3. Did you accomplish all your new year resolutions?

 If you have friends who have fulfilled all their new year resolutions every single year throughout their lives to date without fail, let me know. Because I have never met one.

One of the most common reasons people say that goal-setting does not work is because we lack passion. And they say that we must develop this passion to accomplish our goals. But think about it. The very fact that we lack passion for certain goals means that our values and beliefs are different from those required to pursue these goals.

Say, for example, buying a car. If we feel that cars are depreciating assets and that taking public transport is a better deal, then we will not be passionate in buying a car and hence this goal of buying a car will probably not be achieved. Do we really want to force ourselves to be more passionate about cars such that we can buy one? Will this really make us happy? Think about it.

We are better changing our goals such that it suits our values and beliefs better.

Then of course, there are other reasons.

Most of us would usually reason some of our goals away by saying that we have no time (because our priorities are not on achieving these goals, which means we know exactly what we want, which is great) or  we set too many goals (which means we know how to prioritise, which is also great).

But do you see the actual reason for our procrastination?

“The ones that we do not do are usually the ones we do not wish to do. Life is telling us something here. When we face resistance in ourselves like this, this means we are moving in the wrong direction. If these are the goals we really want to pursue, find a way around them. If not, drop them. “

For example, if we want to lose weight, we may have set the goal as joining a gym club and exercising 4 times a day. Now, gyms are popular outlets to exercise and we may have wrote it out of habit. But deep down inside, we know that we just want to do a brisk walk.

Then go for a brisk walk! Forget about the gym. We should listen to our bodies.

We know what we want, so don’t let goals stop us. We control our goals, not the other way round.

So ok, you might have a deadline for work. And there’s no way around it. Do you enjoy doing this? Yes, good for you. Then find a way to work around it.  No? Take a second to think about why this is so. Is it that you are someone who prefers  a more flexible working environment with increased autonomy? Or that this job is not for you? Either way, you got to make a change, right?

So, whenever we face resistance in doing what we set out to do, know that we should work on the goal in a way we are comfortable with, or drop the goal entirely for a totally new direction suited for us.

And do not work towards others’ expectations.

“I need to get rich.”

“I need to get a car.”

“I need to get a bigger house.”

“I need to get another house.”

Do you really want to do the above? If so, please do.

If not, are you then working towards what is expected of you by others and society rather than what you want? Don’t.

Work towards what you want and put in your best efforts, but let things that you work towards to come to you at their own time, and you will have a happier life!

Author’s background: Patrick Tay is an English Writing Specialist who lectures in various polytechnics in Singapore, and coaches students in English as a private tutor. His professional services can be found here.



Q & A: Increasing the maximum employment age in the workplace



There has been an increase in the maximum employment age in some countries. What are your thoughts on this?

Work takes up a large part of our lives, and it gives us the satisfaction of contributing our skills and experiences to society. The older the workers, the more experiences they can share. Furthermore, it is important that regardless of our age, we need to get our bodies moving so that we stay fit to enjoy our quality of life. I feel that these two factors are benefits of work.

I believe that most of us aspire to work as it gives us something to look forward to. Colleagues to chat with. The satisfaction of working towards something. The joy of working in teams. The fulfillment of a hard day’s work. I feel that these are what makes work fulfilling.

You sure have a way of making work look rosy. If this is the case, why are there many unsatisfied employees in the workplace? 

[Laughs] Yes, I do see the positive sides of work. But please do not use the word “rosy” on me. I am both a pragmatist and a realist. And I see reality as it is. I am merely stating the positives to get people hyped up about work because if managed properly, it is one of the primary sources of happiness.

But life is never that simple, is it?

(Laughs) So, what is not so good about work? I have been waiting for your insights on this a long time.

I figure the older you get, the more some of us may come to  dread work due to various factors.  Now, even the young gets tired of work. There are various reasons for this. Most would say that “yeah, they are Gen Ys, so they are rebellious against authority figures, abhor rules and regulations, obsessed with social media rather than work and most significantly, some of them have delusions of grandeur, always wanting to start a business of their own.”

Now, just look at some possible responses from Gen Y themselves:

About rebelling against authority figures:

“We just want to live life our own way. if it doesn’t hurt anybody, why can’t we? Why should we be told to do this and that by our boss in the company? It doesn’t make sense. We create our own destiny. We make our own luck. Furthermore, why should we engage in groupthink and follow someone else’s direction? We want autonomy. We want to be trailblazers, not followers. “

Apparently, the company vision and values often do not gel with Gen Ys. They don’t work for a company. They work for themselves. That’s individualism, not defiance. And they are definitely not rebellious as once they realise their values are not aligned with the organisations they work in, they usually leave.

About detesting rules and regulations:

“We just want work-life balance. That’s what make us adverse to working with the old guards in the company. They love rules and feel that we are obligated to abide by them. Well, we don’t. We prefer to spend time with our families. We also want to spend time with our friends and ourselves.These are priorities. We are sorry if our priorities are different from others, but we make our stand.”

So, it’s life balance that they want, not so much the constant battling against rules and regulations. They do not see the benefits of working longer hours just to please the boss or working unproductively under lethargic conditions.

“Few companies understand that clocking the number of required hours doesn’t mean that everyone will be productive since our energy sapped over time.  And the younger workers are getting tired of exchanging time for money – unlike the older generations.”

About their obsession with social media:

“Obsessed with social media? That sounds wrong! Social media is our life! We chat on WhatsApp. We don’t do emails. We want instant response – in real time. We get news from Facebook posts, not mainstream papers. Most of us do not blog now. We are visual people, and we are used to watching videos rather than reading.”

About delusions of grandeur of starting a great business:

Delusions? That’s our dream! We want to start something we are passionate about. A company’s vision and mission statement? That’s other people’s dreams. We want to chase ours! What’s wrong with starting a F&B if I can afford it? A few of us can get together and we can get things moving. We have seen many of our parents working their entire lives for a single employer but that’s not what we want to do. Nor is it going to happen for us now., as there’s no single lifetime employment guarantees now, is there? So, if there’s no job security, why not take a risk and start a business? You get your own time, and earn your own keeps! Yeah, we might fail. But then again, we might succeed.”

So, that’s how it works for them (laughs). Would you think that under such a..well, what they considered “stifled working environment”, the young would want to work a single, longer day in a company they are unsuited for, not to mention into their old age?

[Laughs] That’s interesting! I am sure some of the older folks will disagree with them but that’s for another story. Anyway, let talk about the older workers. You are not avoiding my questions, are you?

Of course not (laughs). Why would I?

For the older folks, the reason why they are working is not because they are loving it. Well, some of them might but for those who don’t, the primary reason is usually because of fatigue. Our body energy level will drop over time as we age and this is inevitable. Most employers understand these, hence while they are usually attuned to hiring older workers, they also understand that these older workers are unsuited for certain strenuous job positions. But the sad reality is that much as the older workers are given suitable positions, they are working longer hours. Even if the hours stay the same, their energy levels are not.

“Consider food court or hawker centre dish collectors. They usually walk around for continuous periods of time and this tires them out easily. So, do you think they enjoy working in old age? They don’t work out of passion. They work out of necessity. Because they need money to survive. There are cases whereby these older workers are eating leftover food left behind by patrons just to save money.”

So, monetary concern is an issue for older workers, especially for the uneducated. So, it’s not about getting rich anymore. It’s about survival. 

Yes, in fact, their concerns are usually already being addressed through public policies.

However,  there’s still the aspiration that  as one ages, one wants to enjoy one’s life. But if work now takes a priority over leisure in their golden years, they have less time to spend with their spouses and grandchildren (if they have any). They experience high fatigue level due to work, and there’s always the monetary concern that couldn’t put their mind at ease.

“To worry about money in one’s younger days will usually aspire one to greater heights but to be concerned about money in one’s later years is a different story altogether.”

So, fewer people will aspire to work in their later years?

(Laugh) What do you think?

Time will tell.

(Laugh) All right, all right. 

Click here for  more insights into education and global issues.


Q & A: How does one define success in life?

success contement


In developed countries, it seems that many people are driven towards a financially-free life. Even in developing countries, people are aspiring towards a better life in terms of financial achievements. Is this true success?

Well, I feel that the environment where you live in determines – to a large extent – what you call success. But of course the media plays a large part in this aspect as well.

For most mainstream media, the emphasis is on successful individuals but the basis is almost always financial. Investors. Businessmen. Entrepreneurs. Sportspeople.  It’s a great thing since featuring such individuals aspires us towards greater heights.

Then of course, there are interviews with academic luminaries where their views are sought on issues of current affairs. This is also encouraging since we should all aspire to be lifelong learners and we should always keep ourselves updated on current happenings to stay relevant in the workplace and in life.

However, the issue is that money does not equate to success. If you were to run a check through quotes on sucess online, you would probably have come across quite a number of accomplished individuals who had mentioned this.

You can have money and not feel like you are a success. This is because you might like to want more. And this becomes a virtual cycle.  I figure you know where I am getting at here.

Yeah, right. You meant contentment? 

Right, right.

We should aspire to greater heights whenever we achieve our goals. However, success has no ends since it has no definite definition, so we should be grateful for what we have achieved as well as being content with what we have now.

“Drive is a tricky business and we should strike a balance between achieving and being content.”

Most importantly, we must be happy with who we are. There are some of us who define our self identity with our success. But there are always ups and downs in life. If we are our success, would that make us less of who we are when we fail? And more of who we are when we succeed? This doesn’t make sense.

And when we talk about success, I can’t help but bring in happiness.

This is because some people equate happiness to success but this is not really so. Such individuals will strive and expect to be successful all the time and not some of the time, which is not possible.

“Success does make one happy for a while but if one cannot maintain one’s success or if one constantly strives for greater success, then one’s happiness actually fluctuates over time.”

So, the questions goes back to: do you want to be successful or happy? 

No, of course not.

Let’s not draw a dichotomy between success and happiness, as there are none. In fact, I would like all of us to be both successful and happy, with the latter taking precedence over the former.

It’s a matter of being content and celebrating every small achievements that we had and will have, that makes one happy. So, in this way. we  use success as a platform to create happiness.

But of course, there are more factors contributing to happiness, such as gratitude, contentment, spending time with loved ones, pursuing one’s interests and many more. So, we should not be fixated on success alone. Else, a primary focus on success alone will be detrimental to one’s happiness.

So, contentment rather than success is key to happiness, is this what you are saying?

Yes, absolutely.

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Q & A: Quality of private education in Singapore

private education


There has been some reports of employers placing less emphasis on students who graduated from private institutions. What are your thoughts on this?

There is usually some prestige being attributed to students who graduate from local universities, which is understandable since most of Singapore’s local universities are ranked among the world’s best.

When it comes to private education providers, there are usually tie-ups with international foreign universities, the quality of education of which differs between the institutions. Sometimes these lecturers are flown down to give lectures to students, and at other times, the private education providers employ local lecturers to provide the lectures to students.

In recent years, there seems to be a trend towards inviting lecturers from the respective universities offering the courses to conduct the lectures. Either way, most employers often consider the mode of learning for such students who are enrolled in an overseas course but studying locally as “distance learning”.

There seems to be some sort of negative connotations attributed to “distance learning” in the past but now, employers are more open to such learning concepts, especially when free courses are now offered online. Think Coursera and Khan Academic. More and more academically recognised universities are also offering online courses, such as the MIT OpenCourseware offered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and even Harvard Extension School.

Negative perception of private institutions sometimes extend to any certifications or diplomas offered by the private institutions themselves.

I feel that be it educators, employers, or parents, we should all keep an open mind towards students who graduated from private institutions. Their enthusiasm for learning and determination to further their studies should be applauded, and they also deserve an opportunity and have a go in the competitive work force. It is only fair that they be placed on a level playing field with other graduates and be given the right to be assessed during interviews rather than before them (unless of course, they are deemed unsuitable other than their academic qualifications).

There have been many students who have graduated from private institutions locally to date, and most of them have turned out well in carving their careers and contributing to the organisations that they work in.

Hence, give all graduating students a chance to shine, regardless of where they graduate. Only when graduating students from public and private educational institutions are considered judiciously for employment will meritocracy – a value highly valued in Singapore – work its magic.

Click here for  more insights into education and global issues.

Dorie Clark: (REinventing you: Define your brand, reimagine your future)

“Branding Expert” and marketing strategy consultant Dorie Clark gave a presentation at Google on personal branding. Her book “Reinventing You” proves to be a remarkable addition to the literary titles on personal branding.

Insights from the presentation:

 1. Too many connections

Contrary to popular opinions that our current business world is a world of networking, Dorie Clark argues that ‘we live on the verge of too many connections’, much of which can be attributed to the number of friends we have in social media. Most of us would have close to over a hundred friends on Facebook. However, how many friends do we really meet up and keep in touch with? For those we don’t, aren’t they, well, acquaintances?

We do not have enough time to keep up with everybody. Reading social updates on Facebook? That doesn’t count. ”

2.  Branding is about how you are perceived by other people

There’s often a gap between how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. To do proper branding, we do it subtly but more importantly, we have to close this gap before we can brand ourselves properly.

3. Branding is not about molding ourselves to what other people want us to be

Emulating a role that others want us to play is not personal branding. That’s acting. Personal branding is about authenticity, not phoniness.

Personal branding is about exhibiting our uniqueness and in so doing, differentiate ourselves from the rest of us. This is your ‘career insurance’, which kind of – in Dorie Clark’s words –  makes you indispensable to the company.

4. Your brand is not what you say it is. It’s what other people say it is.

What others perceive about you is your brand. If we feel that we are not measuring up to what we want to be, then we have to work towards bettering ourselves in these aspects.

5. Do a “360 interview” for yourself

Let’s get to know what others feel about us. Do a 360 interview for ourselves. Get to know ourselves by asking out siblings, subordinates, bosses, colleagues etc. and we will get a better understanding of ourselves. Let’s make it easy for ourselves. Simple ask, from each of them, three words that best describe us. Look out for words that they say to identify a pattern, and look out for words that they don’t say as well, as that says a lot.

Keep an open mind when receiving feedback from everybody. Appreciate our strengths. Work on the areas to improve on. ”

6. People constructs a personality of you based on your acts

Sometimes, just based on a single act, people construct an entire spectrum of personality tailored just for you. Thus, avoid even a single rude act – cause that will define your personality for people who happen to witness your rude act once, and are ignorant of your numerous kind acts.

Yes, often, people do judge a book by its covers.

7. Have a “focus group”session for yourself

Have people you do not know in a room, and seat yourself in the chair without speaking – unless it’s to clarify. Have a facilitator ask these people about you. Directing the people’s attention to you, have the facilitator ask the people questions such as:

‘What do you think his/her profession is?’

‘What do you think her personality is?”

The insights gleaned from this session can be very enlightening.’

8. Constructing narrative in personal branding

People often do not know what to say to brand themselves, and that’s for most, if not, some of us.

A technique proposed by Dorie Clark is that we write down incidents and events that is significant and meaningful to us. Write a number of them and see if a pattern materialises. Through this pattern, we should be able to identify the values and meaning we make for our lives. And this is where the identity of our personal branding standings.

9. Be a connector between disparate groups

There are three types of relationships:

i. Bonding Capital: The degree of strength in bonding with people similar to  you, through commonalities that include culture, proximity , interest, life goals etc.

ii. Bridging Capital: The degree of strength in bonding between different groups of people, including groups that are different from you.

Having a strong personal branding is about being strong in the two areas above, especially the latter.

10. We can get away from doing personal branding through writing that we can’t get away with saying 

It is generally in the recesses of the human psyche that people are generally not receptive to others who express their expertise in person (unless, of course, if these people choose to sign up for a seminar to listen to them). However, people generally accepts others’ expertise when it is expressed in writing. So, blogging is personal branding. Sending emails to others on one’s expertise is personal branding. Having a conversation that relates to one’s expertise through one’s life experiences is personal branding. Relating an emotional story that resonates with one’s values is personal branding.

But overtly stating that one has strength in certain areas and outwardly exhibiting expertise on a subject area of interest in a face-to-face interactive session is usually not.

11. Get yourself a “Wingman”

Using a “Wingman” is a technique commonly deployed by Pick-up Artist (PUA), and the technique involves bringing another partner with them to social events. Within the context of a male PUA using this technique, it doesn’t matter which gender these “Wingmen” are. They might even bring more than one. However, if it is a lady, looks should preferably be above average and if it is a guy, his personality should at least be decent. During these events, these “Wingmen” are supposed to try their best to compliment the PUA in front of any potential ladies. Doing so increases the social value of the PUA in front of these ladies and makes him much more attractive to the opposite gender.

The same technique can be used when it comes to social branding. However, the criteria for the “Wingman” used are usually different. Here, the selection criteria could be in terms of the social value/status, gregariousness, financial standing and professional background of the “Wingman”. The more accomplished the “Wingman” is, the more the person who is being praised by the Wingman stands out in front of others. This technique is exceptionally useful during introductory sessions. And when your “Wingman” is speaking, he or she can insert positive qualities about us or give praises to things we did on previous occasions during their conversation with others.

The rationale behind getting others to say good things about ourselves rather than saying it ourselves is to align the act of personal branding to the fact that people usually accepts what other people say about us, than what we say about ourselves.

Think how useful positive testimonials are in job interviews and how they increase the chances of us getting the job. If we are able to provide positive testimonials by our colleagues, bosses etc. to our potential employers, that’s akin to giving our potential employer a “360 interview” (please see point 5 above) of ourselves to them! That is really powerful branding!

12. Share your ideas through blogs

Blogging is another platform for personal branding. Sure, it’s hard work. But that’s what makes it unique. Your thoughts are unique and distinct, and sharing your ideas online can make you a thought leader in the subject areas of your interest.  In fact, having a professional blog of your own can improve your job search chances many fold because not many people blog! And it goes back to the fact that blogging requires commitment and time that many people are unable to put in. So, if you are a writer, blog! It makes you stand out. Blog and share your positive thoughts and ideas, not only for your own  benefit, but for the betterment of mankind (this should be the ultimate goal).

If you are inspired to blog by this blog post, find an unexplored niche that is of interest to the masses and work on it. If you are really writing on something of your interest, Dorie Clark mentioned that there’s an allure about blogging on that subject matter that will keep you coming back to pen more articles of such nature.

Being an educationist blogger,  I totally concur!

The Monocle Guide to Good Business

The Monocle Guide to Good Business



The second book (after “The Monocle’s Guide to Better Living“) “The Monocle Guide to Good Business”, is out.  You can also get both volumes together under the “Pump up the volume” package. This title is published by Gestalten.

“Monocle is always loved for being a company who believed in the power of print, photography and design, and that even in the midst of the changing media landscape where print media is losing the edge to online readership, people still want to feel the touch of a well-written piece of article complemented by art, and relishing the pleasure of flipping the pages of a magazine from cover to cover. “


  • Would-be business leaders
  • Entrepreneur start-ups
  • Employees of corporate organisations
  • Business and thought leaders
  • Students with entrepreneurial spirit
  • Educators


  • 300 page
  • Original photography and illustrations
  • Printed on quality paper

IKEA 2015 catalogue: Bookbook

IKEA Singapore has just released a video featuring a bookbook for their 2015 catalogue, with the following innovative features:

  • Extensive battery life
  • “Flippable” online features
  • Embedded product details
  • Zoom-in and Zoom-out functions
  • “Bookmark” functionality
  • Embedded videos specific to products
  • Full-screen page spreads when viewed on desktops or laptops
  • Enables images to be shared across multiple social media websites
  • Printable and downloadable brochure

Experience it here now: