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The annual ritual of setting new goals

Few years ago, when I turned 25, I decided to set one significantly challenging and tangible objective for each subsequent year of my life.

Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew.

One of my teaches used to say that, and I never took her quote seriously because teachers tell you a lot of things that don’t make sense at the time (and also because I hate cheesy quotes). I want to believe that I do lots of interesting things in life, not because I find those things challenging but because I enjoy doing them. At the mature age of 24 and only a day before I turned 25 a strange realization crept into me. I realized that the infinite time I thought I had in my life was not really infinite, and if I wanted to do things in life, I had to do them right now.

Born out of that exercise of mental masturbation was a resolution to set one challenging goal each year. Since then, I have managed to accomplish at least one – what I thought was – significant goal each year. Some of my goals were emotional, some were financial and few were physical challenges. Some goals are multi-year, yet to be accomplished. Sounds like a lot of goals which is true because this ritual calls for at least one.

Sadly I wasn’t able to come up with a satisfactory large goal for 2012 possibly because I got too comfortable with the things I had around me. There was only one new activity I did this year worth mentioning:

  1. Learned the basics of Turkish language, travelled to Turkey and (mostly) survived without speaking English.

And since I didn’t find anything else to do, and my goals-basket was inadequately filled, I have decided to run another half-marathon this year.

Half Marathon: Topping up the goal-basket

Two years ago, I ran my first half marathon ever and it was a very solid learning experience. I learned about my body, nutrition, discipline and what it meant to constantly be on a quest to achieve a goal (usually that happens when I spend days playing video games). Last year (2011), I had registered for a spring half-marathon event, but the process of buying a house was stressful and made it hard to focus on other activities. So I did not run…

This year I will be running in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 14, 2012. The 21.2 km route winds through core downtown areas, shoots to the west end of the city along the waterfront (close to my house) and loops back to terminate at the City Hall.

I am setting a target finish time of 2 hours, slightly faster than the last time. Lets see if I can make it!


Large amount of research has shown that challenges and goal setting helps us stay active, engaged and motivated in life. While I realize that this marathon mission is not a large goal, since I’ve already done it before, it will certainly contribute to making 2012 a happy and fruitful year.

Taking a cue from those research studies, I urge everyone to challenge themselves in innovative and interesting ways. The internet is full of people who set challenges for a week, once a year or once a decade, the frequency doesn’t really matter.

For example, in 2013 I want to travel to 3 new countries (in order to fulfill my objective of travelling to 13 countries by 2013). I also want to learn Icelandic. (hint!)

I would love to hear your thoughts and, if you are comfortable, your goal for 2012.

Good luck!

Published inI want to be healthy and fitWhat am I upto?


  1. Zhu Zhu

    I don’t really set goals, but I do love make lists of things I have to do, from grocery shopping to bigger things such as fix this or that, or get better at this or that. It feels good, so I guess I am setting goals in a way.

    • Priyank Priyank

      Hi Zhu,
      I was so not a list person until few years ago, but realized that it’s useful, rather, essential in order to be efficient and make proper use of time. 🙂

  2. Ha! I remember taking that picture of you in Boston. That was an awesome birthday weekend by the way.

    2012 has been a wonderful year so far. I finished a doctorate, I turned 30, and I get to live in a new country. I had this goal of finishing my doctorate before turning 30, but sadly, that didn’t happen. Oh well, I still sometimes cannot believe that I have a PhD now. Things still feel the same.

    I am already pre-planning my next vacation, as the country count needs to increase. Current countries on the shortlist for a December (or January) vacation are: Canary Islands, Malta, Cyprus, and Iran.

    • Priyank Priyank

      Hi Jeruen,
      Considering that it was only a slight timing issue between your birthday and finishing the PhD, I’d consider your goal achieved. Afterall, you had finished the thesis in spirit before you turned 30!

      That’s a curious list of countries you are visiting. Iran eh?

      PS: Yes it was great in Boston!

  3. I loved the idea of setting goals untill I joined Corporate world. Now I have heard ‘challange yourself’ so many times here that I puke everytime I hear that phrase. People use it here to hide their own incompetencies.
    My short term goal is to gain some financial stability. I have bought a house and the loan is like a big crater in my pocket. I will need 2-3 years to stabalize and that is what I am working on.

    • Priyank Priyank

      Hi Amit,
      hahahaha, yes it is so true, the phrase is overused but I was certainly using it in a genuine context. 😀 Wish you good luck with the financial management, I bought a house last year as well so I know 🙂
      Iceland, yeah I’ll try to do that!

  4. Devendra Devendra

    Good going!! A goal a year! Seems like an interesting idea!!

    • Priyank Priyank

      It is, try it!

  5. I’m trying to learn Spanish… that’s my goal for 2013. I’ve asked you in a comment on another post… can you recommend any specific classes or CD that you used?

  6. […] blog, with daily updates, is just another mechanism to keep me motivated. I’ll be posting my daily progress, race plans, and share any information that I gather from […]

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