How writing an annual objectives list turned into the biggest project of my life – By: Cassius Carvalho

I had a habit – the first week of every year I would write an annual objectives list and review my past one, reflecting the results I achieved and trying to set new ambitious yet feasible goals.

I had been considering it a good habit, and my results, satisfactory, until about one year ago I faced an eye-opening article, called: “6 harsh truths that will make you a better person”, by David Wong.
This article challenged my beliefs and triggered a desire for acquiring a bias for action, especially through the question: “If your dream girl or guy had a hidden camera that followed you around for a month, would they be impressed with what they saw? Remember, they can’t read your mind — they can only observe. Would they want to be a part of that life?”.
As a natural planner, I was shocked. I was someone who used to develop detailed plans for almost every possible circumstance, but who didn’t commit to follow them and only took the necessary actions to live an ordinary life. The results of this behavior were equivalent to nothing: all my predictions, philosophies, and pointless goals didn’t matter at all, at least until I build something that benefits others – also known as value creation.
Although it has a strong relation with libertarianism (and I had already been a libertarian for some time), the subject ”labor” only captivated my attention after I actually started to work – and it was only a couple months before this discovery.
It was time for taking control of my actions and start becoming valuable, but how would I change my attitudes after sixteen years performing as an idealistic INTJ*?
My first reaction was to adhere to Nike’s slogan: Just do it!
I couldn’t be more wrong – by following this path I soon became overwhelmed and demotivated, so the need for a mission arose as an immediate priority.

Working for your goals vs Working for your ideals

Even though setting and achieving goals is an important part of the self-development process, it is only capable of momentarily delighting you, and not to makeing you fulfilled. When you start to set goals according to your beliefs, you become capable of comprehending how every action contributes towards a bigger purpose and it not only motivates you into start acting today, but also provides more evident and satisfying rewards.

David Allen, through his book “Getting Things Done” shows a practical way to help each individual to realize his/her horizons, ideals, and principles, in order to achieve mindfulness and develop a system that effectively works for him/her.
I had been studying and taking small steps heading the GTD implementation for more than one year, but again I could only realize that one of the key points for achieving a gratifying self-awareness level was at my blind spot after my motivation was threatened.

The continuous improvement saga

So I was overcharged by the early accumulation of responsibilities – at that time I was already living alone, working all day and studying all night – it was a constant run against time and exhaustion, but I had put myself into an even more defying situation: I should not only perform above-average in all my routine tasks in order stand out and find more opportunities, but also start doing things purposefully.
At that moment, my ongoing GTD implementation project turned into my focus. The self-awareness pursue was introduced as a substantial part of it, I began to review my objectives list, set meaningful goals and act assertively.
Since then, I’ve been facing more and more information, perspectives and opportunities that conflicted and changed many of my previous thoughts. Fortunately, I like this process of changing viewpoints and deepening into the answers to my intellectual curiosity, but it also has proven itself the biggest obstacle for concluding a simple list, which shifted into a brief project and nowadays is considered more a kind of life-long assignment.

The greatest learning

No one cares about your thoughts, nor are they benefited by them. You can only contribute through your actions.
Do not stop planning or aiming to improve, but start creating things – regardless of any fear, artificial obstacles or a feeling of unpreparedness. You most likely will never be completely prepared, especially if you haven’t even tried!
Do not simply write it down on your “someday/maybe“ to-do-list or bookmark this article with the tag “Action”. Start doing what you truly, purposefully need to get done – now, today.


*INTJ stands for Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, and Judging. It’s a characterization of a general personality type, among 16 existent personalities. For further information, see Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.