“There is no reason for you to think that any man has lived long because he has grey hairs or wrinkles; he has not lived long – he has existed long.” Seneca

Maybe it’s that time of year, being new year or something that I feel it’s important to share my own thoughts on goal setting and achievement.

I wrote a similar piece to this a long time ago, perhaps 2010 when I was running my Hedge fund and stock blog. As times change so do my interests and hobbies. However, I find that my action plan is always the same, and I think this post sums it up pretty damn well. I get the question a lot about how I manage to get so many of my projects done and how I find the time to do them.


The answer is simple; or at least simpler?!! Anyway, it’s about starting! Most people procrastinate forever before actually starting something, or they just sit and talk and never actually get anything done. My philosophy is simple, just do it. It’s easier to start something and finish it than to sit around and procrastinate over it.

Screw the balls
When I was younger I realized that having many projects going at the same-time, while looking nice on paper, is usually not very effective in real life. I am very much a one project at a time person. However I put everything into that project, I look over every detail, and I make sure it’s perfect or close to it, before starting a new project. I learned a long time ago, that by doing this I am usually much faster and my projects are finished products; compared to the “I have a lot of balls in the air” kind of people. I think a lot of people like to start a ton of different projects and never actually get anything done.

I am guessing that I learned the art of focusing from my music production, while producing tracks in the beginning I could always start 5-6 different songs at the same-time.. 10 years later they are still incomplete on my hard drive. The tracks that I started and focused on, no matter how boring or difficult it got, I finished. Those are the tracks that have record contracts and are distributed.

Setting goals
I have always had a lot of projects going, I like the feeling of being on my way somewhere.. Usually I set goals for myself and then work daily towards those goals. I don’t like the feeling of getting home after a long day of work, sit in the soffa, turn on my ipad and TV and dream about a better life. I have to be constantly moving towards a goal, I am considerably more rested when I lay in bed and write in my blog, or book, or go out and take photos. When I just lay in the soffa I am so tired the slightly depressed the next day. The difference between active resting and passive resting. Passive resting will drain the life out of you.

My goals right now for the next 4 years:

  1. Build ultralight and comfortable to be one the internets most popular blogs on ultralight backpacking
  2. Move back to California
  3. More time for my family
  4. Lose 20lbs fat
  5. Publish book on street photography
  6. Publish book on landscape photography

Now these are extremely broad goals. I guess you can say my “Main mission”. In-order to reach my mission I have to break everything down in critical success factors, for example for the blog my CSF would be something like this:

  1. Write book on winter backpacking
  2. update site weekly
  3. hike more

break that down on more daily actions that I need to do:

  1. read other blogs and books on backpacking
  2. plan for next hike
  3. write a post in blog
  4. Meditate 15 minutes daily
  5. Walk 20 minutes daily

Now is my goal to have the most visited site simply to have that? Of course not, in all honestly I do it because I love it. My goal of course is to actually live off my interest for hiking and photography. Especially with plans to move back to the US within a couple of years. So I have my why, my mission, my plan and my daily activities. While my actual daily plans and activities might be a little different, I am trying to break things down a little for simplicity sake.

Why Meditate? Simple –  meditation helps train the most important muscle of all: The brain. With meditation you learn focus of thought and mind.

Why Walk? I need my own time to process what I’ve read and figure out what I want to write about. What better time than a daily walk to do that.

Inspiration through process
So my suggestions for people who feel they don’t have enough time; god has given us all the same amount of time, it’s up to you to use it efficiently. Is 3 hours of TV or video games efficient? While fun, it just doesn’t lead anywhere. Nothing creates happiness more than working on your lifes mission. What is your life’s mission? that is up to you to find out, mine changes about every 5 years or so once I reach my goals. If you lie around waiting for inspiration to hit you, you will die waiting. Inspiration is created through process, not through day dreaming.

What to read
This might help as well; I once read a book by Steven Covey on being effective, it’s not really time management it’s just setting priorities and focusing on getting them done. He suggests a priority system where we write down our major goals in life. The A priorities (these are goals like starting a restaurant, or being a billionaire), then a B column where we write down our day to day goals, the ones that lead up to the A goals. (start budget analysis for restaurant, and so on.) while the last column is the C priorities, the ones that are fun but don’t contribute to the A column. (play video games). I really liked this book and I recommend anything by Steven covey (even his videos on Fly Fishing). If you have an iphone I suggest buying the franklin-covey planner.

I am also an advent reader of Tony Robbins, who if you’ve never heard of his tapes and books on personal development and being highly effective and joyous. These have all helped me in my quest for an effective and harmonious life.

Less is more
This is the zen philosopher in me: Less is more. When have you felt more satisfied, when you buy something or when you create something? I believe the more we own; the less focused we become, the more stressed we become and about all else, the less we live. I am constantly going through my possessions and trying to sell or get rid of everything that sucks my time away from my life’s mission.

I try to filter out everything in my life that does not lead to my mission. This of course is not an easy task, but I am atleast aware of the distractions and I am constantly trying to improve my mind. My mind is cluttered with thoughts about sports, women, shit people, shit politics, advertisements, stuff I think I have to own and so on. We all have these problems, the trick is to constantly train the mind to deal with them. To filter out and to learn the art of focus. This can only be accomplished be learning to love boredom.

The love of Boredom
The world is full of distractions, whether it’s on the TV, the phone, the Ipad, computer, the Nintendo.. you name it, it’s probably a distraction. A distraction that does nothing for you in helping you reach your goals. Yes an Ipad can be a tool, just as a computer can, but if your spending 5 hours a day surfing porn sites and reading gear reviews, it’s probably more of a distraction than a tool. Netflix is probably only a distraction.

We are most creative when we allow boredom into our lives. I say this from experience. When I put my Ipad down, turn off the TV and allow myself to get bored, this is when I start getting creative. I believe this is the same for everybody, just most people are too scared to allow boredom in, that they need constant stimulation. This also falls back on your life’s mission: It’s much easier to find your life’s mission when you unplug yourself and distance yourself from stimulation. Learn to accept boredom.

There are of course many forms of stimulation, but the stimulation I am talking about is the passive form (what I talked about in the beginning with regard to passive and active resting, you can even call this passive and active stimulation). By turning off the passive stimulation, you allow room for the active stimulation to take place.

Passive stimulation: 

  • TV
  • Netflix
  • HBO
  • Video games
  • Porn
  • Ipad (and other such devices) – surfing the internet
  • surfing the internet

Active stimulation:

  • writing for a book, blog or article
  • reading books on philosophy
  • Training
  • playing a guitar
  • rebuilding a room


Social media and the need to be loved
While I have social media sites, I can’t say that I am overly active on these sites. In fact, I only update my blog and by the laws of awesome internet wizardry these posts are then shared on facebook, google +, twitter and more.. A lot of people I know have an obsession over how many likes they can get for each picture they upload. I have long ago moved away from caring what the internet thinks when it comes to my work. I say this because selfies get thousands of likes, kim kardashian is a world star, and pewdie pie is making millions on youtube (granted, I think he’s doing an excellent job.. not my point) My point is that tastes are so varied and massive that what may be popular is not always good, atleast not in my humbled opinion.

So I search for reviews and critic from the people I respect, with people who’s work, whether it’s books or photography, that I am truly inspired by. These are the people who’s opinion I feel can better my own work.


The great philosopher Seneca once wrote:

“Why do you delay” say he, “Why are you idle? Unless you seize the day, it flees. Even though you seize it, it will still flee; Therefore you must vie with time’s swiftness in the speed of using it, and, as from a torrent that rushes by and will not always flow, you must drink quickly”.

In conclusion:
I hope this post helps you in achieving your own goals, for me it’s not always about motivation towards my goals. Sometimes it’s just knowing I have goals and making that constant effort, that small step each day that leads to something greater. By writing everything down, I am able to assess my goals and my progress better, it keeps me focused. It’s easy to stray with all the tech and constant stimulation. And sometimes it’s ok to stray for a little while, as long as we know where we are and where we are heading.

Posted by Kenneth Shaw

Blogger, photographer and backpacker. If you like my writing or my site don't be afraid to follow me, like or share my posts here on the site. Thanks and enjoy!

One Comment

  1. […] In my last two post on my minimalist journey – simplify your backpacking and when your things become you I talk about my own journey, and how backpacking is shaping my life in more ways that I thought possible. I am allowing, finally the real me to surface again. I have always been a fairly productive and creative person, I have always been able to focus my mind and energy into certain projects and to more or less keep myself motivated. Hence why I have this blog, published book, another one on the way, produced music, rebuilt cars, different photo projects so on and so forth. My problem has never been inspiration or focus, as my life has shown me that doing leads to inspiration, not the other way around. We create our own inspiration by working hard. This is a subject I have written about many times, with my most recent article called “the art of getting shit done” […]


Leave a Reply