Thursday 2 July 2015

Antidote to always moving the goal posts

We all have done it before.

When we want to do something we say we "love", we like to put conditions or goals like when I have "X" by "Y", then I'll do it.

Guess what?

When we hit the goals we have set for ourselves - mind you, it us who set these goals; not others - we move the goal posts and start all over!?

Either that thing we say "love" is bogus, or we are terrified of taking that step outside what we have been used to thus far. 

And being "busy" chasing our goals is a great way to avoid facing the hard truths - Who am I? What do I want to do with my life? Why do I get up in the morning? Where do I belong?

Here's one antidote to moving the goal posts.

I was on home leave back in Singapore and by pure chance, noticed that 2 persons have passed on at 55 in the obituary pages...

And on the next few days, I kept spotting people around 55 moving on...

Why was 55 important? That was the age I was "planning" to call it quits and return to Singapore for good.

My "planning" have not included the possibility what if tomorrow may never comes?

Well, the rest is history. 

You may want to try this exercise yourself. 

Read the obituary pages for a month and see whether that will change your perspective.

You all have your own magic number.

To some its 40, to others its 55 like me, while for others it could be 65.

Have fun (in a morbid sort of way)!


  1. Govt previously set the retirement age at 55. Retirees began to die at ard 55 and slightly more.

    So current retirement is 62 and soon will be 65. More will be dying later?

    Blame Govt for shifting Goal Post?

    1. CW,

      Your 3 taps solution is a good example focusing on what you can CONTROL and INFLUENCE.

      Contrast it with others who despite having "SMART" goals for retirement, are completely DEPENDENT on the vagaries of market.

      No prize on guessing who will be "blaming" big daddy for moving the goal posts (if their plans don't work out).

      And who will be gone fishing nonchalantly ;)

    2. Hi SMOL, I am thinking very hard these day to shift my goalpost...From FI before 41 to 38. I think 10 years plan is too unambitious, too far away and most importantly, I don't know how long more I can enjoy my life. Shifting goalpost can also be a good perspective :)

    3. Frugal Daddy,


      That's the reverse of setting low expectations so we can beat them handily like what CEOs and CFOs do ;)

      You prefer to - Aim high; shoot low?

      Hey, its your life! Do whatever makes you happy!

      It's only a 3 years difference.

      It may matter a lot if you "expire" in 42.

      But if you "expire" in 80, does 3 years still matter?

      Perhaps WHAT you want to DO after 38 could be more interesting.

      And that may depend whether your motivation is "to escape" or "to achieve" :)

    4. despite my best effort to love what I do and lead a meaningful life daily, I still prefer to give myself more options how to spend my time. I always tell myself another 9.5 years to escape/achieve fi, then I look back 9.5 years ago. it was a very long journey! 3 Years is a long journey too! I hope not to even "waste" a day of my life. it is not like I can't work or only to start a new life after FI, it is more to open up the door I want with the resources. Should enjoy exploring alternatives but not to be confused. haha

    5. Frugal Daddy,

      OK, OK. Just teasing you ;)

      I shifted my goal post 11 years forward when I figured out what's important to me.

      Guess what? I suddenly found I have "enough"!?

      Why didn't I notice it before?

      Because I haven't found what's important to me (before I had that epiphany) !

      Its like that guy who appeared in the media for quitting his well paying corporate job to be a stay at home dad for his autistic son.

      More options are great.

      Our raison d'etre can be more telling ;)

    6. frankly, it is more the resource that will dictate how early I can achieve my "enough". I can tender my resignation and visit you tomorrow, if you sponsor my earlier early FI. semi retirement is possible one way to start earlier.

    7. Of course resources matter!

      That's what you are seeking ;)

      Last year during my primary school reunion, it was so interesting to meet up with the little brother of my classmate whom I've played with when we were young.

      Now he's a Catholic priest in Singapore.

      Very interesting to know how much $ he gets per month. Even more interesting to see his inner peace and happiness when he shared what he has been up to during his "training" - the countries he was sent to: Philippines, Indonesia, etc.

      "Enough" varies between people to people :)

    8. I was actually surprised how much the monks earned in Singapore and their attitudes...I became free thinker since then. lol

    9. Frugal Daddy,

      The Catholic priest earned less than 1K per month.

      Then there are social workers.

      And those who start social enterprises.

      I guess there are those who beat to the sound of different drums ;)

      I have no problem with spiritual organisations "making" millions.

      Money by itself is neither bad or good. It's how and what we do with it.

      Buying race horses and gold taps is one thing. Using the same resources to give comfort to others is another thing all together ;)

    10. most of my career I served in industry that help the less fortunate. It is the politic that isn't tasty. Those religious rep I knew are opposite. I haven't met one in Singapore that impressed me. Cannot go into details. lol.

      social workers earn average wages, not bad. social enterprises are profit making unlike not for profit organisation.

      I think it is good that money and power go to the "right" people but whether that individual is doing so, we can only hope.

      good to hear the priest story, have been always hearing the bad thing, I need more good ones. :)

    11. Frugal Daddy,


      Now it becomes clear why you say the things you say.

      Let's say my "Trust but Verify" is the result of similar experiences as yours ;)

      Come, a toast to our innocence lost!

    12. Toast, but to our fulfilling life!

  2. Are you trying to make us worried about the future?
    A wise person once said: The past is history, the future’s a mystery, but the present is a gift. That’s why it’s called ‘the present’.
    I try to live in the present in a way that would leave me with as few regrets in the future as possible.

    1. Welcome Tacomob!

      I see we both share a common number 44 :)

      Well, when I wrote this post, I thought its a counter-balance to those financially "literate" people who are forever living in fear of not have "enough" in the future ;)

      Yup. What we are in the future will be the direct result of the decisions we make (or not make) today.

      Some may have wished they were "awake" during 2007, and more aware of the present during 2009 ;)

    2. 44 is a beautiful number. Ok, maybe not in every Chinese dialect. But who cares after all it is half of 88 which is a magic number that looks the same no matter from which angle you look at it.
      Life on the other hand looks always different depending from which angle you look at it. ;-)
      And everybody has to find his/her own "enoughism" in life. No outsider can help there.

    3. Tacomob,


      You are quite "localised"!

      Welcome to Singapore!

      Yup, a rose by any other name is still a rose ;)

      I find it fascinating to read others seeking external validation on how much networth or passive income is "enough" for retirement?

      A bit like asking others how much to eat before we get full?

      When we are "full", we will know it!


    4. It is more like asking ...

      How fat is fat?

      How thin is thin?


    5. CW,

      Such behaviour is a sign they are not ready for self-actualisation yet.

      It's OK, we all have to go through seeking our self esteem through the affirmation of others phase.

      "Mommy, mommy look! I've got a gold star today!"

    6. CW,
      You bring up a very sensitive issue. Reminds me of the cartoon where Garfield the cat meets up with his date.
      She dares to ask him: "Do you think I'm getting fat?"
      Garfield: "Do you think I'm getting stupid?"
      She: "You answer me first."
      Garfield: "I did"

      And SMOL,
      Affirmations are great as long as they come from friends and family. But it appears to me that many Singaporeans just want to impress their neighbors whose names they don;t even know: "Look at my new shiny car ..., ok my old one was only 3 years old, but then you bought a new one recently, so I also need to by a new one." Are we kids or what??

    7. Tacomob,

      I don't know about others, but I never want to grow up.

      I am Peter Pan :)

      I just want to play all day!

      I'm made of stardust.

      When winter comes, I'll return to the cosmos ;)

  3. Hi tacomob
    Agree that the future is unknown.
    i got an old army friend who was a consultant in ttsh. Yet been diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer when he presented with sudden stomachache.
    tell me more abt uncertainty...

  4. I think the future is definitely uncertain and we can keep this intact and agreed.

    Either extreme of the two alternatives isn't good either. Some may only choose to do x when y while totally compromising on what is presented today. For some, they compromise tomorrow and totally do x for everything presented today. Since future is unknown, i guess it's better to take the middle path. The future can be bad or good for us.

    1. B,

      Middle path indeed not only in time perspective, but also holistic in our world view.

      Single-minded focus and evangelical zeal on personal finance cannot be the be all and end all of our existence. Can it?

      Relationships, love, culture, music, art, literature, food, spirituality - just to name a few - matter too.

      And please don't set "goals" on the above!

      They are meant to be experienced; not tick off on a bucket list. Sheesh!

  5. Sigh..we live only once.
    No one knows where we go after we leave this world.
    thats why we must live life to fullest.
    Try what we havent tried..get new experiences

    1. Penguin,

      Now you're talking!

      Whenever in a new city, I'll try the local food, wine, and .....


      Some believe in many lives (reincarnations).

      Some are very certain where we will go after we leave this world.

      Some view our current life as only a "preparation" for what come after.

  6. strangely i also read the obituary
    mostly lookout for those who passed on young like below 30
    i would feel pity for them such a young age and something may had happened like critical illness or accident, not natural to die so young

    for the old 70s, 80s, 90s years old, happy for them that they lived a ripe old age and live behind a legend for their family

    1. Jimmy,

      I'm not so sure long life is a blessing...

      What if the big guy upstairs only make early recalls to people that are pleasant and sweet, while those he recalls last are those that are obnoxious and reek in the smell of money?

      Life is pitiful if we look forward to death as an "escape".

  7. Shifting goals... And life...

    Think there is a key phrase "who we are" in your post that required some pondering.

    I am what I do hence I plan and have goals to achieve and define what achievements ... That is the most numeric and objective and one of the many ways to define...

    "I" can be feel vertically and laterally too. Laterally is the relationships u had. We are not an island. If there is genuine relationship you take away some "I" and mix the "her" who also lose some because of you so together a new "I" emerge.

    View vertically ... The end point and the years leading to it. The concept of time... The final years are rather gloomy if u ask me.

    Hence vertically, the question of what is "life" and the goals become insignificant momentarily ...

    SMOL LUCKY bas** who know who his is...

    I am still searching...

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      Yup, that's how I feel when I see the butterfly describing about his love. How can someone be so lucky!? Bas***!!!


      I'm just the clownish counter-weight to all those: "Look! This how much I've earned/saved!"

      Now imagine if this is expressed not in precise $ terminology, but in fuzzy aspirations, visions, dreams achieved? In experiential feelings instead?

  8. SMOL,
    Thanks for challenging myself this weekend to attempt at answering these questions:
    Who am I? What do I want to do with my life? Why do I get up in the morning? Where do I belong?

    I guess you purposely left out the "When" question and took the trouble to explain the Obituary section eh? If only we could also answer "When", then all is good.

    1. ckw-I99,

      I am very impressed!!!

      The words not spoken can be more deafening ;)

      It's the old 6 wives and 1 husband technique.

      "When" you have cleverly deduced. Applause.

      I have left out "Which" and "How" too because these are "atas" higher levels of self-knowledge. No point talking about them if we have no idea on the 4 basic questions of who, what, why, and where ;)

      1. Which spiritual path should I take? (I am agnostic) ***

      2. How may I be of service? (I'm not a bleeding heart)

      Once we have answered the 7 questions (6 Wives and 1 Husband), we will view the accumulation of money/personal finance differently ;)

      *** Choosing a spiritual path on our own free will when we know ourselves is not the same as being "born into" a default spiritual path of our parents.

  9. 55...!! that's kindda scary ^.^;
    actually singapore has amongst one of the highest mortality in the world. our average is 82, i believe. something like 85 for women, and 80 for men.

    so in a way, i see it more as a 60 is the new 40! and that would put me in my 20s, how nice, LOL! before your post, i sometimes wonder if we stick to the usual retirement age of 60-65, we easily have another 15-20 years ahead of us. wayyyy too long to sit around and do nothing. yea, knitting ain't exactly my calling hurhur. we can continue to find something useful and interesting to do, and in fact, some of us may even prefer to carry on working, maybe part-time or something.

    i think it's important for us to feel useful and to have meaning in life. of course, everyone defines 'meaning' differently, and it doesn't even have to be something big.

    anyway, i digress... hehe, i started leaving you a comment without any inking what i wanted to yak about, LOL! guess i will go think think about what you shared here... interesting thought!

    but the main takeaway should be that we live life to the fullest. one of the sickest things would be to be lying on our deathbed, wondering about all the 'What if's' in our lives.

    1. bb,

      I'll take it as a compliment that you are comfortable to start yakking with me without much forethought ;)

      I like this Japanese word ikigai. It encapsulates what you have said.

      If there is no reason for us to get up in the morning, why bother right?

      Might as well roll-over and move on...

      Thank goodness there's so much to experience, feel, and embrace!

      I'm so blessed to have struck the citizenship lucky draw by simply being born in Singapore ;)

  10. SMOL,

    I agree on special number like 30,40,55... but guess the number makes no sense when your mind or brain stays stagnant when your age count increase!

    I still remember I was told "when your time to do THE Thing comes, you will somehow know and feel it... ignore the numbers!

    1. Rolf,


      Somehow I don't think many will plan to "retire" at 44 ;)

      In my case, its more a case of several catalysts that helped me discover that I actually have "enough".

      What's the worst that can happen?

      Money runs out I can easily get back to work.

      Even if time is on my side, the people that matter the most to me are not getting any younger...

    2. Bruce Lee cannot live beyond 35 but his legends continue for more than 35 yrs! I do not think Steve job plan for 55 also.

      For me, I prefer to have a vision (not plan x or y) for long term 15-20 yrs. Then plan 5 yrs ahead with action now!

      The problem I seen most commonly is a lot of people have lots of plans, but they lack the vision, the correct mindset or attitude and worst still... No action or wrong plans!


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