Journey of an Architect is a blog started by Tim Ung to share his architecture and design ideas through speculative projects. His posts focus on his design process, thoughts, struggles, and successes throughout his journey.

My 2018 Goals and Why I Set Them

My 2018 Goals and Why I Set Them

At the end of every year, I take at least a week off to travel, spend time with family and friends, reflect on the year that’s coming to an end, and come up with 10 new goals for the new year. This has become a very important tradition in my life because it keeps me focused on specific aspects of my life that I want to strengthen. Most importantly, I continuously work towards achieving each one and for the last few years, I’ve been able to achieve all 10 of them. Here’s why, how, and what I set as my 10 goals for 2018.

Why I focus on 10 goals

When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite teachers spent a period of time at the end of the calendar year to teach us about resolutions and setting one for the new year. She taught us about the importance of setting goals that would be difficult to achieve, but attainable. After going through several examples of goals that we could set, she had us take out our composition notebooks and write down one New Year’s resolution that we would focus on achieving.

Although I’d like to end that story by telling you that I achieved the goal that I set, I’m sure that I didn’t achieve the goal and after several weeks, I forgot about my resolution…

Anyway, since that time, I’ve always set a random number of goals at the end of each year and I focused on a few of them throughout the year. My hope was always to achieve each one, but honestly, I’d only complete one or two by the end of the year. By December, I usually found myself making up possible ways that I might have achieved the other goals without realizing it! But deep down, I knew that I was fooling myself.

Finally, by the time I was in the Graduate School of Architecture, I set 5 annual resolutions and focused on achieving each one. With my self-motivation for school, work, and fitness, I found myself competing to achieve each goal as quickly as possible. By the end of every year, I would either achieve all of the goals or missed one that I decided to no longer pursue.

Now, I always set 10 big goals that relate to specific areas of my life that I want to focus on for the upcoming year and the remainder of my life. Each goal should fall under a category of my life that I find to be very important; health, finances, career, and family/friends. Ever since I took this approach to setting my goals, I’ve been able to achieve each one.

By the end of every year, I reflect and see how much I’ve grown as a person because I focused on achieving each goal. At the end of it all, I know that the process of achieving the goals is more important than achieving them. Most importantly I feel more fulfilled with my life every day and I develop positive habits.

How I figure out and set my goals

Although many people have the perception that setting goals is a fast and simple task, it actually takes me at least 6 hours to figure out my 10 goals and to finalize the list. My process generally starts with reflecting on everything I’ve done for the past year and reviewing all of my goals that I set for the year. I what areas of my life might’ve changed hierarchy and I brainstorm reasons why these shifts might’ve happened.

After this brainstorming session, I start developing each goal individually as they relate to the specific areas of my life that I’m focusing on. For health, I might start with a broad goal of eating healthier. Then, I refine that goal by coming up with reasons why that aspect of health is important to me. Perhaps I want to learn healthy recipes. Eventually the goal will become “Eating homemade healthy meals”. Then, I try to add some level of quantitative value to the goal so that I can measure my progress. So, the goal will eventually become something like “Cook 52 homemade healthy meals”. With 52 weeks in a year, this is an achievable 1 healthy homemade meal per week.

I continue with this exercise until I eventually have a list of 10 to 12 goals. Then, I go through the process of elimination to end up with the 10 goals that I’d like to focus on for the New Year.

Without further ado, here’s my 10 goals for 2018

1.    Get a raise of at least “X” amount

Every year, I reflect on the responsibilities that I’ve taken on and what I’ve been able to achieve at the architecture firm. Using this list of responsibilities, I compare it to the definition of roles in the most recent AIA compensation report and find the position that I fall under. Once I identify my role, I research the national average compensation for someone with that role in America. Then, I research the statewide and local average compensation. Eventually, I’ll find the salary that fits my position at the office.

Using this research and results from asking my colleagues and local architects about how much they think someone of my position should be earning, I present the information to the principal in charge at my firm. Hopefully, I’m able to present the facts and get an adjustment to my salary that fits my role.

2.    Run 5k in less than 20 minutes

Last year, I set out to run a half marathon in under 2 hours, which I was able to accomplish after 9 months of training. This year, I’d like to continue my running goal with a focus on speed. So, I decided to train and run a 5k in under 20 minutes.

3.    Sell 10 Leather Products

With my newfound passion for leatherworking, I’ve decided to make and sell at least 10 leather products this year. I’ll be working with a laser cutter that I’ve ordered that will be delivered in March. So I’m excited to explore the possibilities of leatherworking with a laser cutter and starting a small shop.

4.    Pay off all student loans

After 4 years and 6 months of paying my student loans, I’m finally close to paying all of them off. In fact, I’ve been paying down the loans so much that I’ll probably be able to pay off the remainder by this Spring! This will free up my finances and allow me to focus on paying off other debts in my life.

5.    Read 25 books

Reading at least 25 books has become an annual goal of mine that I truly enjoy. This goal has really helped me learn so much about architecture, finances, entrepreneurship, and health which are the genres that fascinates me most. This goal is specific to books and does not include long online articles or magazines.

6.    Design 7 30x30 projects

Last year, I set out to design 5 new 30x30 projects, which I was successful in accomplishing. The 5 projects were larger scale theoretical designs like skyscrapers. This year, I’d like to design 7 new 30x30 projects. This means that some or all of the projects will be smaller in scale. Stay tuned for more on this one!

7.    Get health checkups – Dentist, primary care, and specialist

Over the past year, I haven’t been the best at getting my annual checkups with my doctors. So, I’ve decided to give myself a simple goal of getting a checkup with my dentist, primary doctor, and specialist. Health always comes ahead of everything else in my life, so this goal is very important to me.

8.    Save “X” amount of money

One of the goals that I enjoyed last year was saving a sum of money that I set at the beginning of the year. This year, I’m continuing that goal and raising the amount of money that I’d like to save. I have a feeling that I’ll be able to achieve this goal by the middle of this year, but I’m sure I’ll encounter some difficulties along the way such as traveling or giving into my will to spend money.

9.    Develop fitness routine for muscle toning and fitness

Knowing my self-motivation for accomplishing my goals, I have a feeling that I’ll be able to run the 5k under 20 minutes by the summer. During and after my time training for this goal, I’d like to develop a routine that helps me stay fit and toned. This will ensure that I’m exercising regularly, which has always helped me decompress and clear my head after a long day in the office.

10.  Post 365 high quality edited photos to Instagram

Recently, I finally made the decision to purchase a new DSLR camera which is a Canon EOS 80D. My former camera, a Canon EOS 30D from 2003 was starting to fail and my photographs were coming out with dust spots and bad lighting. With this new purchase, I’ve been taking time to go out and photograph buildings and places that I think are beautiful. After taking the photos, I’ve been editing them on my iPad and posting them on my Instagram page, which has been so fun! I’d like to post at least 1 a day, but I know I’ll have holidays where I can’t post to Instagram. So, I kept the goal of posting 365 photos, but it’ll give me some flexibility in when I decide to post. Be sure to follow me on Instagram and let me know what you think of my photos!


Setting goals has helped me stay focused on the important aspects of my life and I’ve been able to accomplish so much more every year. However, I also know that setting goals isn’t for everyone. Some people perform better when they’re free from obligations because they’re able to think and act without restrictions. The only way to figure out what works best for you is to brainstorm goals that are aligned with your vision for yourself and try to accomplish them. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find as much clarity and focus in your life as I have by setting goals.

17x30 Single Family High End Residential Project

17x30 Single Family High End Residential Project

Adding Leather Products to my 30x30 Goal

Adding Leather Products to my 30x30 Goal