Two weeks ago, I talked about the importance of setting goals to measure progress. I said that the next post would be about goal setting…so here it is!

This Is Not A How-To

Before delving into goal setting, I just want to point out that this is not a post to show you the way that you should set your goals. Nor is it a post about the “best way” or “the top 10 techniques” to set your goals. Heck, this isn’t even a post on telling you that you should set goals. This post is merely about what works for me when it comes to goal setting. This is a post about how I set my goals (and a little bit on its intricacies). That said…

How I Set My Goals

I’m not a fan of the word “goals”, to be honest. I prefer to use “projects”. It’s not like I hate the word “goals”. It’s probably going to be the most used word in this post so that’s enough proof that I’m at peace with the word. It’s just a matter of preference and perspective. I like the energy and seriousness the word “project” has. As part of my goal setting philosophy, I prefer to commit to projects rather than just completing goals (do you notice any difference between the two?). That’s why I don’t do bucket lists. I do impossible lists.

The Impossible List

I won’t get into the nitty gritty of what impossible lists are (if you’re even a little bit interested in accomplishing things in life, I highly suggest creating an impossible list), but in a nutshell, an impossible list is an eternal and evolving list of goals or projects. “How can it be never ending?”, you may ask. That’s precisely the essence of the impossible list (and that’s why it’s impossible). As opposed to a bucket list, in which you check every time you complete a goal, in the impossible list, that goal becomes a stronger and much more challenging one. Say one of your goals is to swim 10km non-stop and you complete it. You write down the date of completion and you take it up a notch: swim 20km non-stop. Then 40km. Then 80km. It depends on the way you want them to evolve, obviously, but I’m just making this example for clarity’s sake.

My Impossible Web Dev List

You guessed it! I have an impossible list exclusively for web development. I also have a personal one, but for this post I’ll only be sharing the pertinent one. I’ll present it now and then talk a little bit more about it.


The IMPOSSIBLE [Web Dev] List:

Because of the semi-improvised nature of this self-teaching journey, this will not be a fixed and static list of goals and focuses. This will be organic, dynamic, and modified depending on the circumstances without jeopardizing the essence of the goals.

Studies GOALS:

  • Complete the Web Developer Bootcamp (Udemy) (in progress)
    • Complete the Advanced Web Developer Bootcamp
  • Complete the Web Design track on Treehouse
  • Complete the Front End Web Dev track on Treehouse
  • Become a Full Stack JavaScript Developer on Treehouse
  • Complete the Full Stack JavaScript track on Treehouse
  • Obtain the Front End Development Certification (freeCodeCamp) (in progress)
    • Obtain the Data Visualization Certification
      • Obtain the Back End Development Certification
        • Complete the Video Challenges
          • Complete the Coding Interview Preparation
  • Complete the egghead.io tutorial on How to Contribute to Any Open Source on GitHub (see Trello)
  • Complete the Git tutorial on try.github.io (see Trello) or on labex.io
  • Become a Scrimba instructor (see guide on Scrimba Community)
  • Complete the Linux for Noobs course (in labex.io)
  • Complete the Level Up tutorials’ on Atom (April 2018)
    • Install and learn how to use Git and GitHub packages in Atom/Sublime
      • Create or contribute to a package, theme or Atom/Sublime
  • Complete the Get a Job as a Front-End Developer Udemy course

Projects GOALS:

  • Create a personal portfolio with at least 6 projects (of any kind)
  • Create an e-commerce website
  • Create a smartphone app
  • Create a TOS or PP generator for websites
  • Create a recipe app (see the recipe app note)
  • Create a timeline generator app
  • Create the LOF outside of WordPress
  • Create a mobile app for the PuttyTribe

Open Source GOALS:

  • (set GitHub contribution goal when understand better)
  • Contribute satisfactorily (modify or specify when understand) to an open source project in freeCodeCamp
  • Contribute to Habitica (specify when understand)

Communities/Networking GOALS:

  • Create at least 5 Indie Hackers threads
  • Assist to at least 5 Meetup reunions (when abroad)
  • Check for a freeCodeCamp community (when abroad)
  • Create my own web dev Discord or Slack community
  • Assist a Running Remote event
  • Give a talk at a conference

LOF Blog GOALS:

  • Finish the blog posting journey with at least 50 blog posts (in progress)
    • Compile and edit posts (as necessary) and publish a LOF book

Job/Internship/Opportunities GOALS:

  • Complete the Simple Programmer Career Guide Toolkit
  • Create a LinkedIn profile
  • Get a remote job
  • Create a profitable and stable freelance business

Miscellaneous GOALS:

  • Read all of the Simple Programmer Career Guide’s book recommendations

Okay, so…! Besides being impossible, an impossible list is also ever-changing and evolving. That’s why you’ll see some incomplete entries or ones that don’t make much sense, but that’s okay. Although I’m sharing my impossible list, in the end, it’s only me who’ll be really making use of it. And if it is not self-explanatory, the indented lines mean that they’re the evolution of the goal that precedes them.

I also like to add to the list a little bit more than what I actually want to accomplish. See the “studies goals”, for example. I don’t really plan on actually finishing and obtaining ALL of those certificates, for many reasons, redundancy or repetition among some of them. But having them there fuels the energy of “I have more projects to tackle” and keeps alive that impossible vibe which keeps me going. A bit masochistic, I know. Anyway, remember that the goal (Ah-ha! See what I did there?) of the impossible list is not to finish or check the goal off a list. The impossible list, to me, is a way of organizing growth in whichever areas you choose to and growth is life-long.

Executing The Impossible List

For me, the impossible list is just the beginning of the pursuit. After the list is set, I begin to choose the entries I’ll be directly working with. In this case, you’ll see those marked as “in progress”. The reason I do this is because I want to focus and plan out more specifically my efforts. The impossible list is just one dimension of the planning process. Once I choose which entry to work with, I break that one big goal or project into smaller chunks. For this I use Trello.

To be honest, I haven’t found a true special place for Trello in my productivity system. For me, it works more as a visual aid than as a project management tool. I use it because it helps me to have a clearer sense of how big or small the goal is or how many steps I have to take to get there. After that, I transform those chunks into dailies, habits or to-dos. There’s no tool that does that for me. Well, actually there is: it’s my brain. This is where preference, style or gut comes in. The way that I structure my days in order to achieve those goals is perhaps the most essential part of completing a goal. It doesn’t matter how elegant or elaborate your list is, the only way to reap the benefits of the goal completion is to actually work on them and deciding how to work on them is the art of goal setting.

Goal Setting Anxiety

Which goals to set? Which goals to pursue? How big or small should the goals be? How should I pursue them? These are some of the many questions that arise during the goal-pursuit process. They appear in the form of self-doubt, fear or anxiety. The impossible list, in my case, is a building block or a step for the main goal: building a profitable and stable business. So even if I complete the goals that I’ve set, how do I even know that they’re taking me to that desired destiny? I don’t know and I will never know until I get there, if I ever do. The most important aspect, at least for me, in terms of pursuing the main goal, is just to keep walking. I’ve already started and that means that I will finish.

Goal Progress And Conclusion

As you can see, I’m working in different goals at the same time while others are marinating, waiting for me to complete some other ones first. Like I mentioned in the previous paragraph and in previous posts, I don’t know if these are the correct paths that will take me to where I want to go, if there is such thing as a correct path. At the moment, I’ve been learning many things that I’ve never heard of and that are directly related with web development: Javascript (functions, arrays, objects, etc.) jQuery, DOM manipulation, Paper.js, MongoDB, to mention a few. That, to me, is enough for the moment. I’m still exploring uncharted territory. Once I keep coming back to the same places that I’ve already visited, that’ll be the moment to start questioning the path in a more strict manner. For the moment, I’ll just keep going.