My goals drive me to be a better version of myself every day. They challenge me to accomplish the seemingly impossible and push the boundaries of my potential. However, I usually don’t like sharing them because I feel like I will jinx myself. There is actually an article out there about the psychology of sharing goals. Apparently, people are less likely to achieve their goals if they tell others. But, in an effort to share my personal side, I’ll discuss ten of my most meaningful and active goals. I have more but omitted ones that are generic and not as significant. These are in no particular order or preference. Without further ado, let’s get to it.

1. Write “UX Designer & Researcher” as my LinkedIn heading
This is why I started blogging. It’s a platform to document what I learn about UX design and research and to improve my communication skills. After contemplating various career paths, I feel strongly about this one. I love the different elements involved in UX and that a humanistic, liberal arts graduate like myself could thrive. I’ve already learned a lot but am still excited to keep going. Right now, I’m enrolled with Coursera’s Interaction Design specialization course to learn about designing for UX. I also attend events to meet people in the industry and hear raw accounts of how they got there. One of these days it will be my LinkedIn header. Just wait and see.

2. Pay off all my undergraduate student loans
It is emotionally draining to see almost half a grand disappear into the abyss every month. Maybe it’s not going into an abyss but that’s what it feels like. My debt isn’t massive compared to what others have but it’s still a lot and doesn’t seem to go away. I experience anxiety when I think about paying back all this money. Despite this, I don’t regret the educational investment I made. I wouldn’t trade my education and experience at Soka University of America (SUA) for anything. I am about halfway there but I’m determined to get rid of it once and for all. In five years, Danny Habuki, the President of SUA, expects annual alumni donations of at least $500.00 back to SUA until I die so I need to get those loans out of the way.

3. Buy a Burberry trench coat
A Burberry trench coat is truly a lust-worthy luxury item that has been on my wish list for an embarrassingly long amount of time. It’s a classic. It’s also insanely expensive. However, if I don’t have to question the stylishness of my outfits for a lifetime, then the price should be justified. That two grand price tag comes down to having the confidence of looking fabulously good every day and never having a mediocre outfit again. I haven’t even bought an in-the-meantime trench coat because I know nothing will match up. I’m saving all my love for the best. And you know I’m going for the red.

4. Run the New York City Marathon
I ran on my university’s Cross Country and Track & Field teams for four years and graduated as a proud four-year student-athlete. It has been five years since I ran on an intercollegiate team but even to this day, running runs deep in my blood. Before, I ran to stay fit and feel good about my body. Nowadays, I run to eat a lot. I also want to see if I’m capable of finishing the New York City marathon. It’s been a longtime goal and my laziness keeps postponing it but I’m going to make it happen soon. On top of this, I want to commit to actually running the thing, not skipping, jogging or walking.

5. Go back to Malaysia and climb Mount Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia is a special place. I spent time with my friend Kim and her family there in August 2014 and again in February 2015 for Chinese New Year. One of her aunts, nicknamed Kinabalu Auntie, is gentle and sweet by appearance but is definitely a beast. She showed me two pictures of her on top of Mount Kinabalu and humbly said, “I climbed it twice.” For those who don’t know, Mount Kinabalu is not a joke. It’s the highest peak in Southeast Asia. Not anyone can just frolic up to the top. It takes guts, persistence, tenacity and endurance. I have to go back to Malaysia to climb Kinabalu and prove my own beastliness. Maybe I’ll grab nasi lemak for dinner and then head to a durian buffet afterwards to celebrate.

6. Start and run a food business
I love eating. I’ve never heard anyone not like eating. If you don’t, then we won’t get along. I managed to weave my love for food into my senior thesis by looking at the emergence of the organic movement and analyzing the philosophical values behind it. I was saddened by the fact that people aren’t eating together for enjoyment anymore. Food has become an afterthought rather than a primary necessity. I want my contribution to the food industry to be about getting people to eat together again. Food makes people less angry and eating together stimulates meaningful dialogue. Non-hangry people and great food is definitely the key to solving a lot of problems in this world. Cliche perhaps, but true stuff.

7. Read “Dream of the Red Chamber” by Cao Xueqin
Every literary nerd’s struggle is that there are more books in the world than years of human life to read everything. It’s hard to prioritize what I want to read because there is so much good stuff in the world. This book has been in my reading queue for a while. It is considered one of China’s four great classical novels and a global literary masterpiece. The English translation is over 2,500 pages and circulates around 400 main characters. That’s intimidating. However, I’m curious and drawn to the fact that this novel delves so deep into the beauties and complexities of human life. I’m not prepared to be mind-fucked by a legendary piece of literature but it’s disturbingly pleasurable when it happens.

8. Go see the rest of the world
I need to go see the rest of the world. Growing up in a Japanese household on American soil made me appreciate cultural diversity. I studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador for five months during college and that experience obliterated what I thought were guidelines for common sense, in a good way. After graduating, I lived in and traveled around Southeast Asia for over two years. This endeavor helped me vastly opened up my capabilities to be empathetic. Traveling does that to you. Seeing the way others live taught me a lot about human happiness and daily struggles. I’ve been to many different places but I still need to go see the rest of the world. I got places to see, people to meet and lessons to learn.

9. Own a townhouse in the Upper East Side
Investing in real estate is something I’ve always been interested in but too intimidated by. Unlike other investments, owning real estate never goes out of style. It’s also pretty badass to say that you own property. My dream is to own and live in a townhouse in the Upper East Side in Manhattan. I’m biased when I say this because I grew up here but it’s definitely my favorite neighborhood in all of New York City. It represents everything that I am. I anticipate traveling the world but this is where I want to come back to. This is where I associate “home” with. It’s too “bougie” for some of my friends but I absolutely love it. And soon, I’ll own a piece of it.

10. Live every day to the fullest without regrets
This goal sounds the easiest. However, it’s one of the biggest challenges. Living every day to the fullest is something you have to always be conscious of. It doesn’t matter how much appreciation you built. It’s human nature to feel regret about a less than perfect life. It’s hard to stay positive towards a life that doesn’t work the way you want it. But guess what? You can’t change your environment and you can’t change what it does to you. Being a true champion of your own life is about being the best version of yourself in given situation and approach challenges as opportunities. Try this every day. It’s not easy. And that’s why it’s a constant life goal of mine.

Most of these goals feel like moonshot dreams. I’m intimidated by the massiveness of what I’m trying to achieve. But I’ve got one chance to make this life worthwhile and truly valuable. My real aim by next year is for my moonshot goals will be even bigger and better. Sometimes, things appear to be unreachable but that can completely change instantaneously. Next year, let’s check in and see where I’m at with these goals. Now it’s your turn. What are your biggest achievements and how did you get there? What are your most ambitious goals? What are you doing to get there? Tell me.



Showing 4 comments
  • George

    Riri, this was very well written and a great read. Your personality is written all over this. I feel that UX requires empathy and really understanding what the user wants and feels. You have these qualities, and I your niche is awaiting you. I look forward to more posts and maybe some vlogs in the future too?

    • Riri Nagao

      Thank you, George! I’m glad that my personality shines through and you believe in my potential to do well in the UX world. I’m camera shy so vlogs are not in the plans but I won’t say never!

  • HanVan Tong

    Riri, thank you for the post. I did get carried away and quite taken aback by the targets you set for yourself. Did you remember me always telling you how my typical Asian mindset held me back from dreaming big? It still is, just so you know. Seems like we can never amount to anything without such wildest dreams. And after having read your goals, I felt more inspired. Moving to Germany is no doubt one of the biggest turning points in my life and my goals have, therefore, changed. One of my goals now is not to be a university professor anymore but to get myself understood in German. Not that I can’t speak a simple sentence but being able to have a real conversation is still impossible for me now. My German is just not there yet. Sometimes I feel like a fish out of water whenever having a family get-together with my in-laws and I always ended up talking to the old, aka my parents-in-law. I wanted to get along more with my husband’s siblings but there is still a language barrier among us. I’m taking a German course with a focus on education in a week in order to better my German so let’s see how it goes. My boss is American but her German is amazing. I did praise her German a few times and I wondered if she found me weird or not. Anyway, I hope that after the German course, I will be able to talk to my students’ parents without getting her to translate for me every single time. Ambitious much?

    • Riri Nagao

      Dear Van, thank you so much for a beautifully articulated comment. I actually think that’s a noble dream of yours to be a university professor and be understood in German. First of all, I commend you so much for learning one of the world’s hardest languages. You definitely have a purpose in learning the language so keep reminding yourself that to keep progressing forward! I can’t wait to hear more updates from you on how things go. It’s amazing that we met a couple years ago and our lives are at completely different places now! Let’s keep challenging ourselves and create a lot of big results in our lives!

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