failed financial goals

4 Financial Goals I’ve Failed to Achieve

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What are the limits of your abilities?

That’s an unpleasant question to ask yourself, isn’t it? No one likes to think of their own flaws.

Yet as the world prepares for the new year decade, all excited to start their financial goals, I can’t help to go the other route and think of where and what I’ve failed to do in the past.

Why talk about failed financial goals

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a negative person. In fact I’m annoyingly optimistic.

(“Crashed your expensive car? Thank God you still have your life”; “Lost a limb in the accident? Insurance payout time kachinggg!!”).

It’s just, I’m battling a dilemma. I want to make financial goals, because failing to plan is planning to fail and all that.

But do I make ambitious financial goals and fail (again) but at least ‘miss the moon and land among the stars’, OR do I make super-realistic financial goals and not feel challenged or excited by them at all?

After thinking about it, I decided that the former is a better alternative than the latter.

But what if we… combine them? Set ambitious goals which are also realistic. To get there, it’s not a bad idea to do some risk-reduction activity – think of where I have failed in the past so I can (try) avoid the same problems.

So here are all the financial goals I’ve failed before, to ground me back to Earth.

#1 – Getting a scholarship

This is old, deep feelings I’m digging out. Late teens, early 20s stuff. See, I’ve never really gotten over the fact that I’ve never gotten a scholarship.

You might say yeah Suraya many others didn’t get scholarships as well, but let me just counter back – almost all of my best friends during high school got scholarships. I was the stupid less-clever one, the one who didn’t study enough.

The only reason I got an overseas education is because of my parents’ money, not of my own merit.

(Well, maybe a little bit of my own merit. Just a tiny bit)

I might also add – oh gosh I’m so embarrassed to admit this – I actually failed my admissions interview into UiTM Shah Alam, too. Yes, the university known to help Malay people.

Underlying core problem which contributed to the failure: underpreparation

#2 – Have a career in social work and work with United Nations

Before Suraya-the-personal-finance-writer, there was Suraya-the-social-worker. Up until my mid-20s, I was working in a few NGOs, including for intercultural exchange, SOGIE rights, HIV/AIDS, refugees and women human rights, just building experience.

I’ve since left the field and industry, but sometimes I still think about the ‘what ifs’. My ultimate goal then was to work in the United Nations, where salaries are high.

Like really, really freakin’ high. I thought, well that’s a nice two-birds-one-stone situation. I would satisfy my lifegoal of ‘doing good’ while making money at the same time.

Why didn’t I still pursue this goal? Well I think I realised that I’m simply not angry enough to make a good activist, the type that demands rights and drafts policies and organises protests and all that. I’m too comfortable with my privileges to act.

Underlying core problem which contributed to the failure: cowardice

Related: [PERSONAL] Malay and Money: A Reflection

#3 – Continue

Sometime back, circa 2018 or early 2019, I bragged about coming up with a new business slash website idea – It’s like, the deal-hunting website but for Malaysians (obv). I even made an article about its creation process: The Exact Steps I Use to Build & Launch in 7 Days

I was so excited about the project in the beginning. But as time went on… I got lazy, and just stopped working on it.

No excuses really. Once I did the beta website, the passion for the project died off :/

Underlying core problem which contributed to the failure: Laziness; loss in motivation

#4 – Doing outbound sales

Generally speaking, there are two ways to get sales/clients: inbound and outbound marketing.

So far in with RoR, I’ve relied mostly on inbound marketing, ie clients liking my work and/or personal brand and coming to hire me directly. It’s a good strategy.

In the past few years, and especially after the publication of the Money Stories from Malaysian: Volume 1 book in early 2019, I’ve challenged myself to be more comfortable with doing outbound sales, ie approaching target clients/customers directly.

And let me say… it’s still hard. Some days I have the confidence to do it, but other days, no.

I want to say small progress is better than no progress, and that is absolutely true, but I also want to push myself harder. Sometimes I even wish I had a boss who’d force me to do sales so I’d have to do it! But no, being a solopreneur means all the initiation and motivation must come from my own self.

Underlying core problem which contributed to the failure: my fear of rejection


To be really, really honest with you, this post was originally supposed to be a list of my financial goals in 2020.

But I thought instead of just sharing with you what I want to do, instead let’s use this space to

(1) remind you that I’ve failed more times than I care to admit, and so does everyone else;

(2) failing is completely normal, don’t be too hard on yourself, shit happens, and

(3) you only truly fail if you don’t learn and grow from your mistakes.

Thus with that logic, financial goals are bars you set for yourself, yes, but also above all its a tool for self-growth. If you achieve it, good. If you didn’t, also good – knowing what you didn’t know you didn’t know is also valuable information!

So. Having said all these. I want to know – is the process of goal-setting is an easy or hard process for you? What have you learned from your own failed goals? As always, do share in the comments section 🙂

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