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“What do you want to do when you grow up?”

I remember loving this question as a kid, because it gave me a chance to flex my creative mind and say something shocking and funny that would make the adults laugh. An astronaut, a florist, an accountant (little did I know I would come to detest Maths with a passion) a Pokemon trainer! I wanted to go climb Everest. I wanted to go cage-diving with sharks. I wanted everything and more – when I grew up.

And yet as I approached my teenage years, I started to dread these questions. “What do you want to study after secondary school? What are your goals and ambitions?” Honestly, I didn’t know. There were still so many things I wanted to do, but the fear of actually ‘growing up’ was almost paralyzing. I’ve come a long way since I was the clueless and confused first year university student, but I’m here to tell you that if you’ve ever felt lost, you’re not alone!

I stumbled across the term BHAG, or Big Hairy Audacious Goal by chance. And eventually, I created mine. And you can too!

Today I’m talking to Puah Chien Yee, a dreamer in action and a passionate go-getter about her life goals. Fondly known to us as Puah, she’s a fellow student at Universiti Sains Malaysia and also the Local Committee President of AIESEC in Penang 2015/2016.

J: So, Puah, on the topic of youth and goals, why do you think it’s important to actually have goals?

P: It’s closely linked to my personality. Having a goal is important to keep myself going. Without direction, I would feel lost and demotivated.

J: Would you mind sharing what your personal goal is? That Big Hairy Audacious Goal?

P: It’s to be a better person than I was yesterday and learn something new each day.

J: It seems like youth often struggle with figuring out their goals. How did you decide on yours? What was the process like?

P: It definitely takes time. I came to the realization of my goals after going through the exposure and experiences in AIESEC. I attended conferences of different scales – local and international – and the conversations with different people prompted me to think of what I wanted to do in life and my life purpose in a different way. Conversations matter to me, because they help me to do reflection and helps me to expect what is coming in the future.

Fun fact! Some of the places AIESEC has taken Puah include Kuching, Pahang, Egypt, India, Thailand and South Korea.

J: Do you think it’s important to have short term and long term goals?

P: I think they should be aligned to each other, and short term goals need to contribute to long term goal. My BHAG is to be better person than yesterday. My short term goals are getting international experiences and any type of experiences to grow myself. I’ve recently built up some habits such as reading articles and watching TED Talks videos to increase my knowledge. I’m planning an academic exchange to Canada, which would be a milestone of my goals as well.

J: I’ve started some habits myself, like sleeping and waking up early and reading. I think having consistent habits really helps, especially when it comes to having the right mindset to achieve goals.

P: I think mindset and actions are equally important. Nothing will come out of a positive mindset and no action, or pairing actions with an incorrect mindset.

J: And what is the mindset that shapes your actions and goals?

P: The Just F*cking Do It spirit that I picked up from a local conference in UMP. I tend to overthink, and when the time passes, the opportunity passes as well. In terms of mindset, this spirit is important to me – to have the courage to put ideas into actions and overcome my fear of overthinking.

Chien Yee says,

J: Do you have role models?

P: My role models are Stephen Hawking and Mother Teresa. I was curious about his disease because it sounded long and complicated, so I read up on his life story. One thing that sparked me is that if he can accomplish so many things with a paralyzing disability, why can’t I – an ordinary person? It made me persistent. With Mother Teresa, I did not connect to her story when I was younger, but when I was in Lower Six, I read an article about her and her unique contributions. Her generosity inspired me, as she went around India to serve people as an educator and nurse and mother. I want to leave my footprint all around the world by telling stories to inspire people.

J: I think everyone that knows you knows that you’re an incredibly purposeful and driven person. But do you ever feel like slacking off once in awhile and procrastinating?

P: Sometimes. But procrastination can be overcome. Sometimes I do give myself a day off to really recharge – a maximum of 1 night in my comfort zone to do the things I want to do.

J: What advise can you give to those who don’t have a goal yet?

P: Try to observe the things you enjoy doing or excites you, and also challenges your limit to become better. Having a mentor does help. I don’t have a consistent mentor but I do have someone I talk to when I encounter any difficulties. It helps me to feel better and to have a clearer idea of my next step.

J: Awesome! One last question. Imagine that you’ve achieved all your life goals, how would you feel?

P: I would feel accomplished but I would start to look for new goals. I’ll say, “Okay let’s try another one.” – Never settle down.

Creating your very own BHAG takes time and patience. But with the right purpose and mindset, you’re definitely on the right path. Keep it up!


On her free time, Jessie Yong enjoys daydreaming and doodling her 10-year life map on any paper scraps she can find. 

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