Lost at sea

Two men are left on a small island in the middle of an ocean.

f9d18ce111fdc2924698f1fc2488433fOne starts panicking as he jumps right into the water and swims. He hopes to be saved by anything he could possibly encounter – another island, mainland or just a random rescue ship.  

The other watches as the first guy frantically swims away. He thought, “Even if I were to get off this island, my ultimate goal is to get to the mainland. To do so, I need a boat strong enough to float days on the sea, which could be made using resources on the island, and a few more tools to catch fishes and preserving fresh water for the trip. If I am lucky enough to encounter rescue boats, I will ask them to take me to the mainland. Otherwise, the ocean currents would do the job.”

Not sure if he gets killed on his way by any storm or sea monster, but I really do hope that the second guy will end up reaching his goal as in Life of Pi.

To drown or not to drown

We all need to get ‘saved’ every now and then, and being ‘saved’ here means getting something meaningful out of your life. When you have decent reasons or targets to live for, you know that your life doesn’t go to waste as they motivate you to live on and live well. After all, no one wants to think that their existence is worthless.

But if you can’t even identify exactly what are capable of saving you, all that you’re ever going to do is to start swimming without a clue and let yourself drown in the indefinite sea of life.


You go to college and earn a certificate, simply because almost everyone in our society nowadays is doing so. With a certificate, you will then be taken in for whatever kind of positions that you can qualify for in companies downtown, because contract employment is the safest way of making a living, and simply because almost everyone around you is doing so. One day, all the profound words from your dear professors start turning into mumbles. All the stuff at work start turning into daily tortures. And all the efforts you have put into swimming way this far gradually make you feel exhausted. You were never meant to be here in this place, this office, this building or even this career, yet also know nothing about what you actually want in life. Your life happens to be an entire waste all of a sudden.

But it doesn’t always have to go that way.

Just take a look at our two lost-at-sea friends. Without a doubt, you might have guessed that the guy who will eventually get exhausted and drowned before he even gets saved is 96.69% the first guy, unless that guy is somehow Aquaman. Personally, I also believe that diving right into the sea without any plan in mind when lost at sea is the stupidest choice anyone could ever make. Hence, there is no reason why that you – a bright and hopeful young individual, who has just been invited to stay on an island in the middle of an ocean as indefinite as you future – should hurriedly jump right into the water and start swimming for your life, without any decent plan to save your life, or at least knowing where to go.


Setting definite targets for yourself grants you total control of your life. Other than that, it helps elevate the efficiency of your own efforts by helping you understand and oversee all the things you need to do, must do, any backup plans in case of unfortunate events and get you entirely focused on just one damn thing. Multi-tasking is great and all, but absolutely not for this case y’all.

How to set targets properly

There’s an overwhelming number of people who don’t know exactly what they want in life, and this is mainly caused by a lack of understanding of their own interests and personal abilities.

Get yourself out of your comfort zone. 

You could always blame schools or your tight class schedules for not letting you have any spare time to discover yourself, but that wouldn’t be as helpful as knowing that from now on, you must start getting yourself into a series of trial-and-error. There’s no way one could know that they like or dislike swimming until they get into the water, as how one could never know if they can stand sitting 9-to-5 everyday, 5 days a week in offices until they actually have to.


A vague target such as ‘getting a hell lot of money’ or ‘have a successful career as a marketer’ is far from enough. You need something more concentrated, focused and actionable. For example, ‘becoming a fashion editor for Vogue magazine within 5 years’, ‘buying a $500,000 house before I reach 30 with the earnings from my current freelance job’, ‘creating an architecture design that could win an IAA award’ or ‘starting a YouTube channel about cooking that could attract millions of subscribers and making money from it’. These are the kind of targets that could easily lay out a definite path for you and let you see how to get to the end of that route.

If you want to become a fashion editor for Vogue, just roll onto their hiring post and have a look at what a suitable candidate need to possess, or at least conduct a Google research on the recruiting process at Vogue. Do they ask you to get a Bachelor Degree? Go get the same one as the thing they ask for. Do they ask you to prepare a portfolio showcasing your understanding and sense of fashion? Start building one from now. Do you need to have at least two year of experience in editing or writing articles? Search for all internship position possibles or start your own fashion blog now to gather  experience. Only by knowing everything you need to do and achieve all of them that you can get yourself totally ready when the opportunity comes. And when it does, your thorough understanding of Vogue and what it needs from you will let you shine brighter than any other candidates.


When Edwin C. Barnes catches his first train to East Orange, New Jersey, he didn’t bring much but a huge target of being able to work with the all-time famous inventor Thomas Alva Edison. Not working for, but working with Edison. By the time they first met each other, Barnes had nothing to impress Edison. He actually didn’t even have enough money to buy a train ticket, because he arrived at East Orange on a cargo train. But it was all okay, because there was one thing he did right, and that is staying determined to his target.

It wasn’t very surprising when Edison rejected Barnes’ offer the first time her heard it. However, Edison was definitely impressed with the determination of this young man, that he gave him a job as floor sweeper in his office. Barnes gladly accepted this offer. He knew that this opportunity would open the door for him to observe the brilliant man’s way of working and thinking. After nearly two years of working for Edison and Barnes still didn’t get to fulfill his ultimate goal. But Barnes was patient enough to wait until his opportunity came. Upon the

release and commercialization of Edison’s Ediphone machines, which could capture and playback the human voice, most members of Edison’s sales team doubted that it would be a commercial success. They showed little interest in selling it. Realizing his opportunities, Barnes asked Edison to let him sell his Ediphone. He took his plan straight to the inventor and presented the potentials he saw in these recording devices, how it could help people across America. Edison was so impressed with Barnes’s proposal that he agreed immediately.

Later on, the selling was so successful that the motto “Built by Edison—Installed by Barnes” was born. Barnes then became Edison’s business partner for over the next 30 years.

A young man who is too hungry for quick and easy success would have called it quit within the first few months. But in the end, it is determination that distinguishes targets made for fun from targets that are made to be one of the greatests.

As Benjamin Franklin once said,

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Your days offshore are still ahead. Your life is still going strong, and your very own mainland is still waiting. That mainland is nothing like the others, so you must know exactly where it is and have a good plan to reach it. Instead of sitting in a corner with tears in your eyes and worrying about your clueless future, or keeping on torturing yourself with meaningless things that have nothing to do with your abilities and wants, make a change today. Stop running wild with your eyes blindfolded, because if you don’t, not even God could help you.

Content: Rosie |Edit: Uyen Nguyen and Rosie | Visual design: Vy Le

Images from Internet.

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