Everyone under the sun talks about goal setting. Like a New Year’s Resolution, these goals barely make it through a few weeks of trial and error.

Why? Well, there’s a few reasons.

1. Accountability.
2. Lack of simplicity.
3. No balance.

Before we dive into these three, just a heads up that we’re talking about SMARTER goals here.

You’ve probably heard the acronym before, but just a refresher. SMARTER goals are specific, measurable, action-based, realistic, time-based. Then, evaluate and re-do.

Here’s an example from a friend of mine:

Scott said he wants to bring in 10,000/month on a consistent basis by December 31st. It’s specific, measurable, and realistic because Scott already has a few freelance clients and pulls in 5k/month, and it’s time-based. By December 31st, he’ll either be making 10k/month or he won’t be. He’ll then be able to evaluate and re-start a new income goal.

Some people like the idea of throwing the realistic factor out the window and 10 times your goals. Why? Because even if you get half way to 10 times your goal, you’ve actually reach your initial goal and multiplied it by five. If that’s for you, then try that.

The only downside of that is you may never feel like you actually achieve a finish line which can feel not so good.

Okay, so the three things.

The keys to the doors that you need open are in other peoples’ pockets. It’s up to you to build the relationships needed to open the doors.
– Michael Roderick

Before graduating from college, Ashley Stahl had a team of mentors to help coach and guide her career. She dreamed big and wanted nothing less than to land her dream job straight out of college. That millennial dream came true when she walked into the U.S. Pentagon for her dream job in foreign affairs.

Long before crossing the commencement stage to get her degree, Ashley did something many millennials don’t know to do. She built up her team of mentors and asked for advice whenever possible.

Instead of waiting to start her career after graduation like many students do, Ashley began her career with one cup of coffee and a conversation to build up her network.

One particular mentor really helped Ashley out. A colonel in the U.S. Armed Forces offered advice to Ashley and introduced her to key people who were able to help Ashley land her dream job.

Ashley left her career in foreign affairs after the puffy white clouds of her dream job dissipated. She began feeling like a cog in a bureaucratic engine, and has continue to rely on mentorship and coaching to break career barriers and rise above plateaus. She’s gone on to start up a successful coaching business, writes for Forbes, and has spoken on stage at TED.

Asking a mentor for help and networking, however, seems to be something many millennials are uncomfortable doing, especially if they come from the struggling working class.

A study by Jessica McCrory Calarco found that whether or not a student asks for help depends on his/her background. Working class students tend to ask for help far less than middle-class students.

This behavior can continue into adulthood when some struggling mid-career professionals ask for help and others shy away from it.

Like Ashley discovered early on in college, one person’s extraordinary success has an iceberg effect: what you see as the tip of success has a mountain of mentors underneath it.

The premium coffee scene is growing faster than baristas in Brooklyn can pump out espresso. No longer are customers happy with house blend made from a drip machine. Coffee lovers crave a new single-origin coffee bean extracted with a new brewing method each time — from siphon to the Hario v60.

But, just where do these beans come from and how much of that three dollar cup of coffee actually goes to the farmer who picked the bean? That’s the question I recently set out to try and answer. And this answer starts with a trip to Laos and a guy named Tyson.

The morning sun filters through the humid air as Tyson Adams peels aside his mosquito net, rolls out of his bed and walks downstairs to turn on the hot water and the lights of Jhai Coffeehouse.

He sets up a scale and places some fresh ground coffee beans into his Aeropress to make his morning cup of java: a favorite coffee brewing technique made popular by Tim Ferriss.

After a few sips, tourists begin to wander into Jhai Coffeehouse: the world’s first completely philanthropic coffee roaster and cafe located at the source in Laos.

Tyson first ventured into Laos during a bit of vagabonding after leaving his home in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S: an area where entrepreneurs and full-fledged coffee snobs unite over a fresh brew. He noticed that the coffee farmers in Laos produce high-quality coffee (graded 85+) and yet are paid for low quality commodity-priced coffee.

Tyson looked around. The neighboring area desperately needed water wells, new schools, and, of course, it’s own coffee shop. And the farmers needed a fair share of the coffee sale.

The key to knowing your purpose is to believe you have one. We all have a purpose and sometimes the purpose is to grow. As long as you are growing as a person, you are on the purpose path.

My path to purpose was carved even before I could properly spell purpose as a child when I quit school at the age of 5.

Knowing school wasn’t for me was a affirmation that I needed to pay attention to every single thing I am going to do because it is going to be different. Do you have to be different to become consciously aware of your purpose? No. It’s a great thing that we’re all born different, saves us a lot of time!

Most people are afraid, afraid to speak their minds simply because it’s different to popular opinion.

Not going to school gave me the luxury of experimenting, spending more than eight hours of the day exploring what I’m passionate about or rather, what gets me excited. Of course I wasn’t left off the hook by my parents, so I had to learn grade 10 textbooks without learning anything formally even once. This was one of the defining moments for my purpose; I never quit education and I wasn’t about to start now. Taking this exam and applying to college really made me question what my purpose was in order to determine which course to take up.

Shannon was fifteen years deep in her career. She stayed late, got to work early, and opened up her laptop on the weekends to help get ahead.

Then she received a summons that she was under investigation. Her boss issued the investigation that would eventually lead to Shannon leaving quitting her job. Shannon left her steady job, wrote a best-selling memoir, and became her own boss as an entrepreneur.

An inner city teacher in New York City, Shannon spent hours planning out lessons that would empower students and get them excited for learning. After finishing one particular project, her students were so excited that they suggested the class have a group hug to celebrate their success.

That’s when her boss walked by and felt she may be crossing the line.

Even though Shannon was found to be completely innocent from inappropriately socializing with students, the investigation left a scar so deep that Shannon knew it was time to leave.

She could no longer be comfortable at work.

The investigation caused Shannon to really examine why she was doing what she was doing. She knew she wanted to have a positive impact on students and help them live remarkable lives, but felt she was being held back.

The school system, which she had been frustrated with long before, needs some serious transforming and Shannon knew she could better empower students by pursuing her entrepreneurial dreams outside the classroom.

She went on to write, My Last 40 Days, and created The Transforming Public Education Podcast. She now works as a marketer for progressive schools to help them get their word out.

I stared bleary-eyed at the mile marker 10 as Lake Seneca glistened in the periphery. My legs felt like bricks and sweat stung my eyes like battery acid.

Energy depleted. Exhausted. Spent.

I whispered my race mantra, “This is Water….ebb and flow,” over and over as my legs continued to somehow pump up and down and maintain proper running form.

Three miles later I crossed the finish line for my first Half-Ironman race, beating my race goal by ten minutes with a smooth time of 4:50:26 and quickly found my way to the nearby ice bath.

For my athlete friends out there, you know what I’m talking about here. We’ve all had moments when our bodies said, “Nope, You’re Done. Stop Moving.” But, when our bodies tells our minds that we’re done, it’s possible to breakthrough to a whole new level.

When I used to coach triathlon, I had my all of my athletes share their mantra with me before a race. I’d either have the mantra on a sign or yell it at them when they would pass by.

When they saw it, it was like a match sparked new fire in their eyes.

You don’t need to race an Ironman to benefit from a mantra. A mantra is meant to help whenever you’re going through a mentally or physically challenging time. Take it figuratively and I’m sure we all feel like we’re racing an Ironman at some point during our lives.

A mantra is a quick and meaningful saying that motivates the soul to push the body.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I seriously thought about quitting The Traveling Cup. I felt exhausted with balancing my full-time teaching job, being a good husband to my wife who is struggling with Lyme Disease, taking care of my mother who was just diagnosed with breast cancer, and also continuing to grow The Traveling Cup.

And then, as if some sort of miracle, the listenership for the show nearly doubled and a listener reached out to me to thank me for my writing and running the podcast.

It was just the affirmation that I needed to know that what I’m creating matters.

I’m a Capricorn: a silly mountain goat that bounces up the mountain side and charges forward. In Ayurveda, I’m a Pita, which means I have tremendous yang energy or fire inside (in the West we’d call that drive).

I’ve always been good at following through and committing till the end and have been a terrible quitter my whole life. But now I see more value in quitting than ever before. Quitting can open doors and bring in fresh air. Quitting can be the next page in living your story.

With the housing crash and the crippling student debt, millennials around the world are redefining The American Dream.

The new American Dream is where a person finds their calling in life to create the most epic legacy — one that creates a better tomorrow and has incredible impact in the world.

Now, you have the ability to share your message with anyone in the world with the same effect of a Super Bowl ad, but without having to spend that kind of money.

We’re living in the world of abundance where a kid in the slums of India could learn anything he wants and see the world from a laptop.

The new American Dream has less to do with money or a home and more to do with living a purpose-driven life.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” — Steve Jobs

It’s a brisk spring morning here in New York and I’ve just poured my first full cup of coffee in a while. And…dang — caffeine really works when the body hasn’t used it in a while.

This has been an interesting week and I’ve been thinking a lot about the Steve Jobs quote above. For millennials who are entering into their life’s work or are reinventing themselves, it’s terrifying to take a leap of faith or follow your gut.

Trust me, I feel the same way. The Traveling Cup has grown so much in the past few months and it’s been incredible. But I still love my full-time teaching job. It’s rewarding for one because my students inspire me to be more and do more, and the job security really helps when my family depends on me.

This week David Ralph interviewed me on his British podcast called Join Up Dots and we spent a lot of time talking about connecting the dots. On the show, I had the unique opportunity to go back in time and offer advice to my former teenage self. It was fun and here’s what I said,

“Hey dude — right now, you’re probably sitting there in class staring out at the trees wondering how the heck this high school class lesson is going to help you in your life. Well, here’s the truth…it’s probably not. Your intuition is right. The school design is entirely outdated. Learn to listen to your intuition, but focus more on your mindset. Sure, that class isn’t really helping you, but staring out at the trees isn’t either. Be present. If you’re in a class be in the class. If you’re walking out in the woods, be in nature. Commit 100% to what it is that you’re doing. Mindset is everything.”

Side Note: I’ve been re-reading my wife’s novel and her ninja fantasy fiction writing skills just had me imagining…what if I really could pass a note through time to my former self? How would that alter the space time continuum!?

After throwing back a few burritos and donning her sport coat, Dorie Clark got back to work. With a calendar chock-full of interviews, she set out to uncover how successful experts became the go-to leaders in their field.

There’s a lot of noise in the world today and it’s getting harder and harder to stand out, says Dorie in her new book Stand Out, “so I wanted to really find out just how someone does stand out in this noisy world.”

It wasn’t too long ago that Dorie herself fought to stand out while reinventing her career. Closing in on 30 years old, Dorie had run the gamut of positions, ranging from being a spokeswoman for a presidential campaign to directing a non-profit.

Dorie wanted to consult full-time and become a writer and speaker on an international level. To do that, she learned how to go from begging event organizers to allow her to speak for free to getting paid to speak all over the world — including giving talks at Google, the World Bank, and Harvard among others.

To stand out, says Dorie, it’s best to file down what it is that you’re good at. To do this, take a look at your realm of expertise and then choose the most focused part of it.

Becoming an expert in something so focused allows someone to take advantage of what mega-companies cannot. It allows someone to first become a big fish in a small pond.