Ready, Set, Goal!

It's a new year and three women who are experts in living a productive life show you how to achieve success in 2020.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

It's a new year and three women who are experts in living a productive life show you how to achieve success in 2020.


30, Co-founder, Maiko

Finding the balance between motherhood, a career and a social life can often be one of the hardest things women face. However, for Nadia Chan, who co-founded Maiko – the Singapore distributor for Australian skincare brand Canvas – it is entirely possible with the help of hard work and perseverance. 


If you’re a mum, you know that it can be difficult to balance your time between your children and your career. Nadia suggests involving your children in what you are doing. “I get my son involved with stock-taking, and that way, he gets to practise his numbers,” she says. She also advises women to remain focused on whichever task they are tackling. “My mind is often like a sea of fishes swimming everywhere but I have trained myself to stay focused on a task and complete it well.” 


Making time to have some “me time” can often fall right at the bottom of the list for working mums. However, Nadia stresses that it is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, as well as your kids. “Friday evenings are meant for me. I see my friends, go have a massage or get my nails done,” she reveals. “Once a year, I also make it a point to go on a trip with my best friend to ensure that I have time to rejuvenate my mind. It’s definitely not easy trying to strike a balance but it is not impossible!” Nadia suggests utilising your commute home, too, to listen Spotify, a podcast or even audiobooks. 


While chasing her goals is important, Nadia also values the journey. In fact, she feels that too often, we get caught up chasing our goals that we forget to sit back once in a while and just enjoy the ride. “Having a priority list and a gratitude journal continues to play a huge role in my progress and success as a female entrepreneur,” says the mum-of-one. Nadia remarks that the most successful people in life had one thing in common: They all appreciated the journey. “I decided to jot down five things I was grateful for every single day – whether it was my family, my career or the business that I have with my sister,” she says. Nadia encourages others to try this tip out when they feel like their efforts are fruitless.

It’s important to set your heart and mind on achieving goals.

My Reading Room

Michelle Ho

38, gallery director of the ADM Gallery at the School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University

After years into her career in the world of art, Michelle Ho is still wondering if quitting her job as a journalist was a good decision. “After all, the art world is a far more niche industry than publishing, and there are more work opportunities for the latter,” she said. But Michelle counts herself incredibly lucky to be able to work in a field which she cares for, enjoys and finds fulfilment in.


While she admits that she does not have a strategy for success, Michelle’s consistent efforts led to her being given the opportunity to work on the Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. “What happens when you continue to create authentic relationships with the people that you work with, is that somehow, new opportunities come by, and then more, and you keep building that up steadily," she explains. 

Start the day with tasks you want to avoid first.


When it comes to being productive, Michelle’s advice is to begin with the task you dislike. “Start the day with the tasks that you tend to want to avoid most. It could be mundane administration or accounting or difficult emails to send,” she says. “Once these items are cleared, it is surprising how much more time we have left, and we can enjoy the rest of the day without procrastination, or a sense of dread.”


Distraction is probably the one thing we want to avoid when we are trying to be productive but Michelle views distraction as something positive. “Some types of distractions can be productive. I could be in the middle of a major project and I start to plan for future projects, research on it and begin conversations with new artists,” says the long-time curator. She explains that these moments allow her to explore her creative skills better and to return to her main tasks with much more energy.

My Reading Room

Sujatha Asokan

28, Head chef, Bee’s Knees & Botanico at The Garage

Spunky, loud and funny at heart, chef Sujatha Asokan, or Su, as she likes to be called, is a force to be reckoned with. “You need to have 300 percent passion, attention and drive to succeed in your business, personal life, or anything you want to achieve success in,” she says. The chef was recently awarded the 2019 World Gourmet Awards’ Welbilt Top Rising Chef of the Year (Female).


When it comes to achieving goals, it’s important to stay focused and on track. Sujatha’s tip for staying on task comes down to planning. “Plan your time well and know how to prioritise. You can simply take a few minutes to run through all the things that needs your attention for the day and start working on the most important ones first," she advises.


While achieving goals take work, Sujatha is also an advocate for knowing when to slow down to avoid burnout. She recommends being flexible with your schedule. “If you know that you’ll be caught up with work this week and you’ll need to spend more time on it, then adjust your home schedule accordingly and spend more time at home next week.”

The benefits of a simple to-do list should not be overstated.


Of course, slowing down is sometimes hard to do. In fact, it can feel like you are working relentlessly, and not seeing progress or success. For Sujatha, success is all about how you view things. “I think success and fulfilment has a lot to do with your mindset and personal definition of it. Think of who you measure yourself up against and why you do that. 

You should be the one setting the standards for yourself.” The reasons why Sujatha has managed to be so successful is that she goes into work loving what she does. “I believe in the saying ‘If you do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life’,” she explains.


Ultimately, one should always remember that success is never achieved alone. Sujatha credits her mentors and colleagues from the industry for all that she knows and how far she has gotten. She says: “When you meet people, be open to learn from them. Learning is an on-going journey, and different perspectives and viewpoints can help you look at things from a point of view other than our own. There’s always something you can learn from somebody out there.”