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I’d like to share a personal story about setting targets and believing in your ability, something I’ve learned along my journey from broke backpacker to not-so-broke backpacker.

john ward travel
In China, where I created a new belief system a few years ago..

A few years ago I was traveling across China and a friend of mine told me he was sure he would make $1 million in one year in the course of the next 5 years or so. My initial reaction was one of surprise, then of disbelief soon followed by inner utterances declaring his arrogance “How dare he think he’s amazing enough to earn $1m in one year, I could never do that, how the hell can he?”. I certainly didn’t believe.


Although I didn’t voice my negativity, those were a**hole thoughts of mine and I regret them so here is my apology – sorry buddy, cos whether you did it or not, you were right to believe it. My reaction then, however uncool, is unfortunately not unique. But times have changed, self-reflection has taught me a lesson or two and I’ll never take that attitude again.

inspration pics and quotes johnny ward

Once certain people hear your aspirations it reflects upon them, and their aspirations. Youthful promise becomes irrelevant if you’re underachieving. I was scared that the ‘potential’ people used to talk about about me having was disappearing… mid-twenties, no career, no direction, no money. I was traveling, and loving life I don’t deny that. Living for the moment is something I advocate highly, but we need to be moving forward with purpose. Not just drifting. My friend’s $1m goal was so strong, but mine had all but disappeared. I needed to put some targets in my sight. Thanks for the wake up call mate. Now I hope this can be the call for any of my readers who need it..


We’re not 16 years old anymore, potential doesn’t exist now. It’s only what we do that counts.


So I pondered a little, then a little more. I knew what I wanted from life, so I stopped hiding from it. It was scary actually. To admit what we want risks highlighting what we don’t have.


I wanted to be free – free from ‘working hours’, free from having a boss, free to make my decisions based on what I wanna do. But I also wanted to be free to choose to fly to Brazil tomorrow, then back home to Ireland to see my mum, my friends and family. I want to learn to fly a plane, climb Everest, own properties on each continent. I want to be able to have my friends around and waste time playing playstation while I recoup from my latest trip. I want to fly my girlfriend to the Maldives for our anniversary and give my niece the presents that I didn’t have growing up. I want to make a difference in many people’s lives, I wanna create an awesome product.  I want people to think I’ve lived up to my potential. The first half of these goals are romantic, beautiful, and they don’t cost much. The second half cost money. That’s the cold, hard truth. I knew what I wanted, so I had to go and get it.

Johnny Ward
Working from my laptop around the world…

So I set myself targets:

1) Stay free, visit 50 countries around the world

2) Start a business – and aim for $1, 000 USD per month online

3) Hire my first employees, be a good boss.


Within 18 months I achieved those. It all stemmed from that conversation in China, and the disappointment I had in myself. My mindset changed, I wrote down my targets and strived to achieve my goals, and I genuinely believed I would achieve them. I had the belief now, time to set new targets.


john ward onestep4ward
Working in Santorini, Greece

So I set new targets:

1) Stay free, visit 100 countries before you’re 30

2) Make $10, 000 in one month online


Within 12 months it became apparent that the 100 countries would definitely be done, I was on around 90 with 18 months to spare. I cracked my first 5 figure month online. Time to re-evaluate. I started some more online stuff, read about what other people were doing, how they were creating better lifestyles for themselves. I believed I could do it, so I set a higher target:

1) Buy an apartment in Thailand in cash, be mortgage free before 30

2) Clear a quarter of a million dollars online in 2013

john ward thailand
My condo pool
johnny ward money
Where I plan to recover from my backpacking stints!
johnny ward thailand
It’s quite humble, but it’s a good start on the property ladder

It’s August now, and I’ve already achieved both of these goals. My belief system has shot through the roof now. I’m traveling through Central Asia for the rest of the year, so business will take a backseat. I’m setting my targets for 2014 very soon, but it’s going to be along the lines of between half a million and $1m US dollars online, staying free and visiting at least 20 more countries, more security for my mum and to diversify my income streams further still, partly through an awesome new project I’m partnering up on in Hong Kong, dealing with private tutors in Hong Kong

Findatutor hong kong
My new project with a friend

I hope you don’t skim read this and click back to facebook. At least not instantly. Take a second, crystallize what it is YOU want from life. Write down your targets, be bold. Then believe, truly believe that your capable of achieving them.


One thing’s for certain though, next time a friend tells me their goals however fantastic they sound. I’ll be right beside them, believing it together.


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Got a question? Wanna comment? I'd love to hear from you

44 thoughts on “Motivational Monday: Set targets and BELIEVE

  1. Pingback: 励志星期一。设定目标,相信自己|一步到位-数字游民指南
  2. I got on to your website though another and loved this post. Timely given that I have been writing my blog and only this year serious about making any real money from it and it has only really come about because of circumstances (we are trying to set up a certified organic farm and THIS costs money).

    I will now have to read more posts, bookmark your page and subscribe because what I read has grabbed me. And I rarely give out my email address because I just got so much junk. Something tells me I’ll look forward to your updates 🙂


    Jen aka Eco Warrior Princess

  3. Hey johny, i’m Dani from Indonesia, I just knew your blog this morning and I love all the story (even I haven’t read all the page), i’m a college student and I will start my 1st ever backpacking trip in next year, i’m really interested with this post, it makes me more positive and I considered to make a target too, wish me luck! 😀
    And if you mind, I really want to know about what kind of business that you do, thank you and thank you for inspired me!

  4. I honestly really saw myself while reading your article, we both have very similar goals and think quite alike! we should be best friends! =)
    If you’re ever in Montreal please let me know.

  5. Cool stuff! Well done Johnny! I come across dozens of these goal-setting stories online every day and I have to admit that I was quite doubtful if they’re real stories, but I can feel the positive energy shining through from you and now this is truly motivational. Good luck to your next project! x Juliet

  6. Great post Johnny! Good to hear it from the horses mouth that making good money online is possible and all while living the dream and staying free! I hope to be right where you are in the near future 🙂

  7. Hard work beats natural talent, when natural talent doesn’t work hard. That’s how we say it in the arts.

    Great stuff and congrats on making your dreams a reality.

  8. Congrats mate! Continuing to inspire many of us while you achieve your goals. Knowing you personally, helps make this all real. It’s good to know that it can be done with the right attitude, right frame of mind and willingness to not let the downs keep you down.

    1. thanks so much Fidel, we met when I was scraping by on $1kish a month i think, thanks for your positvity mate. Can’t get enough of it 🙂

  9. As ever Johnny, this is an inspiring post to myself and I’m sure a lot of others. Having worked in bars, on farms, on boats etc. for years and years, I’m finally deciding to live my online dream and setting myself new targets for my travel work through my main blog and other avenues. Thanks for your wisdom and inspiration through One Step 4 Ward. I love the fact that you really travel to places like Ethiopia, Somaliland, Papua New Guinea etc. unlike 90% of other travel bloggers who have never left Thailand, Australia, Germany, Cambodia etc. Best of luck for your big trip to the Maldives and catch up for a beer later in the year somewhere in the world! Safe travels. Jonny

  10. Damn son, that’s hell of a record of achievement! Congrats man! I just have one question for you … how have you earned this money? Product business (physical or information)? Services? A little of both?

  11. Damn son, that’s hell of a record of achievement! Congrats man! I just have one question for you … how have you earned this money? Product business (physical or information)? Services? A little of both?

    1. just gotta diversify income streams mate, they soon mount up. And when one dies, which inevitably will happen when we work online, we’re still covered 🙂

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