27 February 2023 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Today is my birthday. I turn 35 years old! This is a significant milestone that symbolizes for me a time of maturity and great responsibility.
Celebrating my 35th birthday is a turning point in many ways than one. As I begin the latter half of my 30s, I take this as a moment of reflection, contemplation, and celebration of my accomplishments so far. It is also a time of change and growth, as I start to reassess my career, relationships, lifestyle and responsibilities in society. I have yet another chance for growth, new experiences and to set new goals for myself. I look forward to the future with great excitement and anticipation.
Over the last couple of months, I have been thinking deeply about how to commemorate this milestone and about which direction my life is going to take. I set my eyes on the years ahead and imagined things I may need to do by the time I turn 50. Here are some of the reflections I’ve had.
Life Goals and Purpose
Constantly, I ask myself whether I am living a meaningful and fulfilling life and if I am making a positive impact in my community and the world around me. Life can be very challenging and meaningless without a clear vision and direction. To live meaningfully, we need to challenge ourselves enough in a way that pushes us to get better every day and allows us to draw value from every life experience even as we support and uplift others who may not be at the same level in life as we are. Some of the ideas I have come across on how to achieve this include strategically thinking about my life and drawing up a vision board with new goals for myself across different areas of life for the next 5, 10, or 15 years. I am also keen on finding opportunities to constantly challenge and motivate myself through reading, listening to a podcast and engaging people to broaden my perspectives on life. As a long-term volunteer, I look to continue dedicating my time, expertise, and resources to causes I care about in my community, as well as reflecting on the foundations of my life including the values I subscribe to and ensure my personal branding and actions align with them.
Family and Relationships
Thankfully, I have an established family with a loving wife and two wonderful children. I am however regularly reminded of the need to find ways to improve the quality of my relationship with my wife, children, siblings, and extended family, which haven’t always been the best. Going forward I feel the need to invest more time, reach out and reconnect more closely with family and close friends to build stronger, healthier, more fulfilling, and supportive relationships.
Profession and Professional Development
I am lucky to have a good employer currently, but despite having been working there for the last 8 years, I have occasionally questioned whether it’s still the best place for me to grow professionally or if I need to make a move. As responsibilities keep increasing and the living conditions become more challenging, I think a lot more about how I could get more value out of the work I do to improve myself and build a better future for my dependents. At times, I even think about what I’d be doing and how I’d be living in my retirement. The need for further academic and long-term career progression is real for me. I am keener on seeking out opportunities to learn new skills and subjects to diversify my opportunities, practice and monetize my hobbies, serve on boards and committees and build my profile and establish myself as a respected professional. During the pandemic, I undertook an exercise to brand myself, update my resume and started to write more about my experiences. These actions have helped to keep me active and engaged, but also a great source of enjoyment and personal fulfilment.
Health and Wellbeing
Like many people in their 30s, I have started to gain weight and I am regularly reminded of the need to be more physically active. The need to adopt a more physically active lifestyle, change my eating habits and invest more in my overall well-being is more apparent. Mentally, I feel repelled by things that I feel don’t add value to my life. We all know that good physical and mental health helps us to maintain our energy levels, stay in good shape, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Among the advice I often get on how to improve my health and well-being include getting a regular checkup to make sure I am in good health, adopting a self-care, sports, fitness, and outdoor activity routine and celebrating my milestones, successes and achievements and practising gratitude and focus on the positive aspects of my life. Taking scheduled breaks from technology to connect in-person with people, travelling and connecting with nature, seeking out new experiences and trying out new things also come highly recommended.
Over the last couple of years, I have become keener on understanding and taking control of my financial situation with a desire to grow my income, change my spending habits, and increase my savings and investments. I try to set and work towards achieving specific short and long-term financial goals. My turnaround came in 2018 when I attended a personal financial management workshop that completely changed my perspective on how to manage my finances. Just like a business, there is a need for setting financial goals, proper budgeting, and expenditure control to ensure resources are maximized and wastage is avoided. This however doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t have fun – it means that it should be planned for. Diversifying income sources, growing savings and investments, building assets and planning for retirement has become critical at this age.
These are thoughts that will greatly shape my focus and approach to life in the coming years. I hope that you too find them relevant. Whether you’re turning 35 like me or not, I invite you to join me in these reflections about how you can become more aware of yourself and work towards improving yourself. Take a moment to reflect on the past and plan for the future and to make positive changes that will improve the quality of life for yourself and those around you.
Let me know if you have any further reflections or ideas I could consider as well.
Nelson Opany is a Communicator, Leader, Humanitarian, and a Scout. (firstname.lastname@example.org)