Turning 35: 10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

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Turning 35 is a big milestone. I am officially middle age! 🙂 Just like how I reflected when I turned 30, I decided to do a mini reflection now that I have turned 35.

Here are 10 things that I have learnt in the last couple of years.

1. You cannot find your passion. Your passion will find you. Just like any other wide-eyed idealistic youth, I wanted to travel the world, I wanted to find myself, I wanted to know what my passion is. I have learnt that as romantic as it might sound, one cannot find his or her passion by doing “Eat, Pray, Love”. When you have the right mindset, when you are ready, your passion will find you. When I first went into the matchmaking business, did I know 100% that this was my passion? Not really. It was after years of keep going at it that I eventually know that this is what I love doing, and want to continue doing.

2. You cannot be everyone’s friend. You cannot make everyone like you. My DISC profile is high D, high I. I love people. I crave for people’s approval. I used to get very upset when I think some people do not like me. I have even tried all sorts of way to please them hoping that by doing that, I can “buy their love”. I have learnt over the years that – if you were to have accomplished anything in life, you would have your supporters and detractors. Nowadays, I am happy and contented to have a small circle of close family and friends who love me for who I am. And these are the people I know that I can always count on no matter what happens.

3. You should always tell the truth, and not try to be politically correct. When I first started out, I always try to be politically correct. I would sugarcoat my statements. I was afraid that if I were to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, I might hurt others, or I might get complaints. I have come to realize that, it is always better to tell it as it is. People appreciate it when you are sincere, genuine and authentic. Even though the truth might sting, most of the times, they already know it. And they were just waiting for someone to affirm what they know. By being politically correct, we are actually not helping them at all.

4. Happiness is a choice. I have learnt that happiness is the gap between expectations and reality. The closer the gap, the happier one would be. Sometimes, we might not be able to change our circumstances. However, we can always change our expectations. Often, by just making a small tweak to our perspective, our life will be so much happier and rosier. Do not wait to be happy. Do not put your happiness into the hands of others. Choose to be happy. Today. Now.

5. Sometimes it is better to be smart than to be right. I have a strong sense of justice. I have strong principles. Most of the times, I am an easy-going person. Friends might even feel that I do not have much opinion.  I let people get their way on matters that are not important to me. But when it comes to matters of principle, I stand my ground and rarely budge. However, over the years, I have learnt that sometimes, it is better to be ‘smart’ than to be right. By giving way, by taking a step back, there would be more long-term benefits for all parties concerned, why not? I have learnt (still learning, honestly) to put my ego aside for the greater good.

6. Let go, let God. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalms 37:5) I have learnt to make plans and commit all my plans to Him. There is no reason to fret, to worry, to be anxious. When the time is right, He will bring it to pass. Since I have started to let go, let God, my life has become a lot simpler, calmer and more peaceful.

7. Leadership is a learned skill. The more you practice, the better you get. I used to worry a lot that I am a bad manager, a bad leader. I swung from being my team members’ best friend, to becoming a tyrant. Obviously, both did not work out very well. I have realized over the years that other than a few lucky ones who are born leaders, for the rest of us, it is about learning and practicing. Read books on leadership and management, practice the concepts and get feedback from others. And one day, you wake up to realize that you have become a much better leader! 🙂

8. When you forgive, you are not doing someone else a favour, you are actually doing yourself a favour. People will wrong us, and we will wrong others. Some do it out of spite and malice; some do it without even knowing and realizing it. We can hold a grudge forever, or we can choose to forgive. I initially found it very hard. Why should I forgive when I am not in the wrong? Why should I forgive when the person has not even apologized? And when I finally mustered the courage to forgive, I realized how much lighter and better I felt. Negative energy weighs us down. By learning to forgive, we free ourselves from emotional baggage and bondage.

9. When you take others’ feedback, it is not acknowledging you are not good enough; you are merely listening and learning from someone else’s point of view. I used to hate getting feedback. Of course, in front of the person giving me the feedback, I would smile and nod, but internally, I am screaming for the person to stop! I realized that I hated feedback because I felt that people are putting me down, and saying I am not good enough. But now, I realized that, feedback is just feedback. Take the good points, and discard the bad. And ever since that, personally, I have grown leaps and bounds, and the business has also been on an upward trend.

10. Life is not a sprint; it is a marathon. Went to Corum’s track and field championship the other day, and was watching the boys run. For the younger boys, they would keep looking beside and behind them, trying to see if anybody is catching up. And in life, that’s normal. Many of us will at some point or other be trying to ‘catch up with the Joneses’ – who has the bigger house, who has the more expensive car, whose kids are doing better? I have learnt that sometimes you are ahead, sometimes others are. But actually, that’s not really the point. The point is – are you a better version of yourself today, compared to yesterday? I have learnt to pace myself. Step by step.

There is still a long road ahead. 🙂

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