40 Things I’ve Learnt at Age 40
In the blink of an eye, 4 decades have passed. When they say that “time flies”, I realise how paradoxical that phrase is. While life has gone by quickly, I remember the values born from my opportunities, regrets, mistakes and success. Not only that, I’ve learnt to take what life has given me and make something better of it. Here’s me sharing my life lessons with you in the hopes that you can take value from my experiences.
1. I control my feelings.
“How do I feel about the way they make me feel?” While I cannot control how others feel, I can control how I feel. If I want to be happy, I have to feel happy – nobody else is in charge of my happiness.
2. I reward myself – and I am accountable for myself.
Beyond rewards and recognition, there is pain. When I complete a task, I reward myself. What do I do if I don’t do a good job? I restrain myself from doing what I like to do as a penalty for not succeeding. For example, I like coffee. If I fail to complete a task, I will penalize myself by prohibiting myself from drinking coffee. Accountability is acquired through pain.
3. I internalize my self-worth and self-esteem.
Some parenting and teaching styles have programmed us to think that we are not good enough, useless even. The need for approval and success has been ingrained in us. All I need in my sub-conscious to escape this psychological prison is the knowledge that I am good enough – and I know I am.
4. I should laugh aloud.
I am a serious person and I am driven – I like to get things done. Nonetheless, I have found that in laughing more and doing silly things, my team is livelier.
5. Tough minds are never broken by tough times.
I have made many mistakes in my life – some small, some costing me hundreds of thousands of ringgit. From crashing out of a badminton tournament to losing on a reality TV show in 2013, my failures and mistakes have made me tough, able to bounce back and have left me standing strong.
6. Earn and learn when you are young and have boundless energy.
I worked hard to earn all I could and climb as high as I could up the corporate ladder in my 20s. My 30s was a period of growth – by reaching new heights through entrepreneurship opportunities. Now, in my 40s, I have the freedom to do all that I want to do.
7. Earn, save, and invest.
Many people spend money they don’t have. Decide on a good financial scheme – either through savings, investments or a bit of both. Let money make money while we use our time to make money.
8. It’s about what we do with what we have.
Some people are born with money but spend it all on themselves. Some have nothing but give what little they have to society. Whether you have everything or nothing, your actions are meaningless if you do not make wise choices.
9. Financial security can take you a long way.
Money is a very powerful tool, but it is not everything. Money is not the solution to everything. Have financial security, period.
10. The value you bring is what you are worth in the commercial world.
A bigger salary means bigger problems. By being able to take up big challenges, we are proving our worth. I took many initiatives early on in my career to gain exposure – leadership roles in organizing company events, charity fundraisers, leading customer experience teams and so on. This added value to my worth. What value are you adding to the company to justify increments and bonuses?
11. No struggle, no success – always see beyond the glamour.
Entrepreneurship is a great pathway to financial freedom but it is not the easiest – business is not a suitable route for just anyone. Owning a business has given me everything life has to offer. But, beyond the glitz and success, I have always said – being in a startup is equivalent to half the sleep, double the stress, triple the work and zero pay until you bring results.
12. Forget ‘me’ time and focus on family time.
Spending time with my loved ones is my main source of happiness. Watching and being a part of my son’s journey since the day he was born is the greatest adventure of my life. Full of joy and surprises – it is time well invested and there will be no regrets or “what ifs”.
13. I need to create my own lifestyle – no misplaced blame or excuses.
Having nothing to inherit from my parents, I will not blame them or use them as an excuse for my failures – I am responsible for my own actions and results, period.
14. Forgive and forget.
When people hurt you, let go and move on. Not forgiving them will hinder my progression. I find that forgiveness frees me from hatred in the same way saying sorry frees up room for me to improve.
15. No matter what, blood is thicker than water.
Parenthood and brotherhood is what we are born into – take care of your family when you can, regardless of how they have treated you.
16. I believe in looking for what you want and not settling for what comes to you in passing.
A good wife will question you when you are positive and motivate you when you are negative. It’s funny how they can unbiasedly evaluate your success and reduce your stress. My wife is my equilibrium. Choose the right partner instead of letting ‘chance’ define your forever (you will be with this person for the rest of your life).
17. “I will train my son to be the warrior that falls down 7 times and gets back up 8 times”.
I have been asked, “As a trainer, how will you train your son?”. My answer is simple: This is what my baby boy is already doing – when he walks, he sometimes falls down but as long as he does not hit his head and injure himself, he just gets back up. My mindset is born out of this observation and the fact that if this is what humans are designed to do, I will train my boy to grow up to be this type of warrior.
18. Your family is a reflection of you.
How my son will grow up to be will depend on how my wife and I raise him and what example we show him. My legacy will go to him – my knowledge, experience and my examples. He will live a good life because I will teach him how to achieve a good, happy life.
19. Why stick to the same old thing?
My rule is to eat at a new restaurant or two every week. I want to enjoy what life has to offer – and food is a simple pleasure. It is rare for me to eat exotic food but I do like to try all the different variations of normal food – whether it’s meat, pastries, cookies, juices or ice cream flavors.
20. Cooking is a good skill to have.
I don’t like cooking quite as much as eating but I did learn a few things – I can make prep a great chicken chop or sweet and sour meat. I can cook something special for my wife on Valentine’s Day or a yummy feast for my family.
21. Looking good is a lifestyle option to illustrate discipline and style.
I was not born good looking but I always look good. Being born good looking is wholly dependent on your genes. However, if you dress well, stand up straight and look ahead as you walk confidently – you will be the most eye-catching person in the room.
22. What diamonds are for women, watches are for men.
I enjoy color matching. My white belt goes with my white shoes and the white stripes on my shirt as well. I top it off with a matching watch. These are simple fashion ideas that I live by.
23. There are no ugly people, only lazy people.
Dress up regardless of what time of the month it is or if it’s a weekday or weekend. We have to look the part every single day.
24. Don’t play safe, push yourself.
I have tried many fun and challenging things in my life – sky diving, bungee jumping, flying a plane and even, fire eating. I believe all these experiences break limited mindsets so that we can achieve breakthrough power!
25. Don’t be afraid to experience new things.
I didn’t know whether to take a normal flight or seaplane to get to my resort in the Maldives some time ago – I opted for the seaplane. How was my first time landing on the surface of the sea? – Fun.
26. We have tons of problems to solve and a gazillion challenges to overcome.
I always go for a good swim, good shower and a good massage to recharge myself. Life and business can both be stressful – allow yourself to rejuvenate.
27. I like good stories.
I like movies. I like reading. Be it movies based on true stories or books/articles that give me short lessons, I read every day because my brain needs the nourishment from ideas outside my own.
28. Fly as much as possible.
I have been to 28 countries so far. I don’t think I have travelled enough because I have been to similar places/cities repeatedly. I travel twice a year to open my mind to all possibilities and cultures.
29. Try business class once in a while.
Like fashion, men and women buy luxury goods – I occasionally fly business class. If you get the chance – fly it and feel it, just to taste and indulge in what success has to offer.
30. Shake up your travel experience.
Some trips can be action packed, non-stop itineraries. While some trips are relaxing, like chilling on an island. Some are culture centric, with city tours. Some are historically immersive, experiencing the ancient and traditional ways of a culture.
31. Experience the uniqueness of the cuisines offered.
Whenever you fly, do not bring cup noodles or soy sauce! I have seen too many people do this because they only eat Chinese food and if they go to Europe, they have to go to Chinatown for their regular food. Stop it.
32. Eat right, exercise and take supplements.
I have no-carb days to limit my sugar intake (even though I love sugary tidbits). I take supplements every day, from herbs to spices to natural food. If I am not fighting fit, how can I enjoy life? I believe in balance – not too much of anything. Be healthy but don’t be a health freak (don’t be a freak of anything, period).
33. Consistency of execution is more important than going nuts only once in a blue moon.
Regular exercise is better than pushing your limits on occasion.
34. Walking is the best exercise.
There is no excuse for it. Walk up the stairs daily – you don’t need equipment and it does not take that much of your time.
35. I am not religious but I like helping.
I do humanitarian work by helping people whenever I can. Helping others can make you feel good; making a difference in someone’s life. I have done charity for people across the world, like Cambodia, Tanzania and even Afghanistan – and I don’t plan on stopping there.
36. Any amount can make a difference in someone else’s day.
I give RM 10 to every janitor I see. That’s just me.
37. I am doing all I can to free myself from just being ‘me’ in order to become a gentleman.
My upbringing molded me into a very self-centered person. I never said thank you to waiters, I did not hold lifts open; I didn’t hold doors open, I didn’t say please and I did not greet security guards. I focused on getting results without emphasis on basic manners. I’m a bit different now and there is a lesson to be learnt from that.
38. Speak up when appropriate.
I find many individuals are intimidated because they are afraid of fighting for what they want – people who avoid conflict and are people pleasers. I was at a show once and some dude bumped into my wife without acknowledging his mistake. So, I touched his shoulder and politely told him what he had done – he apologized profusely for having bumped into her and being unaware. Speak up for what is right!
39. Learn as many skills as possible.
I know people who cannot swim. I can swim, ride a bike, do martial arts, do leg splits, play the guitar, sing (decently), write, sell, play sports, drive fast, edit videos, fix computers, design graphics, create websites, cook, clean and I can do so much more. My limitless mindset gives me the courage and freedom to enjoy life as much as possible.
40. There are no excuses for not achieving success.
Ultimately, we have the freedom to get what we need to get. Nothing and nobody can stop us, period.