Anne Hartley's birthday

Searching for more

Traditionally the major birthdays in life are when we turn 18 or 21, but birthdays should never be just about the number, the most important ones motivate us to pause, question and reflect. The life changing birthdays for me were 30, 50 and very recently when I turned 70.

We often hear people say at the beginning of a new year or when a birthday comes around, ‘Well this is going to be the year….’. Generally, what they mean by that is it will be a year when something external changes such as when they find a life partner, work they like, achieve a financial goal or attain a longed for dream. And while I encourage everyone to go after what they want in life it’s important to remember that the attainment of goals only makes us feel happy for a while.

It’s only natural that during our early adult lives we embark on a search for ‘more’. That search motivates us to choose who we want to be and what we want to do with our lives and that discovery process takes time and how long that will take is purely individual.

What I now know having survived turning 30, 50 and 70 is that while I like material possessions and even achievements, I no longer need them.

I expected that getting older would mean that life would be easier, and in some ways it is, I don’t care much what people think and I have more money, but there are always new challenges. I don’t have the energy level I once had. I am not as physically capable. I have to delegate more which isn’t always easy for someone as independent as I am. And there are still people who push my buttons. But I’m alive. I’m working. I am making a difference. I like who I am. I don’t need anyone’s approval. I don’t need ‘more’.

I am never going to be a person who sits back and says, ‘I’ve done all I want to do with my life’, for me as long as I draw breath I need to be sharing what I have learnt.

When I look back at the person I was at 30, I was so scared because I wasn’t married. All of my dreams were attached to the attainment of that one goal, and it is one goal that I never achieved. Yet I have no regrets. What life gave me was exactly what I needed to grow into the strong, independent person I am today. My life turned out so much better than I had planned for myself.

My advice to the 30 year old me, and to you, is: Believe in yourself. Trust life. Follow your heart. Life’s dream for you is far grander than anything you can imagine and it will happen when you stop chasing ‘more’ and trying to dictate the direction your life will go in.

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