24 October 2016
Strategic life planning is similar to embarking on a train journey. Young people need to map out their career and life goals early to avoid disappointment in later years. Photo: Bloomberg
Strategic life planning is similar to embarking on a train journey. Young people need to map out their career and life goals early to avoid disappointment in later years. Photo: Bloomberg

Where do you want to be when you turn 30?

Strategic life planning is similar to embarking a train journey. How it goes depends on the type of ticket you have purchased and at what time you decide to hop on the train.

Your current position is a result of what you have done, as well as time and effort you have spent getting there.

However, many young adults in society are unaware of this simple logic. Over 99 percent of people in their twenties are still living in their fantasies. Most of them are proud of themselves just for having secured a job.

I often question such people as to what they think about the position they are standing at and how they see themselves in their thirties?

Very often the answer is: “I don’t know”.

They usually reply like this: As long as I can support myself financially, regardless of being a shop assistant, management trainee or administrative assistant, I would be in the middle of somewhere in my thirties, and logically speaking I can’t be worse off.

These young lads who are easily satisfied, they are no different from any pampered pets. Though they earn their living and have some spare money to splash on whatever entertainment they like, they are not enjoying genuine freedom and financial independence. They lack the courage to jump out of their comfort zone.

If young adults do not come to any realization of it, most probably, in another 5 or 10 years, they will be still stuck in the place, wondering why they are not lucky enough to drive an expensive car or live in a luxurious apartment, like those who made it, complaining about how unfair the world is or whining about their bad fortune.

In contrast, if you start planning early about what you want to achieve in your thirties, you will find yourself in a better situation.

Many young adults get off work on time every day. Back home they grab their takeaway meals by one hand and scroll through social media platforms with another, having Korean dramas on TV as background noise. After a hectic dinner, they then start texting and sending emoji to friends and drop off in the middle of nonsense conversations to end the day.

Weekends are not much different from weekday nights, except possibly endless “flipping through TV channels”.

All of the above sounds like the retirement life of an aimless 60-year-old. Unfortunately it is a true reflection of a majority of young adults under thirty. It should be the best of their time; however they act like mindless robots.

Working overtime is not the real nightmare. What truly ruins most people’s family and life is not work, but the useless chores people waste their time on and their poor sense of time management.

For instance, many people have over five to six hundred friends on social platforms. Eyeing on friends’ new feeds is not going to help build up relationships between you and your friends. You simply have wasted a lot time online.

There is nothing wrong about watching TV and surfing the Internet as pastimes. But doing too much of these is like throwing away your precious life which can otherwise be used for experiencing different things and creating something valuable.

Keep living your life this way, and you’re destined to be purposeless at work or in your whole life.

I can understand why the young adults are anxious about the uncertain future. Yet I can’t bear the fact that they are losing their life goals, or even dare not dream. I once warned two of my staffers that if they can’t afford a high-end apartment, it’s not because they are incapable, but because they are not willing to be responsible for their own actions.

Don’t let high property prices become your excuses.

It seems alright if you are still locking yourself up at home playing Grand Theft Auto in your twenties. But how much longer do you want your life to continue like this?

Let’s get back to the train station metaphor.

Imagine you are standing there aimlessly with no planning. You casually buy a ticket, hop on a train and get off in an hour, and then suddenly find yourself at a crossroads, not knowing what to do.

It would be too late to feel regretful for what you have done or not done.

Bear in mind that what is in your hand is a one-way ticket and you’re riding on an unstoppable train of life. Going back is not an option.

Don’t let yourself end up in a situation where you are unsatisfied with your life, work, position and salary and none of that is reversible any more.

This article appeared in the writer’s blog.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

– Contact us at [email protected]


An experienced marketing planner and an active blogger in Hong Kong who often identified himself as 'Old Jim'.

EJI Weekly Newsletter