10 Areas of Life: From Introspection to Resolutions (Part 2: Partner, Family, Friends)

Part 1, introduced the 10 Areas of Life and further elaborated on the 3 health areas: Physical, Mental, Financial.

This post covers the people aspects: Partner, Family, and Friends.

People, connections, relationships.

4. Partner

Questions for introspection:

  • Have you been a good partner? Have you been giving your best effort into the relationship?
  • How have the activities / way you spend time together changed over time? 
  • How has the relationship dynamic / way you communicate with each other evolved over time? 
  • Where is the relationship going? What excites you about next year?
  • Are there any areas of discomfort that have not been addressed/brought up? Why not? What are you going to do about it?
  • Are you both becoming better people as you spend more time together?
    Healthy couples push each other up, while unhealthy couples drag each other down.

What I’ve learned (while in relationships):

  • The 5 Love Languages (quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, and gifts) changes surprisingly quickly. So it’s worth revisiting what yours are now (way you like to give vs way you like to receive), and also what their preferences are.
  • Most of the time, it’s better to risk being annoying by over-communicating, than to risk creating distance by under-communicating.
  • You know you really like someone when you like the things you dislike about them.

What I’ve learned (between relationships):

  • If you’re not complete with who you are, then you’re probably not ready for a new relationship. It’s unhealthy, unfair, and perhaps even dangerous to rely on someone else to complete you.

I strongly disagree with:

“Perhaps it is true that we do not really exist until there is someone there to see us existing… in essence, we are not wholly alive until we are loved.” – Alain de Botton, Essays in Love (1993)

But I strongly agree with:

“The problem with needing others to legitimize our existence is that we are very much at their mercy to have a correct identity ascribed to us.”– Alain de Botton, Essays in Love (1993)

  • If you don’t like yourself, it’s harder for others to like you. 
  • I must admit there was a time when I over-complicated dating. Now I view it simply as: show them who you are, and make it easy for them to show you who they are (at their own pace). Enjoy the conversation and time spent together. Cherish it as an incredibly unique way of getting to know another human being. Everyone has an interesting story. If it leads to meeting again then cool, if doesn’t then cool. Be sincere, but ditch the unnecessary heaviness.
  • Learn to accept, welcome, or even celebrate rejections.

“I don’t understand why people get mad when they get rejected by somebody or something. They have done you a favor by not wasting your time.”

  • Learn to reject others quickly and directly. It may hurt them to suddenly cut things off as soon as you realise you don’t see it going anywhere. But isn’t it more likely they’ll be hurt even more if you drag it on despite knowing that you don’t think it’s going anywhere? It’s unfair to waste their time.
  • Rather than trying harder to attract people, instead focus on becoming more attractive. Eat well, improve yourself etc.

“What’s the best way to get a good spouse? The best single way is to deserve a good spouse because a good spouse is by definition not nuts.” – Charlie Munger


5. Family

To me, Family mostly means parents and sister. Again, as I said in Part 1, some people may have 9 life areas, some may have 12 etc. Also the definition/scope of each area is different for each person.

Questions for introspection:

  • How are your parents’ physical and mental health? How do they like to spend their time?
  • If they have any unhealthy habits, how could you help them?
  • How’s your relationship with your parents and siblings? How has the dynamic changed over time?
  • If one of them suddenly got into a fatal accident, would there be anything you regret not telling them earlier?

What I’ve learned:

  • Spend quality time with parents before they get old. Key word is quality.
  • Return the unconditional love to your parents. They have flaws. They were raised in a different place and time (especially if you have immigrant parents). They may have said things in the past that cut you deep. Recognise that they are humans too.


6. Friends

Questions for introspection:

  • Who do you consider as your closest friends? Would they say the same?
  • How do you define close?
  • Would you invite them to your 30th? 40th? 50th? Will they be at your wedding? Your funeral?
  • If you didn’t see them for a year, would it feel like there’s distance that has grown between you? Or would you just pick off wherever you left things last as if the year never went by? What about 5 years? 
  • Who are people you don’t see / talk to often, but still consider them as good friends?
  • How to distinguish acquaintance vs friend: would you want to have 1 on 1 lunch with them?
  • How has the activities, interests and conversation topics changed over time?
  • Which friends would you like to interact with more next year? Which friends would you like to interact with less?
  • What kind of friend are you? How do you add value to others’ lives? (entertainment is a valid value)

What I’ve learned:

  • On making new friends. In my mid-20s I had this fear that whatever friends I have now, that’s it. Boy I couldn’t be more wrong. Some whom I consider my closest friends now I only met a year or two ago. Maybe it’s because when you click with someone in your late 20s you really click with them. Maybe, for me at least, it’s because it’s rare to find people with similar interests, so when we meet, we both recognise how rare and special that is. I’m excited going into my 30s because I think I’ll meet even more people with shared thinking and interests.
  • Be open to re-connecting with old friends and acquaintances. One of the many reasons I write (and share things on social media relatively often) is to broadcast my interests to people in my existing network. I’m grateful to all those that reached out to me and asked to get coffee/lunch/drinks etc in recent years.
  • When you change too quickly it can confuse your friends that have known you longest. Especially if you’ve been working abroad etc. They could be suspicious that you are faking it. Pretending to be someone you are not. Roll with the punches. Don’t take yourself too seriously. If they are good friends, remember that they have a good intent. Also make it easy for them to accept the newer aspects of you. Show them parts of your old selves and gradually transition into the newer aspects of yourself.
  • Was reminded during lock-downs that everyone, wherever they may be in the world, is just a message away.
  • Life’s too short for flaky friends. If someone flakes on you multiple times, just let it be. Maybe now is not a good time for them. Or maybe they aren’t interested in spending time with you anymore. Don’t hold any ill feelings about it, just accept that it is. If they want to re-connect later then cool, if they don’t then cool.
  • Do not push those with drastically different political views away. The curated content / social media bubble / positive feedback loops / echo chamber stuff is very real and very scary. You don’t have to hang out with them all the time. But it’s important to proactively listen to the opinions of those you disagree with – assuming you care more about getting it right than being right.
  • I really subscribe to the notion that “your network is your net worth.” I’d go to great lengths for my closest friends. And I’m grateful that I have many that’d (I think) do the same for me. I like to tell myself “If I happen to be really unlucky and incompetent, at least I have good friends who will be there for me. If there’s one thing I’ve achieved in life it’s this.”


Next post we’ll cover Career and Contribution 🙂

Thanks for reading!

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