IMPACT 0433: DESIGN FOR THE GENERATION BEFORE
Junus Eu, 33, is a venture capitalist turned entrepreneur after observing the void in products and services catered to seniors, despite Singapore’s fast-aging population. Through her experiences in volunteering with TOUCH and SportCares, she also observed an increase in the number of seniors who are taking their own initiative to live meaningful lives post-retirement.
Junus is currently pursuing her Masters in Gerontology at the Singapore University of Social Sciences and is a recipient of the Alice Lim Memorial scholarship. She shares seven values that she has learnt from her journey thus far:
1. Take care of each other
If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we need more genuine relationships not just within families and loved ones, but also the organizations that we work and play in. To quote billionaire investor Ray Dalio: “Meaningful relationships are invaluable for building and sustaining a culture of excellence because they create the trust and support that people need to push each other to do great things.”
In his words, a meaningful relationship is one in which people care enough about each other to be there whenever someone needs support. They enjoy each other’s company so much that they can have great times together both inside and outside of work.
Time, not money, is truly the more important asset
This may sound surprising coming from someone who is an advocate for accumulating financial wealth as early as possible to enjoy compound interest and more flexibility in later life. In my late teens, I first heard about this value from a Singaporean who had moved to the United States to live a very minimalistic lifestyle. To him, you can check how much money you have left, but no one can check how much time they have left.
These words have stuck with me, and while working in an investment job, I have noticed that as people get older, few say, “I wish I had more money” or “If only I had been a millionaire” as they consider the lives they lived. We may have regrets, but so few are based around money and possessions. Money, in my opinion, should only be acquired to give the flexibility of time in later age. Time, on the other hand, is the biggest equaliser.
2. You are more than your job
I am sure many Singaporeans can identify with this, especially during festive seasons where relatives will mainly ask one of two things: “Where are you working now?” or “Are you getting married soon?” I have found that it is important not to tie your entire identity – and, in particular, your life satisfaction – to what you do for money.
This becomes even more apparent when I speak to retirees, who have spent their lives building their careers and find it difficult to find an identity again once they have stopped being the “Director of XX company” or “Senior Partner of YY company”.
The Harvard Business Review has revealed that many people with high-pressure jobs find themselves unhappy with their careers despite working hard their whole lives to get to their current position. Hating your job is one thing, but what happens if you identify so closely with your work that hating your job means hating yourself? We are much more than our titles. Find your own passions early, and build your life satisfaction around it.
3. Live an authentic life true to yourself
You might be familiar with this quote from Steve Jobs: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
We know this, yet I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve spoken with friends and the conversation surrounds how they’re not enjoying where they are in life at the moment, but aren’t taking steps towards creating the life they want. Don’t wait. Our time is limited. Speak to people in their legacy years and this point will become very apparent.
4. Don't put off your passions
I did my first ever podcast on the commonly argued debate of “Passion vs Career”, since there are two camps to this. I found that those over 40 tend to lean on building a stable career, after which, one can fund their passions; whereas those in my age group or younger veered towards a YOLO mindset and placed more priority on pursuing their passions and a career that priorisited both money and meaning.
As with many things in life, I believe that balance is key – while you work on your career, don’t forget to dedicate a little time each day to the things that make you smile. Personally for me, it’s ballroom dancing, and I have pursued it throughout my working life, even though it has meant starting at 10pm and catching the last train home. Passion means different things to different people, but don’t wait til you’re 60 to start doing it… Especially if it requires a certain level of joint mobility.
5. Being financially responsible
Living within your means is the financially responsible thing to do, not just for yourself but also for your family. We probably all know that family squabbles can be about money. Even today, there is a lack of retirement adequacy in Singapore. Thus, while money isn’t the most exciting topic, I would encourage everyone to think about their personal finances earlier than later, and get educated to see through marketing spiels and potential financial scams.
6. Quality over quantity with relationships
I was often asked to smile more in school in order to be “likable”. I feel that wanting to be liked by many is overrated. I have found that it is more important to have a few good friends in life, and really build on those relationships.
As said by billionaire Warren Buffett during a speech at the University of Georgia: “Basically, when you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you. I know many people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them. That’s the ultimate test of how you have lived your life.”
7. Courage in the face of adversity
I want to dedicate this last value to my late grandmother, who worked as an SBS bus driver, a nanny and a dishwasher to make ends meet. I spent most of 2020 by her side at the hospice, and every time I was reminded of how she always had courage to thrive in the face of adversity. We will all be met with trying periods in our life, and it is up to us to have the courage and resilience to face adversity and bounce back up.