Mr Goh Seok Hiong, 73, never stops learning new things. An avid sports lover, he took up in-line skating at the age of 67 and is an active pickle ball player with his kaki thrice a week. His recent pursuit is learning to play tennis and Chinese musical instrument “yang qin”. This Active Ager Award winner plays 5 musical instruments, engages in all kinds of arts and crafts, and volunteers his time for the community regularly as he believes enhancing his overall wellness is vital to ageing well.
C3A: How does your typical day look like?
Mr Goh: I start my day by playing one of the five musical instruments, which could be piano, Yangqin, Erhu, Guzheng or Piba. Followed by playing table tennis with Mrs Goh. After lunch, I use computer to self-learn how to make bread, origami, home planting etc. Every Tuesday and Friday, I play pickle ball with my friends in the morning at the community centres. Occasionally, I meet up with my friends to discuss what type of activities to organise for residents in the community and church.
C3A: Besides the passion for learning new things, you also volunteer regularly. Could you tell us more?
Mr Goh: I help organising events for church, Residents’ Committee and community centres. Over time, I also volunteer at National Kidney Foundation (NKF) regularly once a week and organise activities for their beneficiaries. I believe that people need people. Besides, talking to people from all walks of life and learn some hard stories is meaningful to oneself. Through mutual learning and sharing, we gain knowledge.
Encourage others to stay active is my everyday “homework”, I share the skills of playing pickle balls with my kaki. At the same time, encourage them to pursue their personal passion and have a positive mindset. We develop friendship and supportive peer relationship. Recently, a new member who joins the pickle ball group expressed his interest to become a coach to teach fellow seniors. I am delighted to make such a positive impact on others.
C3A: What motivates you to pick up new hobbies?
Mr Goh: I believe we are never too old to learn. In my younger days, I wanted to learn many things. Due to busy work schedule, there was not much time for me to pursue those in my younger days. Now I have plenty of time for that, and my schedule is packed. Never be shy to learn new things. For example, I attended English night classes to better communicate with my grandchildren. It was so funny at first especially at the initial stage and many jokes centred around my poor English. But I was never deterred and each time I made a mistake, I learn a new word. Today I am able to carry out a conversation in English with not only my grandchildren, but with many new friends as well.
C3A: What does lifelong learning mean to you?
Mr Goh: Learning is a lifelong process. I have a deep interest in it. I always challenge myself to learn new things, be it in Tai Chi Sword, Tai Chi Fan, different kind of musical instruments, in-line roller stakes, pickle ball, tennis, origami and many more. I learned in-line roller stakes at the age of 67! We have to feel good about our accomplishments. Having the right mindset in life, it will eventually be a boost to keep you moving to what you want to achieve.
I think age does not matter and it should not be a barrier. By participating in a little more vigorous sports, one feels younger. It actually can help to fan the flame of excitement and self-fulfillment in life.
C3A: How do you foster the intergenerational bonding?
Mr Goh: I have 3 children and 6 grandchildren. I learn drawing and origami from them. In returns, I teach them swimming and in-line staking. I also learn to play tennis together with my grandchildren from my son-in-law. I believe that by doing activities together can effectively strengthen the bond between grandparent and grandchild, because we share some common topics to talk about.
C3A: What is your belief in life?
Mr Goh: Keep a positive attitude in life, it will help us to be happier and more able to cope with matters that come our way. For example, some of the volunteers were asked to complete tasks and they developed negative feelings towards it. We have to think positively. In this particular example: when I was asked to complete a task, I will do it wholeheartedly. This is the recognition and faith that people have in you. We can learn something through the process too. Amazingly by thinking this way, the results are always remarkable.
C3A: Do you have early financial plan?
Mr Goh: Not really a concrete financial plan, but I do have a habit of saving regularly since I was 35. Forming savings and investment habits early in life is good practice for making consistent contributions toward retirement.
The earlier we plan, the more we can feel less hassles in our senior years.
C3A: Do you have any tips to attain total wellness?
Mr Goh: I believe having a positive mindset is very important. If we feel negative about ourselves being old and frail, it will naturally lead us to a lifestyle resulting us being so. I’ve had many young people telling me they envy my fitness, energy and drive. So you are never too old for anything!
**Our special thanks to Mr Goh for accepting this interview. With that, we wish him all the best.
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