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Looking Back on 2018 and Forward to 2019

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions. I think the idea is certainly noble. I think any kind of resolution to become better than your former self is a noble effort. I commend it.

However, the faddish and sometimes commercial nature of New Year’s resolution is not something I can get into.

What I can get into is self-reflection for the past year and the next one.

For 2018, this was my first full year in my new life in Bangkok, Thailand. This was my first full year where I wasn’t a professional athlete and the identity that goes along with it. My first full year working for one of the most historical sports companies in history – ONE Championship.

I love living in Bangkok. I certainly miss my friends in Pakistan, but I do know and have a sense of peace that I am living in the right place for the right stage in my life. One of my dreams has been to open a martial arts camp and moving to Thailand and learning more about the business environment and culture is the right step towards achieving one of my life’s goals. I will be back Pakistan, but right now, my purpose has brought me here.

I miss being an athlete, and more than that, in fact, maybe 90% of what I miss is being the hero. I’m training for a marathon right now, I still train martial arts, I’m still in good shape. It’s not like I gave up an active life. But I did give up a life of recognition, a life where I was able to influence large numbers of people, I gave up a team where I was the leader and role model, I gave up what served as my identity for almost a decade. An identity that was still growing. But I gave it up for a long-term investment in myself, my family, the people I care about (this is people whom I know and don’t know – this is important) and my purpose in life.

I gave this up in order to be a part of something historic, to be a part of something that would challenge me and educate me. That something is ONE Championship. I have had some very influential moments in life that forever changed me. Joining the army and going to war was one of them. Taking a gigantic risk and moving to Pakistan to promote martial arts and become a martial arts legend…that was huge. Having a child and getting married, obviously. And now – ONE Championship. Weaknesses within me were exposed, the machinations of successful and powerful organizations were shown to me, a stability my new family needed was provided and so much more. It takes 8 years to become a doctor (this doesn’t include residency) I’ve been receiving my education in personal potential from ONE for only 18 months. I still have a long way to go before being even remotely competent as a professional among the world’s high achievers.

Looking forward, this year hopes to have some milestones for this current phase in life. I hope to take this settled life in Bangkok a small step further by opening my first small business. Get my feet wet and lay down the first stepping stone to something GREAT.

I hope to accept my new identity, put the past behind me as a cherished memory and life lesson. Build upon what I had to something new. May have to tear down the house, but the foundation is still there. I may not get the same public reception or appreciation, but I hope the work I was doing before will become more meaningful and impactful. Look to a growing Shaheen Academy (my academy for poor children in a Lahore slum), look to more advocacy for environmental issues (plastic being the main one) and finally, a focus and sharing of “Warrior-ship” and all that entails – intellectualism, spirituality and healthy and balanced living.

May you all have a blessed New Year and for those who have similar intentions as I for the upcoming year…please reach out. Together, let’s make this world a better place.

Ameen.