04/21/2014 08:05 am ET Updated Jun 21, 2014

5 Ways in Which I Redefined Success in My 20s

I am turning 30 tomorrow. In New York City. I purposefully planned this trip. I am from South Africa and wanted to end my 20s in an appropriate manner. I am walking the city like some walk the Camino de Santiago. Taking stock, letting go and filling up for the next decade of my life.

Whereas my teens were all about striving to achieve as much success as possible (and achieving that to a certain degree), my 20s were about becoming a whole and healthy human being. Which doesn't mean I wasn't whole in my teens or less ambitious in my 20s. I just redefined what really mattered to me. I focused my energy differently.

Whereas my 20s started with me burned out, confused and unclear about what I really wanted in life, my 30s will start with me much closer to who I want to be as a human being.

This is how I went about getting there:

I have fewer friends, but much more valuable friendships. I have a small group of people who I allow into my life. They vary in age, background and personality. Whereas my teens were filled with countless people, my life is now filled with friends who I cherish and who play an active part in my life. We share life moments and daily trivialities. I don't miss a birthday, achievement, or something like a family funeral. Or the chance to share a Ryan Gosling meme. We laugh, we cry, we dance. I am much more of an introvert and now truly understand what that means and how to be comfortable with that.

I started saying 'no' to what is expected of me. I didn't buy a car at 23, a house at 25 and get married at 27. I changed my degree. I left a comfortable job. And only do what I really feel I want to do. Did I miss out on many things because of these decisions? I'm sure. Did I gain more? I feel so. I love my work, my career and the people I engage with there. This is a much more stable platform to expand from in my 30s.

I live a smaller, bigger life. Smaller physically, bigger emotionally/ spiritually. I have less stuff in my life. I read and listen digitally. I don't have 10 pairs of shoes. Neither 20 plates or three different living areas. My weeks aren't booked out in advance. I have space to breathe. To move. To get to know and live my own truth. Things are clear.

I value a moneyless economy. Where we can engage without exchanging money. This doesn't mean I don't value money. I have bills to pay. It means I want to give and receive without putting a price on everything. Sometimes that means offering my services for free to whose who can't afford it, sometimes it means being gracious enough to allow other people to do something good for me.

I have developed my own rhythm. I don't think in terms of working 9 to 5, 49 weeks of the year. I am more project orientated. I work long days/weeks and then do nothing for other periods. I find that my batteries recharge better in this way. I have time to meditate, create and apply.