What’s Your Birthday Ritual?

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How do you celebrate your birthday?

As I contemplated mine today, I wondered what others do. Yes, there’s the fun of celebration, cake and congratulations. Yet what else makes the day extra special? What sets the stage for your next year ahead?

I’m not sure if this relentless focus on goals has to do with being a Taurus or an ENTJ. Or maybe the two are related.

But regardless, here goes . . .

Looking back. Just as I do as New Year’s Eve approaches, I reflect on the last year. I handwrite a list of highlights. How do I remember it all? My calendar and Evernote are helpful in jogging my memory.

This has a few benefits. First, I get to enjoy reliving the best moments of the year. And second, it makes me realize I accomplished a lot more than I might have thought.

Giving thanks. It’s easy to forget the blessings in our lives. A daily list of 3 things I’m grateful for in the last 24 hours has helped bring those blessings to the fore.

Happiness researcher Shawn Achor recently suggested a great twist on this. While you brush your teeth at night, think of 3 things you’re happy about.

And on a birthday, it’s the perfect time to take stock more broadly of what you’re grateful for. Family. Health. Career. Optimism. Perseverance. Possibilities. A favorite pet. Cupcakes. Anything that makes you happy.

Looking ahead. The logical next step is to look to the future. What’s exciting about the year ahead? What was learned in the previous year that can help shape the one ahead?

What are the bright spots that you can build on? This is a great concept from Chip Heath and Dan Heath in their bestseller Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.

This is where you look for small things that are going well, you learn from them and apply them more broadly.

Enjoying the moment. What would make your day special? What would you most enjoy doing? While I love my career and my work, I take a vacation day on my birthday when I can. And I try to resist my usual tendency to over schedule.

What did that mean for today? Looking back and looking ahead. Enjoying a workout by the beach. Stopping by a beautiful local library. Spending time with family. Talking with my mom. Responding to heartwarming birthday wishes. Writing my daily blog post. A nice dinner with my husband.

Remembering my commitment not to over schedule, we’ll go standup paddle boarding and on an excursion over the weekend. I’m savoring the unusual feeling of not being rushed. The to-do lists and chores will still be there tomorrow.

Reading about what others do on their birthdays gave me a few new ideas.

Danielle LaPorte has 10 great ones. My favorite? “Make some outlandish wishes based on how you want to FEEL in the coming year. Desired. Free. Top of your game . . .”

Kevin F. Adler offers up 9. My favorites? “Have a party the evening before your actual birthday.” “Go on an adventure.” And “do something special that you’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t.”

This got me thinking about bringing something special into every day. Why wait for your birthday? What you can to do to enjoy every day?

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Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, Social Media Savvy for Corporate Professionals, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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