Today is my birthday. I don’t usually celebrate birthdays. Not because I have ‘issues’ with the day in question; I’ve just never thought that they were a big deal. My thinking is that I’ve been turning that age all year long. I don’t suddenly become a year older overnight. Maybe it’s my own personal – even far reaching - ‘en vivo’ interpretation of Schrödinger’s Cat experiment.
I’ve never thought about the significance of the actual number itself either. It’s never held much importance. Yet, for some reason, over the last 6 months the idea of aging has hit me harder than others. Suddenly I get the bemoaning of those aches & pains never experienced before, things moving in ways they didn’t before or to new locations…
Mortality suddenly raises its ugly head with our physiological breakdown. No, aging in of itself isn’t to be feared. Nor, do I believe dying should be. Yet, when faced with recurring evidence of it, well, it gives me (you) pause. And hey, that pause isn’t pleasant. Because not being able to do with you did before with your body, well, it’s not great. And realizing that the clock is ticking towards an end, you start to think about that end.
After much reflection, yes, even pity parties, I decided I could either cringe through it, ignore it, try to battle it, or approach it head-on. So yeah, life is moving forward, time is moving forward, I cannot control that. I control my take on what happens with my time.
Life’s hard, but, like Ingrid Michaelson says, “…let’s not make it harder than it has to be…”, I took part of Dylan Thomas’ advice too, I do not rage, but I will “not go gentle into that good night”…
And, once I accepted that we’ve been breaking down for a LONG while, you go, ok. It is what it is. The sun rises, the sun sets. What do I do in this time? How do I leave as big a mark as possible? How do I acknowledge, respect and appreciate the tremendous work that others have done before me so that I have the rights and liberties I enjoy today? How do I have as much fun, learn and push myself beyond what I did yesterday?
I created big goals. But over and above that, I took an outlook that seems to be working. Some stuff I did before, some stuff is new, some stuff might change in the future. For now, here’s what I’m doing. It’s working so far.
You Define You
Forget obsessing about a number; use your own numbers, metrics, goals & aspirations to define who you are and what you want to become. That’s in your power.
Surround Yourself with Great People
Surround yourself with people who align with your values. Build an inner circle with people who make you better, teach you and can also learn from you. Foster friends who, as Oscar Wilde said, ‘stab you in the front’.
Work with people that you like
I cannot emphasize this enough. Most of our day, our time, our life, is spent at work. And work impacts the rest of our life greatly. And more important than an individual's skills is the collective, collaborative team dynamic. This team dynamic if positive, enables you to surpass the productivity of the sum of 'the team's' parts.
I don’t even know why this would require an explanation. HAVE FUN!
There are lots of studies showing the benefits of walking to our physiological and mental health. … I know that when I start the day with a quick walk, end it with a walk or even fit a walk into the day, I feel better.
You can call this having goals, being focused on what you’re trying to do, having intent, or... Regardless of the term you use, make sure you’re conscious as to what you’re trying to achieve/the outcome, what you’d like to produce with your actions. End and start the day vocalizing your intent.
Good rest & napping…well, what more needs to be said. Our bodies need rest to recover. So does our brain, ‘the mental inbox needs to be cleaned out’.
Our bodies are machines. They need to be used. They can do amazing things & we have a lot of muscles to try out. 30-60 minutes most days comprising of cardio & strength training is sufficient. We feel better, we look better, and it helps relieve stress. What more is there to say?
Eat food as close to its natural state as possible. Remove as much white sugar from your diet as possible.
OK, so I laugh a lot already. But I think you can always laugh more. It’s part of – for me – having fun. It’s about seeing the upside, the humour in things. Because life's really a tragic comedy; it's up to us to add the comedic component though.
Remove the Bad Energy, Make Room for More Good Energy
It is not worth it to your psyche or your overall health to have bad energy in your life. You carry the stress with you. The bad energy sucks up mental bandwidth as well. If you remove bad energy, you have room for more good energy and all of its benefits.
Set Big Goals…then Break them Down to Steps to be Achieved Over Time
Dream big, who do you want to be? What do you want to have achieved? Who will take your call in a decade? Now work backwards into small things you can start to do today to build towards that future. This changes wishful thinking into doable achievements.
Do Something That Makes You Uncomfortable Every Day/Push Past Your Limits…A Little Bit At a Time
Just like pushing past your limits to do those extra reps creates a huge change in your muscle definition, the same holds true in our daily life. The comfort zone for each person is different: talking to someone new; pausing more; saying more; making eye contact; etc. But the benefits when you push past your comfort zone are the same for everyone. Just do 1 little thing every day that makes you uncomfortable. You’d be amazed what happens over time.
100% of our time includes ‘you’. Why would we try to be 20 different people? It’s exhausting. Besides, the underlying implication is that you don’t like yourself too much. I’m not saying don’t adapt to your environment/context. Just like you wear a swimsuit to the beach & a tux to a black tie affair, your body is the same, the dress code is not. Likewise, your comport should also adapt to its environment. But YOU should be the same YOU.
Don’t Look Back
Be in the moment & look forward. The past is to be assessed, learned from, then put aside so you can focus on moving forward. You can’t change the past, you can only learn from it & shape your future.
Don't Give Up Early
Every second counts. It’s never too late to start something. And don't stop racing until you cross the finish line.
One caveat, nothing in life is overnight. Nothing moves from one state to the next in an instant. We can make small consistent actions to realize big changes. It takes time. Nobody became an Olympic athlete overnight. Nobody changed the world overnight. The stick-to-it-ness over time is what turns a routine into a habit, a habit into a way of life, a life that moves you towards realizing your aspirations. And don’t get me wrong, making something a routine doesn't happen overnight either. You just keep getting better at sticking to it, with repetition and intent.