I just celebrated a birthday. It wasn’t one of the “big” birthdays (like 50, when you feel life’s half over or 65 when you need to sign up for Medicare or 75 when, I presume you take stock of what “old” is supposed to feel like) it was just an ordinary birthday.
It did however make me pause and take stock of my life, what I’m up to, what I’m accomplishing (or avoiding) and where I had hoped to be a year ago vs. where I find myself today. It was a way of counting the gains – a way of asking what have I really added to my life over the last year?
It isn’t always adding that matters. Sometimes it is equally important to consider what we shed over the course of each year. There are things like toxic relationships, unnecessary body weight, unpleasant or unsatisfying commitments or responsibilities, all of which could be good to claim as valuable losses.
But, I was looking in particular at the gains in my life; What did I focus on, build, accumulate or otherwise manifest in the last year? Several gains came to mind, here’s what I know I’ve added of late:
- Dollars to my investment portfolio this year – even though the stock market has been less than stable, it felt good to contribute to that endeavor.
- Money to my charitable giving – not a lot, but just consciously increasing my contribution made me feel good about my choices.
- Names to my mailing list (yes, THIS mailing list) at least a few subscribers. I’m hoping you’ll help me double this list in the months ahead!
- A raise to a contractor I pay – generally she cleans for me and doesn’t ask much in return. So, at the start of the 2023 I’ve decided to increase what I pay her by 20%. Again, it made me feel good.
- Protein to my diet (sill not an easy choice, but clearly good for me) well above what I was accustomed to consuming.
- At least an hour to my nightly sleep time (generally asleep now from 11 pm to 6:30 am) which feels much better than the random 5-6 hours I was getting a year ago.
- Half & half to my morning coffee, abandoning the flavored creamers I’ve become accustomed to, if only to let go of their chemical and flavoring additives that were not serving my needs at all.
That’s probably not everything, but it is a solid accounting of the myriad small changes I’ve managed in the last 12 months. I have more work to do, but every now and then, it is valuable to just do the math and see what you can find in the “plus” column on life’s balance sheet. Birthdays seem to offer the perfect opportunity for such an audit.
Where would you like to ADD in your life? What gains would you like to measure one year from now? What would life look like if you were to add three more genuine friends, two more meaningful coffee conversations each month or one single kindness (randomly & anonymously offered) each week?
What would the math look like (or feel like) if you were to consciously decide to add in some small way to the life of others, to the generosity of your spirit or to the authenticity of your contributions at work, or even at the dinner table?
Adding to our lives can be an act of self-care! What do you want to ADD to you life in the months ahead? Where would your priorities go if you could just stretch your imagination and invite anything positive you wanted to enter your life in the coming year?
Here’s what I’m asking for in the year ahead:
- I’ve set a goal to add three friends (genuine friends, not just acquaintances) who are under thirty years of age to my social network (notice, I didn’t say social media) in 2023. I’m not entirely sure where I’m going to find such friends, but I’m thinking that I may have the opportunity to speak on college campuses in the months ahead, and this might offer a path to such introductions.
- I’ve added a Health & Wellness Coach to my own personal growth experience. We begin this month, with a focus on nutrition & exercise – two aspects of well-being I’ve struggled with for decades. Like I’ve said here before, sometimes we all need a coach!
- I’ve asked for help to launch that online course for caregivers I’ve been talking about for ages and I want to see what kind of transformation it brings into the world – who will be touched by this chance to change their lives, and how might it impact them?
My wish for you. . .May the year ahead be full of growth opportunities for each of you. May you have wisdom and discernment as you pick and choose the things you’ll invite into your life in the months ahead. And may you never be afraid or ashamed to ask for help when that is precisely what may be needed to help you move forward!