FIVE BIRTHDAY LESSONS
If you’ve been on Mars this week you may not have noticed that it’s my birthday! As the years whizz past I sometimes wonder about the alleged link between age and wisdom. After all, at the time of writing I am rapidly approaching 50 years of age and there are days when my ‘wisdom’ is tested and found wanting! But, for what it’s worth, here are some pearls of wisdom from the vantage point of my half-century.
So, make yourself a cuppa, cut a slice of cake and enjoy.
IT’S IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE
I believe that it is important to celebrate – not only the milestones in our lives like birthdays and bar mitzvahs but our achievements in life and in business. When I help people to develop their business plans for the year, one of the things I insist that they plan for is moments of celebration.
Celebrating is akin to gratitude. It’s a way of demonstrating how pleased and grateful you are – and of signalling to the Universe that you’d like more of the same please.
Just had your first 4, 5 or 6 figure month? Celebrate and show the Universe that you’d like more please!
Just had a big birthday? Celebrate and let the Universe know that you want lots more birthdays please (and of course lots more presents!).
Just secured a new client? Celebrate and demonstrate that you’re open to more clients.
Never get so caught up in the day to day that you forget to take a moment to celebrate
AGE ISN’T A NUMBER, IT’S AN ATTITUDE
Some of the ‘oldest’ people I know are in their twenties and some of the ‘youngest’ are in their 80s.
My wonderful Dad – a very young 75 – is still sailing and cycling, playing with model airplanes, discovering new hobbies and mastering new skills (cheese-making, beer brewing and sourdough bread are current passions) with quite startling regularity. He is always curious, always learning, always open to new experiences and he always appears to be positive, optimistic and upbeat. His whole attitude is focused on what he ‘can’ do and what he loves. As a result, he has never seemed ‘old’ to me or to anyone who knows him.
By contrast, an acquaintance of mine in her 30s lives an entirely ‘closed’ existence. She doesn’t venture beyond the boundaries of her town; she doesn’t engage with ‘new’ people or new experiences. And more than that – she is perpetually aggrieved, worried and pessimistic. Everything is a threat or a risk and if there’s a downside to any situation, you can absolutely rely on her to see it. Her attitude is defined by what she ‘should’ do, what she ‘shouldn’t’ do and what she fears.
I choose to be more like my Dad. I choose to focus on what is possible. And instead of thinking of what I should or shouldn’t be doing, I choose to do what I love and love what I am doing (even if other people think I shouldn’t be doing it!).
IT’S NOT THE YEARS, IT’S THE MILAGE
My friend Mark often says to me: ‘It’s not the age Sara, it’s the mileage.’ What he means is that you can be 20 but if you’ve lived ‘hard’, you will feel older. Thanks Mark!
I choose to reframe this expression – for me it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been alive. The crucial thing is how you’ve lived and what you’ve done with the time you’ve been given. When I look back on my life so far, I remember the people I have known and loved, the places I have visited and the things I have seen and learnt along the way. When I look forward to the road ahead – those are the miles I want to travel: miles of love and laughter and adventure.
So, fill each mile of your life with what you love and each passing year will simply bring more joy and more memories to treasure.
LEARN TO ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED (AND WANT!)
When I asked people in the Actually Facebook Group about the best birthday present they had ever received, some took the opportunity to also tell me about the worst. My favourite story was from the woman whose mother bought her a wooden toilet seat as a birthday gift.
I have another friend who was given a set of car mats for one of her more significant birthdays.
Leaving aside the obvious questions about the taste of the relevant gift givers, I suspect that in both cases the recipients answered the ‘What would you like for your birthday?’ question with the typically British ‘Oh I don’t know…anything you get me will be lovely…whatever you think is best…after all, it’s the thought that counts’
I am here to tell you that it is NOT the thought that counts when the thought results in a toilet seat as a gift!
Of course there is only one guaranteed way to avoid receiving cr*ppy presents and that’s to be really clear about what you want or need.
Remember – making sure that your needs are taken care of is your responsibility and nobody else’s. So, if you want to avoid toilet seats and car mats, you need to learn to ask for what you really want!
THE BEST LAID PLANS
Having said how important it is to celebrate, I must confess that when my carefully laid birthday party plans had to be cancelled because of the Covid19 pandemic – I very nearly had a major sulk and decided to stay in bed for the day.
‘Clearly I’m just not meant to have a party.’ I said to my friend Jo. ‘Maybe this is the Universe trying to tell me that now isn’t the time to be celebrating.’
‘Nonsense’ she replied and as this blog goes to print I am ‘enjoying’ the hangover from a wonderful evening of birthday celebrations with her in Brighton.
When my plans go awry, it can feel like the end of the world – especially for an inveterate planner like myself! Then I remember something I say to my clients all the time: “Set your intention but hold it lightly” – meaning, make your plans but be open to the possibility that they may not come to fruition exactly as you envisaged and that whatever happens, is exactly the perfect thing.
So thank you Jo for my birthday celebration – it was nothing like what I had planned but absolutely perfect nonetheless.
Happy birthday to me!
And love to all of you.
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Phew! Doesn’t that sounds awesome?