Birthdays – A Catalyst for Change
Today is my birthday and since that apparently means I can do whatever I want, I’m breaking from my usual schedule and am not going to write a book review this week. Instead, I’m going to write about birthdays.
I’m thirty-one years old today – hardly a significant number. But there’s still something about birthdays that feels important. They somehow create the feeling of a new beginning and give us the ability to shift our perspective.
I’ve been getting messages all day from people wishing me a “blessed year ahead” or “all the best for the new year.” Our culture has embraced birthdays as significant landmarks that offer us a chance to start again. We disconnect from our old selves with all their flaws, poor choices, and insecurities and feel confident that we can be “a better me” moving forward.
The amazing thing about birthdays is that they don’t impact external circumstances. You may feel like a new person, but your situation won’t have changed. Yet somehow, a fresh start with fresh perspective makes us feel like we can overcome those circumstances.
The other thing birthdays do is remind us of our own mortality. Many people set big goals with the mantra of “it’s now or never.” This is particularly true as we approach the ‘big’ birthdays. For example, a research study on first-time marathon participants found a disproportionate number of participants were either 29, 39, or 49. With one year to go before entering a new decade, people seem to find the motivation to do things they’ve never done before.
These landmarks may seem arbitrary or even fabricated, but the reality is that they can be powerful tools on our journey of self-improvement and we should make sure to take advantage of them. So much of self-improvement is about motivation – the motivation to start, to stick with it, and to finish strong.
For some time now, I have been wanting to reduce the amount of time I spend on electronic devices. Whether it is social media, games on my phone, TV, or aimless internet browsing spending hours with my eyes glued to a screen does not line up with the goals I have for my life. So I guess now is as good a time as any! Digital minimalism really appeals to me, so it’s time I committed!