Happy Birthday!

Routines and Rituals

OK, I don’t really know if it’s your birthday today. Odds are, it isn’t.

But since we’re about halfway through the year, I encourage you to think about today as a “birthday” of sorts… an opportunity to review, reset and renew for the next six months. And let’s face it, you probably need a reset now more than any year before given the unexpected turns 2020 has taken so far.

And it just so happens that last week was my birthday and I’ve got a pretty cool birthday ritual I can share with you.

I love that my birthday is in mid-June. It offers the perfect complement to year-end or New Year’s Day rituals. It’s helpful to have a midpoint milestone that nudges me to reflect on and recommit to my annual intention.

So here goes, my 4 Rs Birthday Ritual:

1.     I run my age in minutes. Yes, this seemed like a super fun way to start my birthday when I was 32 and training for marathons. And while it becomes more challenging the older I get, it’s a solid fitness gauge and strong incentive to keep me running year round. Plus, the longer I run the more time to remember all the things I’m grateful for this year.

2.     I reflect. I’ve kept a journal for a few years now, so I spend some time reading my birthday entries from previous years. What’s different, what’s the same? Where have I grown? Where am I still feeling stuck? What would I like to change or stay the same by next year’s birthday?

3.     I review. I connect with my 2021 vision (created in 2016) and review my Word of the Year (WOTY) worksheet, Q1 and Q2 priorities. Am I on track? What am I doing well? What needs more attention? What has changed since I set that vision, WOTY and priorities? Are there any adjustments I need or want to make based on what’s changed?

4.     I re-commit. Where do I want to be by the end of thy year? What do I need to do now to make that happen? What am I afraid to let go of to get what I want? Am I more committed to that than to my desired future? I create new or stronger nudges, practices, triggers and/or reminders to help me stay on track.

Here’s just one insight from my birthday ritual this year.

When I was a teenager, and especially throughout college and grad school, I was very active in social justice causes and loved to debate issues (with the goal of “winning” the argument). I protested the CIA recruiting on my (Catholic) college campus, marched for increased federal investment in housing and women’s reproductive rights, campaigned for Democratic candidates and argued politics with my dad.

He always told me that I’d get more conservative as I got older. Well, he was wrong about that – unless by “older” he meant 70! In which case, he may still be right.

On this birthday, as I reflect on the world in which we’re living – with all its challenges and opportunities – and assess my own action (or inaction), contribution to the problem and the solution, and what I will do to create the future I want for my community, country and the world, I thought about my dad’s prediction.

My dad and I still argue about politics quite a bit. I guess that means that even if I have gotten more conservative, so has he!

Regardless, I’d like to think I’ve become wiser. I think I’m more open to others’ viewpoints and strive to understand their perspective, even if I wildly disagree with it. I’ve absorbed everything I can about empathy and its role in human connection, influence and persuasion. I try to listen more and learn more. I want to focus less on “winning,” which means someone has to “lose.”

Given what 2020 has brought so far, I’m more committed than ever to model, teach and celebrate the kind of leadership we need right now. And you can hold me accountable for that.

Go ahead. Celebrate your “birthday” and make the best of the rest of 2020!