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For the last day or so, I’ve been thinking a lot about birthdays. That might be because I just had mine yesterday, but it’s also been on my mind for a while because the summertime has always felt like the perfect time for reflection. The air just feels different in the summer: people are traveling more and lying back in the sun giving themselves time to think, despite the fact that, sometimes, work still needs to be done.

By having another year under your belt, it’s almost like a second New Years Day (although it could be one in the same if that’s the day you were born): you can make resolutions for the age you’re becoming and think about how you spent the past year. If it’s a significant age you’re turning (ie. a decade gone by or a milestone of sorts), it’s even more important for you to reflect over the period of time. Different decades have significant changes: even if you think that your life’s going to stay the same for a while, it usually doesn’t. Life can change in any time frame, whether it’s year to year or even day to day in terms of what’s happening.

While I won’t tell you what year I hit (it’s rude to ask a sister her age!), it’s been interesting thinking about the passage of time and how so much has the possibility of occurring in the next couple, few, or even next decade of your life. Nothing is certain, but you still have all the cards to play. It’s just that you have to play them right. It might feel like a lot of responsibility to think so much about the year as a whole (age is only a number, right?), but the idea about getting older is that you gain experience. When you celebrate your birthday, you’re celebrating a year’s worth of new experiences, trials, tribulations, and excitement. What are some important things to reflect upon as you reach a new age?:

1. What have been the high point and low point of the past year?

I got this idea because I have a friend who loves to ask everyone he meets “What was your high and low point of the day?” and honestly wants an answer. I personally think it’s a really good question because it makes you think seriously about good and bad in coexistence. A lot of times, as humans we just focus on the negative or the positive, but life isn’t ever simply black or white. Most good events follow bad ones and vice versa: life truly is a yin yang where hills might pop up, but you have to get past those hills to get to the valleys. By thinking of what made you happiest next to what made you cry, you can truly have a balanced view of your life: it helps you know what to continue with and what to let go.

Time And What It Means To Your Life

2. Where has the time gone? What have you spent most of your time doing?

If you feel like you haven’t spent enough time doing something you love, then make it a goal to take up the activity again. This might feel like a New Years Resolution, but birthdays are the same: another year, another chance, right? Since my birthday’s near the halfway mark of the year, it’s easy for me to feel like I can reevaluate myself then and think about what I really want out of life. Especially when you’re starting a new decade or a significant year, it’s a wake-up call when you realize how much time has passed. You always have time to change your priorities, however.

3. What kind of maturity or experience have you gained throughout the year?

While every year, brain changes do influence maturity and who you are emotionally and physically, it’s just interesting to see the differences in your choices from year to year. Think of anything you’ve been doing differently or what events have occurred in your life this past year. Has your advancement in age changed you? If you’ve completed #1 on this list and see a lot of important events listed, then you definitely haven’t been stagnant in your life choices. It’s important to be able to see differences in yourself, otherwise, are you really living?

4. Make sure you’re living up to your potential.

Do you find what you’ve been doing up until this point as beneficial or something that works for you? Do you have long term plans as well as short term goals? Your birthday might be a time to celebrate, but it’s also a time to reflect on milestones and moments that you can’t get back. Life is short, so make sure you’re living it to its fullest!

5. How does another year sound?

You’ve made it through another year and now it’s time to move back to every day life. Have you thought enough about your year to successfully go on to the next? While going with the flow is something I’m pretty familiar with (see How To Be Optimistic And Go With The Flow), it’s still important to acknowledge what you’ve been doing with your life and to have rules you live by. Your life can only be lived from one set of eyes (yours) and your view of your own life is unique. Make your days on Earth count and reflect in order to live the life you want!

Birthdays are a joyous time, but the significance of one year to the next is something we often overlook. Therefore, reflecting about your year is an important exercise in acknowledging that life is sacred and that keeping yourself healthy, strong, and independent is the only way to be. Get out there, celebrate life, and never forget that there’s always time to change your path!