How To Leverage Birthdays To Build Your Legacy

Recently, I celebrated my birthday. As we increase in age, the actual celebration takes place with less people and less fanfare. It may include some of the most important people in your life like your family or a few close friends unless it is a milestone birthday. With technology, however, an online celebration seems to occur on places like Facebook and other social media sites where people weigh in on your newsfeed with all kinds of well wishes and encouragement.

Moments Cookie Cake

As I surveyed the birthday responses on my Facebook page (as well as email, text messages, and other social media), I discovered 3 types of content from friends, family, and other colleagues and acquaintances: 1) Appreciation for the past, 2) Hope for future moments, and 3) Encouragement to enjoy the present day. It spurred a reminder for me about a quote that I included in my book Moments: Making Your Life Count For What Matters Most:

I have used this quote in a lot of the speaking engagements I do and also shared it with all of my coaching clients including elite athletes, executives, and entrepreneurs. This quote has also been an incredible catalyst in my own life! It is a powerful and all-encompassing quote with 3 very distinct ideas that come together to make one thought.

  • Learn from the Past – When people celebrate birthdays and becoming another year older, some people can yearn for the past, or “the way things used to be.” They long for a time when they perceived things to be better. Others live in the past, hitting the rewind button of a failure on the DVR in their brain and thereby become stuck. Birthdays should be a day of positive reflection as you “learn” from the past, recalling both times that you had success and times that you learned from mistakes and things that did not turn out the way you had planned. Learning from your past can provide an effective prologue to future performance if you utilize it as a catalyst in the right way.
  • Prepare for the Future – Some people think about the future when they celebrate their birthday including hope for brighter days or continued success. We have found through research and experience that people tend to miss great moments when they don’t expect them to happen. The best performers in sports, business, and life practice and prepare every day in anticipation of goal achievement. It is this preparation that puts them into a position to succeed and make a positive impact in the world around them and leave a leadership legacy for others to follow.
  • Perform in the Moment – Finally, birthdays provide a great reminder to cherish the present moment of being alive and having another day and opportunity to live out our calling in life. Hope, faith, and dreams are all very good things, but they don’t become a reality until we step out and do something about it. We must be engaged not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally in order to truly “perform” or live in the moment. When opportunities arise, we can’t be paralyzed by the moment; we must step up and step out, propelled by our past and guided by our vision for the future. And, often, that future is more than we could have realized or imagined.

The great thing about these ideas is that you don’t have to wait until your next birthday to put them into practice. Today would be a great day to:

  • Write down some things you are grateful for and have learned from the past.
  • Develop some goals for the future, and create an action plan to accomplish your goals.
  • Step out in faith one moment at a time to maximize your potential, achieve your goals, and make a positive difference in the lives of people within your sphere of influence and beyond.

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