I shared a birthday with Britain's often outspoken husband of the Queen, Prince Phillip, who turned 90 last week. Even at this advanced age, he is still active and working hard within his role in the royal family, although he used this opportunity to announce his intention to cut back his official duties. In any event, I am sure he celebrated his birthday with friends and family, as I did mine.
For children, birthdays can be exciting times of presents, family outings, sweets and chocolate but as we get older, each birthday becomes just another number for many of us. As a consequence, many people ignore them, but I always celebrate them as it gives me an excuse to be together with my friends and family, at least for this one day a year. It also gives an opportunity to mark another milestone in our lives and to reflect upon what we have managed to achieve over the past year.
Reflecting on the year
A year can be seen as a considerable length of time but in reality, for many of us it is a period that goes by so very quickly. We start the year with New Year resolutions and good intentions — some of which get achieved and others get forgotten very quickly. I believe that although we may have good intentions — and have a long to-do list — we often convince ourselves that many of the items are unrealistic. But were they, or was it just that we failed to make them a priority? It's very easy to persuade ourselves that it doesn't matter. But maybe it does.
For example, what happened to that book you wanted to write? Is it still sitting in draft format on your computer or have you managed to get the first chapter down onto paper? As we all know, we need to make things happen for otherwise they just remain dreams. If you look around at successful people, the movers and shakers are those who are positive, who won't take ‘no' for an answer, and who make things happen — either for themselves or for others.
However, in order to make them happen, you need to take positive action! We all dream of success but how many of us actually spend our energy and drive in following through upon our intentions? This is a matter of attitude and mindset and age is just one related factor. There are many others, such as apathy, indifference, plain laziness, sometimes sickness, stress or possibly marital or domestic difficulties. All these are factors that determine our mindset towards the goals and desires for improvement in our lives.
We all have choices and wishes and we all have 365 days every year in which to do something about them, albeit that developing and achieving our wishes are influenced by the prevailing circumstances, at our home or at work.
Birthdays then, can be times of reflection and questioning of oneself. If you are not driving yourself hard enough, then ask yourself the question "why not?" If stress in your life is wearing you down, then take action to find out how to avoid it. The human body is fragile, as we well know, but it also can be strongly resilient. But it will only be so if psychologically and physiologically you are in good shape, and confident.
You may say that this not an easy call, and it is of course true that sometimes you may need external help to help you meet the challenges on your journey — to build your confidence and strengthen your resolve. That could be a professional coach, a friend, a peer group member, or maybe your partner.
Whoever it is in your life, the most important factor is to find the right person or people who can motivate and inspire you. Everyone needs a support group to become part of their team, in order to get through life's challenges and achieve success. And afterwards, you can then become part of someone else's support team to help them achieve what you have achieved!
- Birthdays remind us of years going past, fast.
- You need to be in good shape, mentally and physically, to succeed.
- You may need a support group of a friend and/or a professional.
The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven stress strategies - www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk.