Growing up takes time. I remember at 15 talking to my aunt on the 15th anniversary of her 21st birthday about the stigma of aging. Later that evening, I asked my grandfather about the hula girl tattoo on his arm.
“That’s your grandma,” he proudly answered before stretching out the skin on his forearm and quipping, “and this is what she used to look like.”
Don’t struggle through another year—shake off those birthday blues with these useful lifehack questions to unlock your mind.
1. Where was I this time last year?
Forecasting is both the most and least important part of planning. To get an accurate picture of where you are, you need to check where you were last year at the same time. Are you still on the right path? If not, what threw you off course, and what can you do to get back up and moving in the right direction?
2. Am I who I want to be?
When you were six years old, you had dreams of who you wanted to be. Are you that person? You may not be in the exact career, but are you the type of person you wished for? The happiest people live to please their inner child—that person you used to be before everyone taught you about “real” life.
3. Have I lost/gained weight since last year?
What does your body look like compared to last year? If you wanted to lose or gain weight, did you? Did you bulk up like you wanted, or are you the same or worse? There’s no better time than now to strengthen your resolve to get into shape.
4. Did I accomplish my goals for this year?
It’s not just for the new year; everyone makes goals and resolutions throughout the year. Did you accomplish your goals for last year? What did you wish for when you blew out your candle? What did you do to make it happen?
5. Why do I have to age?
Much like pooping, everyone ages. I have no more of an answer than anyone else. Just enjoy the life you have and try to find your smile. It’s the only way to truly live.
6. Do I need to change any routines?
At certain ages, you become susceptible to different ailments, depending on your lifestyle, gender, social position, etc. If you need to quit smoking or get serious about a project, now’s the time.
7. What do I have to be grateful for?
You have a roof over your head, shoes on your feet, and clothes on your back (and hopefully everywhere else, because otherwise you’re a naked superhero and likely in the back of a squad car). If you’re breathing and awake, you have something to be grateful for. Show your gratitude to the world.
8. What good can I do next year?
Now that you have a firm grasp on who you’ve been, it’s time to decide who you’re going to be. You may want to be an entrepreneur or an adventurer or just get promoted to management at your current job. Whether you want to have a child or be one, make plans, because time doesn’t stop for anyone.
9. Who have I let in my life?
Look around at your friends and family—you’re stuck with some of these people, but others can be exchanged (or, at the very least, you can spend less time with them). Only allow people into your life who bring positive energy and influence. Politely phase the rest out at your leisure.
10. What do I need?
Start prioritizing your life. We all have so many goals that it’s impossible to keep up with them all. Taking stock of what you have and what you feel you need keeps you financially and mentally organized. You need a ball to keep your eye on it.
11. How do I feel?
How do you honestly feel about yourself? You can lie to whoever you choose, but be honest with yourself. If you’re unhappy with a situation, make the necessary changes to make it better. Sometimes this means quitting a job or packing up and moving. Even if you’re wrong, you’ll survive, and at least you’ll know for next time.
12. What’s my motivation?
Actors ask this all the time, and there’s a reason—you need to know what’s motivating you to get up every morning to keep living. Times will get hard, no matter what path you’re on, so figure out what drives you, and focus on that.
13. Am I aging gracefully?
Sometimes you have to maintain your youth, and sometimes you need to let go. How you decide to live is up to you, but make sure you’re at least doing it with grace and compassion. Nobody likes a Debbie or Donald Downer.
14. Who are these people?
Do you have any heroes? If so, what were they doing at your age? One of my childhood heroes was Tupac Shakur, and at my age, he had been dead for six years. That’s a sobering thought that keeps me pushing toward greatness with humbleness.
15. Was it worth it?
At the end of the day, was everything you’ve done worth it? Even if you lose, if you enjoyed or appreciated the experience of trying, then you’ve won. If you lost more than you wanted, it may be time to make a change in your life.
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