Birthdays & the 5-Year Project

It’s my birthday today.  I’ve turned 43. I confess that I am still getting used to the fact that my age begins with a 4 rather than a 3.

In my head I am still in my 30s.  And in sympathetic lighting, after a REALLY good night’s sleep, I might just manage to look like it too.  However, whilst my head might be in the 30s, after chasing my children around a field earlier this week (sometimes it just needs to be done), I am painfully aware that my knees are definitely in their 40s.

A birthday is often an occasion for a little bit of self-reflection. How far has one come? What comes next? What needs improvement?  What has one actually achieved?  How am I doing? Is it well with my soul?

You probably have your own reflective questions to which you return periodically. Clearly, critical self-reflection is good practice; and not just once a year. It helps us to take stock, and to be honest with ourselves about both our strengths and weaknesses. It is important to avoid the tendency to focus on the one and not sufficiently upon the other, which is easy to do depending on our personality, mood, or state of mind.

The point of the exercise, of course, is to help one look towards a future which is an improvement upon our past. It is to help us figure out how to improve our strengths and both own and work through our weaknesses.

Strength and weakness are, of course, often value judgements. What some people see as weakness others see as strength. Being emotionally sensitive might be viewed as a weakness if you worked for Darth Vader or, more realistically, in the SAS. However, if you were a counsellor, it’s one of your key strengths.

The other thing about weakness is that it’s important to have them.  Luckily, we all have weaknesses.  It’s part of what makes us human and vulnerable and likeable. Someone with no apparent weaknesses or insecurities is fine if you are looking for a bodyguard; but if you are looking for a friend, not so much.

There should be lots of these in tonight’s London Olympics Opening Ceremony celebrations…

Thankfully birthdays are not just about self-reflection, or they would be more than a little boring. They are also about celebration and thanksgiving, as well as one or two ‘prezzies.’

Birthdays are also an excuse to add to one’s 5YP collection…..  So if you have a birthday coming up, perhaps you should already be dropping none too subtle hints!

In all seriousness, one of the good things about having a 5YP is that those who buy you ‘prezzies’ now know that anything which adds to your wardrobe collection is a good thing.  So there you have it: a 5YP is a gift to your loved ones because it makes you easier to buy presents for.

So what do you think?

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