Birthday Goals

It happens to the best of us: we’re doing fine until our birthday rolls around, and then we start freaking out that we haven’t accomplished everything that we expected to achieve by this time in our lives.

Wasn’t I hoping to have a better job by now?

Didn’t I expect to be in a committed relationship at this age?

I want to have kids, and the time is ticking away.

Then, we figure that if we haven’t yet gotten what we wanted out of life, we might as well celebrate our birthdays to the fullest. But is it really appropriate to throw a raging party for ourselves?

There are so many ways to look at birthday goals. We’re going to cover them in this article, including looking at your birthday as a fresh start, establishing goals for celebrating the big day and setting yourself up for success so that you’re satisfied with your life when your next birthday rolls around.

Looking at Birthdays as a Fresh Start

It’s easy to reflect on everything that you’ve completed and worried about the things that you haven’t done yet on your birthday. But instead of spending time summarizing your life, what if you simply erased your concerns and started over once a year?

You don’t bat an eyelash at the idea of doing this on New Year’s Day. Why should your birthday be any different?

According to experts at Wharton, using time-based “landmarks” throughout the year to gain a fresh start can boost your chances of realizing your goals. We do this naturally in many ways:

  • We say, “Tomorrow is a new day.”
  • We look at Mondays as a new beginning.
  • We set new goals and refresh our perspectives when we begin a new job or school semester.

In their research, the professors at Wharton found that people were more aspirational during holidays, on breaks and on Mondays. They also discovered that it’s easier for people to break bad habits when they’re feeling fresh.

You don’t have to wait for the New Year for these moments to arise. You can set them whenever you want. You can use birthdays as one marker for setting yearly goals and assessing your progress. When you do this, you tell yourself that the past is behind you and you’re prepared to improve yourself.

Best Practices for Setting Birthday Goals

If you begin looking at each birthday as a way to get a new lease on life, you’ll probably get excited about setting goals. Goals allow you to tap into your desires. They require you to think about what you really want. Not only that, but they also allow you to create an action plan to achieve those desires.

Avoiding setting goals is probably what got you to where you are now. You’ve been floundering, moving forward in life but not knowing where you’re heading. You often feel like you’re stuck in the same cycles, making the same mistakes.

Perhaps you have big dreams, but you don’t feel like you have time to move toward them because you’re stuck in the drudgery of your 9-5 job and daily routine. You don’t see a way out. Although you’d love to set your sights on something bigger, you keep being disappointed about what you can realistically achieve.

Maybe you’re on the precipice of something big. You’ve been successful up until now. You’ve relinquished your old fears. You’re ready to take on the world.

No matter which of these scenarios best describes you, you can benefit from setting birthday goals. Some of the advantages of goal setting include:

  • They give you a target to aim for.
  • They guide you toward your desires.
  • They help you focus on what’s important.
  • They help you make decisions.
  • They give you a sense of control.
  • They give you a step-by-step plan if you set them effectively.
  • They motivate you.
  • They help you feel good about yourself.
  • They give you a sense of purpose.

Setting SMART Goals

People naturally set goals all the time. You might want to clean your house before your in-laws come to visit. You may hope to earn enough money to take a vacation this summer. You might want to lose weight this year.

It’s great to be passionate about achieving things in life. But have you ever set goals like these and failed to reach them? In fact, are you frequently disappointed because you don’t seem to accomplish everything that you set out to do?

You may need to learn how to set effective goals. SMART is an acronym that’s generally accepted as a best practice for setting goals.

The letters stand for:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Achievable
  • R – Relevant or reasonable
  • T – Time-bound

For example, “earning enough money to take a vacation” isn’t specific. You need to state how much money you need to make and what type of vacation you’d like to take. Making it specific and adding units of measure, like time or money, makes your goal quantifiable.

Then, you need to ensure that it’s achievable. Earning $10,000 to take a trip around the world may not be possible with your income and expenses. On the other hand, saving $2,000 for a four-day cruise might be completely reasonable. The same thinking applies to evaluate whether your goal is relevant or reasonable.

Finally, set a deadline. If you’re establishing birthday goals, your target may be your birthday. However, you may achieve some of your goals throughout the year. Having a calendar handy will let you schedule your goals so that you’re not scrambling to complete them shortly before your birthday.

Other Tips for Setting Birthday Goals

One of the best suggestions for setting effective goals is to write them down. According to Inspire your Success, recording your goals in your own handwriting tricks your brain into owning those objectives. When you feel ownership for your goals, you’re more likely to achieve them.

You can also try phrasing your goals as “I am” statements. Instead of wording them as though they’re events that will happen in the future, write them as though they’re already happening. Here are some examples:

  • I am contributing $4,000 a year to my retirement account.
  • I am rocking my size 12 jeans.
  • I am easily finishing and enjoying my 3-mile runs every morning.
  • I am keeping my weight under 170 pounds.
  • I am earning an average of $5,000 a month.

Some people aren’t satisfied with setting realistic goals. It’s your birthday—can’t you dream big? Allowing yourself to fantasize is an important factor in the growth process.

Just don’t set your sights so high that you become discouraged. If you’re a fan of establishing lofty goals, take time to break them down into workable chunks. Setting realistic action steps for achieving all of your goals gives you a streamlined plan for accomplishing them.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, blocked or stuck, ask yourself, “What’s the first step that I can take toward this goal?” Once you begin moving toward it, you can ride the wave of momentum and plan out the rest of the stepping stones to get you there.

Consider sharing your birthday goals with friends or family members. If you have loved ones who are the same age as you, you may want to work toward some of your objectives together this year. Voicing your goals out loud helps make them real. Telling people about them gives you accountability.

The Birthday Bucket List

You don’t have to wait until your birthday comes to start setting goals. What about starting fresh right now and making a list of things that you’d like to accomplish before your next birthday?

Of course, these items can be highly personal. If you’re having trouble thinking of bucket list goals to accomplish before your next birthday, we’ve included some ideas below.

1. Splurge and Eat at the Best Restaurant in Your Town

If you can’t make this happen, commit to trying a new item at your favorite restaurant instead. You might even consider taking a road trip to attend a famed eatery nearby.

2. Conquer a Fear

According to Fast Company, fear is the enemy of self-confidence. If you live in fear, you might also avoid taking on new opportunities. You might not reach your goals because they feel big and scary. You might prevent yourself from trying too hard so that you don’t fall far if you fail.

Most people are afraid of the unknown. Facing your fear makes the unknown familiar and dissolves the apprehension.

You can conquer fears in so many ways. Sure, you can go skydiving to face your fear of heights or swim with sharks to combat your fear of the ocean. But this practice doesn’t have to be so dramatic.

So many people sabotage their success because they fear failure. The way to flourish isn’t to avoid catastrophes; it’s to make more mistakes.

Before your next birthday, put yourself in a position where you’re likely to make an error or fail in some way. You’ll learn that failure doesn’t kill you. Plus, facing disasters will become more familiar, and you’ll develop the tools that are necessary to pick yourself back up and continue moving forward.

3. Perfect a Recipe

Do you get stressed out when you’re asked to bring a dish to a party? This is your year to find the perfect pot-luck recipe and perfect it. Learn how to make it without referring to the recipe, and you’ll be able to whip up some deliciousness on cue every single time you’re invited to a gathering.

4. Learn to Make a Cocktail

You can also set a goal to learn a new cocktail recipe every year. If you do this for every birthday, you’ll have a full repertoire of options when you throw parties. Plus, you’ll probably impress your friends.

5. Get into Better Shape

Some people say that you should set a goal to get in the best shape of your life this year. We think that could be overwhelming. At the same time, an objective of “getting into better shape” is much too vague.

However, if you want to improve your fitness, devoting this year to your health is a productive pursuit. You just have to figure out how to set a specific goal that challenges you without overwhelming you.

Start by clarifying why you want to improve your fitness:

  • Do you want to weigh a certain amount?
  • Do you want to have more energy?
  • Do you want to fit into your favorite pair of jeans?

Transform this into a clear goal. Some examples are:

  • Exercise for 90 minutes a week
  • Improve my arm strength
  • Be able to do 25 push-ups by my next birthday
  • Work up to a two-minute plank
  • Go for a daily walk

Check yourself to make sure that your goal is achievable. Losing 50 pounds might be stressful, but losing 15 is probably doable.

Determine how you can break your goals down into smaller segments. For example, if you want to exercise for 90 minutes a week, that could look like 30 minutes, three times a week or 10 minutes on weekdays and 20 minutes on the weekends.

Write down your goal. Schedule time to work on your goal. Put it in your calendar. Give yourself a deadline. You might not be able to tackle the goal at once, but you can work up to it.

If you set a reasonable fitness goal for every year of your life, you’ll keep up the momentum and avoid burning out. This is a great way to make exercise fit into your lifestyle.

6. Go to a Live Concert

Even if you’re not a groupie, you might enjoy seeing your favorite band in person. Concerts can be expensive, making it hard to afford to attend every one that piques your interest. Commit to going to one concert a year to satisfy your cravings for live music without breaking the bank.

7. Adopt One Good Habit

If you take on a positive habit every year, imagine what your daily routine will look like when you’re 50 or 75. Here are some practices that BestLife says everyone should adopt by the time they’re 40:

  • Cook at home three nights a week – People who eat home-cooked meals tend to have a healthier diet than those who eat at or take out from restaurants.
  • Drink cherry juice before bed – It might help you get an additional hour of sleep.
  • Take a long bath – Bathing in hot water for an hour burns the same number of calories as walking for 30 minutes. Plus, it’s a great way to improve your self-care and relax.
  • Lift weights 2-4 times a week – It preserves bone density and builds muscle.
  • Build meals around low-cholesterol protein sources – Swapping red meat for turkey, chicken, fish, and plants can support your energy needs without widening your waistline.
  • Eat more fiber – Consuming more fresh fruit and whole grains can prevent belly fat and help you stay trim.
  • Walk your dog – It will help calm behavior problems in your pet, and it’s good for both of your health.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast – It doesn’t matter how early you eat breakfast. Some people fast until mid-morning, while others need a bite as soon as they wake up. Researchers have found that making your morning meal ample and well-rounded curbs cravings and diminish calorie intake later in the day.
  • Sit less – Aim for sitting still fewer than three hours a day. If you sit for more than six hours a day, your risk of premature death is 19 percent higher than more active people. Try stretching while you watch TV, or use a standing desk when you’re working.
  • Transform your diet – Swap the packaged items for real food. You can set a variety of goals to support this aim, such as snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables, prepping lunches at the beginning of the week and learning to make your favorite recipes from scratch instead of using canned or processed ingredients.
  • Embrace your leisure time – Research shows that people who enjoy their free time experience less stress, which can lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. Leisure activities can be anything from playing sports to taking a coffee break. Even though our society values productivity, it’s important to take time for yourself every day.
  • Eat more fish – Fish such as salmon, tuna, and trout are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which support healthy aging.
  • Improve your posture – Sitting and standing up straight can reduce strain on your ligaments. It can also help you strengthen your pelvic floor and reduce the risk of incontinence as you get older.

8. Drop One Bad Habit

As you focus on improving yourself, you can ditch the habits that detract from your well-being. Before your next birthday, consider quitting:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol in excess
  • Complaining
  • Biting your nails
  • Stress eating
  • Saying “yes” to everything
  • Saying “no” to everything
  • Drinking soda
  • Being late
  • Procrastinating

If you’re hoping to set goals to get rid of a bad habit, make sure that they’re specific. “Stop procrastinating” is too vague to be a useful birthday goal.

Think about what projects you tend to procrastinate on. Ask yourself why you want to stop procrastinating. Perhaps you let the laundry pile up until the weekend because you feel overwhelmed by your already busy weekday schedule. But having loads of laundry to do over the weekend makes you feel stressed and prevents you from enjoying your time off to the fullest.

To set a goal that could help you transform the way that you do laundry, you might establish one of the following objectives:

  • Complete one load of laundry every two days
  • Fold the laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer
  • Take 5 minutes each morning to sort or fold laundry
  • Have the kids bring their dirty clothes into the laundry room every Monday evening

These goals are specific, measurable, achievable and time-bound. Taking them on can help you drop bad habits while establishing positive ones.

9. Read a Book

Start by making a list of all of the books that you want to read. If you keep this somewhere like the notes app in your phone, Evernote or Pinterest, you can add to it as you come across new ideas or best-sellers. Decide how many books you’d like to read this year, and schedule them.

Maybe you can read a chapter before bed every night or devote an hour to reading during the day on Saturdays and Sundays. Referring to your list will keep you motivated and prevent you from falling into a “What do I read now?” rut.

10. Work on a Hobby

It’s never too late to learn something new or perfect a skill. Hobbies aren’t just fun activities that distract you or pass the time; they can improve your quality of life.

Some of the benefits of having a hobby include:

  • Improving your self-efficacy
  • Giving yourself an outlet for expression and creativity
  • Keeping your brain engaged
  • Giving you something to look forward to
  • Providing a sense of passion

If you have access to the internet, almost no activity is out of reach. Watching tutorials on YouTube can help you learn to:

  • Crochet
  • Draw
  • Play a musical instrument
  • Take and edit photos
  • Apply makeup professionally
  • Learn a new language
  • Decorate cakes
  • Make jewelry
  • Design scrapbooks
  • Learn calligraphy and hand-lettering

Financial Birthday Goals

Setting goals surrounding your budget can be boring. However, plodding along toward them every year can set you up for success and financial freedom when you’re older. Consistency is key when saving money. Here are a few money-based birthday goals that you can set every year.

  • Organize and record your receipts at the end of every week or month
  • Go over your budget at the beginning of every month
  • Decide how much to contribute to your retirement account this year (and do it)
  • Make a certain dollar amount every month with a side hustle
  • Establish, grow or replenish your emergency fund
  • Invest in stocks or bonds
  • Spend only $200 on groceries each week
  • Pay off your car loan
  • Improve your credit score
  • Invest in a life insurance policy

CNN reports that you should have the following financial goals secured by the time you’re 40:

  • Have an emergency fund that’s filled with money to cover three to six months of expenses.
  • Have three years’ worth of income saved in a retirement account.
  • Reduce your debt to a mortgage and auto payment.
  • Create a will.

If you haven’t accomplished these goals by your 40th birthday, don’t fret. However, you might want to sit down and work out how you could get closer to them every year so that you can create a solid financial foundation for yourself.

Other Categories of Birthday Goals

Many people set goals in a variety of categories when their birthdays come around. In fact, a birthday is a perfect time to set personal objectives. Here are some categories to think about when setting goals this year:

  • Travel – Consider a bucket list place that you might want to travel to as well as some nearby destinations that you could hit up on a weekend road trip.
  • Career – You might want to propose a big idea, get a raise or take on more responsibility. Ask yourself what you would need to enjoy your job more, and go for it this year.
  • Family – Commit to connecting with your family more, whether you’re spending quality time with the kids or taking your partner out on a date night once a month.
  • Home – Think about what it would take to love the space that you live in. Perhaps you need to declutter, redecorate or move to a larger home. Take some steps toward that goal before your next birthday.
  • Fitness – Get your body moving more often, or strengthen an area that you feel is weak. Or you could just learn a new sport or method of exercising.

What Should You Do for Your Birthday?

You’ve been thinking about your goals so much that you almost forgot to celebrate. How can you ring in another year in your life purposefully and enjoyably? Set some goals for your party, of course!

Now that you’re an adult, it’s up to you to celebrate yourself. It’s not selfish or superficial to want to broadcast your birthday to the masses and invite them to have a good time with you.

To set some goals for your birthday revelry, decide:

  • Whether you want to party with a bunch of people or spend an intimate evening with a few close friends
  • If you would like to take the day off of work
  • What would make you feel special on your birthday
  • How you can treat yourself on your birthday without relying on everyone else

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start planning a gathering or a solo activity for your birthday. Use the best practices for goal-setting, and you’ll spend the day enjoying yourself. Don’t forget to reflect on what went well in the past year so that you can pat yourself on the back before making your fresh start toward next year’s birthday goals.

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