7 Things I Want for My Birthday That Aren’t Things
It's my birthday! While January birthdays can sometimes get lost in the winter holiday shuffle and end up feeling like an afterthought, I'm making sure to set aside a little time to celebrate with my family and acknowledge my gratitude for what's passed and excitement for what's to come.
Sure, my inner 10-year-old is looking forward to getting a few presents – but the truth is, my birthday wishes are things that can’t be bought. The only one who can give these gifts to Elise Museles… is me.
I’m talking about shifts in mindset and fresh approaches to challenges, things that will bring me more joy, more time, and less stress. If only we could order those on the Internet, right?!
Here's what I want for my birthday in 2016. 1. Room for “Yes!” If my schedule is jam-packed without breathing room, the spontaneous “yeses” just don't happen. This year, I plan to create space (in my calendar, my brain, and my heart) for the big, exciting opportunities that often show up unannounced and unexpected.
When my friends invite me to lunch, I want to say “yes” to join them. When I encounter an idea or a new project, I want to say “yes” and have the energy to greet it with open arms. When an exciting or transformative experience arises without notice, I want to say “yes” and embrace the unexpected. Making room for “yes” also makes room for a world of new possibilities to enter my life.
2. Peace with “No.” Part of making room for “yes” is learning how to say “no” and passing on activities and opportunities that don't excite and engage me. And while I’m okay (not great!) at saying “no” in the moment, I sometimes struggle to mentally move on after I’ve said it. As a hardcore people-pleaser, I burn through a lot of energy doubting myself and worrying that I’ve inconvenienced or offended someone.
This year, I want to say “no,” mean it, and trust that the opportunity I didn't take will find its way to the right person (and that everyone involved will be happier for it!).
3. Efforts, not outcomes I’m a recovering perfectionist, so I have to make a deliberate effort to let go of numbers, awards, analytics, and “likes.” My focus on quantifiable outcomes is a challenge, and this year, I want to let my life unfold more organically. I choose to feel proud that I pitched 10 magazines, rather than counting how many responded. I choose to feel excited about experimenting with new recipes, rather than counting Instagram likes.
And I've seen this mindset work! When I finally qualified for the Boston marathon after many years of trying, I viewed qualifying as the goal, which empowered me to relax and just enjoy the experience of the race without being too invested in my performance. I chatted with my fellow runners, noticed the architecture of Boston for 26.2 miles, and was truly in my body the whole race. And you know what? I set a personal record! Measuring my effort, rather than the outcome, gave me room for success beyond my own expectations.
4. The big picture I take my work very seriously and I strive, every day, to give you my best. And while it makes sense for me to devote a lot of time and effort to my coaching and writing, I’m not sure I need to style and edit each photo I put on Instagram for 20+ minutes! If I post on Facebook at 9:30 a.m., instead of 9, or a blog post goes live a day later than usual, my world does not fundamentally change.
To that end, I’m going to try to release the minutiae that clogs my brain and pay attention to the forest, not the trees. More “helping people cook easy, healthy food and eat it with love and intention,” less “worrying about every single tiny detail.”
5. Lessons in challenges 2015 was an exciting year for me: my first book was released and sold out on Amazon almost immediately (…thanks to YOU!) My business experienced exponential growth, and this amazing community that we have created together grew by leaps and bounds, empowering me to reach and help more people. My 12 Tiny Challenges Challenge has been a roaring success, and I was fortunate enough to log some serious travel miles, both alone and with loved ones.
But it was also a tough year: I worked long hours, took on too much, and prioritized my career over my health and my relationships. I didn't always feel my best – physically, because I skipped sleep and workouts; emotionally, because I wasn't nurturing my most important connections with others.
For my birthday, I’d like to find the lessons in these challenges. What can I learn from working too hard? What can I take away from the disappointment of missing a friend’s birthday party? How do I feel when I cram in an extra two hours of work instead of making time for a yoga class? This year, I’m going to do my best to ask, “Why is this happening FOR me?” rather than “Why is this happening TO me?”
6. More than routine I don’t know about you, but I love a good routine. Once I’ve found something that works, I’ll ride it till the wheels fall off. Entire weeks can pass in a blur of morning runs, followed by a green smoothie, followed by an hour of email, followed by two hours of writing, followed by the same colorful lunch bowl.
But we weren’t put on this earth just to “get things done.” Our lives are more than a series of to-do lists. This year, I‘d like to exchange my normal day-to-day routine (no matter how healthy and productive it may feel!) for a more adventurous, dynamic approach to daily life.
7. Deeper connections I love connecting online (see also: my frequent, enthusiastic Instagram and Facebook comments!). It thrills me to engage with people all over the world. But I’d like to connect offline as much as I connect online.
On the professional front, that means more face-to-face conversations, live workshops and retreats, and participating in more events. Personally, it’s hosting more dinner parties, going on more trail runs with my girlfriends, and enjoying more leisurely meals with my family. I want more cuddle time with these two… and more time to connect to myself.
Of course, I would never thumb my nose at actual, physical, wrapped-up-with-a-bow-on-top gifts for my birthday! But the older I get, the more I value the intangibles. On the surface, this might seem like just another list of resolutions or goals, but each of these activities and choices will make my life less stressful, more rewarding, and more fulfilling. You just can't buy that at the mall – and in this age of overloading, overbooking, and overextending, these gifts are truly priceless.
Now it’s your turn. What is one non-thing on your list this year? I'd love to hear your wishes in the comments!