9 Meaningful Things To Do For Yourself On Your Birthday
There are two types of people in the world: There are those who fully embrace and celebrate their birthdays and those who would rather the day slip by completely unnoticed. Which one are you?
I am for sure in the former camp, and I say this having just recently celebrated my 47th birthday. I'm well into a decade where people (and especially women) begin to minimize the importance of their birthdays. And I think they're missing out.
Why you should celebrate your own birthday well
My philosophy on birthdays is this: You are a unique being on this planet. It is a miracle that you exist. No matter where you are in your life today, you have undoubtedly overcome challenges, persevered, and brought yourself to a better place. You have had an immeasurable impact on those around you. How is that not worthy of celebration?
I get it: For some, a birthday is a reminder that with each passing year, we're getting older. The conversation around aging is thankfully changing, but there is still a common societal view that aging = bad.
But what if we reframed it this way: With each passing year, we're getting wiser, stronger, and becoming more who we're meant to become. Instead of celebrating the passing of time, let's celebrate the annual milestone on the adventure we're all on.
With each passing birthday, it becomes clear: Life moves so quickly. Without slowing down at key moments (like the day you were born!), we can so easily miss it and then wonder where it all went.
9 beautiful things to do on your birthday
Now that I've made a case for why we all need to intentionally celebrate our birthdays, here are nine out-of-the-box things to do on your birthday:
Book some alone time.
Whether this happens on your birthday or near it, book some time to be only with you. Go for a walk, sit at a lovely cafe, and bring your journal. Reflect on where you are in your life right now and where you'd like to go. Do something you love to do—window shop, take a favorite fitness class, meander through a gallery. Make it a special date with yourself.
Set some fun, juicy goals for the coming year.
I love a good dreaming session at the start of a new year, but your birthday is the beginning of a new year for you. I like to reflect on the past year and then dream about what I want to experience or achieve in the coming year. Writing it down is how we begin to bring it to life.
Make a monthly birthday date.
To stay connected to your dreams and goals for the coming year, book a standing date for yourself on the date of your birthday every month (for example, I have a two-hour block on my calendar on the 20th of each month since my birthday is February 20.) Use that time to reconnect to your dreams and desires and plan your next set of actions toward them.
Buy yourself a special gift.
Instead of heavy hinting, why not give your family and friends the joy of choosing their own gifts for you and buy yourself that special gift you have your eye on? Gifting yourself something special is a way of celebrating yourself rather than waiting for that validation from someone else. It does not need to be something expensive or budget-breaking, just something that feels good to you. I personally love to buy myself a piece of jewelry or a new dress.
Read an inspiring book.
After you've done some self-reflection, you'll have a good sense of where you are in your life right now. What books might support you at this point in your journey? I like to visit a bookstore (extra points if it's local and independent!) as part of the date with myself. As a single mom, browsing a bookstore without someone tugging at my sleeve is extreme luxury!
Spend time with people who inspire you.
Instead of waiting for others to plan a gathering for you, decide who you want to bring into your birthday celebration. Kick off this new year in your life with those that lift you up and inspire you to be your best self.
Say thank you.
On my 40th birthday, I gave my favorite book, The Untethered Soul, along with a personalized note to five of my best girlfriends. I thanked them for the part they had played in my life up until that time, knowing that my journey wouldn't have been the same without them. Take a moment to send a note (whether handwritten or digital) to a few people who have really affected you. Be sure to tell them how they've made a difference in your life.
Spend time in nature.
In our very material environment, it's easy to forget that we are, in fact, intrinsically a part of the natural world. That is why we feel a sense of calm and oneness when we spend time in it. Your birthday is the perfect time to connect to your true nature, your true essence. Being in nature also reminds us of the natural cycle of all living things (including ourselves!). Spending time in nature is also known to reduce stress levels1, allowing you to feel more present to celebrate the magic of your birthday.
Write yourself a letter from your future self.
In my group programs I lead women through a visualization exercise where they receive a visit from their future selves. They sit with their future selves and listen to what they've learned and what they've created and receive reassurance that they can trust themselves. Essentially, your future self wants to tell you, "You've got this!"
On your birthday, write yourself a letter from the point of view of your future self 10 years from now. What adventures has she gone on, what experiences has she had, how has she grown? Let your future self be your inspiration and muse.
Depending on how you've experienced your birthday in the past, celebrating may come easily or could feel uncomfortable. I want to challenge you to reclaim your birthday for yourself. Celebrate the day you began your unique adventure. Celebrate how far you've come. And most importantly, celebrate where you are headed—because the best is yet to come.
Kena Paranjape is a mindset coach, founder of All You Are, and host of the Be All You Are, a mid-life awakening podcast. She guides professional women approaching mid-life who are done checking boxes and instead want to create a life that feels aligned with who they are. She has an MBA from the University of Toronto.