Join me for my birthday tradition self-reflection blog post.

Birthday Tradition: Celebrate with a Self-Reflection

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Let the birthday tradition continue! No. Not listening to your family serenade you in “Happy Birthday.” Or making that optimistic birthday wish as you blow out the candles on your cake. Rather I am talking about the birthday tradition promoted here the last few years. The birthday self-reflection!

Essentially the self-reflection birthday tradition serves as a second New Year’s. Providing an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months. Plus, set goals for the next 12 months. Hopefully, renewing optimism. Again, just like New Year’s.   

Personally, my self-reflection birthday tradition entails asking myself the proceeding 11 questions. Through answering the following questions openly and honestly, I hope to encourage you to also adopt the self-reflecting birthday tradition. Shall we begin?

My 2021 Birthday Reflection    

Question #1: Compared to a year ago, how are you better off now?

Much like my 2020 birthday reflection, I could answer by saying I am better off now compared to a year ago thanks to blog recognition I received. This time around Suzanne Stays, Scope, and Twinkl each praised my blogging endeavors. Their words further establishing my credibility.      

Additionally, I am better off compared to a year ago because I finally upgraded to a smartphone. I only resisted for a decade. The upgrade has equipped me to join Instagram, expanding my potential reach to others. Furthermore, a smartphone makes taking higher quality photos easier. Advantageous for content making purposes.    

Question #2: What stands out?

First and foremost, the tremendous progress I made on my work-in-progress (WIP) stands out. The work, tentatively scheduled for a 2021 quarter three release, marks my second memoir. This one detailing my journey to prove my own doubts wrong and walk a marathon despite my cerebral palsy.

Elsewhere, drastic change to my work schedule stands out. The major scheduling overhaul altering my sleep schedule. Causing me to need to make other overall adjustments.           

Question #3: What did you accomplish?

One accomplishment I already touched upon. Completing my WIP’s first draft. Given how I spent three years intending to accomplish this, the achievement feels significant.

Another accomplishment I achieved revolved around my participation in the virtual race Run Across Ohio. The event offered different options to complete. I registered August 9th, 2020 to walk 60 miles (equivalent to going from Akron, Ohio to Cleveland, Ohio). September 7th, 2020 marked the deadline to finish your miles. Doing the math, that meant walking 60 miles in 29 days. A feat I secured through consistency. 

Question #4: What goals did you set?

Over the past 12 months I set multiple goals. Keeping to my Run Across Ohio success for the moment, I set the goal to get out daily between August 9th and September 7th.

Similarly, other goals I set contained a daily element to them. Setting a goal to write between 500 and 1,000 words a day led to my WIP triumph. Meanwhile in March I set the goal to commemorate National Developmental Disabilities/Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month on Instagram by sharing once a day a life lesson I learned living with cerebral palsy.

Question #5: What did you do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis to achieve your goals?

Seeing how my goals possessed daily components to them, I simply adhered to the dictated task. For the Run Across Ohio goal, that meant walking daily during the 29 days. Pacing myself to average a little over two-plus miles a day. Guaranteeing I total 60 miles.

Regarding my manuscript, I adapted my daily goal around work circumstances. While furloughed due to the pandemic, I aimed to write 500 to 1,000 words a day, Monday through Friday. Then on the weekends I focused on short-term content like blog posts and Youtube videos.

Upon returning to work I admittedly struggled to find a consistent writing schedule. However, when budget cuts halved my hours, I saw opportunity. Utilizing my four consecutive days off in a week as a chance to write 1,000 words each day.

Meanwhile my daily goal to post on Instagram once a day throughout National Developmental Disabilities/Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month involved a bit more ingenuity. Identifying my less busy days and using those days to prepare upcoming posts. Preventing my busy days from interfering with achieving my goal.          

Question #6: What went right?

Managing to successfully prioritize made a lot go right. Living with CP I consider my number one priority physical care. A charge which begins with listening to my body. Noticing when my hamstrings appear extra tight and taking the time to stretch or exercise. Through prioritizing my physical care, I laid myself a foundation for success. Maintaining the ability to focus. Oppose to physical discomfort leaving me distracted.

Further enhancing my ability to focus, I prioritized my tasks. Priorities which I built into my daily and weekly goals. Take for example, the time I spent furloughed. I set the goal to write between 500 and 1,000 words daily, Monday through Friday. Sometimes though, temptation crept in. “Work on your blog. You haven’t posted in a month” an internal voice whispered.

“What day is it?” I would respond to myself. Reminding myself Monday through Friday my manuscript remained the priority. On the weekend I could attend to my blog and other matters.   

Question #7: What went wrong?       

To give the short answer, a lot went wrong. Do not mistaken that statement though as me playing victim. A lot went wrong for everybody! Reality triggered by a global shutdown and adjustment to new safety precautions.

Personally, the inconveniences I experienced varied in severity. From minor disappointments like event cancellations to short-term disruptions like the fan in my laptop breaking. Stalling my book progress. Then there stood the big obtrusion. As I mentioned in answering question two, my work schedule changed drastically. Mass staff departures altering my work schedule from mostly afternoon shifts to mostly morning shifts. Impacting both my sleep schedule and my availability to write.      

Question #8: What habits hindered you?

Probably the habit which hindered me the most entailed letting my mind wander to work issues when outside the workplace. Take November for example. Budget cuts led to my hours getting slashed in half. Frustrating, but simultaneously I recognized an opportunity.  With less hours, I could spend more time on finishing my manuscript.

Despite recognizing said opportunity, I let the scheduling frustrations distract me. Finally, after a week or two, I refocused. Deciding work did not deserve space in my head unless at the workplace. By chance work thoughts tried to sneak into my mind, I told myself “Forget work. I am on my time. Vigilante time!”           

Question #9: How would you grade your overall effort and why?

Over the past 12 months l would give my overall effort a B+ grade because I reached all the short-term goals I set. At the same time, I did lose my focus occasionally. These momentary lapses, like the week in November where I dwelled on workplace frustrations, prevented me from completely readying my manuscript for beta readers. Hence the B+ grade and not an A.

Question #10: How can you move forward better in the next year?

Honestly, I initially thought “I don’t know. I’ve done pretty well this past year. So maybe, more of the same.” I then remembered there always stands room for improvement. Prompted by this notion, I kept brainstorming. Eventually recalling an old habit. One I first started in college. Creating a weekly to-do list, breaking down the list by each day. Restarting such to-do lists would help me decide what to do next after finishing a task.

Question #11:  One year from today what will you look back on and celebrate?

One year from today I will look back and celebrate multiple feats. Most anticipated, my next book’s release! Admittedly, I also made this statement while completing my birthday reflection in 2020. Nonetheless, this time around I possess a clearer timetable. Planning to publish the work before October 2021. Possessing a completed draft too represents great reason to feel optimistic about actualizing the release.

One year from today I will look back and celebrate the release of my third book.

Alongside the book release, I intend to celebrate a return to the public speaking scene. Ideally with in-person presentations. However, I am okay with Zoom events if in-person events stay limited.

Continuing the Self-Reflection Birthday Tradition!     

Thanks for helping to make my self-reflection birthday tradition a success. If these posts continue to remain popular, I will continue the tradition publicly. Hoping my post may inspire you to adopt the birthday tradition yourself. If you decide to embark on the self-reflection birthday tradition, tell me in the comments.

Until next time, remember. Don’t blend in. Blend out!

-Zachary

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