My 30th birthday is in two days! It’s my golden birthday, I’m turning 30 on the 30th of April, and I have no idea how to celebrate it. My friends keep asking if there will be a party or a dinner. After dodging the question for days, I finally come up with a last minute idea: to celebrate my birthday 30 times. Who said you can only celebrate it once, right? I made a list of 30 things I was grateful for and celebrated each one with a mad experience every week, for 30 weeks straight. I called it #30MADweeks.
But what started as a celebration of 30 years of life, grew into something bigger: 30 weeks of living. 30 reinvigorating weeks that allowed me to better connect with myself and with the world in front of me. I learned to live more in the moment, without being so anxious about the future or nostalgic about the past. And as a result, I feel happier with what I am and with what I have.
This life-changing period showed me that I could be doing so much more with my time. In just 30 weeks I was able to experience more new things than in previous years combined. And all I needed was a good excuse and a plan. All I needed was committing myself to live, one week at a time.
These are the 9 things I learned over the past 9 MAD months:
1. It’s not about having time, it’s about making time.
All those lost friendships, all those plans postponed, all those passions never pursued. In today’s hyperconnected world, it’s easy to waste time with stuff that doesn’t matter, while constantly postponing what’s really exciting and meaningful. How much time will I spend watching TV next week? Or glued to my phone? How much time will I spend living the lives of others? Instead of staring at screens all day, I could be doing so much more with my time.
“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.” -Seneca
2. Stop dreaming, start doing.
All you need is a plan. Make a list of the things you want to do. Things you’ve never done, things you want to do again or simply things that make you happy. Then stop postponing and start crossing things off your list every week. Do at least one MAD thing every week.
3. But don’t try to do everything.
Try not to be overambitious. Relax. Doing one MAD thing per week is hard enough, trust me. Start small, get that ball rolling and the momentum will keep you going, one week at a time.
4. Living takes effort.
Committing myself to live for 30 weeks straight wasn’t always easy. It took some effort to make the most of each week, but instead of this year flying by, forgotten, my time was much more memorable. It seems mad to do all this in 30 weeks, but the real madness is not even trying.
5. Never forget to celebrate.
Maximizing every minute of the day is my way of living and working. I live so obsessed with efficiency and achievement that even when I get what I want, I do not stop for a minute to celebrate. But if I’m always focused on the next thing, I often miss what’s right in front of me. Pause. Celebrate every victory, big or small. Be here, be present. Enjoy today’s successes before moving on to tomorrow’s challenges.
“Celebrations are the punctuation marks that make sense of the passage of time. Without them, there are no beginnings and no endings. Life becomes an endless series of Wednesdays.” -David Campbell
6. Everything is worth celebrating.
I celebrated love, celebrated this moment, celebrated diversity, celebrated food, celebrated books, celebrated my job, celebrated friends, celebrated fear, celebrated cars, celebrated family, celebrated oceans, celebrated Sunday mornings, celebrated my mind, celebrated the wild, celebrated perfect weather, celebrated sports, celebrated my co-workers, celebrated internet, celebrated mistakes, celebrated health, celebrated my body, celebrated music, celebrated traveling, celebrated Friday nights, celebrated good clothes, celebrated growing up, celebrated laughter, celebrated sleep. What will you celebrate?
7. Make friendship a priority.
It’s normal to drift apart from your friends as you grow up. In our crowded schedules, finding the time to maintain old friendships seems more difficult than ever before. That’s why it’s so important to start the conversation yourself, to make an effort to keep in touch. Friendship is a two-way street. Why should anyone reach out to you if you are not willing to reach out to them? Be more available to those important to you — schedule time for them on your calendar if you have to — and stop wasting time with people that don’t matter.
8. Birthdays are for madness.
Birthdays should be less about getting old and more about feeling young. They should be less about getting stuff and more about living adventures. Birthdays should be more about making mistakes, more about going to new places, more about doing things differently. Birthdays should be more about moments of madness that spice up your life. These are the stories you’ll remember.
9. Make every week a MAD week!
What MAD thing will you do this week? What memory will you create? What thing do you keep postponing because you think you’ll be here forever?
The #30MADweeks adventure made me live more just by changing the way I celebrated my birthday. Maybe it could do the same for you.
When’s your birthday? How will you celebrate?
What MAD things will you do?
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