Last night I was hijacked by two close friends after dinner, cake and gifts with my family after coming home from a business trip to celebrate my birthday.
My two friends (in-cahoots with my wife) set me up.
They took me to a restaurant and as we turned the corner, I was greeted by 12 friends through the years who’ve meant a ton to me.
Why were they there? To celebrate the BIG 5-0.
The Half Century mark.
I blew right by 40 – honestly, it was no big deal and a bigger deal to my family and friends.
My father used to say:
Son, age is a state of mind. There are 70-year-old 40-year-olds and 40-year-old 70-year-olds. It’s all what you make of your age that really matters.
My friends were there not to have a “wild party we would remember (or not) for years to come”.
They were there to share memories and speak words of affirmation of how I had influenced their lives. We’ll come back to this story shortly.
50 has shocked me in so many ways.
Now, I’m in better shape at 50.
I have far more life clarity at 50.
But I’m also asking questions I’ve never asked before.
To me, there’s something about the 50 mark.
Now, I know we’re not guaranteed tomorrow let alone making it into our 70’s or 80’s but hitting 50 has made me ask different questions, deeper questions.
A few weeks ago I met with a college professor who I had not seen in over 23 years. We caught up then we started getting into some deep territory talking about who’ve we’ve become through the years especially at the 50 mark.
This conversation was so impactful and has really taken me down this road trip.
And as a business traveler for so many years, who has the road, by default, created me to be?
I asked myself: “How has the road changed me through the years?
Here is my NOT TOP 10 LIST and very revealing:
- Always in a hurry
- Less compassionate
- More distracted
- Less present
- Dependent on alcohol
- Disconnected with home
To be honest, that list scared me. This is NOT who I wanted or intended to become.
Or did I intend to un-intentionally?
If you’ve read my book, Elite Road Warrior: Six Energy Habits to Master the Business Travel Life, you learned this not top ten list described me way too long and I had to crash in almost every way to turn things around.
But too many of those descriptors are either still true or rear their ugly head more often than I truly want in my life at this stage in the game.
It seems like everything I’ve been hearing and reading has led me to this point of turning 50.
And here is the question that has stopped me in my tracks and caused me to really think deeply about my life at 50:
Who am I becoming through the practices I’m doing?
The author referenced four practices that must become part of your life to ruthlessly eliminate hurry in my life:
- Silence and Solitude – to center myself and be able to hear that “still small voice” inside of me
- Sabbath – one day of true rest that is a disconnect from everything else in the other six days
- Simplicity – freedom and focus on what matters most
- Slowing – to be present – – present to the moment, with people, and with God
Back to last night’s surprise and unique birthday party…
I had no clue where the night would lead. Often things like this stay shallow, kind of a guy thing.
Not last night.
I sat there stunned yet soaking in the moment and absorbing all of their words.
There was meaning, depth, gratitude, and encouragement of how I’ve made a difference in their lives.
It was a rich night I will never forget and it just affirmed my desire to look at the practices I’m doing and who I’m becoming.
I had no clue I was impacting these guys at this level and so few of us are able to receive the gift I received last night.
As a result, I’ve been really thinking through certain practices that will lead me to who I want to become moving forward after this monumental birthday of 50.
Here is a brief list of what I want to Stop / Start / Do Less / Do More:
- Being in such a blasted hurry – I call it “productivity, getting things done” but to be honest, I’m more than busy. I’m in a hurry almost all the time and this pace cannot and does not need to continue.
- Drinking at least for now – I need to make sure I’m in control of this “go-to” substance. I’m drinking too much and too often on the road. I don’t need to slow down and back off but stop for now.
- Being PRESENT in the moment – My littlest guy demands attention but not in a bad way. He wants you to pay attention to him when you talk to him and he does it by grabbing my face. I need to realize life is in RIGHT NOW not the next moment. People and life deserve being fully present.
- Taking a Sabbath – One day just to be that is full of rest, gratitude, presence with those I love. My wife and I are working on a plan from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown on how to be free of errands, devices, obligations, etc to truly rest, enjoy food, family and just be.
- Distracted – The book, Indistractible, by Nir Eyal, really challenged me how and why I’m so distracted. I so quickly turn to an escape instead of focus on what is truly important. I now know what to do and now need to make this a priority which will allow me to be more present.
- Media – I don’t need to watch every game and every part of every game. I don’t need to see every movie, tv series, news update, and always be on my phone that causes me to be distracted from my family, reading, just being present.
Simplicity – I’m involved in too much. I have too much stuff I really don’t need. There is so much more to my life that embracing simplicity will only add the value I long for moving forward.
Reflection – Turning 50 has awakened this thirst to reflect that I need and want more of in my life. I want to think more, journal more, write more, ask more questions, embrace solitude and silence to reflect more.
Landing This Plane…
Last night along with the meaningful conversation with my former professor and my reading focus are all for a reason during this turning 50 and that is to stop me to ask:
Who am I becoming through the practices I’m doing?
My hope is my words of reflection allow you to pause with me to ask these big questions in your life right now.
Are your practices allowing you to become who you want to be in your life at whatever age?
And what do you need to stop, start, do less, do more right now? Don’t wait until my age to reflect at such a deep level.
Turning 50 has allowed me a gift I never would’ve asked for but wouldn’t trade for the world.
I’m truly a blessed man.