What am I thinking about as I age into the next decade? How I can use this birthday milestone as inspiration to refine my life.
On birthdays, it’s helpful to reflect on the most recent year of life. I have noticed that days, weeks, months and years seemingly speed up the older I get. Which makes me wonder: “What moments did I allow to escape my notice? Which minutes did I miss?” After all, as Annie Dillard reminds us, how I spend my moments is how I spend my life.
I also think it’s helpful to set intention for the next year. My intention for the next decade basically fell into my lap as I was listening to my favorite podcast, On Being with Krista Tippett. In her interview with Adam Grant, professor of psychology and author of Give and Take, Krista hypothesized that generosity may increase with age because we age past the mindset of self-building and age into the mindset of community-building. Adam Grant corroborated this with data from his research that found, “basically, every decade you age, your odds of being generous go up and up.”
Basically, just by waking up on November 16, 2015, my odds of being generous increase.
It’s a factual, data-driven phenomena that I will become more generous every day I live. It’s completely opposite of the fear-based, media-driven campaign that I will become more prone to life-threatening wrinkles, unwanted aches and pains, and ‘life will never slow down for successful women in their thirties who want a family and a career’ induced anxiety.
Happy Birthday to me!
With that in mind, how will I refine my life over the next decade? I surely can’t give all of my time, resources, and energy away indiscriminately. Grant’s research showed that Givers were more successful, happy, and healthy when they exercised clearly defined boundaries about how they gave and when they gave. So my personal challenge, and my challenge to you, is to focus on what Adam Rifkin termed “The five-minute-favor.” Adam Rifkin posited that tech start-ups in Silicon Valley function on a favor economy and that a five minute favor can make a huge impact in your personal success.
In Five Minutes, I can:
- call someone just to listen
- pick up my neighbor’s recycle bin and take it to her front porch
- start chopping vegetables for my Ironman’s dinner
- write a note of encouragement to a colleague
- share a blog post that will inspire a friend
- recommend a book that has changed my life
- allow a driver to go first on a narrow street
- introduce two people who may have a connection
- share my empathy with a yoga student who is having a rough day
These five minute favors are actual expressions of generosity that may increase the quality of my day; therefore, increasing the quality of my life.
I’m challenging you to commit to the “five minute favor” routine until the end of 2015. Once a week, spend five minutes doing a favor for a co-worker, a family member, a friend or a neighbor. After you’ve given it a good go, consider setting it as your intention for the next year… or maybe even the next decade. Remember: every day your age increases, your odds of being generous also increases.
Happy growing up,