Birthday Planning Guide: Strategies For Having The Best Celebration Ever

I’m getting wiser with the years (I think).

I put this Birthday Planning Guide together for everyone who has ever had a sucky Birthday...

I know I’ve had my share of bad birthdays, but I’m determined to stop that dumb shit and proactively design “a life worth living for!”

And I’m taking everyone with me! 🤘🏼

In the 4 weeks leading up to the ripe age of 36 years young I had the best birthday celebration month I've ever had in my life. It was packed with adventure, fun, friends, abundant magic & memories I will never forget!

In the past I'll admit that on numerous years I struggled with my birthday. Several years I just wanted to get it over already. I didn't know what I wanted and I didn't take the time to figure it out. Secretly I just wanted someone else to plan & execute the whole thing for me. And I selfishly & immaturely wanted someone else to know exactly what I wanted and what would make me happy. That was always a recipe for disaster. Sound familiar?

I’ve witnessed plenty of people run this number on themselves for their birthday and then they end up having a real shitty birthday. And then they blame circumstances & "other people" for the reasons it didn't go the way they wanted.

Let me be clear, I am not pointing any fingers as I've done this to myself many times. This year I didn't.

Instead of being lazy and leaving it up to to chance that next year I may or may not have a good birthday celebration I am proactively capturing all of the actions, steps & strategies that led to a truly AWESOME celebration of my life. This way I can review it next year a month or two before my next birthday and make it even better!

Ya'll know by now that I'm all about continuous & never-ending improvement! I figure by putting this Birthday Planning Guide together some of my uber intelligent & wise readers will share their strategies with me, thus making future improvements even easier & more fun! Plus I get to be of service to others so they can avoid short-circuiting their own celebration like I did in the past. It's a win-win for all of us!

So, without further ado here is my...

Birthday Planning Guide: Strategies For Having The Best Birthday Celebration EVER

1. Plan your own birthday. Do not leave it up to someone else. To think that other people can read your mind and know exactly what you want for your birthday is ludicrous and yet so many of us fall prey to it. I know I have. Each year our heart's desires & our mind's wants may be in a different place than the prior year and the best person to determine what those are is ourselves. One year we may want a quiet celebration with a few friends. The next year we may want a massive and wild celebration. Listen to yourself & plan accordingly.

2. Plan something. Anything. Make the plan at least 4 weeks in advance. Seriously, even if your plan is no plan consciously choose that. There is power & freedom gained in making an actual choice. And if you are planning an event that involves other people giving them a month's notice allows them to fit you into their life easily. Adulthood includes full lives, responsibilities & conflicting calendars. Also, once you have a plan set you get to savor it all month leading up to the actual day. It's just like when you have a vacation planned for the next month. The anticipation alone is a wonderful gift. If you are reading this & your birthday is only a week or two away or even just few days away do not fret. Just make a plan today! Pick some form of celebration. Honestly, any plan will do. Indecision will kill your life. Decision will create new possibilities.

3. Give yourself some birthday goals & create a social challenge to support it. My birthday falls in Spring which is always a good time to start getting extra fit for the coming warm weather months. This year I started a step challenge at work and recruited 30+ people to keep myself accountable & motivated. I tied this to a goal of getting down to 7% body-fat. I only got to 8.8% by the time of my actual birthday, but I was in infinitely better aesthetic shape by the time my birthday rolled around compared to the 3-4 months prior. That momentum has carried forward and I'm well on my way to my vain pursuit.

4. Keep a calendar of awesome things you do for your entire birthday month. Tracking & logging experiences is an incredible way to suck the marrow out of life. I keep a calendar on my office wall and each day I did something awesome during my birthday month I would write it down. It both challenged me to keep striving for more awesome birthday month experiences and brought me huge satisfaction each time I gazed at the calendar. This is a habit I am definitely continuing even after my birthday month.

 28 out of 30 days have something awesome & memorable! Now that's a birthday month to treasure for life!  Painting of  Kokopelli  by one of my favorite artists,  Susan Seddon Boulet .

28 out of 30 days have something awesome & memorable! Now that's a birthday month to treasure for life!

Painting of Kokopelli by one of my favorite artists, Susan Seddon Boulet.

 

5. Document your Birthday month & life on Facebook or in some sort of journal. I use Facebook as a life journal. I want to be able to look back on my life when I'm a 120 years old and see all the fun stuff I did when I was younger. Facebook makes it super easy to capture moments in words, pictures & videos. For each birthday gift I received I made a short video of me opening it and posted it on Facebook so the giver could experience my receiving. Now we both have this memory captured in HD forever! This will be paying dividends for the rest of our lives! If Facebook isn't your thing find some other medium that does work for you--journal, photo album, etc. I guarantee you will thank me for this when you are rocking in your rocking chair reflecting on the life you have lived.

6. Choose experiences, causes & people over spending money. This is a personal preference, but I've found it works exceedingly well in designing a life worth living for. Spending money to celebrate your birthday is lazy. Figuring out how to celebrate your birthday in ways that are inexpensive or free & in ways that support something greater than yourself forces you to get creative and really dig into what you want and who you want to become. I believe all of us cherish experiences and people more than any "thing." This year I did a Running Music Festival that only cost $25 after a discount code I found on the web. It was a 5K with multiple sound stages and it supported Stand Up To Cancer which was super meaningful to me as both my parents are cancer survivors. It was wild, fun, & full of black-lights & glow-paint. I got fitter through the experience, created memories I will never forget, and gave my money & energy to a cause so much greater than myself. I feel amazing just writing about it here.

 Part of the Birthday Crew straight GLOWING!

Part of the Birthday Crew straight GLOWING!

 

7. Do the things that brought you joy growing up. As a kid I rollerbladed my face off. I also spent tons of time in nature and played lots of games. All birthday month long this year I went rollerblading, hiking, played Spikeball & Exploding Kittens, went treasure hunting, and got up to all sorts of childish adventure. My inner child was in full expression & loving life! This is amazing life advice in general. Want to be super happy with life? Do the things you did as kid.

8. Put together your own Gift Guide (and read The 5 Love Languages or at least take quiz). For years I've been frustrated with getting gifts that just didn't fit me. The gift would sit in my house cluttering my space and each time I thought about donating it, re-gifting it or just throwing it away I felt guilty so it would just sit there until I got so fed up with it that I disposed of it in one way or another. A few months ago I took The 5 Love Languages Quiz and learned that I experience the most love through "Quality Time". Super obvious after I took the quiz & reflected on my life. You may experience love better in other ways so definitely take the quiz and tailor your birthday celebration to that. Nonetheless, with that clarified self-knowledge I put together a Gift Guide that included this information. The majority of the Gift Guide is telling people to NOT BUY ME THINGS and instead come spend quality time with me, but I still outlined items that I really wanted/needed. Gift-giving of things is a part of some people's DNA and there is nothing wrong with it. I created the guide in a shareable Google Doc and my Fiance and I sent it to anyone who was considering getting me birthday gifts. For those who couldn't physically be around to give me a shared experience (i.e. a hike, blade, or game of Spikeball) there was an easy list to choose from. This makes it easier on the gifter too. How many times have you been totally unsure of what to give someone for their birthday? Wouldn't a guide make your life easier? For me this resulted in the absolutely fucking best year of birthday gifts ever!! No joke! All month long I was getting packages in the mail of gifts that were perfect for me! And now I will be updating the guide each year for my birthday & Christmas making life easier and better for all of us. I implore you to make your own personal Gift Guide. It will change your life!

9. Don’t compare yourself to others. Seriously, take The 5 Love Languages Quiz. It only takes a few minutes and it will give you deep self-knowledge you can use to enhance your life. Now back to how we experience love. Everyone experiences love differently and in different times throughout life how we want to be loved & celebrated on our birthday will likely change from year to year. What looks awesome for another might not really be what you want this particular year. If you start trolling social media and see everyone else's birthday celebrations you are going to confuse yourself. Plus, the dark side of social media is that it encourages comparing your life to the "highlights" of someone's life. They definitely aren't posting about the sucky things that happened during their celebration. To really drive this home I'll point to a wise quote by one of our Presidents. As Theodore Roosevelt said:

Comparison is the thief of joy.

 

You may really want a quiet family dinner for your birthday and yet you see someone's wild birthday celebration at a nightclub and suddenly your heartful celebration seems lame. Plain & blunt, just don't fall into the trap of comparison unless you want to lessen your own experience & kill your joy. Know that whatever you choose for your birthday this year is right for you at this point in your life. Tune out the blaring social media & instead listen to that quiet voice inside and follow it's advice. Now that's a recipe for fulfillment.

10. Release yourself from expectation & attachment to outcome. Not everyone you invite will be able to attend your celebration. People will cancel on your birthday celebration last minute. Plans will change. Things will come up that you or they didn't expect. If your happiness is tied to things going according to plan you will suffer. Have a general plan and then just let go. Allow life to give you an experience and be grateful for what shows up.

 

Other ideas:

Pick a big scary thing that you will never forget that will transform your life for the better. I did this last year. For about 15-20 years I had wanted to go on a Vision Quest, but was too scared to do it. I won't go into detail about what a Vision Quest is as I plan to write a stand alone article on it someday but just know that it is an ancient form of personal transformation that includes a week or more in the woods as well as solitude, silence & fasting for a full 96 hours. When I was approaching the age of 35 I asked myself, "What is the one thing I can do to start a whole new phase in my life?" The answer was immediate & clear. It was time for me to remember why I came here to Earth. And that is exactly what a Vision Quest is designed to do. It helps us remember.

There are plenty of other big scary things that will transform a life for the better so try picking one that fits you and make that your life celebration one year. I promise it will be worth it!

In closing, I would like to remind us all that Life Is A Gift. It truly is. So be happy to be alive no matter your current circumstances and take the time & energy to celebrate it at least once a year. Feel free to use my Birthday Celebration Guide and add your own magic to it!

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl

P.S. This guide secretly applies to celebrations of all types--Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas, Weddings, Graduations, etc. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you are responsible for only one type of celebration. We are personally responsible for EVERY CELEBRATION in our life.

P.P.S. Please feel free to message me on one of my socials or leave me a comment below with any additional ideas, tips, tricks & strategies for celebrating one's birthday!

P.P.P.S. Please share this with any family & friends who have upcoming birthdays or celebrations of any type. I'm on a mission to empower people to transform & self-actualize and celebrating our lives is a key part of that!


Footnotes:

  1. Title photo of me acting like a manchild in my birthday suit shot by Noelle Johnson.
  2. Matching underwear & socks by Related Garments.
  3. Want to go on a Vision Quest? Message me directly or visit Tribal Edge.