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How Many Years Do You Have?

We often hear about people grappling with the idea of hitting a milestone birthday. Whether it's turning 30, 40, or even that seemingly ominous 50th birthday, where some folks go all out with dark and macabre decorations, complete with black balloons and cardboard gravestones bearing the ominous "RIP" inscription. It's a theme that serves as a creative reminder of our own mortality.

Honestly, I never struggled with those birthdays. To me, they were just like any other birthday. I didn't dwell on the fact that with each passing day, I was getting closer to my last day, whenever that may be.

However, recently, I celebrated my 65th birthday, and for the first time, I found myself contemplating my age and what it truly meant in the grand scheme of my life. That's when it hit me: "In just 15 short years, I will be 80 years old." Eighty years old. It's difficult for me to wrap my head around such a significant number describing my age. Even more so, it's a challenge to grasp the time I have left to achieve all the things I aspire to accomplish.

For instance, I'm determined to finally finish the book I've been "writing" for the past four-plus years. I also have a strong desire to get back in shape; I want to shed this 30-pound fanny pack that's been my unwelcome companion for the last five or six years. I yearn to explore more of the world, immerse myself in new cultures, and meet fascinating people. I want to hear their stories, learn about the challenges they've faced, and celebrate their triumphs. Additionally, I want to witness my children and grandchildren as they carve their paths in this world. I cherish the time I spend with my 86-year-old mom, aiming to absorb every moment with her before she ventures into a realm beyond the reach of my five senses. Moreover, I'm determined to nurture and expand the business my wife and I have launched, with the ultimate goal of helping people thrive and reach their full potential. The next 15 years hold a multitude of tasks for me.

Acknowledging my own mortality has been a powerful wake-up call, reminding me that there's no better time than the present moment. It's perfectly fine to have hopes and dreams for the future, but living solely in pursuit of what could be, while overlooking the life we have right now, seems like a missed opportunity. My concept of success has undergone a remarkable transformation. Success is no longer synonymous with wealth, fancy cars, or big houses; these were once my markers of achievement. Now, success wears an entirely different face. It looks like meaningful relationships and connections with the people who matter most to me. It resembles heartfelt conversations with friends over a cup of coffee. It manifests as quiet moments savoring a glass of wine while watching the sunset with my wife. Success can be found in a morning hike, grocery shopping, or an afternoon barbecue at my in-laws' place. Success is in the everyday, in talking with my sons and listening to their descriptions of their lives, hopes, and dreams. It's woven into the fabric of daily life. I have no intention of missing these precious moments while fixating on some abstract future.

No matter which milestone birthday you've reached, it's crucial to pause and reflect on what success truly means to you. Who are the people in your life who may not be here tomorrow? What are your aspirations? What legacy do you want to leave behind? What does success look like in your world? Embrace these questions, for they may guide you toward a richer, more fulfilling life.


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