The 80th Birthday Party Exercise

September 1, 2015

Categories: Values

Here’s a quick exercise to check in with yourself about whether you are living a life aligned with your values.

Imagine you are at your 80th birthday party. Quite a few friends and family have gathered; some have even traveled a long way to be there. There are the normal birthday party festivities—a luncheon, cake, and presents.

At some point during the day, the host of the party quiets everyone down. The host explains that they are going to move into a time of honoring the person the party is for—YOU!

The guests at the party stand up one by one and begin to share. Some share memories or funny stories about your time together. Others share ways you have impacted their life at one time or another. Still others share what they most appreciate about you as a friend or family member. It feels very nice to hear these kind words said about you—at times you even start to tear up.

Here’s the question: As you imagine this scene, what do you hope people say about you? Take 5-10 minutes and journal about whatever comes to mind.

When you are finished writing, look over your list. What themes do you see in the list? What topics did you focus on the most? What topics did you not focus on very much? What topics were absent from your list? What does your list tell you about your values, or the things that matter most to you? Finally, think about your life, and how you spend most of your time. How do your daily activities line up (or not) with your values? Is the way your life is set up right now likely to get you to where you want to be?

Discussion: What was one thing you learned from the 80th birthday party exercise?


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