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(Un)Happy Birthday to Me…

By: Michael ‘Hahndo’ Hahn | Jun 25, 2019

hahn2As I stared into the mirror on my birthday, the results of all the micro decisions I’ve made over the past year were visible. This year has taken a toll on me. My weight is up, my smile is muted, I’m struggling to get out of bed… What’s wrong with me lately?

Let me step back a second – I typically schedule my annual check in with my doctor the week of my birthday. In her office, answering questions, I could feel my defensiveness start to rise.

“Michael, I’m not saying you need to deny yourself of the foods you like, you just need to make some changes,” she said.

I started to think about all of the changes from the past year, changes at work, changes at home, changes in the kids’ schedule, changes to our living space … the list goes on and on … change is everywhere and when I think about ALL of the changes I’ve been making proactively and changes that have been happening to me, it starts to feel like I’ve lost control.

What happened to my optimism? I used to be the most optimistic guy in the world, or at least in Chicagoland (lol). When people would ask, “ How are you doing?” I would say “Fantastic” or “Excellent” but since grandma’s passing and a couple personal setbacks, my eternal optimist has been taken down a few notches. I want more of that Michael back in my life, I want to say “Fantastic” and “Excellent” again, but what’s wrong with me?

Here are three things that I’ve learned on my journey:

1. Look for the GOOD 

We find the answers to whatever we ask ourselves. When I ask myself, “What’s wrong with me?” then my mind goes into full bloodhound mode trying to find all the things that are wrong with me. When I ask myself, “What’s working today?” or “What am I grateful for today?” my mind shifts to search for everything that is right and good in my world. There are two specific times of the day that are most critical to my mindset – right when I wake up and right before I fall asleep. I know this, but I’ve allowed it to slip over the past year.

My Hero Commitment: I’m making the first and last 30 minutes of the day sacred – tech-free and me time. I’ve made a deal with myself - no touching my phone until I do something for myself in the morning and at night. I put down my phone 30 minutes before bed and read a book, and/or connect with my wife, Melinda.

2. Taking a break is not weakness

I wasn’t building in enough downtime. I was trying too hard to be everything to everyone and I was putting myself last if I was thinking of myself at all. I was always digitally connected and became addicted to my phone. At the end of the day, I would reward myself with some TV time as I vegged out on the couch, but that was just a short-term distraction and escape, but wasn’t fixing the root cause. I became defensive, impatient and less of the person that my friends and family love. My lack of downtime and reflection time were causing me to lose excitement for the life I created. 

My Hero Commitment: It’s time to level up my habits! I’ve committed to write out my thoughts before I leave work on Fridays and make a “Want To” list for Monday, so I can REALLY disconnect from work over the weekend. This helps me BE PRESENT with my family and gives me permission to put work away.

3. Make time for my tribe (love)

The Harvard longitudinal study highlighted that LOVE is the key determinant of a long and successful life. The study found that having deep loving relationships is greatly correlated to success and happiness. Robert Waldinger, the steward of the Harvard Grant Study, distilled the findings down to these words “Happiness is LOVE… Full stop!” Those relationships are the first things that have been cut from my personal “Want To” list. Watching grandma take her final breaths made me realize that life is short and that at the end of my life I’ll (hopefully) have my memories. Although those memories won’t be about things and stuff, but they will be about people… My people, my Hero Team and my Hero Tribe and I need to make more time for them!

My Hero Realization: My family and friends really matter and by being less than my best self, I’m cheating everyone.

As I stood in the mirror questioning the micro decisions of the past year. I remembered the secret to living a happier and successful life is founded in the questions I ask myself. Change my questions and change my life… (“Change Your Questions, Change Your Life” by Marilee Adams was one of the books that simplified and transformed my life at the same time.”)

Then I asked myself, “What’s going great in my life right now?” That’s when I caught a glimpse of the real ME.

About the Author: Michael Hahn is a highly sought after keynote speaker and author of “Hero Habits: The Guide to THRIVING in Corporate America and in Life.” Michael’s high energy, interactive approach and humorous style inspire audiences to embrace their inner hero. You can reach him at (630) 220-9628 or



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Michael ‘Hahndo’ Hahn
Keynote Speaker & Author

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