Looking Back, Giving Back

Long path through the trees next to water
If you want a meaningful life for yourself don’t ask “What can the world offer to me?” but “What can I offer to the world?” ― Bangambiki Habyarimana

We’re heading into another holiday season. Despite how much I resolve to get on top of things, I always end up rushing around at this time of year. However, I would not want to give up the rituals of meeting up with friends, buying and wrapping presents, decorating the house, sending cards, grocery shopping and cooking… all culminating in celebrations with our family. Afterwards, there is a warm glow to lounging around the house in our pajamas under the twinkling lights, playing games and snacking on shortbreads. It’s also a great time to reflect on how things went over the last year. It’s natural to focus on the things we didn’t accomplish, but I try to make a habit of being thankful as well. Living in Canada with food, shelter, family and freedom, there is a lot for which to be thankful.

In 2018, what I am thankful for is…

  • My family is gathered at home again, after being spread widely around the world last year.
  • Our home is newly renovated so that we can better entertain friends and family, and I was able to oversee the process.
  • My user experience consulting business continues to provide new opportunities even after 12 years.
  • We have a new rental property in a joint venture with a family member, newly renovated and rented out.
  • I have learned more about property management, self-expression, leadership and blogging.
  • Giving back has been an even greater part of my life after joining a service organization in my community.

I’ve previously mentioned books that influenced my entrepreneurial journey (in my post Books That Changed The Way I Think). I found it interesting that several of them mentioned the importance of service to your community. Tim Ferris emphasized that life exists to be enjoyed, and a key component of this is continual learning and service. Robert Kiyosaki referenced his rich dad’s view that, if you want something, first you need to give. For Kiyosaki, financial education is the gift he continues to give. In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill stated his golden rule – cooperating with others, creating value and benefits also lets you create achievements for yourself.

Why do so many successful entrepreneurs talk about giving back? Through building their businesses, entrepreneurs gain skills that they can share with the community, as well as gain more financial resources for giving. In addition, giving back simply feels good and builds a positive mind, spirit and energy. This positive outlook can be infectious to those around you, building love and encouragement – and hopefully widening the circle of giving back. Volunteering also gives you opportunities to learn different skills and meet a wider variety of people.

What are some ways to give back?

  • Donate to a charity. If you work for a company, see if it provides matching donations to multiply your giving. Consider charities that address causes that are meaningful for you. Here are just a few to get you started: Amnesty International, Canadian Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Red Cross, Rotary International, United Way. Remember that if you give to a registered charity, you can claim some of your donation back at tax time.
  • Give your time. Ring the bells at a Salvation Army kettle. Help to build a home at a Habitat for Humanity building site. Volunteer to read to children or help prepare food at a breakfast program at your local school. Look after animals at a nearby shelter (such as Burlington Humane Society). The possibilities are endless!
  • Raise money for a foundation or charity. There are many ways to raise money including bake sales, silent auctions, fundraising dinners, charity bingo, walks, runs, dances, and more. People often appreciate your efforts to improve the community and will generously support you.
  • Mentor a local business or young person. As an experienced businessperson, you have many valuable lessons to teach. Local businesses or people starting out in their careers can benefit from your knowledge. You in turn will gain renewed energy and enthusiasm from spending time in their company.

What resolutions are you making for the New Year? Could you make giving back part of these plans? Share your plans in the comments below. Writing it down could be just the thing you need to help get you moving!

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