Now that the 29-Day Giving Challenge is over and I’ve had time to let it all sink in and take stock of the experience, here’s a list of the 5 best things (or gifts, if you prefer) that I got out of the challenge.
1. Identifying My Inner Critic
As I look back over 29 days of giving, I can't help but notice one of my Inner Critics, good old Perfectionist Patty, telling me that I didn't do it "perfectly." Full disclosure, there were 2 days that came and went without a gift. I am sure I could finagle a way to look back at those days and find something I did that could count, but honestly, I was too wrapped up in my life at the time. So, Patty dear…27 out of 29 — not too bad, especially when I reflect back on the gifts that I know I would never have given without this challenge being on my mind everyday and the lives that were changed because we each took some extra time to do things for others. In her roundabout way, Patty helped me see that a challenge is not a competition. This was not about winning or doing it perfectly. If I only gave one gift over the 29 days, that’s one more than perhaps I would have given otherwise.
2. Getting out of my own little bubble
I guess I could have done this on my own, but it was so much more fun with all of you! Knowing you were out there also giving something every day for 29 days kept me going on the days when I know I would have just thrown in the towel. It really helped to feel like I was a part of something bigger that we all created by saying YES to this challenge. Your comments throughout the month were more inspirational than you could possibly know!
3. More Joy than EVER during the holidays!
Oh, you know, that nice, warm, fuzzy feeling of having done something nice for someone else. Not because I had to but because I wanted to. Quite simply, my days are better when I do things for others.
4. Getting to Know Each of You!
As you all know, Cami Walker's story and the work she has done with 29gifts.org inspired me to create our own version of the giving challenge. Honestly, we thought it would be a fun way to bring in the holidays, give some gifts on our end, and maybe 10 or 15 of you would join in with us. It is beyond our wildest dreams that we ended up with over a hundred participants, and that so many of you were really in it for the whole ride! Your interest in this challenge and the commitment we witnessed from so many of you is a real testament to the awesomeness of our community! Every day I was excited to visit our blog and see how you all were doing with your gifts. Each of you brought this challenge to life by sharing your gifts and connecting with each other over the course of the 29 days, and I loved seeing some of you, too, over the holidays and hearing your spontaneous stories of giving. So, I thank YOU for making this challenge such a pleasure to organize and participate in!
5. I Got the Giving Bug :)
As happy as I was to get to Dec 23rd (I was REALLY ready for some vacay!), there was a part of me that was sad that the challenge was ending. I wanted to keep giving! Did anyone else find themselves still in the habit of giving even after the challenge technically ended? This was the greatest gift I got from this challenge – the reminder that I have SO much to give and that I don't have to stop just because the challenge is over! The possibilities for giving are, and will continue to be, endless. I wrote a blog not too long ago about the power of rituals and creating habits…if you do anything for 29 days it starts to feel habitual, so let's all do our best to carry over this habit of giving daily into 2012. Who needs a holiday to give a gift anyway?
My guess is that at some point throughout this challenge we all experienced the power of what it feels like to do something meaningful for someone else and really make a difference in someone else's day. And what a difference that makes in ours! For years, I’ve been teaching that the spirit of generosity can make a major difference in your career — the more you put out there, the more you will get in return. It should’ve been obvious to me that the same would hold true for life in general, but it took this challenge to really make the point stick, and now I’m a true believer. In fact, Jodie and I are already talking about setting up the challenge again for anyone who wants to do it next year!
By now, everyone who qualified to receive the Artists In Action Inner Balance package should’ve received an email from us. If you haven’t, make sure to check your spam/junk mail folders, and if you still haven’t, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
It’s also my pleasure to announce that Katherine M. is the recipient of the 6-session private phone coaching package – I can’t wait to start working with her! As I mentioned in the email, it was a VERY difficult decision to choose only one person, as I received so many wonderful and heartfelt submissions. I want to thank everyone, once again, for participating in this challenge and for really putting themselves out there. I hope you enjoy the Inner Balance program and I’d love to hear about the work you do with it!
So, with that, I’m going to close the book on this giving challenge. But, as I mentioned before, that doesn’t mean that the giving has to stop — I hope the spirit of this challenge has found a permanent home in each and every one of you, just as it has in me. I truly believe that generosity can change not only the world within us, but the world around us as well.