Give the Gifts that Keep on Giving

12/14/2013 6:40:00 AM

“What do you want for Christmas?” It’s probably the most asked question this month. There was a time when my Christmas list was a mile long, but now it’s filled with hopes for others—especially for the young people in this world. (Truth be told, my first career desire was to be Santa.)  

It is said that the first half of one’s life is the “accumulation stage” and the second half is the “distribution stage.” During the accumulation stage, you’re in “gathering mode,” spending your efforts on life’s needs and wants. You build a career, buy and furnish a house, start a family, save for retirement, and buy lots of things along the way.  But is that all there is to life?

Then, one day, usually around 50, when you have all the toys you need and the kids aren’t kids anymore, you become more motivated to give back. You discover that the joy of giving is greater than the joy of receiving, and your perspective changes dramatically. I’m a typical case—it happened to me around 49! That’s when my life focus shifted to helping children and young adults lay a solid leadership foundation for life.

Do you notice how the first half of life tends to be more skewed toward self and family? And, in the second half how the focus often shifts toward others? Had I known this earlier, I would have sought more balance in my accumulation stage and started my distribution stage sooner. The joy and satisfaction that comes from giving our time, talent, and treasure so outweighs the fun of accumulating that I regret not starting this process earlier.

As I write this, it’s the Christmas season. Opportunities for giving and sharing abound. But hopefully directing our lives toward others will not be a once-a-year event. By starting earlier and making it last the whole year long, we receive far more in return than we give.

Do you want your life to have more balance, your spirit to soar, to make new friends, and maximize the impact of your life—and make the world a better place in the meantime? Embrace the gift of giving of yourself this holiday season… then make it the gift that keeps on giving, into January, the New Year, and beyond.                                               

Take a few-second self-check: Where are you centering your life? How are you modeling this principle to the young people in your life? Share your insights and ideas with us; we’d love to hear from you!