Giving thanks, giving back

autumn-leaves-1309285-mWe’ve been talking a lot about why we do things and how we choose projects, and the holiday season lends itself strongly to this sort of self-reflection, right up through the assignment of New Year’s resolutions.  But the whole holiday season is a good time to think about the next year, and there’s as turkeys are in prep mode and decorations are already up all over town, there’s no time like the present.

Assuming you actually want to make conscious decisions about such things, here are two pondering exercises for Thanksgiving, to get the wheels turning:

Take stock

  • Make a list of everyone who’s helped you in your professional life in the last year, whether it be the person handing out programs at your last show to the colleague who recommended you for a job.
  • Do the same for your personal life and your spiritual life, whatever that may be.  Multiply your gratitude by acknowledging these people or entities in your mind.
  • Reach out: If so moved, give a few of them a call or send them a note or holiday card, so they know they’ve had an impact.

Look ahead

  • What impact do you want to make on the world in the next year?  You probably have some goals in mind (if not, now’s the time), but look beyond the immediate results and ask yourself how those goals will affect others.  What can you do to increase the benefits for others in your personal and professional projects?
  • Have you made any plans to include charity or volunteer time in your year?  This could mean many things, whether it be offering a few hours to a nonprofit you believe in, or… handing out programs at your friend’s next show.

Start your lists now, and give it some thought as you work your way through the holiday gigs, shopping and festivities.  Giving back isn’t just the mournful responsibility some people see.  Giving as good as you get is one of the privileges of civilization, and one of the surest ways to finding your true place in the world.  Hopefully, you’ll wind up with no regrets — just joy.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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