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Giving Time

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As a member of online communities, you invest in the success of others and they in turn invest in you and everyone feels happy inside.

But this holiday season offers us a special opportunity to channel all of the positive support we use to help one another with goals like running to also include accomplishments like giving our time in the local community.

Why Be Proud?
If you have primarily used online tools to push ahead on your own goals, posting that you spent three hours working on a Habitat for Humanity house may not seem nearly as accomplishment worthy as a 20-mile run. But from my perspective as a time coach, you should be extremely proud of that feat. As I write about in my book, time is limited. And if you're like most people I encounter, you have very little disposable time to invest in non-essential activities. The fact that you made the time to invest in something that could make a positive difference in the lives of others in your community is a worthy achievement. As Winston Churchill quipped, "We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give."

Why Share?
Once you've accepted that service to the community -- whether it's peeling potatoes at a soup kitchen or singing to the elderly at a nursing home -- really does matter, you might still hesitate a bit to share about it. Isn't volunteering just something you should do as a good person? True. For many, giving back plays a natural role in what they consider to be a well-lived life. (If you're morally opposed to sharing how you've served -- of course, don't!)

But here are a couple of reasons why posting how you give your time to others could benefit you and your online communities:

  • Personal Motivation: Sometimes getting up hours before dawn to do some type of service that involves standing in the cold for hours just isn't fun. But like getting some likes and positive comments can help you push through when you feel like quitting on an Insanity workout, thinking about some encouragement coming your way can help you keep calm when you feel tired and would rather be lazing on your couch than bettering your community. Positive feedback is like a cup of hot cocoa for your spirit.
  • Community Motivation: Posting about ways you invested time in organizations in your area can also inspire others to contribute their time to a good cause. Maybe they had forgotten about an organization they would like to support or never thought about how the local public television station might need people to answer the phones during their fundraising time.

Why Now?
December is not only the closing of one year but also the prelude to the next. As you give this month, you can start to determine what philanthropic and service goals you want to include in your 2014 plans.

In my book, The 3 Secrets of Effective Time Investment, I share a detailed guide to how to clarify your personal definition of success and also include three exercises to help you discover what you truly want in life. Here's one of them:

Imagine that you're an old man or woman sitting on a porch reminiscing about your life over the last 70 years. Describe what has made you proud, sad, disappointed, or elated about what you did (or did not do) and who you are and were.

As you look at life from the perspective of what will make you most proud in the end, I believe that you'll discover much of it has to do with giving. So let's give back and reward those who join us in making the end of 2013 merry and bright.

About Real Life E:
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E, a time coaching and training company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished through an exclusive Schedule Makeover™ process. She is an expert on achieving more success with less stress. Real Life E also increases employee productivity, satisfaction and work/life balance through custom training programs.

McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Lifehacker, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the 99U blog on productivity for creative professionals. She was selected as one of the Top 25 Amazing Women of the Year by Stiletto Woman.

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