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How to Become an Outrageous Giver

How to Become an Outrageous Giver

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You should become an outrageous giver. An outrageous giver is someone who gives beyond expectations. If you are going to give more than others expect, you should also raise your own personal expectations. Lift your expectations about how much you are going to give both now and into the future. Set your goal to become an outrageous giver.

WHY GIVE?

There are many reasons why you should give money away. The first is that you will make a difference. Giving money away allows you to contribute to the lives of others in a special way. This might be other people, or other organizations. Often you are able to make your money work in a way that is bigger than yourself; to multiply the effort of your money.

Secondly, giving is fun. It is fun to hand money to someone or some organization and to see the joy that you are giving. It is fun to see the smile on faces, or to hear stories of what your money is allowing others to do and achieve. It is satisfying to be making a difference in people’s lives.

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Thirdly giving helps you to be more thankful. As you give money away you are doing so in recognition that you have received good things. You can be thankful for those good things by giving them away. Being thankful is an important step in being happy in life.

Giving also helps you to create an abundance mentality. The act of giving is an acknowledgment that you are ok without the money. If you are giving abundantly, that means that you are confident that you have enough money without it. You are portraying the mindset that money is in abundance. Note that this happens even if you don’t have a lot of money. The act of giving sets your mind to believing that you do; that money is abundant. And if you believe money is abundant you will more likely act in ways that create that abundance.

There is a clear connection that occurs between giving in receiving. The people that give money away tend to receive more back. I don’t think there is some magic reason for this happening, but I do think it works in our psychology. The combination of an abundance mentality and thankfulness puts you in a better attitude and state to attract money and opportunity to yourself.

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HOW TO GIVE?

Get started – No matter whether you earn a lot of money, or very little, you should start giving now. Some people decide to wait until they are making a certain amount of money, or reach a certain age. Almost every time they express regret that they didn’t start giving early. You can make a difference by starting to give money away now. Even students living on very limited incomes benefit by giving money away.

Pick an amount – You should pick an amount that you want to give away. You may want to do this on a weekly basis, or monthly basis. You may choose an annual goal, but if you do be sure to break it down into monthly targets. It is often easiest to start with a percentage of your income. A good place to start is by giving 10% of your income. For some, this may seem like a lot, and yet if you set it up as an automatic gift each month you will hardly notice it. And yet, it will be able to make a significant difference in the lives of others.

Set goals to increase the amount – Once you have chosen how much you will give away to start with, set goals to increase that over time. You may be giving away 10% now, but you may have a goal to increase to 20%, 30% or even more over time. This increase may take many years to meet, but it can be an important motivator as you work towards bigger life goals.

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Be anonymous – In your giving there are really two types of anonymity and both are valuable. One type is where no one knows who it was that gave the money. There is no record of the person giving the money. The only person that knows is you. The other type of anonymity is where you know and it is registered that you gave the money, however it is not made public. The benefit of this is that you receive a tax receipt. For example when I give to my church, they gift is recorded and a tax receipt is issued. Only a couple of people involved in the accounting process know about my gift. It is never announced or acknowledged otherwise. The government offers tax deductions for charitable donations because it is a practice that they want to encourage, and it is good stewardship to take advantage of those tax breaks. If you want, you can turn around and give your tax return away also!

More than money – you don’t need to give just money. You can give away possessions. This might be giving away used clothes to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. It might mean donating something around the house that you don’t use anymore. Someone I know recently donated a drum set that their kids didn’t use any more to a church. You can also donate your time by volunteering. Look for places to contribute with an investment of your time. This can often be extra rewarding as you are connected directly to the work that is taking place.

WHERE TO GIVE?

Support a meaningful cause – you may have a cause that is meaningful to you and that would be a great place to start with giving. Perhaps you lost a family member to diabetes and so supporting diabetes research would be a great place to start. Look for ways to give to that cause. Be sure to find something that is meaningful or passionate.

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Support your local church, synagogue or worship community – if you attend a church, synagogue or similar community you should be involved in supporting it. Not only does it support the ongoing functions of the group itself, but faith organizations often provide an opportunity to pool funds and use them to accomplish things that individual donors would not have been able to do.

Support a microcredit entrepreneur – Microcredit is the issuing of small loans to people in poverty. They then use those loans to create businesses called income generating activities. It may mean purchasing a cow, or buying a sewing machine. This kind of entrepreneurship can play an important roll in poverty alleviation. While this is often done by large organizations, you can contribute as well. Kiva.org partners individual lenders with entrepreneurs in developing countries. You loan a small amount to them, and it is repaid back over the next year. You are then able to take the same money and loan it to another person.

Sponsor a child – There are many organizations that allow you to sponsor a child in a developing country. This can be a very rewarding form of giving. Your funds go to help pay for food, clothing and education for that child. You are able to send and receive letters from your sponsor child providing a hands-on connection to your giving.

Random acts – Look for opportunities to give as part of a random act. This might be giving a gift card for groceries to a neighbor who lost her job or box of diapers to new parents in your community. It might be buying flowers for someone or just giving money when needed. There are lots of opportunities to give as part of a random act.

You now know the why, the how and the where of giving. The next step is up to you. Just get started and you can become and abundant giver.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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