So there’s six more days till Christmas and you’re a little panicked. I would be too if I still couldn’t find the perfect gift for that hard-to-shop for family member. Plus there’s no guarantee I would receive online orders in time for Christmas. At this point, most people would tell you to channel your creativity while you make shallow and pathetic attempts to make something. But for those of you who are really desperate and know you’re as coordinated and creative as your children’s math homework, I’m going to tell you the one gift that is even more meaningful than any DIY project or store bought gift.
One word. Encouragement.
You’re probably scratching your head right now. But the truth is, so few know how to be truly encouraging. When encouragement is offered, it always seems to come with some kind of stipulation.
“You want to be a writer. That’s great. You should do it. I just hope you’re not a starving artist.”
“Oh, you’re starting a business? Congrats! Be prepared for some loss. You should do it though.”
“Training to be a chef is so hard. You can do it as long as you take it seriously.”
“Good luck with paying all your student loans this year. You’re gonna need it. It’s practically impossible.”
While these phrases may be said with good intentions, (or so we hope) they carry doubt and the dreaded “but” with them. And even when attached to encouraging words, that “but” can really put a damper on the receivers spirit. I know because I’ve been there before. I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me, “Good for you. But you can’t make a living from that that.” or “Wow I can’t believe you’re writing an ebook! I think you should do it. They are much harder to sell than traditional books though.”
Of course, hearing these things definitely bothered me for a bit. Luckily, writing was something I knew I always wanted to do whether or not I had anyone’s approval. However, I did have the approval and encouragement of my parents. I remember the day, I told my mom that I wanted to quit my job to be a writer. I was still living in my parents’ home, struggling financially, and had a bunch of student loans to pay for. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous telling them my plans. Much to my surprise, I got words of encouragement rather than words of concern and non-support. The words my mom uttered, meant the world to me.
“Go for it. I always said you can create your own opportunities.”
There wasn’t a hint of doubt or a shadow of disbelief – only genuine encouragement as I took on the biggest risk and scariest chapter of my life. She could have said to me that writers never make it. Or she could have also reminded me that I must still find a way to pay back my loans. But she didn’t. Somehow, she knew I was well aware of what I needed to take care of. But she knew that I needed her support more. Little does she know that small phrase is one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten. I take her words with me every time I need to conquer a new challenge or each time I’m faced with a business related fear. And my father has been just as supportive since I’ve started this journey.
No, their encouragement wasn’t a Christmas gift per se. But it was a much needed gift at the time. I recommend it, because it is the one gift that can change a person’s world forever. Encouraging words have the power to last a lifetime if you do it right. They won’t die if the battery runs out of life, and it won’t break if you drop it. Deliver it with love and it will stay in the receiver’s heart forever.
So how do you do it? Eliminate the doubt, slash the “what if’s” and sprinkle it with loads of love, sincerity, and pure belief. Do all that and you’ve got the making of a Christmas gift that would go down in history. Best of all, it’s priceless!
What was the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received? Have you ever been on the receiving end of true words of encouragement?
TERRIfic Quip: Don’t wait for it. Create your own opportunities.