For anyone aware of my 49-4-49 project last year this new project is similar, but it has some big differences. This project is similar in that I’m focused on doing 50 things from the time between my recent 50th birthday to my next birthday in 2016. The main difference is that the 50 ‘things’ I will be doing are not fun adventures or activities for me; they are activities or gestures for other people. You could call them RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness) but most of them won’t be random, they will be planned and intentional. Last year’s 49-4-49 was about me; this year’s 50-4-50 is about other people.
The idea germinated last year, a few months after my 49th birthday. I’ve always been a nurturer, a connector, and a bit old fashion in sending cards and such. Since moving to London I’ve had to focus on reaching out to others and connecting to build friendships, my coaching business and to have any engagement with others. You see, when I moved here I knew about 5 people, and only two very well. I now look at my life and feel so blessed and grateful for what I have, that I want to give back to others.
I have a friend who is really into kindness – there’s a bit of a ‘movement’ about this – and I attended a workshop in January that she did on kindness. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t quite as altruistic as it sounds. I know from experience (walking the Shine marathon for Cancer Research UK twice and giving out chocolate bars to people on the tube and in the streets last Halloween) that doing things for other people is very satisfying and fulfilling for me. I as the giver get as much, if not more out of it as the receiver, or so it feels to me.
So my 50-4-50 started one month ago with a list of 16 things to do for other people, a far cry from 50 I know! My 49-4-49 list stared the same way, with way fewer than 49 adventures or activities at first. I have to admit though, it was easier developing the initial list for my 49-4-49 (climbing the O2, taking trapeze, improv and bread making classes, seeing Billy Elliot and Once) than this one.
I’m looking to have these 50 activities be things that I don’t already do on a regular basis. So I’ve ruled out my three blood donations a year (that’s the max in the UK for females right now), providing an annual scholarship to a year two business student at the Wilfrid Laurier University where I graduated, mailing birthday cards – heck any card, and planning and baking for my friend’s birthdays.
Ideas I’ve got on the list are: donating to every beggar and busker I see in one day, buying coffee for the person in line behind me, cooking at Ronald MacDonald House for families of seriously ill kids in hospital, giving lost people directions, free coaching, over-tipping and more.
Any ideas you can suggest for me to add to the list would be appreciated although I know like last year once into the flow of focusing on 50-4-50 the opportunities will become apparent.
What RAKs would you do?
Anne Taylor is an executive coach in London,