I spent the weekend listening to the silky smooth Rat Pack Christmas Album over and over. It is the perfect soundtrack for the most wonderful time of the year.

I love the feeling of anticipation in the air and the magic in the eyes of children on the Night Before Christmas. I love that there are so many creatures stirring, hurriedly finishing their shopping in time to place presents under the tree with care. I love the thrill of expectation in kids from one to ninety-two, tiny tots and old men alike with their eyes all aglow, finding it hard to sleep at night. I suppose if Christmas came more than once per year that feeling would be diminished, but oh how I wish I could bottle it to enjoy on a hot muggy August day when sitting in a traffic jam.

Last Christmas did not disappoint. It was our family’s first at my mother’s new house after having spent the last 40 years celebrating out on the old Ballantyne farm. We sat down to a wonderful dinner with all the fixings on Christmas Eve and then settled in for Christmas snacking, holiday movies, the final wrapping of gifts, and making phone calls to friends and family near and far.

Having grown older, Christmas morning is now anti-climactic. Gone are the days of waking up before dawn to sneak down to the Christmas tree and wait…and wait…and wait until Mom and Dad got up. Nowadays we don’t check the tree until mid- or late-morning, almost as an afterthought of, “Oh yeah, we better exchange gifts before we start eating again”.

But there was something extra special about last year’s Christmas…

Last year was the year that I had big breakthroughs in mindset about giving. I spent more time with the most generous people I know (my friends Matt, Joel, Porter, and Bedros), and their influence rubbed off on me. I was no longer suffered from being penny wise and pound foolish in my decisions. I had learned to give generously, and to realize that you can never give so much that it hurts. It was one of the many reasons that we were able to buy so many toys in our annual Toys for Tots charity drive. Last year was also the year that I worked harder than ever in my businesses to create memorable, shareable products and free content.

I spent more hours in front of the camera filming and brought more energy to every video. I studied speaker after speaker, from business professionals to stand-up comedians, to see how they entertained and informed their audiences. As a result, our products sold better, and we reached many more readers. Giving more brought us more.

Likewise, I held nothing back and revealed even more deeply personal lessons from my life in our daily essays at EarlyToRise.com. I spent more time improving my coaching program, and I went all out in creating our greatest event ever at last June’s Turbulence Training Summit. I even flew out my sister to be in the audience (and just wait till you see what we have planned for next year when we’ll celebrate my 40th birthday at the event). By giving more, we received more. My seminars were rated higher, audience engagement went up, and we expect to double the number of attendees again in the new year.

The spirit of giving continued at Christmas. 

I spent more time than ever shopping for my friends and family this year. I sent out over 65 handwritten Christmas cards, this in addition to the over one hundred hand-written thank you cards I had sent to friends, family, and work colleagues since beginning my daily Thank You Therapy habit in early summer (read about that habit here). I simply gave more than ever and a big smile crosses my face with each card dropped in the mailbox.

It is because of this giving that I received so much in return, from the volume of life-changing entries in our Transformation Contests to the number of presents under the tree this year with my name on it, and even to the amount of money we raised for our Early To Rise Toys for Tots drive this December. I apologize if this sounds selfish, but I received so much this year because when you give, give, and give, the Universe can’t help but respond by giving back to you in return.

“Oh here we go,” you might be thinking. “Craig is going all ‘woo-woo’ on us. Just stick to the business advice, buddy,” you say.

It might sound hokey, but I urge you to try it. Designate 2015 as your Year of Giving Generously.

The most successful people I know are the most generous. From my business partners, Matt Smith and Bedros Keuilian, to my friends Joel Marion and Porter Stansberry, they are true givers. They give more than they take, with no expectation of getting anything in return. It’s no surprise to me that these four gentlemen all run the fastest-growing and most profitable businesses I know.

Giving is also the focus of TED speaker and NY Times best-selling author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, Adam Grant. The youngest-ever tenured professor at the Wharton School of Business, Grant writes, “If you decide to shift in the giver direction, my favorite strategy is what one of America’s top networkers calls the five-minute favor. The key is to look for ways to help others… It might be making an introduction between two people who could benefit from knowing each other, sharing an interesting article, or offering to provide advice or feedback. If you choose a form of helping that you find enjoyable and meaningful, it might even boost your mood and energy.”

Every one of us has something more that we can give. It might be money or time. Or it might be that you might have more love, more energy, more wisdom, or more experience that you can share with the world. You might be the person who simply knows the right thing to say at the right time. Maybe you’re the person that can shoulder the load when everyone else is collapsing around you.

Whatever it is that you are blessed with, give it away this year. Give until you think that you can’t give any more. It will all come back to you, and more, many fold.

“If you want to be given everything, give everything up,” instructs the Ancient wisdom of the Tao Te Ching.

But do not give with a greedy mindset. Do not give thinking only about what is in it for you. Don’t just give to get or take. Don’t do it for the material rewards. Don’t do it for how great you will feel during and after. Give because it is good. Give because you can.

Trying to ‘out-give the Universe’ allowed me to have my greatest year ever in both my personal and professional life. I dropped my guard a little, gave more of myself, and it’s resulted in deeper friendships, better – and exponentially less stressful – family relationships. Just imagine what this approach can do for you.

2015 will be your best year ever if you make it a Year of Giving. You can be a coach or a mentor, you can become a better influencer and speaker, you can help more people make big changes in their lives, and it all starts with giving more of yourself.

If we are all a little more generous in 2015, the world will, of course, be a better place. And if you make it your goal to be a lot more generous, I can assure you that your world will change for the better, and that this year you will receive more than ever. That’s the way it works, my friend, so give your gifts today.

What can you give more of to the world in 2015?

[Ed Note: Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise (Join him on Facebook here) and the author of Financial Independence Monthly, a complete blueprint to helping you take control of your financial future with research of proven methods in your career, in your business and in your personal life. He has created a unique system to show gratitude and appreciation to stay on track for these goals each and every day. Click here to follow the exact 5-minute system you can use to improve your life.]

Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men's Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he'll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com

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