This is the first in four posts about goals for 2014.

Have you spoken a word full of hope and cheer? Have you walked with a slower pace,

Till the weary of heart who were stumbling on Took new courage to run the race?

“Oh, The Things we May Do” by Lizzie DeArmond (1916)

Several years ago, when we only had one or two children (I’m already having difficulty remembering), we had a series of events going on at our place of worship for a week. We made it every night, even though with very little ones it was difficult to get out every night. It was even more
difficult to actually pay attention to what was going on with – the whole point of going – with squirmy kids who also were at an age where they nursed every couple of hours.

A few days later, it might have been on the following Sunday, one of the singles (no kids, not married) took it upon themselves to leave us a little note in our mailbox at the building. It was a note of encouragement. I don’t recall the exact wording, but it was more or less like this:

Dan and Summer,

Thank you for making it to the lesson series every nigh this past week. I know you have little kids, and it must be difficult to get home from work, get them fed, get them in the car and to the building every single night. I wanted to let you know how encouraged I was to see your family every night. Thanks!

I truly wish I still had that note, and could look at it every once in a while. It’s easy to get caught up in the frustrations of daily life, and having someone randomly leave a simple note of thanks or encouragement can really brighten one’s day.

I lead with that example to say that I need to do better at encouraging others. I was brought up to write thank you cards, and though I usually am not very prompt in doing so, I still try to get them done. I want to do more than that though.

At work we spread a message of hope, helping people get their finances and lives straight. Part of that message is getting people on a budget, but another part is getting them to set goals. Because we try to help the population of America do the things that we teach, it’s expected for us to be doing the same as well. Since it is the beginning of a new year, we are strongly encouraged to come up with our personal goals, and though we do not have to share them with anyone, I have found it very helpful to at least let my immediate leaders know what I am working on personally. We
are also required to write professional goals – things that we want to accomplish as part of our employment over the coming year.

One of my personal goals for the year is to Be an Encourager. It is very easy for me to accept praise (I recall Words of Affirmation being at the top of the list when my wife and I took the Love Languages test years ago). But the form of affirmation that I thrive on is the one thing that I have a hard time expression to others – including my wife.

2014 Goal

So for 2014, I am committing to being proactive in encouraging and thanking others. One action I plan on taking to meet that goal is to, at least once a week, hand-write a note to someone that I either work with or interact with on a weekly basis, to let them know how much I value them and
appreciate something amazing that they have done.

It might be kind-of awkward, but at the same time, who knows, maybe a kind word might intersect someone who is secretly having their own difficulties.

I know that’s where I was when I received that note years ago.