Week #128 – Happyness in Action (Take the Giving Challenge — with Stephanie L. Jones)
Greetings Happyness Tribe!
I am so excited to share this story of Happyness in Action with you this week!
Stephanie L. Jones is known on the web as “The Giving Gal.” What started in 2011 as a month-long challenge to give one gift every day for a month — turned into a 522-day journey into the art of giving and ultimately grew into a book launch, speaking, and consulting gig. Stephanie’s book, The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life launched in January of this year — and her weekly “Giving Challenges” have Spread Happyness to countless recipients, making her a great nomination for Happyness in Action!
And it all started on New Year’s Day!
Stephanie shared her story with me: “In December 2010 I read the book 29 Gifts and on January 1, 2011, I started on my giving journey. I intended to give a gift every day for a month. That turned into a year, and 522 days later I was still giving.” (You can view a list of her 500+ days of giving on her website!)
“I blogged a little during my giving journey and people kept saying, “You should write a book.” I thought they were crazy. I wasn’t good at writing; I hate grammar and had no idea how to write a book.”
But that didn’t stop her!
Stephanie started researching how to write a book — and reaching out to people she knew who could give her advice. “I knew nothing about writing and publishing a book and I didn’t know anyone who had written a book. I was flying blind and making a lot of mistakes.”
The book was originally going to be titled “365 Days, My Year of Giving.” Stephanie’s plan was to go back through her blog and figure out what stories to work on. “The biggest challenge was not knowing what I didn’t know. Spending money that I didn’t need to spend. Lots of lessons learned.” But Stephanie kept writing.
And she continued to give!
“In Spring 2015 I found my first editor and she was the one that suggested 40 stories and came up with The Giving Challenge name. But even after working with her, trying to cut stories took time. I continued to give gifts so something fun would happen and I’d swap out an old story for a new one.”
Stephanie started to connect and get involved in various groups on Facebook…and started to meet people who could help, and they did!
“The book took me four years to publish. Honestly the pressure I felt to get it done and out there is what kept me going. Every time I’d quit, and that was like 100 times, someone would give me encouragement, say the right thing, and I’d get up and start again. It was really obedience to God continuing to whisper in my ear to get the book done. He laid this on my heart and kept showing up and put people in front of me that could help me.”
What kept her going?
“I struggled with it (the book) up until December 15, 2016 when I was sending final edits to the publisher. I would take one step forward and then another hurdle would pop up. At every hurdle, even though I was so close, I wanted to throw my hands in the air and quit. I saw people around me putting out books quickly and I wondered why I was having so many challenges. But now I have a great story because every setback improved the book.”
I asked her about that linchpin moment when she realized the book was really going to happen. That moment where the struggle gave way to the finish line.
“When the book arrived in the mail, that is when I knew I’d crossed the finish line. It was an overwhelming moment. I have it on video and I’m a hot mess!”
“Now there are 1000 more finish lines. Just because the book is out doesn’t mean the journey has ended, nor have the struggles.” Stephanie’s focus now is on promoting the book, lining up speaking engagements, and beginning the next project — all while working her full time job!
“Time is the hardest. I work full time for a Fortune 100 company and have a very demanding job. But following my passion made me do my full-time job better. I’m happier. I’ve found even though I don’t work the crazy hours for the company that I used to because I thought hours equalled success…I’m getting more done in less time and I’m more productive.”
Oh…and more giving!
“The easiest part is I don’t mind the work I have to put into all the follow-up I’ve had after the book. I work a lot of early mornings, late evenings, and weekends. I love it! I love connecting with new people. I love the opportunities that are becoming available now that I’m on the right path.”
Which is how I met Stephanie!
As many of you know, in March of last year (2016) I picked up and moved my entire life across country in about sixteen days. By June, I was still disorganized and floundering — and desperate to get my bearings. I posted in a group looking for ideas to re-focus and re-set my goals for the second half of the year. Stephanie was the only person to respond — and then she took a step further and reached out to me personally via direct message. She introduced herself — and offered an hour of her coaching time. My world hasn’t been the same since!
“Giving is a part of my life and I continue to give daily. It’s a habit that I don’t think about, it’s who I am: The Giving Gal! I give and expect nothing in return, but giving changed my life, and the more I give, the more incredible things happen in my life.”
What about you, Happyness Tribe? Are ready to take The Giving Challenge?!
Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: TAKE THE GIVING CHALLENGE! Join Stephanie’s Facebook Group (facebook.com/GivingGal) and take the weekly challenges she posts! You can follow her on social media, sign up for email updates at her website (GivingGal.com), or read the book and take The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life on your own or with a group! Whatever you do, be sure to connect with Stephanie. “I always love to connect and learn about people’s dreams and how I can help.”
“Giving and serving others is Happyness.” (Stephanie L. Jones)
Spread Happyness — take The Giving Challenge and discover your own source of Happyness!
2/24/17 by Grace Church
© Grace Church
(Thanks to Stephanie L. Jones for taking time out of her busy schedule to share her story with me this week! To learn more about Stephanie, sign up for her emails, or purchase The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life, check out her website at www.GivingGal.com — and follow Stephanie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!)