In 2021 I decided to take on a relatively simple year-long project.
Something that I could dedicate a short amount of time to and do it regularly throughout the whole year.
In 2021 I decided to get rid of three things every day. Yep. Every day I ditched at least three items of clutter.
Did I manage to do it? Spoiler alert. You betcha! You can read about the results of my grand, year-long experiment here – how I got rid of three things every day.
In 2022 I needed a new experiment. And it was so successful that I continued it for all of 2023.
I decided to combine a couple of things.
I knew that I was a tad weary, what with the whole global pandemic thing and I knew that gratitude was good for me (and you).
Harvard University researchers found that “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. (Source: Giving thanks can make you happier).
I had one checkbox → Gratitude.
But how to establish a practice of gratitude for the year?
I got to thinking about how much I love watercolour painting but how rarely I do it. I always tended to have an excuse – not enough time, it would make too much of a mess, I was scared and overwhelmed by the creative process, I wouldn’t like what I made, etc., etc., etc. The list ran on and on.
Then I had the inspiration to add the two together – gratitude + watercolour painting.
I’d make a postcard-size watercolour once a week and send it to someone I was grateful to have in my life.
With a glitchy, gulpy stomach I started my gratitude watercolour postcard practice. Ulp! What would people think of my art? What if they didn’t ‘get’ it?
Did I manage to make and send 52 x 2 years of original watercolour gratitude postcards? You bet your sweet smile I did.
Here’s the five-step process I used
(In the next post I’ll tell you about what I learned from my two year-long experiment.)
- List time: I made a list of 52 people I felt grateful to have (or have had) in my life. I was pretty flexible on what constituted gratitude. I just knew I was grateful to have them in my life (or have had them in my life as not everyone is still a part of my day-to-day life).
- Ease and Explanation: I didn’t want to have to explain 52 times what I was doing so I made up little slips of paper with the project’s description. A slip got tucked into each envelope with the postcard. Here’s what it said:
Welcome to my 2023 year-long project- an exercise in gratitude. I’m reaching out to wonderful people who I’ve been lucky enough to know, to extend my heartfelt gratitude. I’m sending a handmade card once a week for a year (you’re __/52) to those I’ve known my whole life, to those I’ve crossed paths with briefly, and to those in between, I’m better for knowing you. Gratefully yours, Lee-Anne
- Slaying my inner art critic: I knew I wanted to have fun with watercolour so I decided that I’d focus on learning not to be great. In other words, I didn’t expect to be fabulous at watercolour painting. I gave myself permission to be a beginner.
- Permission number 2: I suspected that I wouldn’t likely do one watercolour a week so I also gave my permission to do a batch at a time.
- Getting organized: To make it easy for myself I put all the watercolour paper, paints, pastels, envelopes, slips of paper, and everything else I needed in one box so it was easy to find and use.
And I was off. Another year of painting, creating, and feeling a whole lot of love and gratitude for another 52 people.
How did it go, what were people’s reactions, and what did I learn? Stay tuned for next week and I’ll tell you.
Now go on and learn, laugh, and lead
- Think of the people in your life that you’re grateful for and why.
- Who else am I grateful for? Why you of course!.
- Tell someone (verbally, via a postcard, a little video clip, etc.) why you’re grateful for them. I promise you they’ll be tickled pink.
It’s Learning and Development Roundtable time! Find out more about the January 25th Roundtable: “How to Design a Customized Learning Plan for 2023 that Fits You and your team to a T and increases your ROI.” Or simply sign up straight away.