How To Pay It Forward with Intention

Recently, I had an incredible customer service experience that was completely unexpected. If you’ve ever had that happen to you, then you know the rushing feeling of wanting to pay it forward and put more of that goodness out into the world. My mind raced with all the things I could do that day. I was so excited that I asked on social media how others pay it forward.

Fast forward to later that evening, and my post on social media had no comments. I don’t exactly have a social media following like Oprah or anything, but it scared me that the possibility was there – do the majority of people on my friends list not know how to pay it forward?

Maybe it’s because sometimes random acts of kindness cost money, or maybe it’s because it takes time, and we know that time is precious. It struck me that we all needed to learn a lesson, so I called it a research project and got to work.

I have emerged with some tips for how to intentionally pay it forward, or do something for someone else. I wanted to create some tips for you that don’t cost money, don’t take too much time, but are more personalized than holding the door for someone or smiling at someone when they walk by (but keep doing that – that’s being a good human no matter what).

I created some printables & social media images that were inspired by the tips below to serve as a pretty reminder for you in your home, your office, or to gift to a friend. Grab them here!

Personalize it. Paying it forward is not inherently about you, right? But when you put out into the world what you love to do, and what you are best at, it becomes the most genuine and authentic thing you can do, and it can be your signature or go-to from now on. For example, I love to write, so for me an intentional give back would be to write a letter or a thank you note. If you love to cook, then cook your favorite dish or dessert for someone you know needs it. I love the Arab proverb that goes, “if you have much, give of your wealth, if you have little, give of your heart.” What's in your heart to give to someone today?

Be a model. When I think about the phrase “pay it forward,” I think about the next generation and how they will learn how to be kind. As a mom to a toddler, the best way I know to teach her something is to do it myself. If I want her to eat her vegetables, I have to eat them. If I want her to learn how to dance to a song, I have to show her by getting up and rocking out first. The same theory can be applied for kindness and how to treat people. If you have the opportunity to teach a child, one of the best things you can do is model kind behavior for them.  

Audit your calendar. I might get some flak for this last tip, but I know from first-hand experience that paying it forward is not really possible when you don’t have anything inside to give. Paying it forward starts with being the best version of yourself you can possibly be. That does not happen overnight, but it can start today. You can pay it forward by being kind to yourself. You will want to serve and give to the world so much more when you’ve already given to the most important person in your life – you.

I like to start (and go back to over and over) with a good ole calendar audit and make sure that my time is being spent with the people I love, who fill my soul and keep me laughing. To the best of your ability, I hope you can make the choice to start letting go of the people who don’t serve your highest good.

Paying it forward doesn’t have to be about spending money, or trying to find a 5 hour block of time in your schedule to volunteer somewhere. What do you do to pay it forward? I’d love to make a whole collection of ideas so leave them here, or DM us on social media (we are @thenelsonshop_ on all platforms). I can't wait to hear what you do to pay it forward!

P.S., don't forget to grab your free printables and social media images to share that were inspired by YOU as you go out there and pay it forward!

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