You have what it takes to become a person of impact
I believe that we all have power within us to change our circumstances and create a better world. But the reality is also one in which some of us are privileged in many ways. To create that changed state, what is one thing you can do today to ensure you give of yourself? It can be a smile, money, your ear for a moment, a ride, a call, inspiration, motivation, an idea, knowledge, asking the right questions, networking, and many other virtuous deeds.
Deciding to make your mark on the world in a positive way is a noble goal. One of the best ways to find happiness, fulfilment, a sense of purpose, and a sense of belonging is to try to help improve the lives of others. However, this can be an overwhelming goal: how can you, just one individual person, change others’ lives for the better?
Identify your skills and talents.
In my work as a communicator, strategist and development consultant, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with people from various walks of life who’ve made a true and measurable impact in the world. But among this group of world influencers there are also everyday people who have found a special niche in which they’ve contributed at the highest level. These individuals have been able to identify what they are good at. If you are trying to figure out how you can make a positive impact on the world, you should know as much about yourself as possible. How would you answer the question “What are you really good at?” For example, are you a meticulous organizer? Are you a natural at public speaking? Are you a skilled reader and writer? Do you know how to program computers? Are you a soccer star? Think broadly when answering these questions, and don’t rule out anything that seems silly or frivolous.
Are you taking care of yourself first?
If you want to try to make others happy, then you’ll need to start with yourself. What makes you happy? What brings you joy? Thinking about these questions will help you start to figure out how you can spread happiness to others. Make a list of the times you’ve been happiest in your life. Be honest about what you truly enjoy. Beyond knowing what you are good at doing, you should also think about whether or not you enjoy doing what you’re good at. To be able to consistently help others, you want to avoid boredom and burn-out. Doing what you are both good at and enjoy can help protect against this. It seems counterintuitive but you have to put yourself first to have sustainable real-world impact. On an airplane, you are instructed to put your own mask on first before a child’s or someone else’s. If you are not in position to support and give, whatever you’re trying to support and give to will crumble quickly. If real-world impact for you is about saving people or saving the world, put your mask on first! Take care of your needs. Take care of your finances. Take care of your physical health. Take care of your sanity, sleep and general well-being. The world needs strong change-makers who are in for the long haul.
Who are you empowering?
The biggest way to have real-world impact is through empowering another. You absolutely want that changed state to be sustainable, and for it to evolve, you have to facilitate the capacity of others to ensure that change and its continued evolution into even better states. It’s great to give charity and things. But it will go a longer way to also enable others to have the capacities and know-how to live prosperously and abundantly. What frameworks, curricula, thinking, programs, learning, skills, resources, etc. can you work with and extend to empower another?
Get your life in order
It’s hard to help others effectively if your own life is a mess. If you really want to make a positive impact on the world, you’ll be better at it if you aren’t too distracted by your own problems. Maybe you’d like to help people who are unemployed find meaningful work that provides them with a steady income. If you struggle to keep a job, though, you won’t be able to offer much in the way of advice, and you certainly won’t be taken seriously. However, you shouldn’t give up on this goal just because you haven’t (yet!) held down one good-paying job for a long stretch of time. Indeed, once you manage to figure things out, you’ll be in an excellent position to help others who are in positions like yours. You will truly be able to understand their situation and will be able to offer solid, proven advice once you manage to overcome your own obstacles.
Can you create the time?
Decide how much time you can devote to helping others. Outline all of your current time commitments (work, school, family, etc.) in order to identify open windows of time that you can devote to volunteering or doing good deeds. Be careful not to make overly ambitious promises about the amount of time you can devote to volunteering or working for others. Be careful of the trap of overpromising and under-delivering, because people will depend upon you showing up without realising that you are suffering from a possible burnt out. You need to allow yourself some downtime. You should, however, make helping others an actual priority that gets written into your schedule and that you take as seriously as any other commitment like work.
Where do you start?
Identify ways that you can help right now. In this noble quest to positively impact the world, it’s easy to always look far down the road and overlook the opportunities you have to help others right now. Think about how you can improve someone’s life today. You may be very busy and think you don’t have much time to spare, but you can still find little ways to help others. It doesn’t have to be anything huge. Think tiny. What is one tiny thing you can do to facilitate that change today? Remember, it’s the habits of giving of yourself in small ways that are sustainable and add up over time. Think about what you appreciate in your life, and then think about ways that you can spread those good things to others.