Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
– Margaret Mead
The recent and historic U.S. presidential election has stirred-up a furry of emotions all around the world.
It has illuminated a vast sociopolitical divide and made it glaringly clear that our social ails are far from resolved.
But don’t worry; I’m not here to speak about politics. Frankly I’m sick and tired or hearing about it.
I’m here to bring you some good news despite all of this social unrest.
The good news? If there was ever an ideal time to make a difference in the world, it’s now!
Adam Smiley Poswolsky, author of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough points out that, “…more than two billion people globally live on less than $2 a day. At least 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty, lacking access to basic needs like clean drinking water, food, and sanitation services. Millions more-including the United States, where 14.5 percent of the population (some forty-five million Americans) live below the poverty line – lack the financial ability, the access to education and health care, civil and human rights, or the physical freedom to make these choices.”
Let’s face it, most people don’t have the means to do work that makes an impact and is important to them.
They’re at the bottom rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and have more pressing issues than self-actualization to think about.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama
Make service a priority
That leaves you, the fortunate soul, with the resources at your disposal to do something significant with your life.
You’re in the rare group that’s blessed to have an “existential crisis” because they have time to ask questions like: What am I here to do on earth? What’s my life purpose? How can I make a difference?
A calling is not only unearthed from enjoyment and excellence, but from service, meaning and contribution.
If you’re in a position to make a difference and do work that matters, I believe you have an obligation to do so.
Make it your purpose to leave the world a better place than you found it.
Through contribution and service you can find your calling.
O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in’t.
— William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Make a difference being you
As Ghandi famously said, “you must be the change you want to see in the world.”
Your responsibility in this convoluted world is finding the unique vehicle from which you can give back through your talents and abilities.
The work you were born to do; your special gift to give back to humanity.
This is your life’s work.
Here are some questions to help you uncover a mission you’re passionate about.
– What is the most important change you want to see in the world?
– Based on your talents where can you make the biggest impact?
– What makes you most angry about the state of the world that you’d like to do something about?
– What would you die for?
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.” – George Bernard Shaw
Start making a difference today
I get it, changing the world can feel like a lofty aspiration.
If the above questions are a little quixotic there’s no need to worry.
Making a difference doesn’t have to be radically profound. You don’t need to join the Peace Corps or move to Moldova to coach wheelchair basketball.
You don’t have to wait around for a life-changing epiphany of your ultimate purpose to make a difference.
Just start small and do your best to serve others around you.
Here’s a challenge: Before the end of the year do something to make a difference in your community or for a cause you care about.
Here are 25 ideas to help you get started:
- Drink one less cup of coffee per day for a month and donate that money to charity.
- Visit Charity Navigator or Network for Good to find a cause you believe in.
- Share your creative talent with someone. (Check out Catch a Fire)
- Smile at a stranger.
- Tell someone you appreciate them.
- Pick up litter and throw it away.
- Give someone a compliment.
- Volunteer as a tutor at a local school.
- Give water to the homeless.
- Make someone laugh. (Don’t be too crude though. People are easily offended these days.)
- Help a friend achieve an important goal.
- Give someone a present. (I’m a big fan of books. They’re simple, inexpensive, and add immense value.)
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
- Take someone’s dog for a walk.
- Give a listening ear to someone in pain.
- Commit to stop complaining.
- Sublimate your discontent into art, and donate your art to a good cause.
- Donate books to a school or library.
- Donate food to local food bank.
- Okay, donate anything you don’t need.
- Start writing the book you’ve always wanted to write that might change someone’s life.
- Take the first step to start the business that will improve your life and increase your ability to serve your community.
- Teach that workshop or class you’ve been called to teach.
- Share your message and story of adversity to inspire someone.
- Watch to this speech by Michael Neill about changing the world from the inside out.
Let’s start a ripple effect!
Start serving others and your calling will ring loud and clear.
Photo credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center