Making an impact, changing the world, improving lives – these are things that many of my peers and I have aspired to during some point in our lives. It’s a tall order, and I believe it’s placed squarely on our generation, the people who will become the largest portion of society in the very near future.
I’m fortunate to be attending a great university, where I witness people everyday doing extraordinary things, from founding their own businesses to starting nonprofits to volunteering in other countries. It’s hard not to take on an attitude of “what can I do that will bring about transformative change?”
The thing is, transformative change does not come easy, nor does it happen overnight. As a matter of fact, I think that many people will end up thinking about these things, but never act upon them. Still, I don’t think that excuses us from trying – it’s because we try that progress is made.
The following is a list of things that in my humble opinion are great starting points to making impactful and long-lasting change. I’ve come to these conclusions through a mix of observation, reading, and reflecting, and I hope that people will be able to find them useful and encouraging!
1. Sometimes, it’s the small things that count.
Scratch that, almost all of the time, it’s the small things that build up to bigger things and eventually grow to epic proportions. These days, I’m taking on a philosophy of serving others in small ways in order to make an impact on society as a whole. Too often, people think they have to achieve something amazing in order to change the world. But what if everyone did a good deed or small act of kindness for someone else each week? I’m pretty sure that big changes will come about that way. And if changes don’t happen, at least that person was able to impact another person’s life in a meaningful way.
2. Do something because you feel convicted.
I think the biggest trap someone can fall into is joining a cause because of perceived expectations. There is no quicker way to burning out than feigning passion when it’s just not there. If you’re volunteering on weekends at a soup kitchen because you feel it’s expected of you, then you might want to think twice about your motives. I don’t want people to confuse this with not doing anything at all – what I’m getting at is that there’s a space for everyone to shine. Find that space and stick with it, and you’ll start to notice some pretty big changes happening.
3. Utilize your strengths.
There’s nothing sadder than wasted talent, especially when it could have been used to benefit others and society. Find out what you’re good at, then use those strengths to do something for others. If you’re good with kids, then volunteer at a local school. If you enjoy cooking and chatting, maybe working with homeless people in the soup kitchen is your thing. This goes with the previous point – start something that you’re good at, not because it’s what you feel is expected of you. For me, I’ve decided that regardless of what I end up doing as a career, I can write to inspire change and improve lives, and I’m intent on seeing this one through.
4. Stay positive, the world needs it.
I can see it with each passing year, in myself and my peers. Growing up brings a lot of uncertainty, doubt, and loss of innocence, as we realize just how messed up the world is and how futile our singular actions can be at times. We need to maintain a child-like optimism, because it is so lacking in today’s world. So the next time you hear a friend talking about how he or she is going to be accomplishing great things or changing the world, encourage and cheer that person on! It’s something we have to remind ourselves every day.
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