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As you read this right now, billions of people around the world are going about their lives.
But you’re here because you don’t just want to live your life; you want to do something with your life.
You want to do something important, something meaningful, something good.
You want your life to matter, to make a difference, to make the world a better place.
What can you do? What should you do? How do you know which ‘something’ is right for your life?
Let’s unpack this step by step.
1. Align yourself with a cause.
A cause is typically a way of improving the lives of people or animals or the environment. It often seeks to right an injustice of sorts, but it could also involve advancing human understanding or technology.
There are endless different causes that often relate to one specific thing or group or angle.
Some examples of causes are:
– Ending hunger and malnutrition.
– Saving a species whose existence is threatened.
– Protecting an environment for wildlife.
– Making sure every child has access to education.
– Making sure every person has access to clean water.
– Ending discrimination of some kind.
– Providing end-of-life care to the sick and elderly.
– Reducing plastic pollution.
– Rescuing abandoned pets.
– Making your local community a better place to live.
Is there something that you feel strongly about? If so, that’s a good place to start.
If you don’t know what cause is right for you, there’s nothing stopping you from getting involved with a few to see which feels most closely aligned with your values and beliefs.
But it’s typically a good idea to settle on one cause if you can. This will allow you to devote more time and energy to it which helps reinforce your passion for it.
If you spread yourself too thinly across multiple causes, you risk reducing the potential overall impact you have.
It’s important to note that aligning yourself with a cause doesn’t mean you have to necessarily align yourself with an organization or charity. You can do something with your life just by yourself, though as we’ll discuss later, it can be good to join with others doing the same thing.
2. Find ways that you can contribute to that cause.
To contribute is to give, and that can mean different things to different people.
You might want to get hands-on and actively involved in doing things that relate to the cause.
This might mean volunteering your time to walk abandoned dogs at a shelter, or spending one evening a week at a soup kitchen.
You might feel that you have skills that an organization could use. This could range from web design expertise to access to transport for people, goods, and materials.
Whether it’s on the frontline or more behind the scenes, every role is valuable and necessary if a real difference is to be made.
And you aren’t limited to one form of contribution. What you give can vary and adapt based on your lifestyle, your skills, and the needs of the cause you are aligned to.
Perhaps you hand out warm clothes to the homeless, escort them to a meeting with social services, or help them fill out forms if they struggle to read and write.
Maybe you help with the administrative tasks of a local charity, but are also a key part of their fundraising drives because of your ties to the local press or your digital marketing knowledge.
Or perhaps your contribution will be primarily financial. Perhaps you donate to a charity or organization that does great work you believe in.
Money is vital to any effective cause, and if you feel you are best placed to work hard, earn a good living, and donate some of that income to a cause you care about, that’s great.
You shouldn’t feel like your contribution is any less than those of people who give their time and energy directly. You are still doing something with your life by diverting a percentage of your earnings to a worthy cause, and that donation can be what drives you to strive harder in your career or business.
3. Never underestimate your contributions.
You might believe that to really do some good in your life, you need to give lots of your time and/or money.
But that’s simply not the case at all.
Every action matters – big and small.
It matters because it is one action more than no action whatsoever. And if it’s something you do on a regular basis, it really begins to add up.
Let’s say you pick up litter from a local park or woodland near you once a fortnight, and that each time you collect a carrier bag full. Well, by the end of the year, that’s 26 bags full of rubbish that you’ve removed – imagine those 26 bags piled high and you’ll see how big a difference you make.
Or perhaps you provide an hour of respite care each week for someone who looks after an elderly or disabled relative. It might seem like a short time, but for that person, that hour is a lifeline that they are no doubt very grateful for. And, again, looked at over a year, it equates to well over a standard working week of your time – not trivial by any means.
Even if your contribution is even smaller, it’s important to look at it as something of worth. Because you know what, it really is.
And if you ever look at the bigger picture and feel depressed or defeated by it, try to focus on the difference you are making to the individual people or creatures whose lives you touch. When things seem bleak, they will provide the spark you need to keep going.
4. Connect with other people involved with that cause.
You can do a lot of good by yourself, through your own actions.
But there’s a lot to be said about seeking out people who are equally as passionate about the same cause.
First and foremost, there is the sense of community that it brings. If you share something important with a group of people, it’s inevitable that you will form a bond over this thing.
You may begin to consider some of these people as true friends, or they may just remain acquaintances that you see regularly.
Either way, being a part of a community provides a sense of real purpose because the combined time and energy you all put in leads to even greater and more tangible results.
What’s more, a group of like-minded individuals will inevitably feed off each other’s passion and commitment. You will push one another to do more for the cause (assuming you want to) and a community provides the motivation to keep going.
Another benefit of getting involved with others is that you will feel a sense of belonging. If you find yourself wanting to do something with your life, it may simply be that you don’t feel like you belong anywhere in particular right now.
5. Regularly check in with yourself to see how you feel about the cause.
Sometimes we lose interest or passion for something. It’s a natural part of the ever-changing landscape of our lives.
But when you have committed yourself to a cause for a period of time, it can be hard to let go of it, even if it is no longer what you wish to do.
But if the cause no longer resonates with you, or your life has changed in a way that makes it challenging to continue with, you should feel able to stop contributing or adapt how you contribute.
You may find that an event – personal or otherwise – reveals a new cause you wish to support and get involved with. If this cause is something that inspires you to act, it is definitely worth pursuing further.
But, if you don’t have the time, energy, or money to dedicate to a current cause and a new cause, it’s okay to call time on your efforts relating to the old cause.
Your most meaningful action is taken from the place of your greatest passion, and if that passion moves or evolves, you should go where it takes you.
It is worth highlighting, however, that some causes will involve confronting difficult emotions and that these will sometimes weigh heavily on you. If they relate to a cause you are really passionate about, you just have to keep reminding yourself why you are doing what you are doing.
For example, helping people overcome traumatic experiences in their lives is a very worthwhile thing, but it’s inevitably going to bring with it some emotional load. You may have to listen to things that are difficult to hear and be present as people express all sorts of thoughts and feelings.
Whilst you should always prioritize your own well-being, you may find the work you do with such a cause very challenging. It’s good to be aware of this and to prepare for it so that you can better cope with it.
And if it ever does get too much for you to handle, you shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a break, finding a new way to contribute, or leaving it behind altogether.
6. Match your career to your cause.
Sometimes, though not always, it is possible to make a living from the cause you align yourself to.
This could be a career in the relevant field…
Perhaps you find a job as a biologist because the understanding and protection of the natural world is something you care deeply about.
Maybe you become a solicitor working on behalf of people who have suffered prejudice and discrimination.
Most causes will involve a great variety of work, and there are sure to be organizations with a range of careers open to you.
Working full time in a job that is closely tied to the cause you are dedicated to can be very rewarding indeed.
Then there is the possibility of starting something yourself – a business, charity, or other form of organization – that contributes to your particular cause.
Passionate about reducing carbon emissions? You could launch a renewable energy company, become a specialist installer of the latest high performance insulation, or even start a consultancy advising companies how they can be greener.
Want to give unloved or unwanted pets a good home? You could setup a non-profit shelter and take a wage from the funding and donations you receive.
Would you like to improve the quality of life for people with a specific disability? You could design, manufacture, and sell products tailored to their exact needs. Even if it’s quite niche, there still scope to make a living from it.
This step is optional because, let’s face it, not everyone is going to be able to find work in the area they are most interested in. But even if you are unable to, you can still try to find ways to bring your cause into the company you work for.
For example, you could arrange company events that give back to the cause you care deeply for. Or you might consider campaigning for the company to enact policies that relate to that cause.
Still not sure how to do something with your life, or what is right for you? Speak to a life coach today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one.
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