We all want our lives to have meaning. We all want our time on this earth to be significant. We all want to make a difference in the world.
But how, exactly, do we do that?
It’s something I struggled with greatly when I took a break from wildlife conservation to work in a more stable veterinary clinic setting. It’s something that tormented me as I set off to chase my many dreams. Was I being selfish? How was I giving back to the world?
I have since realized four things:
First, every job is giving back in some way. Maybe you’re helping the needy, maybe you’re inspiring others, maybe you’re boosting the economy, maybe you’re putting a smile on someone’s face or simply making their day a little easier.
Second, my career does not define me. My values, beliefs, morals and desires define me.
Third, by focusing on myself, I have been able to gain incredible self-awareness. I know my wants and needs. I know my skills and talents. And I can nurture them and use them to change the world.
Fourth, changing the world does not happen on a monumental scale. Change in the world is the result of chain effects. Little things. Elementary, my dear Watson.
So how do you change the world?
1. Know yourself
Self awareness goes a long way toward making the world a better place. Take time to actively engage in conversation with yourself, to get to know you. Spend quality alone time with no one other than yourself and learn to enjoy it, to crave it. Slow down. Pray, meditate, journal or find an active means of self reflection to guide you along the path to self discovery.
2. Love yourself
Appreciating your own self worth is pivotal to anyone’s success and happiness. People who want to change the world want to do so because they love humanity, they love this earth. But we absolutely cannot fully love anything else without wholly embracing who we are as individuals. If love really does make the world go round, then it starts within ourselves.
3. Be yourself
In a world full of so much sham, authenticity is a rare find. Live your life with honesty and integrity. Never try to be anyone but yourself. If we are not truthful to ourselves, then we are not being truthful to the changes we wish to see in the world.
4. Give of yourself
Pay it forward. The focus on giving back isn’t on being selfless, because learning to love yourself can be an incredibly selfish task, one that requires constant time and sacrifice. Give of yourself by being open and vulnerable to the world so that you can find your role in it.
And that’s it. It really is that simple.
How do you change the world? By turning the focus inward. Look to yourself and there you’ll find the answer.