I believe that most people want to do good in the world, but there are some of us who have a deep down desire to leave this earth a better place than how we found it; to be a part of something that is much bigger than ourselves. But why we have that feeling, or what to do about it isn't always clear; it can masquarade as drive or determination at work, perfectionism, spirituality, or just go unacknowledged. It feels vague at first, undefined, ambiguous, and effervescent. It tugs at our heartstrings and distracts our minds, all the while singing the same tune of "you are meant to do more." And if you know this feeling, you know very well that I'm not talking about more work or more success. I'm talking about more meaning, more impact, and more kindness.
Now, let's talk reality. The reality for most of us, unfortunately, is that life gets in the way of our do-gooding. Family activities, date nights, work, home maintenance, the list goes on and on...and then on some more. Seriously, it seems like it never ends, and often like we'll never get out from under all of our responsibilities.
Well, enough with that way of thinking. Yes, things are busy. Yes, life can get hard. We never have enough time, energy, patience, or dish soap for some reason. But this is letting a scarcity mindset take over. In her book, The Soul of Money, author Lynne Twist explains this concept, and how it holds us back from answering that call within us.
We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mind-set of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency...an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough. Sufficiency resides inside of each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, an attention, and intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances.Lynne Twist
So let's find that sufficiency and call it to action because let's face it, there will never be a perfect time to do the perfect amount of perfectly planned out good. Start now, answer that call from within, learn as you go, and before you know it, you'll be having such a positive impact on the world that others will look to you for advice on how to find their own sufficiency.
validating the call
it isn't arrogant to know you're meant to do something great
As I was doing research for this article, I came across several search results that read something along the lines of, "I feel like I am meant for something great, is that arrogant of me?" Let's just get one thing straight right now; this is not arrogance. This is society having "tamed" us all into worrying more about what others think than what we feel destined to be. If you are meant to change the world, you have every right to act like you are meant to change the world.
In Glennon Doyle's new book, "Untamed" , she says
You are here to decide if your life, relationships and world are true and beautiful enough for you. And if they are not and you dare to admit they are not, you must decide if you have the guts, the right - perhaps even the duty - to burn to the ground that which is not true and beautiful enough and get started building what is.
I will not stay, not ever again - in a room or conversation or relationship or institution that requires me to abandon myself.Glennon Doyle
If you feel like you have a higher calling or are meant to change the world, go get it. Don't let anyone stop you, tell you you can't, or discourage you from being who you are. If you have that deep-down-in-your-gut feeling that you were put on this Earth do great things, go do them. Don't wait for permission, don't ruminate on what people will think, and don't worry about being perceived as conceited or arrogant. Those are theoretical projections, and hold no truth. You do you.
It's a wonderful feeling, knowing you're meant for something bigger than yourself, so instead of fighting it, feeling awkward, and shrinking yourself down to fit others' expectations of you, revel in it. Bathe in it. Eat that stuff for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then go to bed and dream about it. Let it envelope you because, if that is authentically you - no holds barred, no egos allowed, no people-pleasing admitted - than you need to own that shit. Wear it right there over your heart, and move on if it makes anyone else uncomfortable. If your kindness, authenticity, and desire to do good in the world is "too intense," "too sensitive," "too much" for others' comfort, they aren't ready to grow like you are. Those who truly matter will never ask you to make yourself small for the sake of their own comfort.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~Martin Luther King Jr.
It's a gift to have that inner calling. We all bring something unique to the world from our personalities, to our passions, to our families, to our gardens, it all matters. Because right now, more than ever, the world needs truth, kindness, and empathy; the world needs good. Your good, especially.
knowing what to do with the call
let your values guide the way
Values, values, values. I've said it before, I'll say it again. Rather than focusing on finding your life's one true purpose, find direction. Figure out which direction to take that next step in, and get moving. You don't need to know what your life's work will be, you need to know what your day's, week's, month's work will be.
By exploring what you stand for, the values driving your behavior, you'll find it easier to know which direction to step in. Life happens, and any number of things can throw us off our course, but if we stay agile, and true to our values, we'll get to where we need to be. Trust in the process, and use those values as lightposts when you feel lost and alone. If you've done the work to truly know what you believe in than those lights won't fail you.
Values are also a great way to figure out what type of good you want to do. Some people are born knowing, although I think that's a vast minority, and others struggle to define what they stand for. Both, as well as everything in-between, are completely valid.
If you value transparancy in companies, learn about supply chain and educate others on the consequences of a marginalized workforce, or advocate for companies who provide thorough and truthful supply chain information such as Everlane or Lola. If the global lack of clean water issue is something you care deeply about, donate to companies like The Ocean Cleanup. There is a charity, organization, volunteer opportunity, etc. for anyting you can think of, so figure out what you stand for, than use that to point you in the direction of the good you are meant to do.
how do you want to help?
thinking outside the (donation) box
You and your values make you unique. The type of good that you'll do in the world makes you unique. When people think of doing good, donating money, volunteering, and raising awareness are usually the first ones to come to mind. But there are times for most of us when money runs low, time runs low, and you don't think changing your Facebook profil pic is enough.
There are so many ways to help other than the traditional philanthropic models. Check out the list below for inspiration.
*when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice. want a suggestion? I donate to The Ocean Cleanup
This beautiful app and chrome extension helps you focus by blocking distractions while you grow adorable little trees. If you leave the app, your tree dies, which is surprisingly effective at keeping me from checking my phone. With each tree you grow, you earn coins to buy other trees or to plant real trees. I alternate every 2500 coins I get between buying fun new trees in the game and planting actual trees.
food co-ops and growing communities
You'll have to search your local area for one near you. I really like Urban Roots in Grand Rapids, MI if you're local to this area. Regardless, a community of growers, learners, and often cooks is an amazing resource when it comes to teaching people how to live off of their own land, and how to find healthy, honestly grown food without the harsh chemicals, carbon footprint, and animal abuse that come with typical grocery store food.
lower those C02 emissions
Commit yourself to sharing rides, aligning schedules, and having more together time at home rather than putting out all those emissions. **The average passenger vehicle emits about .404 kg of CO2 per mile, and a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4600 kg of carbon dioxide per year. ***The average American drives about 13,476 miles per year, so if a family with 2 drivers each committed to driving just 5 miles less each week, they would spare the Earth over 210kg of C02 per year. For every 100 families that did who did that, it would offset the driving gasses produced by about 4.5 people. Small things add up to big things, people.
be the black sheep of your group
If your social circle, family, co-workers, etc. is strongly one-sided in an opinion or belief that you don't agree with, speak up. Chances are, there is somebody else in the group with a similar opinion. If another member has an opposing viewpoint on another subject, they might be inspired by you to speak up.
help in the classroom
If you have kids or are in any position to influence their thinking, lead them by example. Teach tolerance, teach kindness, teach them to ask questions, teach them to challenge the norm. Don't teach them to sit back and let the world mold them, teach them to mold themselves and to live life on purpose. This is not only an incredible way to give back to your community, it's a growth opportunity for yourself. Grow those adorable little seeds into amazing little plants that aren't even in wikipedia yet.
donate your skills, time, and passion to classrooms Kids deserve to have crayons, one-on-one attention, pencils, books, food, and quality mentors. In many cases, they deserve much MUCH better than what we, as communities are providing.
Rachel McKenna, a second grade teacher and working mom living in Michigan says, "(with regards to low-cost and free ways to help schools) Classroom supplies 100%, reading a book to a class, making copies, laminating, stapling, bulletin boards. Even as a working mom, I have asked the boys' teachers to send things home for me to help staple or to prep an activity for them. This year there will probably be a huge need for playground and lunchroom helpers."
If you have a skill like music or sign-language, or anything else you think young people might benefit from, volunteer your time and give a demonstration. Teach high schoolers how to balance a budget. Teach young kids how to stand up to bullies. Whatever your passion is, sharing knowledge with younger generations is never ever a bad thing.
share your humility
If you've stood your ground on a topic, and had a change of heart, tell the world through your heart, not your ego. By demonstrating humility, we inspire others to follow suit. Communities, states, countries even are so extremely divided right now, that briding the gap between any two sides of any two arguments will do nothing but help. The entire world right now could use a huge does of humility, which requires much more strength than fighting for the sake of stubbornness and closed-mindedness.
ask questions and actually listen
We all do it. We ask a question, and while the other person is answerering, we are thinking of what we're going to say next. Sometimes, we just need to listen. We all have our own agenda, that's human nature, but what would happen if even half the time, we got out of our own heads, and we just listened. People would feel heard, valued, and important. Some days, what I woudln't give to feel heard, valued, and important.
Sometimes the ways we can help the most aren't huge donations, being head volunteer, or advocating the hell out of something online. Sometimes the best way to help is to lend an ear, a shoulder, or some shared humility. Sometimes, all it takes is listening.
So be proud of who you are, the good you want to do, and the impact you want to have on the world. You are the only you and what feels right to you is your business, and your's alone. You owe nobody an explanation, justification, or any other form of validation. The only person you have to answer to is yourself.
When we are authentically ourselves and our actions reflect that, it's amazing who we can inspire, the amount of faith in humanity that we can restore, and what ripples of good we set off. So take some time, think about it, and ask yourself, what good am I going to do today?
I've created articles, courses, guides, and more to take you from overwhelmed to clear, confident, and impactful. You can download free intentional living workbooks, worksheets, and guides resources like my "What do you stand for?" workbook or the "What motivates you?" worksheet on my freebies page. Are you ready to take the first step towards a modern, intentional life? If so, subscribe below.