Changing the world often seems like a pie-in-the-sky goal, a lovely thought but ultimately unattainable. Making a difference in the world isn’t going to be easy; it will be a challenge but having the desire and drive is the first step. However, if you want to influence the world around you, you will need a plan that goes beyond simply having good intentions. Let’s explore.
First things first, while there are definitely a few overarching global issues that you probably want to address when you are just starting out, it would be more effective to start small. Most of the time, it is really difficult to address the bigger issues without backing from the right people and organisations. You also often need a good base of knowledge and some experience and influence before you can effect change on a larger scale. For example, completing a certificate in public policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science could provide you with a grounded understanding in public policy that would help you effect change.
However, you should be more than capable of making a difference in your local community as this is where you will have the most knowledge and influence to make an impact. Be realistic, especially when you are starting out. Think about issues that your community faces and come up with achievable steps that can help you to tackle the problem.
Come Up with a Plan
A lot of people struggle with this, and understandably so, working out how to bring about change can be difficult. This is why you should scale down your efforts to start with. Try thinking about your end goal first. Think about where you want to make the most impact in your community. With your end goal in mind, you can then begin to work backwards, breaking your goal down into steps. You should also consider implementing a time scale, as affecting change isn’t something that happens quickly.
When you have a clear picture of your end goal, you can begin to do some research. There might be other people or organisations within your community that are working towards the same or similar goals, and you can work together. Your research might uncover an issue that you haven’t previously considered, which could then send your plan off in a new direction and help you develop a new end goal.
Many people have had abstract daydreams about changing the world and making an impact, but they never follow through with them. Reluctance and procrastinating are normal; after all, it is a big task that can feel overwhelming. It is tempting to wait for the time to be right, but this is simply an excuse. There is no point in hesitating; just start. It will likely take a while to gain momentum anyway, so making a start as soon as possible makes sense.
Even if you are still working on your plan or trying to choose a cause to champion, you can still make a start by incorporating selfless acts into your day. This might mean donating your loose change to charity or picking up the litter you see when you go out working or volunteering at a local homeless shelter in your spare time. There are always things that you can do to make a difference to your environment and those around you, even if they don’t fit into your grand plan for making a difference.
Enlist the Help of Others
While it is entirely true that one person can make a difference, it is infinitely easier if you enlist other people to help you; and in fact, empowering other people can be one of the ways in which you do make a difference. Think about the cause that you have decided to get behind; if you care about this cause, then the likelihood is that you will be able to get other people to care too. You could start by having conversations with your friends and family. You could even utilise social media to give yourself a platform that you can then use to educate others on the subject.
If you simply want to make a difference by empowering others, then you can do that too. The truth is that empowering others isn’t always going to be easy, but it is important. It is all about providing them with the tools they need. Sometimes this might be as simple as listening to them and doing your best to acknowledge their feelings which in turn provides them with validation. You should do your best never to be patronising or condescending; you need to treat other people like your equals.
In order to make a real difference in the world, you need to leave a lasting impact. The contribution that you make needs to be sustainable. Otherwise, things will revert back to how they were before and ultimately; you will have wasted your time. Not to discount temporary or transient acts of goodness, they definitely have their place, but they won’t change the world. Think about the cause that you want to champion and what solution will make the most difference long term. For example, if you want to tackle the litter problem in your local park, then you could clean it up once, or you could approach the council and request more bins and start a litter picking campaign.
Avoid Performative Activism
Performative activism refers to an individual who gets involved in social causes simply to improve their own standing, and frankly, it is not a new concept; people have been feigning interest in charitable causes to further their own agenda for years. However, most of the time, a person is accused of performative activism if they are committing to making surface-level contributions which they tend to publicise while failing or not caring enough to try and effect any real change. The truth is it is a trap that is easy to fall into, especially if you want to use social media in your efforts.
This isn’t to say that you can’t use social media in order to raise awareness and help you to recruit more people to your cause. It is all about the way in which you use it. In the end, it comes down to practising what you preach and following through on your promises. You can use social media to organise events and share some first-hand accounts.
Obviously, every effort made to better the world around you is important regardless of the size or longevity of the impact. If you are struggling with working out where to start, it is okay to start small and work your way up once you have gained the necessary knowledge and experience, not to mention the confidence. Making a difference on a global scale might be your ultimate goal, but it might make more sense for you to start with issues that affect the community around you.