You’re ready to start living in your purpose. You’ve identified your personal purpose statement using these Simple Steps to Make Career Decisions That Better Align With Your Values, or maybe you already felt clear and confident in what your purpose is. You’ve checked your fears and your doubts at the door. Maybe you’ve read 5 Questions to Ask if You Want to Take Action But Think There is Nothing You Can Do.
Either way, you’re talking the talk of a Purposeful Hustler. Now it’s time to walk the walk. Here’s where to start:
Your Existing Knowledge
What do you already know that could help you make an impact? Do you have any unique skill sets? What are you good at? How could this possibly be leveraged to work within your purpose and create the impact that you want to see? How could the work you’ve already done in your life position you to have a greater impact within your purpose?
When wanting to make an impact, self-awareness is crucial. Knowing what you can bring to the table, what you care about, what perspectives and knowledge you can offer, as well as what your limitations are, are all important pieces of information that should inform your choices and your action steps to maximize your impact.
Who do you know? Who do you know who is doing work you admire? Who do you know who is beautifully living out their purpose or who is working in an area related to your purpose? Who do you know who may know more about an issue, a place, or a situation than you do? Who do you know who has access to resources that could support your project?
Talk to them! Meet up with them! Reach out to people you know, to people they know, and to that friend of a friend’s uncle’s old boss, if that means you can learn more about the issue you care about or can plug into work that is already happening.
Social impact work is not done in isolation, and there are most likely many people out there working really hard toward similar goals as you. Learn from them, support them, collaborate with them, and if you want to do something new, innovate based on what is already happening.
Don’t be afraid to cold call or email someone you haven’t talked to in years or that you randomly met at a happy hour. Most of the time, when you express that you admire someone’s work, see that it is aligned with your own purpose, and want to learn from them, they will be flattered and eager to share some of their passion and insight with you.
If possible, meet up with people in person. Show up to an event. Making the effort to start physically showing up demonstrates that you are actually committed to this work and will encourage people to welcome you into it.
And lastly, whenever you talk to someone about purpose-related work or how you want to make an impact, be sure to ask, “So who else should I be talking to?” Leverage your network to expand your connections.
Look around you! What is already happening in your own backyard? What organizations are doing work related to your purpose in your community? What unique challenges is your community experiencing in the area of your purpose? What nuances are there that are specific to this place? What kinds of support exists in your community around your purpose area or around the issues you are passionate about? What is the history of this issue or area of passion in your community? How did it get to be the way it is? Where are resources being allocated? Where are they lacking?
Are there people working in this space in your local community who you don’t know? Introduce yourself! Learn what you can from those who are already deeply engaged in the work. Don’t assume you know how a certain issue is manifesting in your community if you haven’t talked to or worked with those who are experiencing it themselves.
What research can you do, in person, online, in the news, etc., to learn about the specific conditions of your community in regards to the impact you hope to make? This is critical information that should contextualize and inform the work you do and the action steps you take to make an impact.
Maybe there is nothing like what you’re envisioning happening right now in your home community, but maybe there is a whole field of similar organizations that exist in other places across the country or the world. Look into them!
Even if an idea is truly original, there is most likely at least one other person trying to do something very similar somewhere else.
Research work that is really cool to you. See if you can build connections with the people and organizations are doing this work.
Try to learn HOW they are doing their work. How are they funded? Who are they partnering with? Who are all the stakeholders? How long have they been around? What is their strategy? What is their philosophy that they approach their work with? Most importantly, is what they’re doing working? Is it truly making the impact they hoped for?
At the very least, be inspired that someone else is doing this work in your purpose area and is pulling it off!
If you’re serious about taking action steps, living in your purpose, and making an impact, that needs to be apparent in concrete ways in your life, starting with your calendar.
When will you dedicate time to purpose-related work? Is it part of your daily or weekly schedule? If not, it should be.
Purposeful Hustlers take the initiative to bring their ideas into reality. You’ve got it within you; now you have to find the discipline and dedication to bring it out!
Where else do you turn to when you’re ready to make an impact?
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in September 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.