15 Ways to Make a Difference

Fifteen years ago, my life was radically different from what it is today.

At that time, I’d written my book Love the Life You Live, and I was training life coaches. I had the knowledge and skills to use in times of crisis, but I was so focused on the dramas going on in my life that I chose the easy route and talked about my problems to everyone who would listen.

In reality talking about my problems all the time only made them worse, but when we feel really stressed, we often reach for the quick fix. Quick fixes are anything that makes us feel better over the short term such as talking, eating, drinking, searching for solutions.

What saved me during that time was my desire to make a difference. This need has been a motivating force in my life for over 40 years, long before I had anything worthwhile to share. And it is this need that gives my life a sense of purpose and meaning as I get older.

Studies show that as we get older, we often lose our sense of purpose and that’s understandable as our roles in life change, but there is so much that we all have to share with others and what I hope to convey to you today is that we all have the power to make a difference, exactly where we are right now.

How to make a difference

  1. Take the first step. Not knowing what to do or lacking the confidence to do it is what hold many people back but whenever we start down a new path it’s natural to be lacking in confidence. Confidence comes from doing, so in order to gain it you need to take one step, then another, and another.
  2. Make it okay if things don’t work out the way you plan. For all of us things don’t always work out the way we hope they will and sometimes we fail. But in order to be successful at anything in life we need to be willing to fall flat on our face at times. Sometimes life points us in a different direction. At other times there is something we need to learn first.
  3. What you give away is what makes you happy. I am not referring to material items here but what we give of ourselves: time, forgiveness, service, love, acceptance and so on. What you focus on, and give to others, always comes back to you.
  4. You don’t have to do it all at once. Sometimes when we want to make a difference we get caught up in the big picture. Sometimes we need to take baby steps, and it is those small but consistent steps that add up and you may make a big difference or be a big difference in one person’s life.
  5. Don’t give much attention to your fears and frustrations. We all have them so don’t think any less of yourself for being human. Remind yourself often of what’s most important to you. What you are grateful for.
  6. Don’t worry about what other people think. So many people hold back because they worry about other people’s opinions. If you don’t share your plans with anyone, you don’t have to worry about what they will think of you if you succeed or fail.
  7. Don’t make life hard for yourself. We make life hard by ourselves by having too many rules. Rules are the expectations we place upon ourselves and others. You can recognise your rules by listening to how often you say should, must or have to.
  8. I’ll be good enough when. Perfectionists often go from one course to the next thinking they’ll be good enough to do what they want to do when they have more knowledge, or more qualifications. It’s not necessary. Each one of us can make a difference where we are right now. Gain qualifications if you want, but don’t make them the benchmark for your success.
  9. Take care of yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up in helping others that we burn out. This helps no-one. You need to be a priority in your life. You need to know what you need and take time for filling those needs. That way you will have more to give.
  10. Don’t say ‘Yes’ to every request. It’s okay to pause and reflect before accepting an invitation to help someone. It’s okay to say ‘No’ when it’s not right for you.
  11. Let go of the need to control. Control comes from fear, it’s what we do as a way to feel safe. The reality is we have no control over much except our thoughts and how we respond to events.
  12. No one is stopping you. It’s sometimes easy to think I could do this if only….. You make your own choices and if you allow someone else to control those choices then you need to take back your power.
  13. We can’t change other people. Sometimes people live lives that we don’t like or approve of. We don’t have the power, or the right, to change anyone. Support, love but allow each person to walk their path.
  14. We can’t make other people be kind. But we can be kind ourselves. The best way to change anything is to be the change yourself. Model kindness, love, compassion and be someone that inspires others.
  15. You don’t need to do something big. Often, we think of making a difference as doing something big with our lives and when we don’t, we feel less than. I have learnt that by simply being the best person I can be I can inspire others to be the best they can be.

Some day is today

How often have you thought about what you would like to do some day? Well, that day has come. There is no need to put off any of your dreams until the right time. Don’t wait until your life is almost over.

The key to being happy and making a difference is to letting life be what it is. Allowing others to follow their path, even if it is a pathway of depression or addiction.

If your heart is calling you to make a difference, listen to it.

1 thought on “15 Ways to Make a Difference”

  1. Ainslie MacMillan

    Thank you Anne,
    That was a great reminder and reinforcement when I am trying to stay on track.
    I will keep this and refer to it often.

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