“It’s the hand reaching out with the gift from inside.”
As we approach the longest night of the year, the season pulls us to inner reflections. The line above is lyrics from a song by Fred Penner called The Season; I always appreciate the spirit delivered through his words.
Because I work in social services, I see the starkness of our troubled world and generosity every day. I am fortunate to see how acts of kindness and kind regard make a big difference in others’ lives.
What I also see is a lot of people working hard every day to make a difference in others’ lives.
What I know is making a difference happens in ordinary ways. It isn’t hard to cultivate the spirit.
Here are some excellent ways to develop making-a-difference habits:
Work on the right things
When we are making our greatest impact, we experience the most satisfaction. How do we focus our energy so this can happen?
We have many choices in a day about how to spend our time. In my own life, I am astonished when an entire busy day passes without me attending to what matters most. Working on the right things – those most important activities – will spread out into the world, affecting others.
To attend to what makes a difference in life, do two things. Instead of a to-do list, create a biggest priority list. Then schedule the top priorities to make sure it happens.
Love what you do
The biggest influence we can have on others is to be truly engaged with what we are doing. Our enthusiasm and liveliness touches people in ways we don’t know.
Develop the habit by making time to do what you love to do.
Being curious is connected to loving what we do; the more we follow that scent of what pulls us, the more we touch what matters most.
Being curious is a life changer, from attending interviews to public speaking. When we are curious, we are open. When we are open, there are possibilities we may never have imagined.
Cultivate the habit of curiosity by asking questions:
- What about this situation is working or not working for you?
- How do you want to help?
- Where can you make a difference?
- What is a burning issue for you?
Take care of yourself
We are our most helpful to others when we have taken care of ourselves.
Remember to take care by
- healthy eating
- rest and relaxation – have fun!
- practicing radical self care
Take charge of your work life
Where would you like to be in 5 years from now? What kind of work environment do you do your best? Do you feel as if you are on track with your work life?
Being in command of where you are headed provides the stable ground required for doing work that makes a difference to others.
To develop this habit, review your work life once or twice a year. A way to do this:
- Reflect on what went well in the past 6 months.
- What would you have liked to have improved?
- Where would you like to focus your energy in the next 6 months or a year?
- What are the steps you need to get there?
We bring along our values to everything we do and the decisions we make. Standing up for what we believe in provides the link to making a difference in others’ lives. People who share values work towards a common good.
To develop this habit, stand up for what you believe. There are many ways you can show up:
- quitting something
- starting something
Stay present in life
Making a difference often happens in ways you do not know. Through our actions, we are planting seeds all the time, whether it is an act of kindness that gets passed on or words of encouragement that make a day.
Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the power of a smiling face.
To develop this habit, see yourself as a receptacle where you are both doing acts of kindness and recognizing the acts of kindness happening to you. You are a part of something bigger.
The way we make a difference is finding those moments delivered to us each day – opening a door, giving someone a gift just because or buying food for the homeless person outside the grocery store.
Develop this habit by starting now.
I would love to hear about people making a difference! Share your stories on the Facebook page – Finding Work That Matters.
You are find it here: