Issue 4 Online Extra: Six Steps to Personal Fulfillment…Step Four

We continue with part four of our six-part series:

Making a difference: are you using your skillset effectively?

Everyone wants to make a difference. In coaching situations, it’s one of the most universal values I hear expressed. So, if it’s really important to people, why aren’t they doing it?

Let’s not beat ourselves up here. We have good intentions – things just get in the way. The most common reason given is time. The other is that other more urgent things keep cropping up.

A common stumbling block is that people dream of making grand gestures – the kind that would involve major changes to their lives. You might have a dream of teaching in Africa, but how does that fit that in with earning a living in your office job?

We need to start with making a difference in a way that is achievable and fits in to the flow of our lives. In this article I want to inspire and empower you to take action and make a difference in a way that enriches your life.

1. What inspires, excites or enrages you?

Start with thinking about topics and causes that really get you going. This will help you connect with what kind of ‘making a difference’ will motivate you.  At this stage do not evaluate it in terms of what is possible or practical. We will do that later.

So, if you shout at the telly when politicians are speaking, are moved by the number of people going to food banks or are excited by an opportunity to get people in your community bonding, make a note of it.

Making a difference doesn’t need to involve huge pieces of self-sacrificing activity. Often what makes the most impact is people doing what they can, in the service of things they care about.

Volunteer work or campaigning can also help with forwarding your own career. It can raise your profile at work. If you are thinking of a career change, what could you get involved in that would give you some experience in that area or help you to retrain?

2. What are your talents?

It is often hard for people to identify their own talents as we don’t often view what we are good at as a ‘talent’.

If you are good at organising and keeping on top of paperwork, you may disregard this as mundane. But countless not–for-profit organisations are crying out for people with your skills. Many fail because they don’t have people like you holding it all together.

Don’t disregard any of your talents. What’s the thing you find easiest to do? Think about what kinds of activities inspire you, This will help you decide what kind of activity might work for you. If you are in sales and love reaching your targets, you would probably make a perfect fundraiser. If you are a great listener and enjoy being with people you could do some kind of advocate or counselling role.

3.  What are your practical circumstances?

Now you have an idea of what motivates you and what you could contribute. Now is the time to start thinking about all the other things in your life. Your busy job. Your family. Remember this is about getting started, so even if you have quite a full life now, what small things could you do to get you going?

Starting small might well lead to something ultimately more aligned to your making a difference dream. Many of these accessible roles are in high demand, so set yourself up for success. For example, you might want to be involved with local council politics. Start now by getting involved with the parish council. This will give you a great deal of knowledge about the workings of local government as well as building up some contacts.

Don’t overwhelm yourself. Having worked in a few voluntary organisations myself, people often start enthusiastically and then realise they’ve taken on too much and drop out. This is not good for you or the cause you are working for. It’s best to start small and build.

If you have quiet times in your work schedule, could you choose something that fits with that? So if your peaks are around Christmas. could you take on the social secretary role in the spring and early summer? If you have health goal,s you could combine this with raising money for your favourite charity.

All of this takes some lateral thinking but once you’re clear on the above questions it will give you some boundaries from which to start.

Remember, when it comes to making a difference the key is to find something that’s a win win win. A win for the organisation or cause, a win for the world and a win for you.

Workshop: Starting points for making a difference

Voluntourism – this is where you use your holiday to go somewhere to help out for a few weeks to a few months. There are some scams around so make sure you do this through a recognised organisation.

Social media campagining – when time to go out and make a difference is short, could you use social media to start campaigns or help spread the word about things you care about

Volunteering – is a good place to start. They have all kind of volunteering roles from short term projects to ongoing roles

Community – there are loads of things you can do in your community, from helping organise bonfire night to editing a community newsletter

Police – if this is an area of interest, police forces across the country have a whole realm of volunteer positions. We all know about community police officers, but there are also coordination roles and working in specialist areas like victim support.

Karen Meager draws on her business and psychology expertise to create leading edge training programmes that deliver both business needs and individual personal development. Karen has an MBA specialising in strategy, financial strategy and human development. She is also a UKCP registered Psychotherapist (DipNLPt) and an INLPTA certified NLP Master Trainer.


The first parts of our guide are featured in The New Idealist issues One-Three which you can download below. Part Four, Five and Part Six can be found online.

Part One — Current Situation: What is the main obstacle or challenge are you are currently facing?
Part Two — Professional Life: How to manage your career-related
hopes and fears.
Part Three — Family & Friendships: How to make the most of your social life.
Part Four — Making a difference: Are you using your skillset effectively?
Part Five — Personal Goals: Do you know what you want from your
Part Six — Action Planning: How to make change happen



Issue Seven: The New Future Issue (Annual Special Edition)
Issue Six: The Autism Issue
Issue Five: The Doomsday Edition (Extreme Weather Special)
Issue Four: The Issue We’re All Talking About (Guest Edited by the actress Jodhi May)
Issue Three: Has Obama been corrupted by the machine?
Issue Two: IQ VS EQ – Is Emotional Intelligence what you need to succeed in the digital age?
Issue One: Downwardly Mobile? Will the next generation find it harder to reach the next level?

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