What's the impact you want to make?

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I've always known I want to do work that makes a difference. I had no idea what that work was, but I always knew it was the goal. Over the years I've had so many different roles. In each of them, I was able to convince myself that some part of it mattered. That in some way I was making an impact. But in the last couple of years, I couldn't do it anymore.

Listen, I work in HR. I know that engagement with your work is critical for both the business and the employee. I also bang on all the time in MY business, about how a good personal brand starts with your values and purpose. So I get how important it is. 

Which is why I busted my butt trying to FIND my purpose in my day job. But, it wasn't happening. I value the job for many reasons; flexibility, financial security, connecting with colleagues. But I did not feel any sense of fulfilment or purpose with the work. And I felt guilty AF about that. 

I know that many of you out there may feel the same because I've had loads of conversations about it.  After years of building a career in something, it loses the appeal. You can't find the same enthusiasm and interest in the work. And it's not that anything with the job has changed, it's that YOU have. As a typical Type A, Capricorn, Gen X-er, this was not an easy pill to swallow.

So, am I about to dive into #vanlife or join a commune? No. That’s not practical. Neither is leaving my job (as is the case with most people). Instead, what I need to do is find strategies that can feed that yearning for meaning in other ways. This is what I did.

Step one: finding meaning

It's pretty obvious. To feel more meaning at work I needed to know what gave me a sense of purpose. 

All it took was a quick google search and I found a tonne of information about ‘how to find your life’s purpose’. I dug in. Journaling, talking to friends and family. I reflected on my values and what makes my heart hurt. Excitedly, I found some key themes; confidence, personal power, sisterhood, lack of opportunity, women and family, being able to make an income. 

Step two: what's the impact?

Having this long list of themes didn't actually help me much. They were all too vague. So I took a step further to make it action-driven. I started thinking about how I wanted to make the world to be a better place. I asked myself, 'what is the impact that I want to make?'

My answer reflected the original themes, but it started feeling more tangible. I want to give women confidence in their skills and capabilities to go after their dreams. In particular Women of Colour who don’t have equal access to the income-generating opportunities I did. 

Now I was feeling more clarity and motivation. 
But, what next? 

Step three: Look through the lens

I used my impact goal as a lens to review how I was using my time. "Was I spending my time and energy on activities that would have this impact?"

I could quickly see that the work that I was doing in my day-job didn’t contribute to this goal. That’s why I was dissatisfied. The job contributes to people in so many ways. But not the ways that resonated with me. Realising this relieved a whole load of guilt that I was carrying around. Not being emotionally fulfilled in my job didn’t make me a bad person. It didn’t make it a bad job. There was a misalignment, and that’s okay. 

Step four: Take small steps

Leaving my job all together wasn't an option, so if I wanted to feel more meaning I had to embed it into other areas of my life.  I am building this business because it enables me to do work that fuels my soul. So that's one option for the dissatisfied. But it's not the only option. 

I also decided to, 

  • Frequent stores, cafes and other businesses that are run by women of colour
  • Add podcasts to my rotation that share information about impact led businesses and increasing diversity
  • Share more blog posts and quotes about building confidence
  • Learn more about racial inequality and some of the less visible impacts it has.

All these things I could do regardless of whether I had my own business and a 9-5 that didn't align. 
Some other ideas that I considered included: 

  • doing research or learn more about the topic
  • donating time, money or some other resource. 
  • Making or create something 
  • Joining a community group
  • Following more people or businesses on social media doing work you like. Share that work
  • Sharing information in your social network about the issue
  • Starting a new hobby
  • The result

It's been a journey. I am still on it. But each day I feel more driven to do the work. I can quickly question my thinking and actions and ask myself if I am making my impact. There is a peace that comes from this along with a huge dose of inspiration.

My lessons 

I am writing all this because I want you to feel this sense of purpose and connection too. Regardless of how you look at it, life is too short, or too long, to live it unhappy and disconnected. I am not a religious person and I don't have a powerful spiritual practice. But I have never felt more in tune with who I am supposed to be, and what I am here to do. It's a real buzz. 

Let’s summarise: 

  • Knowing your life’s purpose is a powerful way to feel connected with your true self and to live life in alignment with your values.
  • Knowing the impact you want to make connects you to your purpose.
  • You can make an impact in this life in ways unrelated to your day job. 
  • Find small, achievable actions and start making your impact in all aspects of your life. 

If you want to know more about this kind of stuff, hang tight. I am about to release my Soul Goal workshop as a limited-time group program. So if you are keen, go on the list to learn more when it is released. I will go into all the steps and tools I used to feel more grounded, clear and inspired by the life that I am living.

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