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Do you feel driven by a larger mission or purpose, but you’re distracted by day-to-day responsibilities? Does it feel like you’re only inching ahead when you should be sprinting? Are you wondering how on earth to make a positive impact when you’re so darn busy?

You’re not alone.

Many people want to make a difference in the world, but have trouble finding their footing. They might feel like they’re too busy, distracted by other responsibilities, overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, or unsure of where to begin. How can you become a change agent when so much is holding you back?

Take heart, it is possible for even the busiest person to make waves. Start with these seven steps:

1. Start thinking conceptually

Conceptual thinkers are able to take a step back from their daily work and explore the bigger picture. They think about widespread, systemic change. They reflect on what kind of action is needed to make an impact at all levels. For example, if a conceptual thinker’s goal is to cut pollution, they might consider local action first—promoting carpooling or biking, participating in local advocacy groups, etc. Then, they might consider statewide action—pollution-cutting legislation, campaigns to build more bike lanes. Lastly, they might consider systemic, nationwide action such as advocating for federal laws that require stricter efficiency in cars.

To become a conceptual thinker, start researching the cause you are passionate about and find out how the local, statewide, and national pieces connect. Figure out who the major players are and what is already being done to help. Then, reflect on potential actions you could take to participate in the “good fight.”

2. Set incremental goals

Goal-setting works. If you’re determined to make a difference, try setting several concrete goals and working backwards—what steps do you need to take to get there? By breaking down your goals into bite-sized pieces, they will be more manageable and you’ll be able to celebrate small victories along the way (for more on goal-setting, see my past blog post).

3. Find like-minded dreamers

There’s no need to be alone in your advocacy. Seek others who are as interested in your cause as you are and become a part of their community. You might find these like-minded folks online, through meet-up groups (such as, in local clubs, through work groups, or even among your friends.

Once you find your community, lean on them for support and inspiration. They are the ones who can help you when you’re feeling stuck or unsure of your next steps.

You can also use members of your community to be accountability partners. Challenge them to hold you accountable for sticking to your advocacy goals through regular check-ins. Don’t forget to return the favor!

4. Anticipate resistance…and create a plan to overcome it

Daily life and unexpected troubles are sure to get in the way of becoming a change agent. You might get bogged down by a large project, a family illness, or unexpected financial troubles. Don’t fret! These things happen. If something suddenly gets in the way of achieving your advocacy goals, wait until the trouble has passed, revisit your goals, and rethink them. Reset your deadlines and develop a new plan for making a difference. Everyone has to deal with setbacks from time to time—just don’t let a setback become a defeat.

5. Don’t do everything yourself

The greatest change agents recognize that they do not have to go it alone. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with a project—say, you’re running a blood drive and more people signed up than you originally anticipated—reach out to others and ask for help. Don’t think of asking for help as a sign of weakness; great leaders are also great delegators.

6. Build your resilience

You’re going to feel worn down by work, life events, and all the good work you’re doing to become a champion of change. That’s normal. When you’re feeling exhausted, take a conscious break, unplug from your duties, and give your overworked brain time to cool down. You can build your resilience by stepping away for a while and then facing your challenges once you feel rejuvenated. Part of resilience also involves recognizing that things are not always going to go perfectly, but you can and you will overcome the bumps in the road. Think of each setback as an opportunity to try again, not as a failure.

Are you excited to go out there and make a positive difference? I’m excited for you! Though you are but one person, there’s so much you can do. Start small, develop your plan, build your support group, and start making an impact. The world needs your contribution.


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5 steps to changing your life

This is the time of year many people start thinking about making major changes in their lives. The New Year is symbolic; it’s a marker that traditionally rings out the old and ushers in the new. For many of my clients, it is a time when they come to me for guidance, looking to overhaul their careers or embark on an entirely new journey.

If you find yourself at a similar crossroads, wondering what direction to choose or what action to take, don’t ignore your impulses. It’s good and healthy to reflect on our lives every once in a while and now is as good a time as any. But reflection is typically not enough. Many people need the right tools to help them sort out the kinks in their lives. With this in mind, I’ve created an exercise to help you think about the changes you might need to make and the steps you could take to make your visions a reality.

NOW is the time to move forward and make positive changes in your career and personal life. Not tomorrow.

Find a Quiet Place to Consider the Following:

1. When we feel dissatisfied, it’s natural to jump to the conclusion that everything needs a major overhaul. Instead of rewriting the entire book, begin by considering what is going well, what is working for you, and what don’t you want to change. List four positive aspects of your life (this could be your family, community, relationship, job, etc.) and explain why you feel they are going well.

2. Consider one area you would like to change. What does that changed area look like? What is the first step for creating this change that immediately comes to mind? Imagine your first step has been accomplished. What are the next three things that have to happen? Now you game plan is starting to take shape, bringing your vision closer to reality.

3. Do you worry you don’t have the time? Fill in your typical daily activities on the timeline below. Where could you reclaim an extra 30 minutes? Does that rerun on television or updating your Facebook page three times each day really deserve your attention?


4. Admit to yourself that none of this is easy. In fact, creating change can seem daunting, and we are tempted to abandon our efforts when faced with obstacles. Jot down at least five challenges you anticipate and a list of people you could call to help. Is there a friend who you consider an expert in developing a business plan, giving professional advice, or writing résumés? Perhaps reaching out to these people are important steps in your creation of change.

5. Throughout our day we talk to ourselves, and this voice is not always positive. Realize that negative self-talk can stall your efforts. What do you say to yourself regularly that is especially debilitating? Try to let go of two negative messages you send yourself this week. Identify your personal saboteur, give your negative feelings a name, and banish them from your space. Once you have successfully banished these two, aim to fend off two more negative thoughts next week. If you get in the habit of thinking about yourself and your capabilities in a positive light, I guarantee you’ll feel a weight lift off your shoulders and you’ll be more energized to make constructive changes in your life.

Interested in some guidance as you make your plan for the New Year? Contact UXL Today!

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