Want To Make A Difference?

What does this really mean to you?

‘The trouble with my job at the moment is that it feels so empty, so soulless. What I really want is to feel that I can make a difference with my work.’

Does that ring true for you?

I have heard variations on this theme from many clients over the years. It seems to be a concern that comes to many of us at some stage in our working lives.  And when you are thinking of making a change of career it can be a great starting point.

Make A DifferenceBut it is just that – a starting point. Where do you go next once you have decided that making a difference is important to you?

Let me give you a few pointers.

What does ‘making a difference’ mean to you?

Making a difference is a broad vision.  Vision is great, but to transform a vision into a reality you need to explore further by breaking it down a little.


I usually begin by asking clients who they want to make a difference to. Who are you drawn to serve or support in your work?

  • People who are learning to cope with a disability?
  • Disaffected teenagers who are struggling to find their place in society?
  • Retirees who have lost a sense of identity and purpose after their formal working life is over?
  • Starving children in the Third World?
  • Refugees and survivors of torture?
  • Neglected and mistreated animals?

There are many causes you can serve and you can’t serve them all.  What is your cause?


Once you have some idea of who you want to make a difference for, you then need to ask how you want to make an impact on their lives or situation.  There are many ways, great and small and they are all equally valuable.

  • Are you drawn to work with individuals? Do you want to feel that one-to-one connection where you can see the impact of your work on a single person with whom you build a relationship?
  • Do you want to work at a community level, where you make something happen to support a group of people in your local area?
  • Do you feel strongly that society is structured in a way that disadvantages a particular group and so you know you need to find a way to influence things at a national level through political activity or setting up a lobbying group or charity?
  • Do you have a really Big Vision? You want to leave the world a better place, to shape our global community by campaigning across borders for world peace or an end to global warming or habitat destruction?

And if the last idea gives you goosebumps but you then turn away thinking ‘it’s only little me, I couldn’t possibly do anything like that’, just remember Malala Yousafzai.

I Am MalalaAnd what about you?

This brings me to the last point you need to consider.

  • If you are to make a difference to others, what difference do you need to make in yourself first?
  • In what way do you need to step up?
  • What limiting beliefs do you need to let go of?
  • What negative messages from others do you need to stop listening to?
  • What do you need to choose to believe is possible to set you on the right track?

If you want to make a difference, it all begins with you.

And it starts today.

From The 5 Minute Career Coach November 2013

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About the author

Amy Thomas

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