News headlines haven’t been so great lately (but really when have they ever been, right?). Even then, scrolling through your newsfeed can sometimes make you feel more depressed than you would like to be before you get the chance to go on your morning coffee run. Even the charming wit from theSkimm is sometimes not enough to mitigate the effects of bad news. As social entrepreneurs, and the good people that we try to be most days; these bombs of negative and at times terrifying information can easily wear us down, leaving us asking the question, “am I really able to change the world?” This very question was recently debated passionately over excessive amounts of iced tea and salad at Savvy HQ.
The conclusion. You’re not.
We repeat, you are not going to change the world. You can’t save all 196.9 million sq miles of space on Earth and you will not impact all 7.3 billion people that currently live here. Not to mention the billions of flora and fauna that covers our planet. No, you can’t save the children and the polar bears, while stopping fracking and ending war.
(PS thank you Google for these impressively daunting statistics).
So why bother? Why would you? Quit while you’re ahead…curl up in a fetal position and wait for the inevitable end while playing Adele in the background, because even if you try really hard my friend, you will not be able to solve every major issue going on in the planet.
We understand and we’ve felt like that too, but it’s a matter of taking a different approach. One that we have adopted in our own moments of “woe-is-me” with desire to collapse like a Disney princess unto our office chairs. One that gives us hope to believe that if everyone takes this approach we will end up having a better place to live in. You can positively impact, get this, YOUR world. The world and the people you interact with everyday. We are aware that the way we interact and the work that we do can significantly affect the world around us, so we actively push forward to strive for a better “our” world than it was yesterday. And that world of ours can be as close or as far as we want to make it, as little or as broad, but always keeping in mind that whatever we do to change our world will also change someone else’s.
Take a little first grade girl, Zea, who quietly waved a rainbow flag as a grown man bellowed at her through a microphone. Zea showcased a courage we know exists within each of us, and even cooler, this iconic image is now available to purchase on t-shirts to support LGBT nonprofits that her family will chose. Don’t tell us that one small act can’t inspire and create an impact. If a little girl can do it, you can too, now multiply that and you can imagine the possibilities of a world full of Zea’s changing THEIR world.
Still not convinced, then let’s talk money. Take an innovative company like Kiva for example, who in 2014 were able to lend a whopping $135,547,175 USD in micro-loans to over 300K borrowers worldwide. Lenders can give as low as $5 to change the life of an entrepreneur, and it’s working. Lives are changing. We know because we’ve supported and have gone to speak to our borrower, Warm Planet Bikes, and have heard and seen the impact first hand.
Even with all these great examples, it can get overwhelming when the everyday struggle of trying to make an impact through professional and personal efforts gets overshadowed by more and more bad news. Said this, we would like to share with you some tips on how you can see your impact in your world and keep moving forward!
1. Identify what you are trying to change in your world and prioritize
What are the things that you care about the most? Which ones are your priority? How much time can you/are you willing to spend on each one? If you have trouble getting your priorities straight, add the question why after every one of the former questions. That might help you clarify your mind.
2. Set your own goals
Once you understand what causes are more important for you, you can set goals for each one of them. You can make more ambitious goals for the causes you are willing to dedicate more time to, and smaller goals for the ones that are not as important but you would still like to contribute to. Be as specific.
Here is an example, if your main priority is eradicating homelessness, you can set the goal of helping reduce homelessness by 5% in your neighborhood by next year. Maybe you also want to support saving the polar bears, but is not really within your top priorities. You can set a goal of making 100 people aware of the problem and the organization they can support.
3. Make a plan with activities and times!
Once you have picked your causes and set some goals, create a plan. What activities do you need to do to reach you goals and how much time are they going to take from your day? List all the activities that you can think of and pick the ones most feasible in order to achieve your goals.
Going back to our last example, for your goal regarding eradicating homelessness you could think maybe a full time job in an organization will get you there, maybe volunteering, or leading a group to work on the cause over the weekends. A full time job might not be the option given that you already have one, but leading a group over the weekends is for sure something to get you there.
When it comes to Polar Bears, you might just decide to wear a t-shirt that spreads the message and share two or three posts a week about the issue and relevant organizations.
If you are not sure what activities you can do, you can do some research before hand. A great place to find great causes and organizations and act on them through the ActOn app.
While listing your activities, you might find that some of your goals are harder to reach than you initially thought, you can always revisit and adjust them.
4. Ask for help
You can’t do it all by yourself, and you might find that to reach some of your goals you will need to ask for help. Tap into your networks, ask your friends, find people who are interested in the same causes.
The more you talk about what you care about, what you are doing and especially why you are doing it, the more people will understand and empathize with your causes. Making a person understand the importance of changing their own world generates huge impact in itself, because the power to change multiplies.
6. Ask yourself, what else could I do?
There are times when due to time constrains or resources, you can only do so much, but there are small actions you can take to reach your goals. Become aware of those small actions that can also make a change for example: right before you put something in the trash, is it going to the right bin? Can I pick up that bottle on the street? Could I help my neighbor carry her bags to the door? Can I smile back at the lady on the bus stop. These small things also count, so don’t discard them. (Unless it’s recyclable, badump tss!)
7. Keep track
Keep track of the things that you do to change your world. You can keep a diary, take pictures and post them on Instagram, write a post it with date and action and put it on a board. You pick! this will keep you motivated and on track to continue doing all of your activities.
8. Check in
Set some time frame in which you will look back on what you’ve done and compare it to your initial goals. You might find that you are doing so much more than you expected, or maybe that the activities you are doing are not as impactful as you wish they were. In any case, the whole process is about learning, keeping yourself motivated and acknowledging that you are changing your world.
9 . Pivot!
The check in step will allow you to see clearly that circumstances can change over time, you might at some point have less time, you might not be doing as much as you expected, some of your activities are not being as impactful as you thought they would be or that some of your interests have shifted. All of this is valid, in this case pivot and refocus!
10. TAKE A BREAK, HAVE A CUPCAKE, SHAKE YOUR TAIL FEATHER & START AGAIN!
Changing your world can be fun!
So there you go. This is not science and you can change, mold and bend this process as much as you want, after all it’s your world that you are changing, and you know it better than we do.
And when you are feeling out for the count in the hard work that it takes to be a changemaker, we encourage you to think about this very well known, yet always powerful story about a starfish:
There once was a man walking the beach picking up starfish and throwing them back into the ocean. He continued to do this until a woman approached him and asked, “there are hundreds of starfish washed ashore why do you bother wasting time throwing them in? You can’t possibly get to them all?” The man then replied “true” as he lugged another into the surf, “but it matters to the life of that one, and that is enough.” – paraphrased from “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley
So no, you aren’t going to change the whole world, but you are DEFINITELY NOT going to change anything if you sit there waiting for the world to implode. You are a lot more likely to change the life of one individual, one plant, one polar bear than all of them, but it is worth it!
At Savvy we like to do one tweet, one Facebook post and one marketing campaign at a time to support the social enterprises and nonprofits that are changing their world’s for the better through initiatives like #SavvySpotlight. It’s never to late to make a change, so go out there and start doing some good things and changing your world.
Ciao for now,
The Savvy Squad
Hilda Perez & Diana Sánchez, Co-Founders of Savvy Marketing for Good