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How to make an impact and support your family while doing it.

How often have you thought about your job and wondered if it even makes a difference? Whilst you’re very dutifully doing your best and being as productive as you can be, have you ever thought that it doesn’t really matter? Most jobs in the world are largely mundane, and whilst probably necessary for our big economic machine to keep working they don’t make much of a splash. Sure, you might enjoy hanging out with your co-workers. You might relish the challenge of designing a product. You might get your kicks from accurately accounting for all the resources in a project. But are you really making an impact?

Impact is a measure of the tangible effect of your work on a system, or a customer, or the economy. So healthcare professionals would certainly have an impact on their patients. Bankers certainly have an impact on national and international economies (you can discuss if it’s a positive or negative impact!…). But does your job have an impact on anyone?

Making a difference

As an average person you may, quite justifiably, have a pretty low expectation of how much difference your work will make to the world. As kids we all imagined we would be rock stars, astronauts, inventors, or olympic athletes. However experience teaches us that rather than doing something exceptional with our life we are much more likely to do something rather average. Sounds depressing, right? Well actually no, it’s not. Being average is essentially what the massive majority of us are, otherwise it wouldn’t be the average.

So around 80% of you reading this blog are really quite average people. Around 10% of you are above average – good for you. And around 10% of you are below average – sucks to be you. But does this mean that 90% of you should euthanize yourselves because you haven’t done anything exceptional?…not necessarily. Your appalling mediocrity need not be a source of shame for you, as long as you are able to make a difference in some way.

There are many ways in which you can make a difference, or have an impact. That ‘tangible effect’ is actually quite a broad definition, so you don’t need to be curing smallpox for your efforts to be tangible. Providing a great customer experience…? Sure. Helping a client find a great new home…? Probably. Persuading vulnerable old people to sign up for expensive life insurance…? You should reconsider the euthanasia. But how do you know if you’re making an impact on the world? Well, it should start with a question about your values.

Be led by your values

Values are essentially the measure by which we judge ourselves and others. They are fueled by our experiences, our upbringing and education, and how we perceive our world. Some people have shitty values like Have tons of money for the sake of it; Drive a kickass car; Work like a dog to become a Director or some other lofty-sounding title; or Own property in Milton Keynes. These are pretty standard values these days; such is the curse of society. However you don’t have to have these values, or judge yourself by them, in order to make an impact.

Now look, having those kind of shitty values doesn’t necessarily preclude you from making an impact, just like competitive dog grooming doesn’t necessarily make you a nutcase. However I would suggest that if you’re led by those kind of shitty self-serving values then you are unlikely to make the sort of impact you’re dreaming of. Whereas if you are led by values like Spread understanding and tolerance, Be creative or Never stop learning then you are much more likely to make a positive impact on the world, and the people in it.

Not sure what your values are? Well it’s worth spending some time figuring them out. The key thing is to determine if they are realistic, if they are within your control, and if they are really constructive. If you can answer Yes to these questions then chances are they’re good values.

Converting values to success

So what’s next? Well if you’re led by those good values and decide to make your life and career choices based on them then you’re likely to enjoy some success, and to make a positive impact. Now I’m not suggesting that you should all become charity workers, or nurses (given how poorly nurses are paid they’re essentially the same thing). Instead you should follow a path that feels right for you based on your values. I did that and I’m pretty content with my choices. Here’s how…

One of my key values is to be present for my family – in the sense that I don’t want to work crazy hours, and when it’s family time I want to be 100% there and present. I struggled with both of those until I embraced a different life choice, which was to become a social media consultant. I’m now able to commit to family routines with all of my body and mind, without thinking I should be doing something else because I feel guilty for not working enough hours. I work flexibly when I need to and I can walk away guilt-free because I’m managing my own time. So I can support my family emotionally, and also financially because consultancy pays pretty well too. It’s win-win, and I feel fantastic about it.

If your values are similar to mine then you can achieve that too. The life of a social media consultant is awesome – being creative, working with people, working flexibly, making a good living by making a tangible difference. At Social Media Mafia we are building a community of like-minded value-driven achievers. In our academy we help each other to grow, to achieve our aims, and to make an impact at home and at work. If you’re interested in making that impact then sign up and join the ranks. We’re looking forward to welcoming you.