The end of the year is for many a moment to reflect. But why do you reflect upon the past year? To find out how great or not so great your year was? Or to look forward and really make a difference in the upcoming year? If this is what you are aiming for, this article is written for you.

This article will guide you in doing what you love doing and really make a difference in the life of others.

Step 1: reflect on the past year

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

How was your year?

What did you do?

What did you learn?

What are you most grateful for?

Are you happy with the answers to these questions?

When I answered these questions last year, I was pretty happy with all the things I had accomplished in 2017 and very grateful for being able to live the life I wanted. 

Then I did another exercise. I started tracking how much of my time I spend on doing things I love, things that are ok and things I dislike. The first insights I gained at the end of day one is that I could only account for approximately 5 hours a day. What did I do the other 19 hours? Ok, I slept for 8 hours, but still, what happened to the remaining 11 hours? 

Many people wished they had more time doing things they love doing. The challenge is that you have to make these things a priority. You have to plan them in your daily schedule. It has to become a routine. Not something you attend to when you have finished your to do list, because no one ever manages to finish their to do list. Like most, mine only grows bigger.

The second thing I noticed when I did this exercise, was how much time I spend on doing things that are ok. I have cleared out most things that I dislike long time ago, so I started this exercise with the idea that I had designed my life pretty well. But after a few weeks I realised that a lot of my activities were ok. I had to face the fact that I spend very little time on the things that I love doing. And with love doing I mean doing things that leave me flowing with positive energy and things that excite me. If someone would ask me if I would like to do it, I would jump up and down with excitement and figure out a way to fit it in my schedule. 

Step 2: spend more time on things that you love doing

“Spend more time doing things that make you forget about the time.” – Charlotte Eriksson

But why wait for someone to ask you? Why not arrange it yourself? I tried to duplicate the things that I had written in my love doing. Work that excites me, things I care about, holidays and spending quality time with my family and friends. For next year I want to duplicate it again.

What do you love doing?

How much time do you spend on things that you love doing?

How can you duplicate this?

Most people have a hard time answering the first question. 

And duplicating zero still remains zero.

So let’s break it down.

What would you do if your boss would give you 3 months off? 

What would you do in these three months?

Would you like to go traveling?

If this idea excites you, why wait for your boss to offer it to you? This is never going to happen! 

You have to take life in your own hands. If travelling excites you, figure out the costs of your travels, save it, sell some items you do not need, do whatever it takes and then arrange 3 months off. It is not that difficult.

What would you do if you won the lottery? 

Would you quit your job and start working as a volunteer at the local community centre?

What is stopping you from doing that now?

How can you take the first step in getting there?

Can you start working there a few hours a day?

Can you ask your employer to sponsor you? Donating time to charities instead of money? There are so many possibilities. But you have to arrange it yourself. 

Start with taking the first step.

Like many others did before you.

Step 3: get inspired by others

“If you think you are too small to make an impact, try sleeping with a mosquito in your room.” – Anita Roddick

There are many businesses for good that can inspire you to create the impact you desire. They all started small.

When a Dutch couple decided to take in a foster kid with autism they soon found out that it was very difficult for him to reach his goal of working in a restaurant. After a while they decided to take matters in their own hands and they started a restaurant where he and other youngsters with autism could work. They soon found out that there was no school that could offer guidance in the way and in the timeframe “their” youngsters needed, so they set up their own school. In this school you cannot fail. You can take as much time as you need to get your certificate. There are no set holidays because 6 weeks off is not beneficial for these youngsters. They are treated like employees, so they can take holidays and days off. The rest of the year they work and study. Resulting is very happy youngsters and very happy parents.

“I’ve learned that you are never too small to make a difference” Greta Thunberg

Another example of starting small is 15 year old Greta Thunberg who started protesting in August 2018 after heat waves and wildfires hit Sweden. She protested during school hours, holding up a sign “school strike for climate” outside the Swedish parliament. Her demands were that the Swedish government reduce carbon emissions as per the Paris Agreement. Greta gained worldwide attention and inspired more than 20.000 students from across the globe to protest with her. In December 2018 she spoke at the United Nations climate change summit in Poland, urging policy makers to take action.

And the last example is about Afroz Shah, who returned to Mumbai in 2015 after studying abroad. He found that his beloved Versova beach was filled with tons of plastic and together with his neighbour, he decided to start picking up the plastic. By hand. One by one. They went back every single weekend to clean up. Afroz knocked on doors and encouraged people to help him. He approached businesses and educated them about plastic waste and how it was destroying the beaches and oceans. His friends and neighbours joined him and soon an entire community was cleaning up the beach. It took exactly 160 weeks to fully clean the beach. It is now completely back to its original state.

Hard work pays off

When the beach was almost cleared, 80 Olive Ridley Turtles returned and started laying eggs on the clean beach. This was a first in 20 years!

All these businesses for good started small and slowly grew their impact. 

Are you ready to start making a difference? 

Step 4: start making a difference 

“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.” – Nelson Mandela

Start with thinking about where you want to make a difference.

What are the things you care about?

What is your purpose?

Why do you get up every day?

Write down a list of causes, worries, problems or interests that you connect with. It can be anything, from global warming to kids in your city that go to school with an empty lunch box. 

Make it a long list with at least 10 things but preferably 25 things you care about.

Next, create a list with at least 10 things but preferably 25 things you are reasonably good at and that would make you happy. 

Again, it can be anything, from cooking to writing to coaching.

Now bring both lists together. 

Where do they match?

Which elements can you link together?

Maybe you link multiple problems with multiple things you are good at. 

Try to connect the dots, create patterns and come up with ideas how to make a difference. 

Do you want to make a living out of helping others? Then check out the remaining 5 steps in launching a business for good.

If you are stuck and do not see how you can move on, check out how to set yourself up for success. 

Are you ready to make a difference?

I have created a free checklist for you to start a successful business with impact. If you tick off all the boxes, you have laid the perfect foundation for your business for good.