How to Make a Difference Without a Whole Lot of Money

by Lance Ekum on · 55 comments

It’s an honor today to share an arti­cle writ­ten by John Anya­sor, from HiLife2B.  John is a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor here, and authors his own blog while also attend­ing col­lege full-time.  He has a real desire to help oth­ers, and much of what he writes focuses on per­sonal growth.  A recent exam­ple of his work include Should I or Should I Not? The Curse of Inde­ci­sion

John’s words will make you think more deeply, and lead you down your own road of self dis­cov­ery.  You can fol­low along with him by sub­scrib­ing to his blog, and by fol­low­ing him on Twit­ter

We can all make a dif­fer­ence, and today John shares:

How to Make a Dif­fer­ence With­out a Whole Lot of Money

 

Stand Out.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Shot_by_Cam

“How won­der­ful it is that nobody need wait a sin­gle moment before start­ing to improve the world.” ~ Anne Frank

Have you got the itch? The itch for change? It’s that feel­ing you get when it seems like time is mov­ing at no more than a snail’s pace. You’ve set­tled into the rou­tine of sim­ply liv­ing. As usual, there’s a war going on that nobody really wants to fight. Or there’s some dis­ease that threat­ens our way of life. Same old, same old.

Every­where we go, there are images of pain, fear, and hatred spread across some adver­tise­ment in bold let­ters.  These images seem to ask us, “Is this the world you want to live in? Help these peo­ple fight the good fight! Help us find a cure! Help us make a dif­fer­ence! Do something!”

As a result, we say to our­selves, “Enough wait­ing around. It’s time for change. It’s time to make a difference.”

Okay, now you’re pumped and ready to make your mark on the world. First, maybe to begin your world-changing efforts, you make a com­mit­ment to donate to char­ity (the ones that give to poor third-world coun­tries) at least once a month. That sounds rea­son­able, right?

Alright, it’s been a month, and to your sur­prise, on the news you hear of kids still starv­ing in third world coun­tries. You’re taken aback. “I thought peo­ple were donat­ing money to this cause. And I thought I was giv­ing enough. What’s going on?” you think to yourself.

Then, a great idea strikes you. “Maybe instead of being pas­sive and pay­ing money to some char­ity every week, I’ll hit it where it hurts. I’ll go to those starv­ing coun­tries and fix them myself!”

Fast for­ward a month later:

You real­ize you don’t have any money. You may or may not have kids to feed. You might be a lit­tle biased towards rid­ing on planes, thanks to the media (you know how the ter­ror­ists hijack planes, don’t you?). You believe that it’ll take for­ever to save some­one else’s plight, espe­cially when they’re halfway around the world!

You also have a job that is under the con­trol of your ever-so-grateful boss. You can go save the world on your own time.

With all of these things work­ing against you, you finally resign to just pay­ing your monthly char­ity check and hope things turn out for the best.

Just so you know, the per­son in the above sce­nario isn’t mak­ing a difference.

Now before we get to the meat of this arti­cle, this sce­nario is based on what I think usu­ally hap­pens. I’m not say­ing this is you. I’m just say­ing this is typ­i­cally the sce­nario that plays out amongst the gen­eral population.

Soci­ety keeps telling you to change the world, and yet it forces you into jobs which rob you of the time needed to become skilled enough to do so. Soci­ety wants you to pay to save third world coun­tries from hunger. Soci­ety wants you to keep liv­ing the way you are, while mak­ing you envi­ous of a celebri­ties wealth at the same time.

Have you noticed some­thing? (Because I sure have!) Soci­ety is train­ing us to obsess over money.

Real­ity tv, gos­sip mag­a­zines, jobs, and intern­ships: they all pro­vide the car­rot on the end of the stick — money. We’re sup­posed to have money, but God for­bid we’re sup­posed to accrue enough to actu­ally do any­thing with it!

We’re sup­posed to spend it try­ing to sur­vive so that we can work more. We have to spend it pay­ing off mort­gages on houses we know we can’t afford.

Well, I for one am here to solve this problem.

There’s only one solu­tion to this dilemma and there’s only one way to make a dif­fer­ence: we must give up our obses­sion with money.

Here’s the deal with money — use it or lose it

From now on, all the things you do now will be in prepa­ra­tion for the future. Put money into the things that have the most value. When you want to make a dif­fer­ence, there’s no pur­pose in invest­ing in things that only give you instant grat­i­fi­ca­tion.  Skip that fancy lit­tle red dress you’ll get bored of in two weeks, and use it to pay the phone bill. That big screen you’ve had your eye on can wait; spend the money on main­te­nance to pre­vent your car from break­ing down (or bet­ter yet, save more money and take the bus!).

Work for yourself

Let’s face facts — you can’t make a dif­fer­ence by sit­ting in your office doing your boss’s work. You can use what you make to fund an online ven­ture, but you can’t keep your job and run a prof­itable online busi­ness at the same time. Some­thing has to give. My advice — as soon as it becomes more prof­itable to work for your­self than to work for your boss…quit.

Start an online venture

You don’t need thou­sands of dol­lars to start some­thing that’ll make a dif­fer­ence. Gone are the days when you had to buy land and built a store to sell things. These days, mak­ing the switch to online is bet­ter, more acces­si­ble, and faster than offline ven­tures. Start a blog to get the word out of your attempt to make a dif­fer­ence. Sell mer­chan­dise or ser­vices — maybe both. If you have a Ma and Pop store, make the switch to MaandPop.com.

Man­i­fest good­ness within oth­ers by help­ing them

At this point, you’ve reclaimed your time and are earn­ing your own liv­ing. Now you are ready to save those mil­lions hop­ing and hurt­ing across the world. But don’t make the same mis­take twice by just donat­ing money — actu­ally go to those coun­tries. Wit­ness their plight. Expe­ri­ence the pain. And when you can’t take it any­more, find a solu­tion. Actu­ally teach peo­ple to improve their lives. Don’t depend on their country’s gov­ern­ment to save them, but teach them to save themselves.

You can’t do this alone, of course. But with your newly acquired resources, you can gather like-minded indi­vid­u­als who’ll gladly help them on your quest.

There are peo­ple today who’ve already made the deci­sion to save the world. Tim Fer­riss is seek­ing to built schools in Viet­nam. Steve Pavlina is empow­er­ing the masses by pro­vid­ing work­shops to help peo­ple reach their full poten­tial. Even Lance here is spread­ing aware­ness about breast cancer and moti­vat­ing as many peo­ple as he can.

Think you can’t do it?

So did they once. They once thought they had no chance in mak­ing a dif­fer­ence. But that didn’t stop them from try­ing. And once they saw results, they tried again, and again, and again until…

Well you know the rest.

Just know that your chance to change the world hasn’t left yet. You can take action right now to fight for what you believe in or spread a pas­sion that you have for something.

Go out right now, and think about how you’ve made a dif­fer­ence. And then quadru­ple your efforts.

“There are two types of peo­ple who will tell you that you can­not make a dif­fer­ence n this world: Those who are afraid to try them­selves, and those who are afraid that you will suc­ceed.” — Ray Goforth

Lance writes sto­ries from his heart, aim­ing to inspire and moti­vate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he’s not here, you can find him hang­ing out with his fam­ily, rid­ing a bike, or just gen­er­ally act­ing goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Tree­house newslet­ter and get addi­tional inspi­ra­tion in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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