A Meaningful New Year's Resolution
I meet far too many young people who are already worried about their self-worth and their careers.
Maybe their plans didn’t eventuate.
Maybe they don’t like their job.
Maybe their friend’s lives seem to be going much better than their own.
What really gets me though, is that it’s often not a career problem.
It’s a narrative problem.
It’s the story they’re telling themselves.
People forget that they have the power to permanently change someone’s life for the better.
Think of it like this:
It’s surprisingly cheap to restore someone’s sight through a cataract operation.
The procedure takes about 15 minutes, and costs $31.
Most people in the developing world can’t afford it.
But you can.
You won’t miss the money.
There’s plenty more where that came from.
You can easily swing that every week.
That’s 52 operations every year, paid for by you.
So next December, there will be 52 people whose lives are forever changed because of you.
Picture 52 people, all in the same room.
That’s quite a crowd.
Most of these people are probably older, and have children or grandchildren.
These young kids previously acted as their helpers.
Which means they couldn’t go to school.
So your 52 operations free up another 30 kids, who can now get an education.
That’s now 82 people in the room.
All of whom have better lives and hope for the future, because of you.
Now imagine you’re in the room with them.
Would you still be feeling worthless?
Powerless to make any difference?
You’d have 82 people who would disagree with you.
“Uh, Isaac that seems a bit unrealistic”
It would cost a grand total of $1,612 and you’d get a tax deduction.
That’s probably between 1-3 hours a week at the job you’re always complaining about.
But if you view it as a side project, the work feels more meaningful.
For 1-3 hours a week, you become someone powerful.
Someone who changes lives.
Nobody else needs to know – this can be your secret identity.
Like a low-level superhero.
Not the kind who catches falling skyscrapers.
The kind who sees something wrong, and does something about it.
The one who refuses to be a bystander.
Most people won’t notice, and that’s fine by you.
You noticed, and so did the person you helped.
James Altucher and Seth Godin have a term for this: Choosing Yourself.
You’re not waiting for an invitation, or for someone else to pick you.
You decide that you’re the person who will make a change, and you start putting in the work.
If your business isn’t working, if you’re socially awkward, if your job isn’t meaningful, if you have no direction, that does not negate your value as a person.
It might mean you need to rebuild.
It might mean walking away from sunk costs.
It might mean stepping back from negative influences.
It might mean leaving your comfort zone.
You have the power to see something that you know in your gut is wrong, and start creating a solution.
That doesn’t mean setting yourself on fire to keep others warm.
It means solving problems in a way that builds your skills and keeps you inspired.
If you’re lost for a New Year’s Resolution, try this:
Decide that every week, you will help someone.
Maybe it’s someone you know, maybe it’s a stranger.
Maybe it’s someone on the other side of the world.
When you see an opportunity, take it.
If you don’t see an opportunity, make an opportunity.
Keep a note on your phone each time it happens.
Over the year, that note is going to get longer and longer.
And you’ll no longer be able to tell yourself that you can’t make a difference.