Wednesday, November 05, 2008

How Can You Make An Impact?

"So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other."
--President-elect Obama's acceptance speech
November 4, 2008

In her post today, Congratulations President-elect Obama: Now, BlogHers, what will YOU do to change America?, BlogHer co-founder Lisa Stone asks us to make our own "transition plan," and ask ourselves how are we are each going to help create change in America.

To figure out how you can make an impact, try this exercise based on a similar one from Carol Lloyd's book Creating a Life Worth Living:

1. On a blank piece of paper write (without editing) a long list, or create a mind map, of all of the issues that are important to you (i.e. health care, education, foreign policy, the arts, crime, poverty, animal rights, environment, local politics, organic food). You can be as general or specific as you like.

2. On a second piece of paper, write (without editing) a long list, or create a mind map, of all the skills (personal and professional) you like to use (i.e. research, construction, making music, translation, driving, cooking, organizing, presenting).

3. You can do this third part alone, but it's even better if you can find a friend, or group of friends to brainstorm with. Take a final piece of paper and write, without editing, or create a mind map, all the ways you could use the skills you enjoy to work on the issues that are important to you.

4. Look through your list and mark the three ideas that you are the most excited about. Your ideas may be life changing, like entering the Peace Corps, or smaller changes in your daily life, like volunteering one morning a week at a public school in your neighborhood.

5. Write down three small actions you can take toward exploring one of these ideas. Ideally, the actions would take somewhere between 30 minutes-2 hours, so that they feel doable. Mark a date on your calendar when you'll complete your actions. When that day arrives, pick three new, small actions towards the same idea, or a different one.

6. Find a small group of people to share this process with on a regular basis. I'll be posting a transcript this week, or next week from my Big Vision Podcast interview with Marianne Manilov of The Engage Network. She talks about the power of small groups to change the world.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."-- Margaret Mead

How some bloggers are changing the world:

Julia of How I Changed the World Today regularly documents the loans she makes to to social entrepreneurs on

Karama of So What Can I Do? posts ideas for how you can change the world. In today's post, Join the Carnival of Change We Can Believe In (Booth 11) she suggests supporting Obama's presidency by: 1. voting for every position in every election, 2. serving jury duty (willingly), 3. writing to your elected officials, and 4. running for political office.

As part of Art Every Day Month, Jennifer of the Life Unfolds blog is creating collage cards for each of her core values. She is also the creator of the Unfolding Your Life Vision Kit.

Cross-posted from
Flickr photo credit: American Flag, Navy Pier, Chicago by Belinda Hankins Miller.


  1. Thanks for this post. I was wondering where to put my newfound community activist energy. I've been a volunteer of some kind for 20 years. The Obama campaign and my participation in it has validated the value to society and self of this kind of life. Your next steps are a good way to focus my commitment.

  2. Anonymous7:49 AM

    Obama's sweeping election has reaffirmed that we are not intellectually bankrupt as a nation. Now it's time to put that intellect to work. Thank you for your first steps approach to unlocking the solutions.

  3. Anonymous11:52 AM

    After researching some Peace Corps sites, I came across your blog on making a difference and wondered if folks would help a Peace Corps alum with his effort to make a photo documentary on Peace Corps volunteers. He use to volunteer in Jamaica and currently works as a photographer in Indiana. Hence the marriage of the two callings into this photo documentary effort. He's trying to raise funds for the effort, and I thought I'd try to help him out by posting about this effort.

    His "Making Peace with the World" campaign is at and he's raising $10,000 to complete the project. One more interesting thing is that he's using a tipping approach to his donation campaign where anyone who donates will not be charged for their donation until the $10,000 amount is reached. Kind of neat for folks to know that their donation will only be used when the full amount is raised.

    Think about it. Thanks for the read.
    Paul in Chicago

  4. Hi Bobbi and Mary - I'm glad you found the post helpful.

    Paul - Your friend's project sounds like a good one. He might want to check out Ree

    ReelChanges: audience funded documentaries.

  5. Britt,

    Have Fun * Do Good is my favorite blog. You inspire me.

    I'm the Believe Act Go Lady who believes in spreading joy, shredding fear and having fun. Doing good I have found is very fun.


  6. Thanks for the mention Britt!! What an honor.

  7. Thanks for kind words dancing b.a.g. lady!

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