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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lisabeth Medlock

Simple Ways to Change the World and Steps to Get You Started

You can change the world- it is possible. Here are the first steps you can take:

Change your mindset and beliefs. This means two things-deciding that it is truly better to give than to receive, and understanding that you can take actions that will produce change. 

Make a commitment to do something--whether it be to volunteer, donate money, engage in activism or advocacy, or engage in a new behavior that has a positive impact. The point is that you take an action and commit the time to do so.

Choose an area of interest or passion or something specific you would like to impact. You should do some research to get a sense of the work that is being done and to find what resonates most with you. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for a cause or organization that particularly speaks to you, that motivates or excites you. Then dive in and focus your efforts on that cause or organization. You’ll be more engaged if you concentrate your time and resources rather than spread them thin.

Now that you are committed and ready to choose a way to act, there are so many ways you can change the world every day. Below are just a few suggestions to get you started. Some of these suggestions are from an article in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof. There are also books you can read to get inspired, including David Bornstein’s “How to Change the World” and Michael Norton's "365 Ways to Change the World ".

Become a mentor or tutor to an at-risk youth: Every community has students who need help. For just a couple hours per week you can make a huge difference. Or there are many other organizations that will take volunteers to teach English or do other work, and it truly can be a life-changing experience.

Sponsor a person in a developing country: Another easy first step is to sponsor someone abroad through a program that lets you contribute a certain amount each month to that person and exchange letters. It’s also a way to introduce your kids to global issues, as you show photos of the person you’ve sponsored. One example is to use Plan USA.

Shop locally. Skip the big box retail stores/restaurants for local establishments. While you might not get the best prices or the widest selection, you are investing in the future of your community.

Start a garden or invest in one: Even if it is just a small garden on an apartment deck or balcony, everything you grow and eat makes a big difference. And support local farms by shopping at Farmer’s Markets or invest in a community garden. Buy a share in a Community Supporter Agriculture farm (CSA). Redirect some of your grocery bill directly to the farmer by buying a share.

Loan some cash to a small business owner: Starting at just $25, supporting small business owners in developing countries is literally giving freedom from oppression. You can make these microloans through online organizations like Kiva. Kiva matches a donor’s loans to needy entrepreneurs around the world (who eventually pay the loans back). Another approach is to browse a comprehensive site like Global Giving, where organizations around the world have posted their wish lists.

Get to know your neighbors. This is the single most important thing you can do to ensure your neighborhood is a safe, friendly place to live and raise your family. Start with the basics– name, how long have they lived here, where did they grow up, what they do for a living. Then sit back and be amazed.

Convert one week of vacation to a week of service. If your heart is to serve, you can give a week of service in nearly any place around the world. Many say that this is the most rewarding/relaxing type of vacation available. 

There are so many small acts that are doable and available to you. Just pick one and see how it feels.

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