I am sitting in Suzhou, halfway across the world from my home in Vancouver, figuring out what an impactful life really means and how to live it.
The impact is measured by how you change the lives of people. The first thing I realized is that it’s much harder to live an impactful life than an average life.
Society glorifies the lives of philanthropists and entrepreneurs. We don’t realize the commitment and sacrifice it took them to achieve and maintain what they have created.
To become impactful, you have to put in the hours. In saying that, I believe living an impactful life is impossible without loving how you live.
At the same time, you are also being driven by the change the world might be able to see because of you. You have to enjoy the process more than the results, but be driven by the results.
What does it mean to make an impact?
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what having an impact means. After much reflection and research, I think it boils down to changing the lives of others for the better, and your depth and scale in doing that.
I’ve come to conclude that the impactful life and my ideal life are identical because in changing others, I can also improve myself.
That’s just me, though.
When thinking of the impact I want to bring to the world, improving mindset and behavior come to mind.
What we focus on does not matter as long as we have a value-adding focus. I believe that if we have zeal in our lives if we’re passionate and if our purpose is aligned with what we want and what we’re doing …then we can never be at the mercy of our circumstances.
A bold statement. But greatness usually comes with boldness, does it not?
I know that if we have clarity of purpose and grit then we are enabled to impact people with our lives.
When I think about the kind of life I aspire to lead, I imagine myself awakening the flame within different people. I imagine myself equipping people with the tools they need to make an impact with their lives.
What that actually looks like, only time will tell.
The truth is there are people asleep on the inside, barred from reaching their potential. Those are the people I want to reach.
Why aim for impact?
We all are born wanting something more. When people ask us, many of us default to saying things like “I want a nice house, a nice car, a nice family”. There’s nothing wrong with those things. But if that’s your answer, then what I think you actually want is significance.
You want those ‘things’ because you want recognition from someone. You want those ‘relationships’ because you want to be significant to someone. What you really want is to matter in this world.
Ironically, few of us realize that our significance isn’t measured by our accumulation, but by our contribution.
I can’t tell you why you should aim for impact. Maybe you shouldn’t. What I can tell you, however, is that your significance and your impact in the world are one and the same.
Money, fame, and power are often just side benefits that come with increasing impact and significance. The size of your bank account shouldn’t be the yardstick for our achievements. The size of your impact should.
What does an impactful life look like?
Does it look like a successful business? Maybe. Does it look like meaningful work? Maybe. For sure though, it definitely does not look like a yacht, or a plane or an astronomical number in the bank account.
There is nothing wrong with having any of those things. I’m just saying they are the wrong success metrics for determining the criteria for an impactful life. There’s more to it than just that.
An impactful life should be measured by the contentment that comes from how you are living your life to make a difference in any particular moment. The most impactful people are often the most satisfied and by extension the most grateful.
In my own quest to become more and more impactful, my goal is to live in a way that maximizes every moment towards the documentation and creation of content that adds value to the lives of others.
While a movie or entertainment might be fun, I believe my true satisfaction comes from living a life of creating (in my case learning to create) something meaningful and of value to others.
Whether this comes in the form of a blog post, a podcast, a meaningful quote, or even a conversation, I’d be grateful if it helped just one person in any way.
What is the biggest obstacle to becoming impactful?
The biggest obstacle to not only an impactful life but also a productive or successful life is often the face in the mirror. Our values, beliefs, and habits limit us more than our circumstances.
We focus on the wrong success metrics, and the lack of satisfaction causes us to complain and blame. We shy away from making decisions that will make our lives harder even if it is just for the short-term.
I am guilty of all the things I mentioned. For you, it might be a lack of confidence, laziness, or fear of judgment.
In any case, barring physical ailments the problems we have that prevent us from living life fully are psychological characteristics we can influence.
So often I look at my own life and the time that I wasted by trading away long-term gain for short-term gratification. In those times, I wonder what my life would be like if I put my head down and hustled with a clarity of purpose for the last ten years.
The good news, it is never too late to start.
What actionable advice can I give?
I am no expert, so this is not expert advice. However, from my own experience and research, I now believe we all actually know in our minds what we should and should not do.
For some it is clear, for some it is vague. But we all have an idea.
The hard part is following through consistently. It is hard to rewire our own minds for the long-term by doing the hard things now for life to be easier later.
In order to consistently do the hard thing, I believe we need a purpose. A purpose that compels us and overwhelms us with so much drive that we cannot help but take action.
For me, the chance of being able to turn my dream into reality, to leave my mark on the world would have made the pursuit worth my lifetime.
What about you?
1. Take 15 or 30 minutes, and be quiet with yourself. Try to complete this sentence: I am truly happy when I ____________________________. You can have more than one thing.
2. Whatever these things are, ask yourself whether or not it is worth it. Do you pursue activities that aren’t contributing to your happiness?
3. Make the hard decision.