5 Ways You (Yes, You) Can Make a Real Impact on Your World

February 26, 2019

Think of microactions as something simple you can integrate into your everyday activities. Once you get going, these small steps will compound to make meaningful improvements both personally and collectively.

Are you familiar with the term microaction? In sum, it’s a small step you can take today, right now, to make a positive impact. It can be something to better yourself and your community, on your own or with your family and colleagues. It’s not a grand gesture: It’s something simple you can integrate into your everyday activities that will compound to make meaningful improvements both personally and collectively.

As financial planner Carl Richards describes it over on the New York Times, the real benefit is “the contagion that comes from taking a microaction in one area of your life and watching it spread to other areas.”

Small steps for incremental change – sounds do-able, right? Microactions just make sense, both in theory and practice. In that spirit, here are five simple ways you can use microactions to make a real impact on your world.   

1. Donate

Many people think that donations are only something wealthy philanthropists or foundations can afford, or that contributions have to be big to make an impact. Not so! In fact, donations from individuals accounted for more than two-thirds of all donations in 2017, and overall donations were up 5.2% from 2016.

Additionally, according to Nonprofit Source, Millennials are the most generous generation, and the average donation amount across all demographics is relatively moderate: $52 for monthly online donations and $128 for one-time gifts. So these smaller, collective contributions from individuals can move the needle in a big way. This regular charitable giving is a way to make your dollars have an impact directly on a specific cause near and dear to you, whether it’s preserving our oceans, providing aid to the homeless, or ensuring no child goes hungry.

2. Volunteer

If you’re willing to donate your time and skills, many organizations are looking for volunteers, often with minimal requirements of just a few hours per week. If there’s a cause you care about, research both local and national groups in your community working to address those issues and see how you can get involved. You can volunteer with local schools, national organizations with regional chapters, and/or houses of worship.

Have a talent for cooking? Make a few meals each week at a local soup kitchen. Are you good with kids? Take a few hours to tutor at an after-school program. The possibilities are wide and varied. Organizations like VolunteerMatch and AARP’s Create the Good can help you get started.  

3. Vote

Voting may be the easiest way to impact our government and the policies that shape our world. The turnout for the 2018 midterm elections was the highest in 50 years, showing that more of us than ever are making the connection between our votes and our voices. Whether it’s a major presidential election or your local polls, casting your vote consistently along with other voters who pledge to do the same will undoubtedly shape our cities, states, and country.

Not sure if you’re registered to vote or need to change your registration? Visit USA.gov to check your voter registration status or get more information.

4. Listen

When was the last time you really listened during a conversation, without thinking ahead to what you would say next? Active listening requires you to be present and intentional. It demands that you face outward and pay attention. When you’re an active listener, you’re more aware of the world around you. And according to Inc., good listening also builds mutual trust, boosts confidence, and even makes you more productive.

Note your conversations throughout the day. How often are you actively listening? Be mindful of your listening habits, and make a point to proactively listen at your next discussion. We bet you’ll immediately feel the difference and become more in tune with your community.

5. Invest

Beyond donating, investing can make a real impact on the causes you support when you do it mindfully. This method of conscious investing is called impact investing, and it ensures the companies you invest in are aligned with your values. So if you’re committed to clean water, for example, you can invest in companies working to keep our waterways free of hazardous chemicals. Impact investing is responsible investing, a personal finance strategy that is proactive, values-driven, and forward-thinking. Collectively, across the investing community, impact investing sends a powerful message that we can positively shape the world.