You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. Jane Goodall
Sitting in the coffee shop enjoying a quiet moment before the day really begins, I notice the way the employees greet the patrons. It isn’t a forced “Hello,” but a greeting that feels to the outsider as if the welcome is genuine. It seems like a small thing, but from the time we open our eyes, we are impacting our world. It begins with your choices. Goodall’s words and work reinforce a simple truth we might not think about very often — you and I can make a positive or negative impact on the world around us. We will make a difference. The question is what kind?
Long ago, I stopped creating my list of New Year’s Resolutions and stopped saying I would lose ten pounds by a certain date. Instead, I decided to pick a theme for each year that I could reflect on as the days come and go to encourage myself to have a purpose when life is busy and full of distractions (and am happy knowing that my weight should never be the focus of my days as long as I am making healthy choices). In 2018, my word was PERSIST, and I have done that through many wonderful and some uncomfortable situations. Admittedly, I had moments that I wanted to throw up my hands and hide in my home or car, but I didn’t give up, and I’m ready to take on 2019 with a new word, a new focus.
I think about the way I make a difference in my world every minute of every day, from the times I’ve been lost in thought and not smiled or spoken to someone, to the times I’ve consciously chosen to ask the server in a restaurant to not bring a straw with my water in order to make a small difference in the environment. You and I make a difference through all of our choices whether we mean to or not, and that is why for 2019 my word is IMPACT. How do I impact others, impact the world around me, and impact the generations to follow when I am no longer here? One word with so much power. I hope you’ll join me in considering each week how we are impacting others.
Since we never know whose day (and life) we’ve impacted, we must simply start with the people we see or talk to each day of our lives. Think about it — from the day you were born, you’ve been impacting people without even knowing it much of the time. Was it a difficult birth, were you in NICU? You were already touching lives — the doctors and nurses who thought about how what they were doing was helping you, the people in your parents’ lives who were thinking about/praying for you. and, of course, your family. Their lives would never be the same for having known you. You see how this works? Every single day, we are impacting people, so why not choose to make a positive impact?
As the year begins, I know the first way I can impact people is by giving away things I don’t need to people who do need them. I don’t want to just donate them to be sold or to sit in someone else’s storage. I want to give them to individuals. I’ll have to let you know how I do with that, and you let me know if you have suggestions. Donating to organizations would be much easier, I realize. The second thing is to use my supply of stationery to write letters to remind other people of how much knowing them has affected me. The third thing is to be intentional in my moments with other people so that the impact I have is positive.
How will you and I choose to impact people in 2019? I’ll do my best to always point back to the theme, to help us remember that in the 365 days of 2019 we are impacting other people, the environment, and the world. You and I are that powerful. We might not ever be as famous as Jane Goodall, but in our quiet way, in our small communities, or in big ways we don’t even recognize, we will make an impact. We will make a difference in 2019. Prepare to change and be changed. Cheers to a great new year!