The world population ended at 7,324,782,225 last 2015 according to Geo Hive. As of January 29, 2016, the Philippines had a total population of 101,593,251 according to United Nation estimates.
Out of this large population, we have numerous people in society wanting to change the world through various practices: creating a disruptive startup, making positive change through volunteering and charity donation, or sharing inspiring personal stories to the world so that other people can apply the learnings to their lives (which is exactly what The Border Collective is about). But most of us think:
“How can one person like me spark the change I wish to see in the world?”
You might have an idea on what to do based on your goals and advocacies. But without execution, this will not have an effect in the world. Take myself for example. My personal advocacies are toward education and poverty alleviation, so that is where I focus my effort on my volunteer work. I’ve started a crowdfunding project for school supplies given 200 kids at Payatas during an annual Christmas party at school and have participated at initiatives by other groups such as Sagip Kapamilya, Love in a Shoebox, being a Filipino Youth Ambassador for ASEAN Youth Leader Association.
How to get started in becoming a changemaker
Where do you start contributing? How do you execute your own idea? Or better yet, if you’ve already started, how do you execute so that it touches on a bigger scale?
Here are some personal lessons I’ve gotten based on my own experience:
1) Focus on 1-2 goals or advocacies so you will not spread yourself too thin.
Identifying your main focus can help you achieve two things:
- a) You will know what project will bring the most value to your focus area.
- b) You can gauge how much time you need to allot based on the first item. Aiming to change the world while you’re a college student who’s preparing for your thesis defense can be hard. Knowing which activities you want to focus on can give you a clear picture of how much time you’ll allot to make those ideas and initiatives fly.
2) Your young age is never a hindrance in changing the world.
There have been countless accounts of changemakers who have accomplished their goals at such a young age. Tai Tran is now 22 years old and is included at Forbes 30 Under 30 for Media in 2016, and who has also made the first Twitter account of Apple. Malala Yousafzai stood up against the Taliban for suppressing access to education for women at Pakistan at 16 years old without knowing that this will lead her to become the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. Leandro Leviste put up his own solar panel company, Solar Philippines, at 21 years old.
On a smaller scale, I began volunteering at 15 years old in our high school’s outreach activities and organizations. I also joined my local church’s youth group which conducted outreach programs. What I had in my mind back then was it was really just about helping other people despite being young.
So whatever change you want to start, start today. You are never too young to spark change. Overthinking it will just kill your momentum. The best time to start was yesterday. The next best time to start is now.
As what Mark Zuckerberg stated in an interview at Time Magazine:
“When you’re young, you hear that you don’t have experience to do things, that there are people that have more experience than you. [But] I started Facebook when I was 19. Don’t discount yourself, no matter what you’re doing. Everyone has a unique perspective that they can bring to the world.”
3) You do not have to be rich to spark change.
Money is a great tool you can leverage on when you want to start a project or business. It can get you more people to help you execute your ideas and acquire the equipment or items you need to get the ball rolling, but you should not be discouraged by the lack of it.
One of the things that made me happy when I had my crowdfunding activity was that I had some people come up to me and told me, “I don’t have much cash but I can give you help on logistics.” I did not shell out a lot of money but through pooling people with a similar cause as I did, I was able to gather Php50,000.00 worth of school supplies from my 2014 and 2015 runs of this crowdfunding activity. This may not be a lot compared to other outreach activities, but it contributed to helping 400 kids at Payatas have a decent set of school supplies that they can use during classes to learn.
You can use your time, talent, and network to spark change. Planning to put up a business that went successful after your thesis? Pitch it to angel investors or venture capitalists since you technically already have a proof of concept which they can base on. Do you want to write for change? Find volunteer organizations where you can contribute using your skill. There are plenty of ways to get started. You just have to be creative on how to do it.
4) Always strive to learn on how you can make a bigger impact with your work.
Would you believe that I took an online course from Stanford University about volunteering? Yes, I did. Time, resources, and our energy are finite so I wanted to know how to identify where I should focus them to get the best results I can with volunteering. I have also read Ashlee Vance’s biography on Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. Although this was entrepreneurship, this taught me to strive for big goals and put all the work required to make my planned initiatives happens.
Whatever field you want to spark change in, there are plenty of resources where you can get information from. Here are some sources with pools of information for various topics:
5) Consistency is the key.
You can’t spark change overnight. You need to put in the work longer than that so you can see the results that your efforts have yielded. It sounds great in writing but it is not that glamorous on the actual execution. Point number 1 will keep you grounded and get you going because your vision is clear and it motivates you to make that change in the world. It may take months or years but it will produce results once you put the work in.
Also in relation to point number 2, time is on your side when you start young. If Richard Branson did not start the Virgin Group of Companies in his early twenties, do you think he’ll be as big of an entrepreneur as he is now? An early start together with persistence and consistency got him to where he is today.
The time is now
Granted the fact that you are reading this article now means that you want to spark change in something. It’s good that you are researching on ways to make your ideas happen.
Smart moves paired with the hustle can get you the results you want which may be in different forms, such as your new business getting attention from the public, or seeing the people you helped two years later living in better conditions. But how will these happen? You just have to start making them happen.