Feel like you can’t make a difference while stuck working in an office? Think again. Your corporate job could change the world.
When you think of world changing professions that make a difference in people’s lives, there’s usually a pretty standard set of images that come to mind. We think of those who faithfully serve in the military or the emergency services. We think of those who work for influential organizations like Oxfam or The Red Cross. We may even think of those who’ve dedicated their lives to making the world a better place in the United Nations, the European Union, or even in their local government. All these people really are making a big difference in our world today.
What usually doesn’t come to mind is your standard 9 to 5, suit and tie, pencil skirt or pantsuit, run-of-the-mill office job. You come in in the morning. You get to your desk. You catch up on email (if you haven’t already on your smartphone). You leave at COB (or later) in the evening. Your tasks are methodical. You fall into routine. And then you hit Friday and head out for the weekend, only to come back for Monday morning to do it all again.
But you too, my friend, can change the world.
Here are 3 ways that your corporate job can actually make a lasting difference in the lives of others.
The people you work with
One of the biggest taglines in the corporate world is (say it with me everyone): “it’s not personal, it’s just business”. This is our mantra in our approach to our career. It makes those decisions such as setting remuneration, hiring and firing, and even professional conduct in meetings fall under a certain set of standards and expectations.
But the workforce can be a pretty dark place for a lot of people.
As I was nearing the end of my I.T. degree a number of years ago, I couldn’t fully understand all the cases I would hear where a husband would ditch his family and spend almost all his time in the office, or where someone would have a breakdown under the pressure of their deadlines, or where people would constantly be surrounded by others but still feeling lonely.
But very soon after the early years of my career, I found out exactly how easy it is for those things to happen.
While people go to a place of work, people aren’t their work. They have dreams, they have aspirations, they have families and friends and calling. They have personality and feelings. They aren’t just a KPI next to their name or some consumer of the company’s budget.
Many people in the business world are dying a slow death. Suffocated by pressure. Unsure of who they are. Conquered by anxiety and discouragement.
If you wanted to change the world, you need only lift your eyes above your monitor and have a look at the people you work with.
We really romanticize this idea of what changing the world really looks like. But maybe what it looks like today is being an encouraging voice in your workplace. Maybe it’s actually talking more than just “the pleasantries” before you jump straight in to what you need to ask someone to do for you.
Changing the world starts with changing the world for one. And you and I have an amazing opportunity to do that, Monday to Friday.
Your spare time
You have 168 hours in a week. A standard full-time work week sits at 40 hours. That’s less than a quarter of the week. So… where’s all the rest of your time going?
I’ve done a lot of work with the young adult leaders at our church over the years. One exercise I always love to do is to work out how the 168 hours a week they have is set out. Okay, so take your 40 hours at work out of that. Next, let’s say it takes you 10 hours on transport to and from work. It’s always recommended that adults get around 7 hours sleep a night, so take another 49 out. Then let’s say you spent 10 hours cooking and eating (average). Let’s be generous and estimate another 10 hours on grooming – showering, getting your hair done, all the rest of prettying yourself up and hygiene.
Going off those numbers that would still leave you with 49 hours in your week unaccounted for by “essentials”. All of us would have other things we’d fill in there – fitness, family commitments, overtime, church or volunteer involvement, external study, rest and leisure (absolutely necessary in my opinion), and whatever else you do.
But crunching the numbers at a high level leaves us with about 7 hours a day to fill in with other activities. Go ahead and fill in the gaps for yourself of what a standard week looks like for you.
When it comes to making a difference, many of us who work will say we’re too busy. But what are we busy doing? Are we too busy because we’re going through 7 episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in all our spare time each day?
Or is it possible that you do indeed have all the time you need external to your work hours to get involved in building the lives of others?
I mentioned it in parentheses above that I absolutely believe in rest and leisure and think they are super important in order to be more effective – if you remove them from your life, you won’t be as fruitful at all. But if all your spare time is leisure, perhaps you’re missing a great opportunity to spend your most precious commodity building people, and that’s your time.
The way you spend your finance
And then there’s your finance – the other commodity. It’s the base reason for all employment. No money means no food, no housing, no services to provide yourself or your family. It means bills don’t get paid, and it means you’re unable to purchase the things you need to improve your life.
But what percentage of your money is going where?
Most of our money usually goes back into our own lives. Whether it’s through essential purchases such as food and living costs, savings and investments to build our future, or all those nice-to-haves we like to fill our lives with, we certainly do enjoy the fruit of our labour. I think that’s okay to do. If you’ve worked hard to earn a keep, you should be able to enjoy your keep also.
But your finances may be another amazing way to build the lives of others.
The pretty standard scenario of changing the world falls on two groups of people – the ones with lots of time to make a difference, but no money; and the ones with lots of money, but no time. That’s an extreme oversimplification, but I think you understand what I’m trying to portray here.
Imagine if those two groups were to enter into partnership.
Reality check: it costs a lot of money to make a big difference in some people’s lives. There are many who recognize this reality. I’m always inspired by Bill Gates who started The Gates Foundation with his wife. Two of the richest people on earth who have used their wealth to rebuild people’s health, homes, and livelihood.
Talk about making a difference. Who would’ve thought that someone “just doing an office job” could have such great reach?
So how about you?
Where is your money going?
There’s nothing wrong with investing into your own life or into your future. But take a minute and consider that with your increased resources you can actually be the means to helping the dreams of others become fulfilled.
It’s actually amazing the places the humble office job can take you. It’s even more amazing to think of the people you are able to help even “just working full time”. It’s a very unique position to make a very unique difference in our world today.
So next time you go to work, remember what you’re actually able to do in your position. The people around you, the time when you go home, and the money that goes into your pocket.
With a little bit more purpose towards where your life is going, you’ll probably even find yourself enjoying your work a lot more.