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Career Advice

8 Questions to Ask Yourself If You’re Struggling to Make an Impact


Are you putting your work out there?

There are some people who are perfectly satisfied working for a paycheck and nothing more. If you’re in this group, great.

But then there are those who long to make an impact. They want their work to have meaning beyond the daily reports and stats and deadlines. They want to know the why behind what they do, and be able to convey it with confidence. They want their work to improve the lives of those around them and across the world.

From my experience as a career and communication coach, I’ve found that for those in the latter camp, the fastest way to get on the right track is to practice self-inquiry. Here are eight important questions to ask yourself. By considering them regularly, you’ll not only gain clarity about what you should be doing in your career, but also develop the necessary skills to start making an impact.

Are you putting your work out into the world?

Sharing your work is scary. As a guy in the communication world who stutters, I know this deeply. Whenever you do something that’s never been done before, there’s a chance you’ll embarrass yourself. This will never change.

But respect and confidence aren’t only gained by getting things right. They’re also won by stepping out into the world and trying. The next time you are scared to publish an article, count to three and just ship it. The next time you are asked to take the stage, grab the mic and give yourself permission to be bad today — in order to be better tomorrow.

Are you reserving time each day to sit and think?

You can collect all the experiences in the world, but if you’re not giving yourself time to allow them to connect — they’ll lose value. The only way to make an impact is by having clarity in your vision, certainty in your actions, and a stronghold on your values.

I’ve learned that pattern recognition is the name of just about every game. Creating space in your day so you have time to sit with your thoughts, dreams, feelings, and fears will bring these patterns to light faster than any other activity. Ask yourself: When am I happiest? Which people and activities give me energy? Where and how can I improve?

Are you involved in your community?

Sometimes, opportunities to shine come from the strangest of places. Your job is to meet as many people as you can in order to uncover the sweet spot where their needs intersect with your abilities. Make it a goal each day to make one new connection. Give some of your time to organizations and causes that you believe in. Join a mastermind group to meet people who are doing what you want to do. Never have there been more opportunities to engage with the world than there are today.

Just don’t forget to meet people who have different beliefs and interests from you. The world opens up to those who have an open mind. Not only that, but getting to know people with diverse backgrounds will make your life more interesting.

Are you improving your communication skills?

According to Warren Buffett, honing your communication skills is one of the easiest ways to double your worth. An easy way to do this? Record yourself speaking every day until you love what you see and hear. Once you feel confident, step it up a notch by joining a public speaking group.

Are you getting to know people you admire?

The moment you hear the words, “I heard about an interesting opportunity and I thought about you,” from someone you admire is the moment you know you’re creating impact and beginning to steer your own career.

Take 30 minutes a week to speak with someone who is doing what you want to do.

Are you diversifying your skill set?

On Lewis Howes’ The School of Greatness podcast, relationship expert Matthew Hussey said that the people who keep us awake at night are multidimensional. If ambition alone is sexy, then ambition and a great sense of humor can be deadly.

When it comes to our careers, the same logic applies. A writer who can also command the stage is memorable. A techie who knows how to sell will always be in demand. Developing new skills that compliment your existing strengths will not only make your work more interesting, but it will also help you create a profile that lasts.

Are you saying yes to new opportunities?

Everywhere we turn today, we are told about the importance of saying no. However, nine times out of 10, this advice comes from people who already know what they are passionate about, who know the path to making their mark.

If you’re not there yet, the more experiences you have, the faster you will identify what fuels you and what doesn’t. Most opportunities do not come to us while we’re sitting in our offices. They come to us by getting out into the world. This cannot happen if you aren’t saying yes to things that make you a little uncomfortable.

Are you doing what you can to support the people around you?

Our lives are not measured by how many people inspire us, but rather how many people we inspire. The good news is that opportunities to support the people in our community are all around us. That young writer who shows promise? Let him know how much you love his work. That new person in the office? Tell them that their efforts are not going unnoticed.

The more you help people to carve their own path, the faster your own path will become clear. Once you see it, so will the world.