Does your Work Make a Difference?

How would you answer this question? How can you tell if your work matters? 

The world is in crisis, and I think it would be hard to argue otherwise. Climate change is very real, poverty is widespread, every day there is a genuine problem to solve in the world or in our local communities. This incredible need creates incredible opportunity for impact, and to help solve and address these issues. And yet, most of us sit in offices making money for ourselves and our business owners and shareholders without considering whether and how that work matters. Does what you do matter? 

There are lots of companies, organizations, and individuals making great money with great security and growth while also giving their 40 (or more) hours per week to solving these challenges. You can too. But first it's important to think about and look at where you are now, so we can think about where you need to head next. 

One way to look at impact and whether your work is aligned to making a difference is to look at the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's). The SDGs are a list of priority areas that UN Member states (the country you are logging in from now is probably one of them) strive to make an impact on as a collective, and they are also a useful list of areas to consider when you look at your work and evaluate its impact.  So, drumroll please.

The SDGs are: 

  1. No Poverty. End poverty in all its forms, everywhere. 

  2. Zero Hunger. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. 

  3. Good Health and Wellbeing. Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all, at all ages. 

  4. Quality Education. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. 

  5. Gender Equality. Ensure gender equality and empower all women and girls. 

  6. Clean Water and Sanitation. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. 

  7. Affordable and Clean Energy. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. 

  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth. Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. 

  9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation. 

  10. Reduced Inequalities. Reduce inequality within and among countries. 

  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. 

  12. Responsible Consumption and Production. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. 

  13. Climate Action. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. 

  14. Life Below Water. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development. 

  15. Life on Land. Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss. 

  16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. 

  17. Partnerships for the Goals. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. 

Does your work clearly align with one or more of the goals listed here? Does any part of what you do professionally move any of these goals in the opposite direction?  If your connection to any of the goals is a little bit iffy, what could you be doing to make it stronger?

What if we all did work that somehow aligned to one or more of these goals? How much more could we see change, and how much more impact would we have on solving the world's greatest problems if that were the case? What can you do in your work, now, to make progress in one of these areas instead of hold us back? 

If you want to talk about your career, whether you’re making a difference, or how you can do better, book a call.