There are many of us who want to make a difference in the world, we want to change it for the better, effect positive outcomes and maybe, just maybe, end up changing the world itself. The problem is it’s not always that easy – the expression “it’s easier said than done” suddenly springs to mind. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing that people want to make a difference. Many of us have a true sense of altruism that we are trying to express, and are just looking for ways to get it done. Youngsters today are being raised in a world where the media highlights all the problems the world faces, from climate change to the economic system – and these highly suggestible and aspirational young minds see themselves as the ones who need to fix these problems.The truth is, whether you’re younger, older, or somewhere in the middle, whether you’re trying to change the world or just a tiny piece of it, there are things that need to be done before you are able to.
Before you take off on your world changing crusade, you need to stop and take an honest look at yourself. If you’re not ok, if you yourself are not put together, you’re not going to be able to affect any meaningful change on the world around you. Taking care of the world means you first need to take care of yourself. It’s now that I’m reminded of a book written by Dr Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. There’s one chapter in particular that fits the bill here – called clean your room. Now I don’t blame you if you’re sitting there suddenly questioning both ours and Jordan’s sanity – asking ‘what cleaning your room has to do with changing the world?’ The short answer – everything! The longer answer is more complicated – but bear with us. What Peterson is ultimately saying is before you run off trying to tackle massive complex global issues, you need to make sure your own house is in order. If it isn’t – how can you be expected to tackle something as big and as complicated as the economy? Before you venture out into the world – make sure you can at least clean your room! If you can’t, you are setting yourself up for failure!
Failure is an inevitable fact of life. More often than not, there is grace in our failings as they offer valuable learning opportunities. But this is a constant level of failure, because you are working at a task that you have no hope at solving. Trying to solve a problem you aren’t nearly equipped for is like beating your head against a brick wall, the wall always wins! Well, unless you bring a sledgehammer. So let’s give you that sledgehammer!
Whether you take it literally or metaphorically, the messaging behind clean your room is the same – you need to take control of certain aspects of your life, those aspects over which you have control, over before you tackle the things you don’t. And when you do, you’ll make yourself stronger, more resilient. If you want to change the world, you need to start with yourself and work outwards, not the other way around. You need to take care of yourself first, making sure you are healthy both physically and mentally.Ultimately, bettering yourself will better the world around you.
You could make your bed, wash the dishes, clean your car – anything small to start. Just start, be consistent, and then add something else to the mix. Eventually – branch out, focusing on things slightly more outside of your circle of control – your friends or family. Then look at little community projects, “maybe I can work on that, help fix something there?” This snowballs – eventually what once seemed impossible is something you’re already doing, because you took control of one tiny part of your life like cleaning your room. Now go out and change the world!