At 40:20 Vision we love to dig into what’s next. 40-something women have earned their confidence and can provide a sneak peek into the other side of decisions as we answer the questions that young professionals want to know.
Q. I love my job, but I don’t feel like I’m making a contribution in the world. How can I find a way to do some good in the world through a job I enjoy?
It’s not an either or option. There are plenty of ways to start fulfilling your life through giving back. Most 40-somethings agree that volunteering and helping others is one of the best ways to get outside yourself and actually get to know yourself. Here are their thoughts on how:
There are many shades of green…
This woman who spent 20 years at a Fortune 500 company can honestly say the grass is greener on the other side.
“I totally relate. I loved my job developing new business for a Fortune 500 consumer goods company but I felt something was missing. I eventually left and now I’m running a non-profit. It’s exactly what I’m supposed to do but it isn’t the answer for everyone. Here are a few things to consider.
1) How do you contribute to larger society in the job you are in? At the Fortune 500 company, I did it by focusing on new products that were far more sustainable. This raised the issue of sustainability for the company, and made it easier for consumers to buy products that were both good for them and good for the world. You probably have more options than you recognize to affect meaningful change just by stretching your day job.
2) How do you balance your day job with what you do outside of work? For example, I sat on the board of a local non-profit which (a) allowed be to contribute to our community in ways I couldn’t do in my Fortune 500 role and (b) gave me non-profit credentials so that when I did make the switch people took me seriously.
Non-profits or expressly mission driven companies (e.g., Thom’s shoes) are one way to make a difference – but they are certainly NOT the only way. Think of the good that you can enable through the resources available to you in your current job, then find a project and get started .” – Mary Jo Cook, Chief Impact Officer, Fair Trade USA
The best of both worlds…
This financial advisor who’s seen both sides of the NGO table agrees. She has found she can do more “good” outside of her work responsibilities.
“Working for a non-profit or an NGO may actually disappoint as the bulk of the efforts are tied to fundraising and prospecting for funds. If you want to get involved, I would recommend keeping the job you love and looking for opportunities where you can volunteer, get your hands dirty and be engaged with the cause/people you are hoping to support. Be a mentor, tutor kids, or volunteer for a cause to name a few.
Match your passion.
CSR is increasingly important so there will be more opportunities to get involved within a corporation through employee engagement programs and cause marketing. And as this global marketing strategist relates, it’s a trend that’s not just for corporations. From skill based volunteering resources such as Catchafire to crowd-sourced fundraising, you can find something that matches your passion.
“Don’t worry about not working as Gandhi. It’s absolutely possible to love your job and do good. Think about all the people you meet and the causes you care about most. Is there any link between the two? For instance, if you work for an airline but you care deeply about green issues, you could get to know those in the organization who work on emissions. Contribute a portion of income to a cause you care about rather than give up a job you love to take a lower salary. There’s always a way to contribute, and forums like Kickstarter and Kiva as well as mentoring programs like Taproot make it easy.”
Double your passion.
These two women who are passionate about fashion as their career find the way to fit in passions for the greater good:
“Good for you to have a job you love. You’re lucky. There is nothing wrong with enjoying your job and excelling at it. Grow and prosper with the job you love. There are thousands of needy volunteer organizations that need someone like you that truly wants to make a difference.“
“Get your company to rally around a good cause – support a charity or walk for cancer. etc. It’s also a great way to bond with executives and people outside your specific area. Aside from quitting your existing job and joining a not for profit charity group or Greenpeace, it is a way to give back.”
In the end, if you are passionate about it, you will find the time and the place.
Christina Vuleta is a strategic consultant and creator of 40:20 Vision. 40:20 Vision is a resource to start conversations, share experiences and facilitate mentoring between generations. It provides advice from 40-something women to 20-something women on what we have learned in life about career, passions, self-fulfillment and relationships. Most recently a director at The Futures Company, a strategic marketing and trend consultancy, Christina has made a career out of understanding insights that drive women’s aspirations and life decisions.