Why to Focus on Impact, Not on Income

By Katie Corbett

Career choice can be hard. You might fluctuate between feeling like there are too many options one day, to feeling like there isn’t anything in the world you want to do the next. Thinking about what you want to give back to others is a great place to start brainstorming. That will get you focused on what skills, knowledge, and talents you can offer an employer at a job, or clients or customers in a business you build.

In her book, “Think and Grow Rich for Women,” Sharon Lechter draws on the wisdom of the original “Think and Grow Rich” book by Napoleon Hill, and applies its message to women. (The information I put in this article can benefit anyone.) Anyway, in the book, Sharon says that focusing on making an impact – as opposed to making money – will be more satisfying. I have found this wisdom to be true in my own job search.

I was preparing to meet the marketing director of the nonprofit for which I now work. At the time, I had no idea if the company had a writer position open, so I sent her some writing samples along with my resume, just in case. A few hours before the meeting, I happened to watch a TED Talk by Tony Robbins, in which he talked about why people do what they do and the needs that drive human motivation. Tony’s talk said that the need that marked the highest stage of growth is the need to give. This got me thinking about what I wanted to do to help the nonprofit for which I was informally interviewing. My frame of mind, which strongly influenced my answers to the questions the communications director asked me, showcased my skills and knowledge, but also my desire to make a difference in the lives of others through my writing. I left that meeting feeling great about how it had gone. A few weeks later, we were discussing a position in which I would start out as a contracted employee. I still work there today.

I’m confident that if I hadn’t taken the “how can I make a difference” mindset to heart, and just focused on what I wanted for myself, our talk would not have gone nearly in the same way. Before your next job interview, I encourage you to ask yourself how you, specifically, want to make an impact where you work. How do you want to give back? What special knowledge, skills and abilities, can you bring to the company? How do you want to make a difference in the lives of others? These insights could change the whole outcome of the discussion. Even if you don’t end up landing the job, you’ll feel good that you came from a place of wanting to help others, and that makes for satisfying discovery.

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