In most cases, the projects or careers that can make a positive impact in the culture or people’s lives are either low paid—such as teaching, social work, hospice, cleaning—or won’t be paid at all—such as parenting. Worse, at this point, many of them—teaching, social work—are under strict bureaucratic control that limits the impact of even the most devoted workers. Our economic system isn’t set up to reward positive social change. There aren't many who make much difference in the world while moving in the direction of “making a good living,” and those who do more often started with the priority being on making a difference. At best you’ll maintain the status quo while helping some individuals, which is a decent way to work. More likely, you’ll maintain the status quo in ways that subtly oppress others, which is not so hard to recognize if you look behind the curtain. Hint: to figure out who is benefitting from the current systems, remember that catchphrase “follow the money.” So if you want to make a difference, maybe join a non-profit, but be aware that many of those don’t really make any difference. Sometimes they’re simply perpetuating their own jobs and don’t do much.
The best way to start doing what you are uniquely suited to in the world is following your intuition somehow. That’s code for following the Spirit/Field/Source, but you don’t have to believe in spirit for it to work. You only need to have a desire to follow the highest principles you believe in, and you’ll be guided without knowing you’re guided. I have some tips on that, as do others. Spirit may send you to clean up some parts of your life first. It may send you on some learning and training before you’re fit for the type of service it has in mind. You may need to give up some aspects of life that you feel really attached to. That sage and zen master Jesus advised that you have to lose your life to find it. You have to give up your immature fantasies before a force with infinitely more perspective than your individual logic can help you create of yourself an impactful force for good in the world. I’ll tell you about my path. I’ll tell you my immature fantasies and what I gave up, and what has been better. If I sound as if I have conviction and a clear path, it’s because much of it is behind me. It wasn’t always clear, and sometimes I kept going more because of what I didn’t want than because of what I did want. I’ve heard many people describe how illness, accidents, and failures of various types motivated them to make needed changes. I preferred to avoid those and instead tried to make the needed changes up front. I hopefully won’t need more “blessings in disguise.” I’ve been slow maybe, because of my fear of mistakes, but I don’t think I’ve made many detours since the time I enlisted to be on the team. That didn’t require signing any papers. It was just a realization that I’d been making a lot of fear-based decisions that were keeping me stuck, making my life complicated and hard. I admitted I didn’t know how to make consistently good decisions. I said, “I know you guide some other people. Guide me too.” It was like the first step of AA. I admitted that I was powerless to make my life go the way I wanted, to make a secure little nest for me and my daughter. I admitted that my life had become unmanageable. Speaking of the 12 steps, there really isn’t a better way forward than those. If your idea of God is tainted by unfortunate cultural baggage, there are ways to sidestep that. In AA, your higher power can be an oak tree. It’s the process that’s important, not the specific conceptualization of God.