I wrote a rather lengthy post on making your goals actionable and what college taught me about planning my life into manageable chunks, but this sentence pretty much sums that up. When you wake up in the morning and want to change the world, pinning pictures of chalkboards with cursive type telling you to “Be the change,” will change nothing.
The change you so desperately want begins the moment you swim in it, losing yourself to the tangibles, the planning, the step-by-step measurements that guide you like a yellow brick road to your very own Oz.
I’ve been blessed to know or follow or stalk (to put it honestly) these 10 world changers and they all have something in common: passion met action.
Nate St. Pierre
What doesn’t Nate do? He’s the founder of ItStartsWith.Us, and his story is the epitome of why you have to make the leap from writing your goals down to doing something about it. At a workshop with his company, he finished the phrase, “Next year, I will…” with “change the world.” And he has. Each week, the members of ISWU receive a 15-minutes-or-less mission to complete and discuss. He’s since handed the baton to Joshua Opinion, but he’s staying busy with his latest project: Mixup (The Web).
Replacing Lauren Dubinsky (see below), Katie took over Love Bomb (another of Nate’s projects). At one point, Katie had as many as five jobs. She now monitors the thousands of love bombers who literally pour their hearts into blog comments for a nominated individual each Thursday.
Almost 18 months ago, Lauren wrote me an email about this project she had in the wings. At the time, she was struggling to define womanhood and put it back together after society had taken a chunk out of it. What she ended up with was The Good Women Project, a Christian blog that takes dating and marriage and singleness and working and being a woman and mentors those who need it. Now, thousands of women look to the site for hope and honesty.
A year ago, Hannah opened her love letter project to the world. She had been writing letters and leaving them on subway booths and library shelves for strangers to find since October 2010. Now, More Love Letters has its own website where thousands of subscribers receive a monthly email to bundle up handwritten notes and turn them into a package of hope for those in need. She’s now a freelancer, too.
I haven’t met Tammy, but she falls into the “friend of a friend” category. Up until a few months ago, she had Seventeen.com’s social media on the brain. Now, she’s full-time working on She’s The First, her nonprofit dedicated to sponsoring girls’ education in the developing world. Like Hannah, she’s living proof that what you love can become what you do—all day long.
I was first blown away by Emily-Anne because she’s so young: only just entering college next month. But besides that, she is wise beyond her years. She turned her own pain and bullying experiences into a national nonprofit, We Stop Hate, where teens around the country can band together via YouTube to spread words of encouragement for each other. She’s already been interviewed by Oprah, too.
Eryn makes being 4’11” seem empowering (I’m 4’11”, too). She’s not only a musician with her own fan base. She also took self-love to another level when she started So Worth Loving, a clothing line that reminds people of their own self-worth and beauty. From small beginnings, taking mailed-in shirts to spray paint the words “so worth loving” on them, the site now churns out its own merchandise and ran a campaign in May called MayYou.be.
Nina found her way into my heart through More Love Letters. She’s got her own agenda for activism, though. She’s taking the reigns for Marist College’s Heal A Heart, Remove The 1, an organization that seeks to crush the statistic of 1 in 3 young adults being in an abusive relationship.
Morgan and I worked together briefly in high school. Even then, she was driven. I should have known she’d put together a massive self-love campaign: Team True Beauty. She’s one of the co-founders and has backings from celebrities in all sectors of the entertainment industry. Even Channing Tatum, which certainly makes me feel good about my body.
I’ve never met Adam, either, but his Zeitgeist talk on purpose is nothing short of mesmerizing. And he’s connected with She’s The First in the past, as he’s the founder of Pencils of Promise, an organization dedicated to building schools in the developing world. His life-changing moment came in the form of a young child in one of the countries he visited telling him all he wanted was a pencil. Pencils, Adam now knows, can not only educate but raise funds to build more schools in third-world countries.
What excites me most about this list isn’t that I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with many of these people. It’s that there are thousands of other examples of people who are turning their passions into careers and fueling movements during the late hours while the rest of us are asleep.
Truly, that is where your change resides. Not in pinboards labeled with inspirational Ghandi quotes, but in plans that outline actionable goals for building schools and designing clothing brands and writing stories that attach heartbeats to causes.
Who else am I missing? Share in the comments, please.