NEW YORK-Many people I speak with tell me they want to make a difference. They want to contribute at work, do more, and make an impact in their career. But when asked if they are making that difference, the answer is usually NO. Not due to lack of want, but lack of courage, direction, or a plan.

During the course of their careers, many people wait for things to happen. They wait for a raise, promotion, or ideal assignment. They wait to be called back on an interview or to hear about a job they've applied to. A lot of waiting. Not always a lot of doing.

People also wait for permission. Many people tell me they want to do more, but no one "told" them they could do more. Maybe they want to mentor someone at work. Or, volunteer to train a new co-worker. But they don't, and they wait some more. Why do you need permission to help someone out?

Making a difference is not a "sit back and wait" endeavor.  It's not usually something that will be given to you to do; it's something you go after. The good news about choosing to make a difference is you go from re-active to pro-active and dissatisfied to fulfilled in your career. The scary (and exciting) news is you may have to create an idea or come up with it yourself.

So How Do You Make A Difference In Your Career? Follow These 3 Steps Below.


1. Decide To Make Difference

Without a decision, you will never begin. You can't make a difference until you decide you want to make a difference; that you are tired of being unfulfilled and wondering what is missing. Once you make your decision, you will no longer think only about yourself, and will begin to think about others. You will not wait for someone to tell you what to do; you will give yourself that information. You will be deciding to have more say about where your career is headed. Deciding is powerful. It gives you strength and purpose. Now, you need your plan.

2. Identify How &Whom You'll Impact

Many people I speak with tell me about their ideas. Some have just one, and others have many. Rarely, does someone not have any idea circling around in their head. People tell me the big impact they want to make, or the smaller impact that will affect only a few people. What they all have in common is a desire to make a difference. You have ideas too. Write them down. Now, ask yourself, "who will I impact?" Write their names down, so you can see them clearly. Once you can see, then you can do. You also want to write down the steps you will take to make your impact. List the steps, then prioritize them. This is your plan.

3. Make a Difference

No more waiting; it's time to start doing. You know what you need to do, so get out there and do it. Start with the people on your list, those in your plan. Begin with the first person, then the second, etc. People believe that they can't focus on anyone else when they are worried about themselves. It's actually the opposite; you feel better when you take the focus off yourself. That's when opportunities appear; when your career is not so much about you. If your career is not where you want it to be, and you've wanted to shake it up, this will be your opportunity to do some shaking.

So, what do you say? You only have one life to live, so it might as well be a life you love!

Deborah Brown-Volkman, PCC, is the President of Surpass Your Dreams, Inc. a successful career, life, and mentor coaching company that works with Senior Executives,  Vice Presidents, and Managers who are looking for new career opportunities or seek to become more productive  in their current role. She is the author of "Coach Yourself To A New Career", "Don't Blow It! The Right Words For The Right Job" and "How To Feel Great At Work Everyday."