Researching and supporting a cause that matters to you this Xmas not only helps you. It can massively help others.
Supporting causes can help you work out what you want from life. Careers in the 21st century, when we are likely to work for longer than ever (and for different companies), will be based much more on company values and ethics than older generations - who tended to focus on a paternal "you'll move up through the ranks from apprentice to retirement" arm around the metaphorical shoulder, driven by financial security first, a job-for-life second, and perhaps striking lucky and enjoying your career third. Younger people, via social media, are much more aware of global issues and therefore how they want to fit into them (and ideally solve or improve them).
There are plenty of ways to explore what matters to you. Giving even a few pounds to a charity this Christmas directly from you (or on behalf of a loved one) can generate empathy, compassion, a sense of community and a boost to your mental health. The warm gift of selflessly giving last much longer than a stocking full of Poundshop novelty gifts. You may even find some volunteering or placement opportunities too via those charities. There's all sorts of causes you can give to, such as ensuring a homeless person has a warm bed and Christmas meal and access to employment training over Xmas, or perhaps it's buying seeds or a training packages to help support African farmers. It might be that your gran - through your donation - has supported shelters for women over Xmas fleeing abuse from their partners (domestic abuse has risen dramatically over lockdown).
One such good cause has been created by Oscar - an entrepreneur who didn't fit the mould and "often frustrated...teachers at school. Questioning everything". Raised in social housing in Cambridge, he saw the other side of the Cambridge socio-economic coin that most don't see: he struggled (and continues to) with mental health issues but finds the outdoors (particularly fly-fishing) hugely soothes his wellbeing and keeps him in balance. He created a brand to help do more than just sell useful things: he is deeply passionate about ensuring life is not about money for the sake of money and with his made in the UK rucksacks, he eats into his profit margins to ensure 10% of every item's sale (not 10% of profits) goes directly to the Outward Bound Trust: an educational charity that helps young people defy limitations through outdoor learning and adventures in the wild.
If you're a student and thinking of creating and growing a business (we don't say "one day" as you should believe you can do it right now), remember that it's about developing a strong foundation of deep curiosity to fulfill a need for a market. That need can be a cause in life not just a physical item: that need is your fuel when the going gets tough (and it will get tough). Here's Oliver's top 5 tips to taking that entrepreneurial leap of faith:
1: "Talk to everyone. Never judge, be kind, honest and open. People will only support you if you are open and honest with them."
2: "Just do it. Nothing is ever perfect. It’s better to launch something that is not quite right and refine it over time, than to obsess over perfection and never do anything at all."
3: "Be led by purpose. Doing good is key to the future of business. If you want to start something that you will love doing everyday, it needs to have a strong purpose that you believe in or it has to be a subject that you really love. If you can do this you will never really work a day."
4: "There are no shortcuts. If you want to do something well, you have to work really hard. As an entrepreneur you are at work 24/7 it doesn’t necessarily always look like it, but you are. This is why you have to really love what you do."
5: "You don’t need loads of money. Start small, work hard. If it’s a good business, it will grow."
Perhaps you can be more direct (and boost your applications too) by supporting a cause in your community - be that helping with meal cooking or local meal donations to those in need in your area, or why not design a Christmas card and hand it to an elderly person (at a safe distance) down the road and make time for a chat to ensure they're not lonely in isolation. Volunteering allows you a useful peek inside an organisation and how they run, which may fuel your own business ideas. You'll also gather professional contacts too - which become valuable later down the line.
MOJ TAYLOR is an Edinburgh Fringe First winning actor, and stand up comedian. He was selected for the BBC's Stand Up If You Dare competition for new comics - being mentored in comedy by Jasper Carrott. He was the first Taylor of his family to graduate a higher education course, reading Hispanic Studies & Drama from Queen Mary University of London before undertaking an MA in Acting at Drama Centre London (UAL). He has featured in various commercial campaigns (Asics, Nivea, Mazda, Lexus, Movember) and has delivered over 3,000 workshops to teenagers across the UK via Push and ComedyClub4Kids. He is also a PADI Divemaster, and has assisted on various conservation projects on seagrass and carbon emissions in the UK and The Baltic Sea. He is also a proud ambassador for the charity Freedom from Abuse, running Caught for Court presentations to 1,000s of children and teenagers on the dangers of county lines gangs, knife and drug crime and the realities of prison life.
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