Many people approach retirement with thoughts of giving back and leaving a legacy, but they’re unsure about the specific path to take. Many struggle with tough questions – where to volunteer? How to give money effectively? Should I focus here or abroad? What’s the most important cause to work on? How do I get started?
If you’re asking these questions, here’s a terrific new book you should read: A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Kristof is the well-known columnist for The New York Times; he is married to WuDunn, a former Times correspondent.
“A Path Appears” is a follow-up to Kristof and Dunn’s Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, which showcased the struggles faced by women and girls around the world. The new book is a well-researched and reported survey of people and organizations that are making the world better, with a focus on evidence-based measurement of results. It is full of inspirational stories – but also practical, specific advice on how to be smart about giving your money and spending time. For example, one appendix offers “Six Steps you can Take in the Next Six Minutes” to get started.
A key argument here: don’t be paralyzed by the sense that you’re too small to make a difference. Kristof and WuDunn argue persuasively that individuals can make a difference: A chapter called “Drop in the Bucket” begins with this quote from John F. Kennedy: “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” The chapter ends with this: “Don’t disparage … a drop in the bucket. That’s how buckets get filled, that’s how lives are changed, and that’s how opportunity is created.”
A documentary series based on the book is airing on PBS; you can view the first episode below.
I had the opportunity to hear Kristof speak recently at Encore 2014, and subsequently read the book. Below, you’ll find video of another recent talk he gave about “A Path Appears.” If you are asking these questions, read this book.