A Five Point Plan for Maximum Impact

Lili RahmatiLili RahmatiBy Lili Rahmati

Thanks to the brilliant campaign sponsored by the generous folks at Gold Peak Tea, one lucky individual stands to win $100,000 so that they can take a year off to do whatever they wish - pretty amazing stuff and definitely the opportunity of a lifetime! As a response to Mallika Chopra's recent call to fellow Intent-ers to share their ideas assuming someone from the community might be lucky enough to win, I've been fantasizing about what this scenario would look, taste and feel like for me. At first, so many things rushed through my mind that the exercise became quite overwhelming. But after allowing the thoughts to simmer down a bit, I've identified five distinct opportunities for allocating the winnings (both time and money) in a way which would create huge impact and fulfillment.

I have to admit that I found this exercise to be a little bit alarming, but also very enlightening. Instinctively, most of my initial thoughts about how to use the prize resources had little to do with myself and instead were almost completely focused on how to support others whether they were causes, organizations, individuals, etc. Clearly, there's nothing wrong with that, but I did become aware that I was perpetuating an all too familiar pattern of female behavior which is based upon always playing the role of dedicated nurturer, caretaker, and being the one who provides comfort and succor, etc.

It's part of our biology to know how to readily give to others, but when it comes to ourselves, we often don't know how to receive (from ourselves or from others). I can only speak for myself, and I don't want to make sweeping generalizations. I'm sure there are many women who can be classified as outliers compared to this typical model of behavior. That said, I think that the conversations that we have with one another - whether in person or online -tend to lend support to the fact that women need to learn how to take better care of themselves so they can be better equipped to care for or give to others.

Once I allowed myself to become more comfortable with the concept of including myself as a recipient of the winnings, I was able to craft a solid vision of what life would look like and the impact and fulfillment which could result, both for me directly as well as for those who I want to help/support.

1) Self-care: This is an area of my life that needs a lot of attention. I'm lucky to have a thriving business (which gives me immense personal and professional satisfaction), but being an entrepreneur is hard work and I often am left feeling physically, emotionally and mentally spent. I realize that it is essential to allocate time and money to incorporate regular self-care rituals into my life. These involve yoga, meditation, nature hikes/walks as well as massages and other wellness practices.

2) Photography: In recent years I've discovered the creative passion in my life which is photography. I usually shoot on film and print in the traditional darkroom, but recently I've incorporated digital photography into my repertoire as well. I would love to create the space for my own darkroom (or pre-pay for an entire year's worth of rental darkroom time). I'd also use the additional resources to upgrade my camera equipment and bump up my inventory of film cartridges, media cards, etc.

3) Social Interaction/Quality Time: I score pretty high when it comes to spending quality time with my immediate family and a few close friends, but there's a gaping hole in my life when it comes to spending time with my other friends, relatives and colleagues (even though we don't live that far from one another). Putting forth the effort to have quality interactions with people we already know is not only fulfilling but also a huge component of our emotional wellness.

4) Travel: Throughout my life travel has been a natural part of my existence, so much so that as an adult I truly identify myself as a world citizen. Every opportunity to travel is a chance to learn something new, and as a result my life is enriched in ways which I could never have anticipated. I often travel for pleasure, but if I had a year off and $100,000, the travel would be more purpose-driven. I envision incorporating my photography with my travels in a way that would tell stories of where I've been, who I've met and what I've learned. Or perhaps it would enable me to give a much needed voice to those who otherwise may not have one. Whether domestic or international, the opportunities for connecting with others in meaningful and impactful ways are endless and I would seize upon as many as I could.

5) Philanthropy: I've always felt the need to have a clear sense of purpose in terms of my place in the world. Although I haven't always been connected with exactly what that meant, the older and more experienced I become, the more I've been able to craft a precise vision of how I want to affect positive change.

Philanthropy is an essential part of my current life and within the context of a life-changing event such as the Gold Peak Tea campaign, the opportunities for philanthropic giving and being of service would be hugely magnified. Aside from having the time to volunteer for causes near and dear to my heart, the ability to make direct targeted contributions to causes, social enterprises and traditional non-profits would be at the top of my agenda. Whether it's through providing a scholarship to a girl in a US high school who plans to study math/finance or business in University or supporting a crowd-funding campaign for a non-profit which addresses the basic health and hygiene needs of girls and women (in developing countries) so that they can pursue their education, undoubtedly there are numerous ways to make a meaningful, sustainable and life-altering impact. From my perspective, being philanthropic and cause-driven is immeasurably meaningful and rewarding, and I look forward to a lifetime of service and philanthropic giving.

What would you do if you had $100,000 to take a year off?

Gold Peak Tea is giving away $100,000 to one deserving person to do whatever - whether it be travel the world, write a book, start a nonprofit, or simply kick back and enjoy the comforts of home. To enter, you can fill out the application on their Facebook.

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