From the folks at Harvard Business Review:
People who successfully tackle big social, environmental, and economic problems are driven by what I call a moment of obligation — a specific time in their life when they felt compelled to act. These moments become their North Star; they keep them going in a positive direction when everything seems dark. The obligation is not only to the world but also to themselves.
Here are a few tips for recognizing your own moments of obligation.
They’re strong. You can recognize the moment by the intense feelings it invokes. The moment itself doesn’t necessarily need to be dramatic, but what it brings up in you is.
They keep showing up. Sometimes, the experiences will reoccur. You’ll notice an issue again and again. Patterns will emerge and you will see that, for whatever reason, you are drawn to delve deeper into this particular issue.
They’re personal. The moments are very often personally meaningful. They are connected to your own experiences, or the experiences of people you care most about.
They take hold. Finally, they just won’t let you go. They scream for your attention, creeping into your mind when you are minding your own business — sitting on the couch, watching TV, or trying to get a good night’s sleep.