Small change, big difference: A thoughtful prompt

You know those times when you struggle to get started on a project? There’s nothing like a good prompt to get your creativity going. That’s why, when we first heard about Edlyn Yuen and her project Prompt a while back, Thoughtful was inspired to try a playful little prompt of our own.

As like-minded people often do, Edlyn and I connected, shared our stories and decided to do something special together. So earlier this month, Prompt and Thoughtful collaborated to get people thinking creatively about how to change things for the better.

We asked readers to respond to the prompt “Small change, big difference” with a story, recommendation, memory, link, poem…anything relating to the prompt. We got a terrific response and chose a top ten to publish here. As is traditional at Prompt, all responses are anonymous.


Small change, big difference

From reading Eckhart Tolle last night before falling asleep:

Make the first move. Become friendly toward the present moment and whatever it contains (that is, become friendly toward life) — and watch how quickly it becomes friendly toward you. Situations improve, people help you, and problems resolve themselves.

I’m guilty of thinking sometimes that I’m only one person and can’t make a difference – I bet most of us are. It’s easy to feel that way! But I’m very grateful to the million inspiring people and organizations that constantly remind me that one person can do something. Most recent inspiration:

I don’t really have any life advice relevant to this prompt, but it does remind me of that Mark Twain quote: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

Think sequoia tree

Yay, prompt is back! Its absence from my inbox last week was a small change that made a big difference in my day. I missed you all. An apropos prompt for the first full day of Daylight Saving Time, which I look forward to more and more every year. The extra hour of daylight after work is such a relief. The beauty of spring is its inevitability.

The embracing our differences campaign is so, so inspiring. A lot of younger kids suggested quotes to be paired with diversity-inclusive artwork: Especially love this one:

There are some awesome famous Bibles printed through history that have hilarious errors to do with the placement of the word ‘not.’

Particularly in the ten commandments part, that made things quite exciting.

Now, like misprinted stamps, they’re super valuable.

I put together a curriculum teaching underrepresented minorities design-thinking and user-centered design to promote critical thinking and problem solving skill development. That’s the fancy way to say that I wanted to empower a group of students to change their communities by identifying a problem and coming up with a solution. The look in their eyes when they finished and presented their final solutions was priceless. They said they felt smart, like they mattered, and surprised that they didn’t disappoint themselves.

It means everything to me but I also recognize it’s probably a small change. In the end, I hope one of them goes on to solve big problems of the world. That way, they can make the big difference.

“Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it’s very important that you do it.” — M K Gandhi

I always believe in not only working hard at the things I like, but I also believe that small things matter, even if they don’t matter to the rest of the world. Small things matter — to you. This is another way of interpreting Gandhi’s quote.

A very good example of putting this quote in practice is creation of good habits. For instance, waking up early seems insignificant enough for most people, small enough to not bother, and the world largely doesn’t give a damn much less your neighbour. But it does make a HUGE difference — to you — over the long run.

Ditto for exercising, having regular sex, talking and listening, consciously eating well, quitting smoking, etc. Trivial, everyday stuff is as important, if not more important, than larger life goals. In fact, it is the small things that leads to big accomplishments.

I highly recommend BJ Fogg’s “Tiny Habits”. There’s research going on that shows that habits and environments do much to create success, so intentionally creating habits and environments that support you in your goals makes a lot of sense. Small changes can add up to big differences in the long run.


Take action

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* Make a small change that could make a big difference.

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