How do you measure making a difference?

We're thrilled to welcome the very inspiring Jenelle of TrashN2Tees to share our fourth guest post on Mama Activism, and our first ever guest printable! Let us know how YOU measure the difference you make to the world, and take a moment to check out Jenelle's amazing project

image credits: Giia/Flickr

Each day a wise man walks the sandy beach. He breathes in the fresh air and watches the sunrise.

This morning he came upon a younger man picking up small objects and tossing them into the ocean. 

Intrigued he walked a little closer and said, "Good Morning. May I ask what it is you're doing?" 

The young man paused for a moment and looked up with bright blue eyes. He explained, "The sun is coming up and the tide is going out. I am throwing these starfish into the ocean, if I don't they will die." 

Puzzled the wise man responded, "But son, there are miles and miles of beach and there are hundreds of starfish all along the way. You can't possibly make a difference." 

The young man bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water he said, "I made a difference for that one." 

This story is often shared to show the difference one person can make. It does it well, don't you agree? But there is another lesson here. The young man is able to remain fully committed to his work because he is able to see the impact he is making with his own two eyes. 

We want proof that what we are doing is making a difference. In all aspects of life, in parenting, in work, and in activism.

We want to know that all the time and energy that we're investing into a project pays off. Less like picking the playroom before company arrives... only to hear the doorbell ring and find Mr. Potato Head strewn about. More like potty training.

But really, how do we measure what matters most - making a difference? 

Ask yourself: How are your actions benefiting your cause? If you're trying to help the environment, how is it different because of your work?

I'm a recycling and repurposing revolutionary. I change the way we consume and create by raising awareness about textile recycling & designing clothing using 100% reclaimed materials. If your aim is to improve the life of people, tell me: how are they better off?

Maybe you raised gobs of money for education, but the measurable outcome is in the amount of children who you help put through school. 

For me, the outcome isn't the number of shirts I sell. It's not the number of drop of locations I have. The measurable outcome is the 20 tonnes of textiles I've diverted from our landfills.

Measuring outcome is as much art as it is science. There no right/wrong way to figure it. But you can start by asking yourself these three questions: 

  1. Who (or what) am I aiming to help? 
  2. How do I want to change things for them (the beneficiary)? 
  3. What measurable indicator/data will show me the difference? 

Here's an example: 


Now it's your turn, use this printable (right click and save) to help you measure what matters most - making a difference. 

I have a few tips too! Try to come up with a few outcomes - think long term, medium term and short term.

Making a difference can be a matter of sharing knowledge and skills (short term), new behaviors (medium term), and new values or status (long term.) 

I'm excited to learn more about your mum activist passions and action! Let's continue this conversation in the comments below and tell me how you are making a difference. How do you measure your outcome?

Jenelle Montilone is a creative activist and maker behind TrashN2Tees and developing the Create Change App. Her love for hiking, nature, and being outdoors led her to pursue an environmental science degree in college, and having children intensified her passion.

Looking deep into the eyes of her first-born, she really started to wonder what types of problems his generation will be faced with. Jenelle believed that she could make a difference, and knows that you can too.


This month we're encouraging mums to embrace their inner Mama Activists and join in with Craftivist Collective's #imapiece project. Find out more about #imapiece and join in with us here.

We'll be talking about Mama Activism and starting to make our #imapiece pieces at our next #somum Make Date on 13 February from 8.30pm - 10pm UK time (world times here). We'd love you to join us.


You might also like these other fab posts in our Mama Activism series:

Activate Mama Bloggers (about Team HONK and Red Nose Day)

Parenting and activism: @Lulasticblog

Powerful mothers: on body distraction and changing the world: @storyofmum

Mumra and other thunderous Kats: @katpearce