SETTING SUSTAINABLE GOALS
I love the New Year - all those possibilities and twelve shiny new months waiting for us.
And I'm guessing that if you're a regular reader here, then one of your goals or resolutions or aims for the New Year might well be to 'live more sustainably', which is awesome!
BUT one of the problems with big goals like this, or something like 'losing weight' or 'getting fit' is that they're just too big, too vague. And it can be all too easy to get overwhelmed by all the things we could be doing, or that we feel like we should be doing, and then we end up very quickly feeling demoralised and doing nothing. Which is very much NOT what we want. So here are some tips for setting goals that are not only sustainable in the planetary sense, but that are sustainable in the long-term for you.
GET CLEAR ON YOUR 'WHY'
Any of you who have been on one of my webinars will know that I'm a massive fan of 'why' - it really is key to achieving the things you want out of life, and getting motivated to make sustainable(ish) changes.
For me, and my big vision of living more sustainably, my ‘why’ boils down to the kids. I want them to grow up and have a safe and habitable planet to live on. The world is changing, and we learned in 2018 that we have just 12 short years to take 'unprecedented action' if we are to mitigate the very worse effects of climate change. Thinking about what future generations might be facing, what the world might look like in 50 years time, makes me feel overwhelmed at times, but it also helps to keep me motivated and helps to inform each of my decisions as I move forwards.
So get clear about your why. What is it for you about living more sustainably/going zero waste/mending your clothes that is important? How does it impact you, your family, the wider world? What are the benefits, for you and for others? Really take some time to think about this, and I would also encourage you to write it down – then it’s there to refer to when your motivation starts to dip and things start to feel hard (and they will).
You need to be as specific as you can about what it is you want to achieve. So for example for 'reducing plastic' are you going to try and halve the amount of plastic you're throwing away each week? Are you going to work on the 'Big 4'? Are you going to refuse single use coffee cups? (here are some great re-usable alternatives).
BREAK IT DOWN
Once you've decided on a 'big goal' or resolution, break it down.
"Plastic free" or "zero waste" or "being a more conscious consumer" are BIG goals. Break it down into baby steps -eg. tackling one plastic item first. Or swapping out one specific item of unrecyclable rubbish from your bin. Or looking for more sustainable options for your clothes shopping. And then do that. One thing I find helpful is to focus on a different area of sustainable(ish) living each month - so energy, then shopping, then plastic etc etc.
Having some way to measure your progress is really important, otherwise how will you ever know when you are succeeding?! For something like plastic or waste, a brilliant thing to do is to start with a bin audit - simply keep all of your plastic waste (or dive into your bin if you're focussing on all your waste) for a week and make a note of what is in there. Pick one or two items to work on first and identify the first steps you need to take. Then review after a month of so -is there less in there now?
So once you’ve thought of your specific goal for the month, spend a few minutes thinking about how you are going to measure it, and what success will look and feel like.
Goals need to be achievable and realistic otherwise they are overwhelming.
Zero Waste for example is massive. People devote their lives to Zero Waste and it isn’t something that happens overnight, or even in a month. For me, the ultimate goal of Zero Waste still feels a very long way off, and feels un-acheivable and un-realistic for us at the moment. But I could set myself a goal of reducing food packaging waste, and work on that. That feels much less panic inducing and far more achievable. The ideal is to find the balance between something that stretches us out of our comfort zones, but doesn’t induce overwhelm (and therefore inaction!).
SET SOME DEADLINES
A deadline give us something to aim for. And for people like me who tend to procrastinate and put things off, there is nothing like the pressure of a deadline to ensure we get things done! Have a think about what kind of deadlines you want to impose – some might need to be shorter, some longer. Do you want to buy nothing new for a year (if you do you can read my years worth of blog posts from our own Make Do and Mend Year!)? Do you want to find an alternative to plastic milk bottles by the end of the month? Think about what deadlines would work for you and ideally write them down!
What are your goals for the sustainable(ish) changes
you want to make this year?
Do share below - I'd love to hear them.
PS. If you're looking for some support working out where to get started and how to make the sustainable(ish) changes you want in 2019 I'm opening up some slots for "Sustainable(ish) Power Hours" (or Power Hours for the Planet).
Hook up with me for an hours Skype call and we'll get your Sustainable(ish) 2019 off to a flying start!