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Exploring my relationship with New Years Resolutions, and setting my goals for 2020

Resolutions and me

I haven’t made New Year’s Resolutions since my early twenties. As a teen, I got quite into it, but I lost the habit.

Two things happened. Firstly, my Resolutions rarely lasted. I didn’t disclose them with anyone, and so there was never any accountability. I could talk myself out of doing them whenever I liked, and no one would know. This also meant that no one knew I was failing.

Secondly, in my career, I became interested in the idea of continual improvement. If something needed to change in April, I realised I didn’t have to wait nine months to get started. I could do something right then. I didn’t have to tie improvement to the 1st of January and the pressure and expectation associated with that date.

I actively fought resolutions. If I wanted change in December or January I would postpone it until February, so that no one could mistake it for a resolution. I would talk of the hopelessness of resolutions and encourage people to make the change whenever suited them.

So, why the rethink now?

I’m softening on the idea of resolutions, appreciating that some people (maybe myself included) may need that milestone. Moreover, now that I have a public forum for my desire to be more sustainable, having some accountability for resolutions should help me.

How I’ve approached Resolutions

I don’t want my Resolutions to be only practical — i.e. use less plastic — so I’ve included some more aspirational ones. I want something less binary, that would force me to reflect on what I’ve achieved. I hope the aspirational ones will help me to inspire others on this journey.

My Resolutions

Challenge behaviours (aspirational)

1. I will look at my own behaviours and identify where I can make sustainable improvements.

What assumptions do I have about a product or my activities that might be incorrect? What impacts could there be that are not immediately obvious? What do I do because it’s always been done? These are the questions I need to ask to make continual change and not just tackle what’s in the news in a particular week.

On my MSc, I identified that long-term aim to move into a challenging mindset. Asking the questions that enable a business to evolve and not just continue to do things “because they’ve always been done”. Starting by challenging myself seems like a good way to go.

Promote sustainable behaviours (aspirational)

2. I will lead by example, promoting sustainable behaviours and encouraging them in others.

This encapsulates my main reason for starting this blog. My aim here is not just to improve myself, but to inspire change in others. Societal change will not happen if only some individuals do it; we need to change en masse. I’m not saying I will start any revolutions, but if enough of us do something maybe it will be meaningful.

In our company, leaders are encouraged to demonstrate sustainability leadership, so this is also a sneaky way of getting a career development objective on the list.

Blog posts (practical)

3. I will post to the blog weekly.

My current plan is to post every Tuesday, but I’m willing to change if necessary. I want to grow the readership of this blog, and one of the ways to do that is to provide consistent content.

Short journeys (practical)

4. I will not use the car for short journeys.

This is one of the types of things I want to address with the blog: using the car to make short journeys when I know I should be walking or cycling, but I don’t because doing so will be a little more inconvenient for me.

Pre-packed sandwiches (practical)

5. I will not buy pre-packaged sandwiches.

I mentioned this in my last blog post. I need to treat pre-packaged sandwiches (or any other lunch items) as emergency items and not as a replacement for actually planning meals.

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