If you’ve looked into sustainable living or climate change in the past I’m sure you’ll have experienced how easy it can be to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. Whether it was the size and scale of the changes you faced or the feelings of hopelessness induced by the endless number of studies predicting our impending doom, getting bogged down can be all too easy.
If you’re reading this post, chances are you desire to make progress on your journey towards a sustainable lifestyle. Today we will look at how to achieve this in a healthy and sustainable manner so you can continue to live a sustainable life well into the future.
That’s the whole point of a sustainable lifestyle after all, right?
Before taking on anything new, whether it’s for your mental or physical health, for your career or for the wellbeing of our eco-systems and climate, it’s vitally important to continually remind yourself of the reasons why you’re doing it.
Your reasoning is what drove you towards these changes in the first place and by keeping this in mind you’ll stay motivated and ultimately have a better chance of progressing towards your goal.
So, if you want to move towards a sustainable lifestyle, the first step is to have a definite understanding of why you want to do this.
One of the best ways to build a clear picture of your own reasons why is to do thorough research and select a few cornerstone motives which spark the fire within.
For example, your reasoning may be born from a desire to create a better future for generations to come or to protect the wildlife and species residing on our planet.
Check out these posts to learn more about the reasons to care for climate change:
Healthy & Conscious Information Consumption
When first looking into sustainability and climate change all the articles and studies can feel a bit doom and gloom. The truth is, disaster and calamity sell, while slow progress doesn’t.
That’s why there are so many articles out there on the studies predicting our impending doom, and less content about the small and slow progress we are making towards sustainability.
This can often lead people to feel downtrodden and demotivated to make change.
“What’s the point when we’re doom anyway?”
Numerous psychology studies will tell you this is because of how our brains are wired. They take fragmented information and piece them together like a jigsaw to create a more congruent and understandable picture of what’s before you.
Therefore, if you spend all day long reading articles which tell you how we’re all doomed then you’ll eventually start to believe it. Conversely if you spend all day reading about all the solutions and progress we’re making then you’ll be more likely to believe we stand a chance of overcoming this hurdle.
An incredibly useful tactic for overcoming these cognitive biases is to make sure you balance out the good and bad news you consume by not only clicking on negatively titled content.
This is a form of conscious consumption where you are picky about the information you choose to click on and remain permanently aware of the cognitive biases you are influenced by.
Next time you come across a clickbait title about the impending doom of our planet just stop and think about whether it’ll do any good to consume that content.
One actionable way to achieve this level on consciousness and self-control is through mindfulness. The focus of this is on harnessing your ability to choose what information or inputs to take notice of or give a second thought to. This is done by continually practicing to control your mind by focusing your “spotlight of attention” on different things e.g. breath or bodily sensations.
The truth is, there’s a time for goods news and bad news inspired motivated. By learning to strike balance in your information consumption you’ll be able to remain in control and be much less likely to be thrown off track by a particularly demotivating article you come across.
To summarise what’s been discussed so far, before getting started on your journey towards sustainable living, firstly build a clear picture in your mind of why you want to make the changes you do. Secondly, practice harnessing an awareness of the psychological tendencies we are all affected by and how they can demotivate us from acting.
By spending time focusing on these two points you’ll be well set up to begin your sustainable journey and will be less likely to be blown off course by some particularly depressing prediction.
Finding a Mentor: The How
Figuring out how you fit into the climate change problem and how you can make a difference is a great next step once you’re motivated.
Luckily for you, through the magic of the internet much of the hard work and research has already been done for you by eco-conscious content creators and influencers.
The importance of mentors overshadows almost anything else in the information age. The truth is, anyone can go online and learn just about anything from the wealth of knowledge and experts across the internet.
Consequently, if you go out on your own and try to figure everything out about how to live sustainably by yourself, you’ll be at a huge disadvantage compared to someone who searched for someone who had already completed the journey they’re on and asked them for the answer.
Check out these two lists of sustainable content creators for some easy inspiration and actionable tips of getting going.
On these accounts/channels you’ll find step-by-step instructions on how to move to a sustainable lifestyle, helpful tips and tricks for overcoming the classic hurdles and actionable and easy swaps you can make to get going.
As with anything new, how you act in the early stages of your journey will play a huge role in deciding whether or not you achieve your goals. Piling on too much pressure or overloading your goals too soon is a sure-fire way of getting demotivated.
Thus, it’s hugely important you pay close attention to motivation early on in your journey.
Here’s a few tips (taken from a recent guest post I wrote) for boosting motivation towards a goal:
- Breakdown tasks into bitesize chunks to make the overall effort seem smaller
Check out this Ted Talk to discover the power of this tip.
- Set short-term as well as long-term goals
A great practical way of breaking down tasks into manageable sizes is to set a long-term goal and then break it down into more achievable short-term goals.
- Start small!
One way of getting going towards your goals is to pick one small change or action you can make in your life and go ahead and do it. You’ll be surprised the effect it can have.
Did you notice a common theme throughout these?
The common theme was all about making the journey to sustainability seem like less of a mountain.
This is because the hardest part of any journey is the first few steps.
Just like this little dude learning to walk, you should first focus on taking small steps, before trying to walk or run.
This is why you come across creators shouting form the rooftops about ways of breaking down the journey to sustainable living into bitesize tasks.
For some inspiration check out our bitesize eco series on our Instagram for more examples.
Tips for Nurturing a Healthy and Happy Journey to Sustainable-Living
Once you’re motivated, have an established, healthy and conscious way of consuming information and feel momentum from taking your first few steps it’s time to launch yourself into all things sustainable living.
Here’s a few final tips to help you on your way.
Regularly checking in with what you’ve done in the past, what you are doing now and where you’d like to improve will drive you forwards on your journey.
It’s far too easy to get wrapped up in the now and forget the progress you’ve made. So, give yourself a virtual pat on the back and feel good about your progress by taking a moment to reflect on where you’ve come since the beginning of your journey.
Being in tune with your own mood and mental state will affect how altruistically you act. As a result, be flexible and remember not to go too hard too soon. It’s all about the long-term journey and continuing your actions into the future if you want to achieve truly positive change.
“I think being sustainable should always be relatable and not a 360 change overnight.”
It’s all about manageable baby steps rather than making leaps and bounds that you simply won’t maintain.
Remember, No One’s Perfect
Striving for eco perfectionism isn’t healthy, especially as it’s practically impossible in the modern world. As a result, aiming for perfection is likely to lead to you being demotivated and downtrodden.
“100 people making a tiny change to their lifestyle has more impact than 1 person striving for perfection”
The end result will have a far greater impact if we all make sustainable, lasting and small changes, rather than getting bogged down by trying to be perfect.
The more we all nurture our sustainable journeys and practices the greater the impact we’ll have. As Anne-Marie Bonneau said:
“The world doesn’t need a few people doing sustainable living perfectly, it needs millions of people doing it imperfectly”
Why not take your next step today and use this post as your blueprint for a healthy and sustainable journey towards a sustainable lifestyle?
Thanks for reading!
Before you go, what are some of the best ways you’ve come across for staying motivated on your sustainable journey?
We’d love to know 🙂