So it’s that time of year when we all feel ready for new starts – what one thing would you love to change about your life right now? What’s standing in the way of that change? What if you could take small steps towards it, what would they look like? All change is hard; humans are creatures of habit and the immense weight of our evolutionary journey is so effective at crushing any efforts to break them. After all, it’s habits and patterns that have led to our survival.
So, anytime you feel like change is hard, take heart: if it was easy you probably wouldn’t be here today 🙂 Our modern life is testimony to the prevailing winds of habit, with systems and structures that serve to reinforce the status quo and preserve our continuity. Hack them all!
CHILL ON FOOD
Probably the biggest change we can make is to what we fuel our bodies with. And because it’s so closely linked with our survival, it’s the hardest change to make. Sure, whittling down your wardrobe is tough when you’re in love with your clothes and the freedom they give you to express yourself… but changing the fundamental nutrients your body is using for its functions, growth, and repair each day?
We are so physically, emotionally, and psychologically conditioned by the food we eat that it becomes really tough to break the habits we’ve already formed. That’s why the best way to succeed with dietary changes is to make small changes that we can sustain. My favourite example is to add some veggies into things we’re already eating, and starting with the things we already know we like. I really like condiments on my food. I’m the hot sauce diva of the world, and will habitually ask for hot sauce or mayo wherever I eat. The problem is a lot of these sauces contain refined sugars and modified starches, not to mention flavourings and preservatives that really aren’t good for us to eat regularly. So, I’ve recently had success in reducing them since I started making my own quick pickles by slicing up veggies and dropping them into a jar of sweet and salty vinegar in my fridge. I can use them as an a condiment instead of mayo or ranch, and use pickled chillis instead of hot sauce. I know that that pickling leaches a lot of the nutrients out of my veggies, but the benefits out way the costs as they perk up salads and other nutritious meals without adding in more processed condiments.
Start with something small that you’ll experience every day. Make simple yet regular change to begin with, just watch how over time the changes get easier and grow in size and number. You’ll surprise yourself.
CHILL ON EXPECTATIONS
As much as respect the move to zero-waste, I also see that we live in a wider social context and there’s not much we can do about the waste levels produced in commercial industries, so personal waste is only part of the problem. I think these movements are overwhelmingly positive in the awareness they propagate, and I’m definitely not criticising them. For me, they’re part of the solution, and I support people’s moves to reduce their environmental impact, along with growing consciousness of the ways our choices affect others. There’s a lot we can learn from each other.
But I also know that from experience that if I strive for any absolute goal: veganism/zero waste/capsule wardrobes, that shit puts too much pressure on me and I end up quitting – because positive change shouldn’t be so stressful. At the end of the day, it ain’t that deep. It’s good and right to take responsibility for the planet and for our choices, but absolutism seems so futile in the face of the sheer volume of people sharing this planet. There’s a lot of us making a mess out here, the idea is just to make our mess a bit less each day.
It’s great to have big dreams, and some people find working towards a big idea is the best dream to have, yet it’s also possible to see how that every giant object of the cosmos was forged through seemingly tiny imperceptible events that triggered a chain reaction. So give yourself a break. You mean well, you are working on it. Change takes time, and consistency is the key to all life’s secrets. Just keep doing what you’re doing, and you’ll find yourself further towards your goals than you’ve ever been before.
This really is the key to change: small, manageable steps that you can sustain without putting pressure on yourself to attain an absolute.