This summer, two of my best friends finished Ironman competitions. They each swam for 2.4 miles, rode their bike for 112 miles and then ran a marathon – 26.2 miles. An absolutely incredible feat! The key to their success was having the goal, but then breaking down how to reach it into small, incremental steps, and training diligently to meet the milestones along the way.
As studies have showed time and time again, it is the small changes to daily habits that end up having the most lasting impact. Also, these acts tend to reinforce each other. An exercise plan that starts out with a daily walk, may over time turn into a run around the neighborhood. When you realize how many hours it will take on the treadmill to burn off that piece of cake, your eating habits start to shift as well.
In much the same way, I find that changes to our daily consumption habits start to shift when we become more aware of the impact. When someone unplugs their cell phone charger, they may look around to see what other appliances need to be unplugged. As these actions start to increase awareness, the next steps may be to turn off lights, replace light bulbs, and look for energy star appliances. Then the electric bill arrives and the lower cost is a positive reinforcement.
Maybe some people stop here, but many others then look for ways to save water around the house. Or maybe they start to bring their own bags to the grocery store, and start to scrutinize what they put in their shopping cart.
It is also important to recognize the connection between physical actions and their impact on the mind. These simple, physical, tangible acts help people to feel empowered and they reinforce their sense of responsibility and understanding that their behavior does make a difference.
For the people who are already environmentally fit, this is your chance to lead the way by creating innovative technologies, sources for alternative energy, sustainable food systems, and ways to conserve and purify water. The possibilities are endless – and needed – if we are going to create a healthier future for the earth and her inhabitants.
Envision what you want to accomplish, make a plan for how you are going to reach your goal, and then take action.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu