It’s 2023 and you’ve set yourself some goals. If you’re anything like us at least some of those goals are to do with living a more sustainable, environmentally conscious life. But how do you keep those New Year’s resolutions after the fireworks fade and the sound of party poppers dies away?
With a little help from the books Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin and How to Change by Katy Milkman we’ve put together some useful tips on how you can make your New Year’s resolutions last.
1. Fresh start: The best time to start a new habit is when you have a clean slate. It might be the first of January, the day you move house, because you changed jobs or simply had a birthday, either way the strategy of the fresh start is something both Rubin and Milkman agree is an opportune time to form a new habit. If you don’t succeed with the first of January you could try other significant days. For example, if you’ve decided to become vegan, look for opportunities like the first day of pay week or when you do your fortnightly grocery shopping to build your new habit and set yourself up for success.
2. Pairing: Pairing is another common habit forming strategy. You pair a new habit with an old one so that the new habit quickly becomes routine. An example of this might be pairing your Sunday afternoon walk with emptying the compost from your kitchen and feeding it to the local worm farm. It involves a habit you already have coupled with a new task to see you accomplishing your New Year’s resolution of composting vegetable waste instead of sending it to landfill.
3. Allow a break: One thing Milkman stresses in her book is that no one is perfect. We are bound to break the rhythm of a new habit at least once on the road to making it a permanent part of our lives. She argues we should allow ourselves a break and not strive for all or nothing goals. So for someone who resolves to always use a Keep Cup when they get take away coffee a more realistic goal might be: “I will use a Keep Cup for 95% of my take away coffee”. This accounts for the stress of that odd day when you forget and the take away coffee is already sitting at the counter waiting for you. Who doesn’t hate that feeling?
Forming a new habit is a hard thing to do but learning to live more sustainably is so crucial for our planet that you really have to give yourself the best chance to succeed. You can follow these tips for a smoother journey to keeping your New Year’s resolutions or you can share your own with us in the comments or on Twitter. Happy New Year!
By Anne Reddacliff, ALIA Sustainable Libraries Committee Member