Are you resolved to a greener 2021?
As we welcome in the new year and all it’s possibility, we are being inundated with reminders that it is New Year’s Resolution time. New Year, New You, right?
But what if 2021 brought a new, GREENER, or more sustainable, you?
Saying Goodbye to 2020
For many, the end of 2020 couldn’t come soon enough. Pandemic. Protests. General feelings of angst. Not to mention global warming. The arrival of 2021 and this new year offers us a blank calendar and a clean slate. We have 365 days to do better, to do more than we did last year. It brings us hope and renews our ambition. But before we dive head first into the new year and the plans you have for yourself, let’s take this opportunity to reflect on the year.
What have you accomplished?
There are lots of ways to reflect on what you’ve accomplished, but I really appreciate the progression and scaffolding of Pappa’s Taxonomy of Reflection, which builds on Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy. Take a few moments and consider each of these questions that move from a broad, general concept to help you narrow in your reflection and progress to a plan for the future.
Stepping into 2021
If you went through the steps of the Reflection taxonomy, you’re left with the question– What next? Perhaps you gave yourself some great time to reflect and you’re amazing at making a plan. But if you’re like me, the idea of taking the next step can be a bit daunting. If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you are at least considering making some a New Year’s resolution that centers on your impact on the environment or making personal progress in the areas introduced by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. But just because you have a desire to lead a more sustainable life doesn’t mean that you know how to make a resolution for the new year, right? That’s okay! We’ve got your back.
What is a New Year’s Resolution?
Did you know that the concept of a New Year’s resolution dates back over 4000 years (Pruitt, n.d)?! Mind blown! The earliest known resolutions were made by the Babylonians as part of a twelve-day religious celebration at the start of their year when they would make promises to the gods in hopes of fulfilling them and earning favor in the following year. Various cultures and religions developed similar celebrations over the years. Today, the New Year’s resolution needn’t be connected to any particular culture or religion, but it still involves making a commitment or promise to do something in the next year. These promises usually involve a commitment to being a better self or making a better world in some way.
How Do I Set a New Year’s Resolution for a More Sustainable 2021?
Honestly, there is no single process for setting a New Year’s Resolution as long as you end up with a commitment and a plan to achieve your goal through the year. There are, however, some good tips to help you identify a resolution that will bring you success.
- Limit your resolutions. It can be tempting to write a bunch of resolutions for the year and try to save the world and become a healthier, happier, wealthier you all in one year. But you are more likely to be successful if you choose one area to really focus on this year (Weiss, 2016.; WikiHow, 2020).
- Choose something that you are passionate about. Don’t pick something that you think society wants you to choose or that you’re being pressured into doing. If YOU aren’t invested in the resolution, you’re not likely to achieve it. Your resolution should align with your values and what you define as important in life (WikiHow, 2020).
- Share your resolution. Sharing your resolution and your progress can make you more likely to achieve your goals (Evans, 2015; Cherry, 2020).
- Make a plan. If you have a plan giving you a road map, you are much more likely to reach your destination. One of the best ways to do that is to break your resolution into more manageable SMART goals (Miller, n.d.).
“SMART goals should give you the opportunity for success, which is going to keep you on track to keeping your New Year’s Resolution”
SMART Goals for Your
New Year’s Resolution
What are SMART goals? I thought you’d never ask. SMART is an acronym that can help you develop goals that have been shown to lead people to achievement. You’ll see why as we go through the characteristics of a SMART goal.
When you break your resolution down into goals, they should be very precise. It’s not helpful to say, “I will conserve energy.” Think about saying something like, “I will turn off all the lights in the house each day this week.”
You want to be able to determine if you were successful or not. You need some sort of measurement to make this determination. For this reason, it isn’t enough to say, “I will take shorter showers.” You could say, “I will take progressively shorter showers each day this week” and log the duration of your showers during that time period. Or you could try “I will set an alarm for seven minutes to ensure my shower is shorter than it is now.”
SMART goals should give you the opportunity for success, which is going to keep you on track to keeping your New Year’s Resolution. It’s probably not realistic to say, “I won’t use a single piece of single-use plastic this month” unless you’re not going anywhere and you have already made changes in your home to support that change– in which case, is it really a goal? It may be more realistic to say, “I will use containers instead of plastic bags to pack my sandwich for lunch this week.” That is a smaller, more achievable goal. And hey, if that’s easy, you can always progress the next week.
Does this goal really support your resolution? Is the goal (and resolution) something you actually care about?
You need to set a realistic timeframe for your SMART goal. And each of your SMART goals should be working toward your overall goal of the year. Therefore, your SMART goals should be for shorter periods of time. Having these shorter-term goals can help you feel good along the way.
Ideas for New Year’s Resolutions for a More Sustainable 2021
Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions
There are a number of tips and tricks to help you keep your New Year’s Resolutions available on the world wide web. One article from The Harvard Gazette offers a break down by month on how to achieve your goal (Step-by-step, 2019). I really resonate with the idea of accountability and support through sharing our resolution and goals with others and finding support. And guess what! There is a way you can get BOTH of those things through our FREE CHALLENGE. We have our first challenge beginning in February when the novelty of your resolution may be wearing off. Don’t worry, we’ll get you back on track. We’ve designed a 3-week challenge to motivate you and help you form ONE habit that can help you keep your New Year’s Resolution.
20 Easy Sustainable Swaps to Reduce Waste: 20 Eco-Friendly Life Hacks. (2019, October 30). The Edgy Veg. Retrieved December 31, 2020, from https://www.theedgyveg.com/2018/04/21/20-easy-sustainable-swaps-reduce-waste/
A step-by-step guide on how to choose, make, and keep New Year’s resolutions. (2019, January 04). The Harvard Gazette. Retrieved January 01, 2021, from https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/12/a-step-by-step-guide-on-how-to-choose-make-and-keep-new-years-resolutions/?fbclid=IwAR3SXoHinfqsz_ALz_nRdw0dBmcneK2c3_YmbURlBZKxBd_X6Jz7YyqYACY
Cherry, K. (2020, December 21). How to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions This Year. Retrieved December 31, 2020, from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-keep-your-new-years-resolutions-2795719
Evans, L. (2015, June 19). Why Sharing Your Progress Makes You More Likely To Accomplish Your Goals. Fast Company. Retrieved December 31, 2020, from https://www.fastcompany.com/3047432/why-sharing-your-progress-makes-you-more-likely-to-accomplish-your-goals
Grand, A. (2020, December 26). 21 Sustainable New Year’s Resolutions for 2021. Good Intent. Retrieved December 31, 2020, from https://shopwithgoodintent.com/blogs/news/19-sustainable-new-years-resolutions-for-2019
Iowa State University Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. (n.d.). Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. Retrieved December 31, 2020, from https://www.celt.iastate.edu/teaching/effective-teaching-practices/revised-blooms-taxonomy/
Miller, J. A. (n.d.). How to Make (and Keep) a New Year’s Resolution. The New York Times. Retrieved December 31, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/guides/smarterliving/resolution-ideas
Pappas, P. (2020, July 02). A Taxonomy of Reflection: Critical Thinking For Students, Teachers, and Principals (Part 1). Retrieved December 31, 2020, from https://peterpappas.com/2010/01/taxonomy-reflection-critical-thinking-students-teachers-principals.html
Sustainable Development Goals. (n.d.). Retrieved December 31, 2020, from https://unfoundation.org/what-we-do/issues/sustainable-development-goals/?gclid=CjwKCAiA57D_BRAZEiwAZcfCxbX9S-x2LlP-y88QjTlZAFfB0xAHMA2NQrz1uAK2AfBvovq749iOLhoCzY8QAvD_BwE
Weiss, K. (2016, December 31). 5 Steps to Choosing Expansive New Year’s Resolutions. LifeHack. Retrieved December 31, 2020, from https://www.lifehack.org/517022/5-steps-choosing-expansive-new-years-resolutions
WikiHow. (2020, December 30). How to Pick a Realistic New Year’s Resolution. Retrieved December 31, 2020, from https://www.wikihow.com/Pick-a-Realistic-New-Year’s-Resolution