Things I wish I had known before starting my sustainability journey (Part 1/2)
At the beginning of my exploration of topics such as veganism, zero waste or a sustainable lifestyle, I think I would have liked to stumble upon a post like this one. Because there are a lot of things that no one told me in advance. And when the time came, I felt feelings of guilt, shame, failure or fear. So: No matter whether you are still at the beginning of your sustainability journey or are already in the middle of it - I have something to tell you! 🧡
1. You can't change everything at once
If you decide to fundamentally change your lifestyle or an area of your life, it is not a decision that can be implemented immediately. After all, you want to change yourself and your life sustainably, in the long term and ideally for the rest of your life. As in the saying “Life is not a sprint, but a marathon”, the motto here is to slow down a gear. :)
Maybe you're super motivated at the beginning and would like to change everything at the same time. For some people this works, and that's great. For those for whom this doesn't work, that's just as okay.
Maybe you feel completely overwhelmed and don't know where to start, how or when. That is also normal. Always try to remember to take one step at a time.
You should also include what your options are. Not everyone has a weekly market or unpackaged store around the corner, and not everyone can afford to leave their car behind from tomorrow. You can change these things over time. Circumstances and environments can also be adapted, but all of this takes time.
So it's best to first consider just one thing (e.g. your diet, your waste separation or your consumer behavior). Be honest and realistic with yourself and see where exactly you want to start. Little by little you will see how further steps arise automatically. But it's okay to start SMALL.
2. You are allowed to make mistakes
"How? But I've decided to eat a vegan diet from today... I can't afford to make any mistakes?!"
Oh but. Because mistakes happen, sometimes they are unavoidable, sometimes they are the fault of someone else.
So if you accidentally order a “normal” vanilla latte instead of a coffee with oat milk at your local café out of habit, then it’s not that bad. The same applies if the barista accidentally pours you real cow's milk and you don't realize it until after you've taken the first sip. You're not a hypocrite, you haven't failed, you don't have to feel guilty, and you're not a bad vegan either. You are you, and a mistake just happened. The fact that you even think about these things shows what a great person you are.
Mistakes are a part of this, as always in life. Try not to see mistakes as negative, but rather as positive. Because you can learn from it and take something with you for next time. You can improve, and at the same time mistakes show you how far you have come. Because change starts in the head, and before you would not have even recognized or classified this “mistake” as a “mistake”. And that's something, right?
So relax and look forward to the opportunity to learn something next time you make a “mistake.” :)
3. Your journey is your journey alone
This point is almost the most important to me because it can also be applied to almost every other area of life. As soon as you compare yourself to other people, you start to judge. And not just the other party, but also yourself at the same time. We quickly tend to put ourselves down or see everything that is still ahead of us instead of focusing on what we have already achieved.
There's really no point in comparing your own first step with someone else's hundredth or thousandth step. It's great when other people have decided never to fly again or manage to implement a 100% vegan lifestyle. But that doesn't automatically mean you're a bad person, don't have enough ambition, or anything else. You're on your own path, and who knows what can come next?
Comparing ourselves to other people who seem to be much further ahead than ourselves can have a strong psychological impact, causing feelings of jealousy, fear, insecurity or even self-hatred.
So let me tell you here once and for all: your aspirations are great; Anything you change or try to change is great. Simply developing a changed awareness of things is a great step. You take responsibility and have control over your life and you make the conscious decision to do it differently than before. This is all SUPER COOL! Because with your actions, you as an individual and for society have a huge impact!
So stop comparing yourself to other people. Do your own thing, and if anything, compare yourself to the person you were yesterday/a few years ago. :)
A little hint:
This is the first part of a slightly longer article. You can find out which other two “tips” I would like to give you in the second part. As soon as it is published you will find a link here.
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