You may notice that journeys are a recurring motif on this blog. That’s for a good reason. Not only does it represent exploration and new destinations, but also a long, somewhat arduous process. Even though I love traveling to new places, these days we can simply hop in a car, bus, train or plane (all while trying not to cringe at your carbon footprint expanding) and get from point A to point B with comparatively little effort. The figurative “journey” to sustainable living, however, is just as much about the process as it is about the destination.
Growing up in the 21st century, we have gotten used to what I like to call Instant Gratification Culture. The internet is an incredibly powerful tool that can be used in any number of positive ways, but there is no denying that having access to unlimited information in the palm of our hands has changed the way we live, for better or for worse. In fact, it’s not just the internet. The fad diet craze started taking off in the mid-1990s, when people started wanting results now. Our society has been shifting in this direction for decades, even centuries (if you count the whole horse-drawn cart to automobile shift, which I do). Humans strive for efficiency- and why not? Our time is short, we reason, and time is money. While the dubious wisdom of measuring the value of our time in currency is a subject for a different post, the sentiment is something I can get behind.
“Time is money.”
Translation: do something valuable with your time.
Value-added time is, in my opinion, a supremely worthy goal. The best part about it is that value is an inherently subjective measure, so only you can decide which activities are worthy of your time. Spent all day alone in your room playing video games but hit a new high score? Boom, value added. It’s all about being intentional with your time and actively choosing each activity you pursue because of the value it adds to your life vs. the time you spend on it. And “valuable” things are not always huge undertakings. Your time can be just as valuable when you use it on a split-second decision as when you use it on a weeks-long project. Similarly, when it comes to living a sustainable lifestyle, small intentional choices made every day can be just as beneficial as a sudden and massive overhaul of your entire life. This idea is the fundamental basis behind my Zero Impact Goals philosophy- every time you make an environmentally-friendly choice or form a sustainable habit, that is value-added time and progress towards your goal, no matter if it was 5 seconds or 5 years in the making.