She’s Back! Personal Sustainability for Sustainability Professionals

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Well, it has been an incredibly long time since I posted here on the blog! And for those that know me well may understand why. For those that know me less well, I was pretty blooming sick last year. Nothing life threatening – well, nothing a good couple of hospital visits and some tender, loving care couldn’t take care of by ones family and the best neighbours one could dream of.

So that’s the inspiration for my post today.  I’ve learnt the hard way that we hard-working sustainability professionals need to practice some sustainability approaches towards our own lives, and exercise some personal sustainability.

I’m not talking about solar powering our homes (although that’s good too), I’m talking about looking after yourself. How can a project or organisation be taken onto its next steps in sustainability if our sustainability professionals are knackered, running on empty?!

It is a very busy time right now for sustainability professionals in Australia, or it certainly seems that way anyway. And in the seeming manic rush from one job to the next, one project to the next, one tender to the next, the gaps between these things can seem increasingly small. I learnt the direct and hard way that one has to create the gaps for oneself.

So what does this look like? How does one create “gaps” in the never-ending mad rush of work?

(1) Give your self permission to take time out, either for a holiday, a small break or sick leave if you’re feeling sickly of throat (which I’m doing today as it goes. See. Learnt my lesson).  I never used to give myself permission to switch off really. To properly rest. Always things to be doing! That old saying a stitch in time saves nine? Well, same goes for when you’re starting to feel under the weather or like you need a rest. Take a day or two, and it will save a week or more later down the line (believe me!).

(2) To quote the Disney movie Frozen – let it go! Get others in on the act, find your supporters and keen beans in your organisation or project. Leverage their enthusiasm, help and support, share the love and spread the load. This has the added benefits of providing an opportunity for upskilling and development for others in your organisation, gives you an opportunity to flex your delegation muscles, and getting others more directly involved creates much stronger buy-in and support for a sustainability strategy or sustainability initiatives.

(3) Don’t overcommit, and focus on one or maybe two key “things” in your organisation or project in terms of initiatives to achieve for the year (or other relevant time period). I like to keep in mind another saying these days – if you chase two rabbits, you’ll lose both. I have to say this much more focussed approach is paying some good dividends for me right now professionally-speaking. Feels kind of lazy almost for someone was previously used to being switched to “overdrive”, but it means you can turn more of your precious energies into driving genuine change and generating more robust sustainability outcomes in your organisation or for your clients.

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