Happy New Year!

During the darkest and coldest weeks of what’s shaping up to be a bitterly cold winter (at least in parts of the east and Midwest), our thoughts may be turning toward staying warm and navigating slushy commutes, rather than planning for the long-term future of the planet. This is the season when we tend to focus on our own lives, our timelines, and our personal plans rather than expanding beyond the cozy limits of the day’s concerns.

If you’re thinking about the weight you plan to lose this year and the improvements you’ll make by your next performance review, you’re not alone. But while you move through the short dark days of January, keep a few things in mind for the year ahead.

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1.       Mid-term elections are waiting around the bend, and will be upon us faster than you might think. If you plan to get involved by canvassing or contributing to a campaign, start now, even if your chosen candidate hasn’t yet been named. Start carving out a place in your schedule for whatever you intend to do, and devote a few minutes each week to self-directed research on the plans being made for your target seat in the House or Senate. Get involved early. Don’t wait. 

2.       Monitor broad trends. 2017 was an interesting year for climate related events, from the political to the cultural to the actual impact of climate change in the form of hurricanes and wildfires. There’s no reason to believe these trends will hit the snooze button in 2018. While we focus on heat waves and weather patterns, let’s also keep an eye on the job market (more later this week on the transition from fossil fuel jobs to solar energy), and business investments. What climate-related developments will take place this year in the auto industry, for example? Whatever happens, we won’t be caught off guard.

3.       Strategize. Lasting change is built on habits, not individual decisions, and it’s a game of inches. Winning a stare-down with a breakfast donut for just one morning, at a tremendous cost to your finite bank of willpower, won’t change your life very much. But you’ll give change a chance if you adjust your route to work and stop going past the donut shop altogether. Permanently eliminate this daily decision from your list of daily decisions. One cold shower tomorrow morning might make you briefly miserable, but it won’t save the planet. Instead, look for small changes that can be woven into the fabric of your routine. Cut out one piece of daily plastic, for example—a morning coffee lid, a lunchtime straw? Or cut one trip from your weekly driving habits. Cut it now and never think about it again.

4.       Are you changing something big this year? Great! If this is the year you switch careers, move, install solar panels on your home, buy a hybrid car, or do something big with climate change serving as a total or partial motivation, break that large goal down into manageable steps, and break those steps down into smaller steps until you’re ready to take the first one. Then do it. If you need outside help, consider that the first step and pick up the phone. We’re behind you! Contact us for information and resources, no matter big or small your plans may be.