Initiating change is hard, but sustaining it has proven harder. When I embarked on my personal leadership challenge to tackle the on-farm recycling facilities where I live, I thought a bit of hard graft to organise a new bin and recycling store would do the trick. I thought that if I made the environment more pleasant, the other farm residents and holidaymakers would feel inspired to segregate and recycle more, maintain the area nicely, and the whole system would take care of itself!
I naturally became disheartened when over time, the newly arranged bin store became a mess again with waste and recycling streams mixed together and generally stuff just chucked everywhere! This was never worst than over the Christmas period (see previous post) with the increased volumes of cardboard and glass in particular – all those online orders and bottles of booze drunk! Since then, the volumes have decreased again to a level the store room and bins can accommodate and we’ve ordered additional cardboard containers from the council to prevent a repeat of the issues.
Reflecting on this journey has me thinking that this challenge was less about my own personal ability to enact change for good (the creation and continued organising of the bin store), and more about learning to adapt and respond to set-backs and a journey of personal patience.
Most people believe that habits are formed by completing a task for 21 days in a row and some believe it’s 61 days to become truly ingrained. However, I like the model put forth by Tom Bartow, who believes there are 3 stages to habit formation. When reflecting on my experiences here, I can see the similarities.
- The Honeymoon – I definitely experienced this. High on my newly organised configuration of bins and signage, I thought my leadership efforts were done!
- The Fight-Thru – This was the big lesson for me. The willingness to continue with the vision and adapt to bumps in the road when things don’t go to plan.
- Second Nature – this is the vision for the future. The recycling system on our little farm continuing to operate with minimum further influence. We’re not quite there yet, but I can visualise it now and it’s just a case of keeping the faith!
Change can be disheartening when your initial enthusiasm doesn’t seem enough to inspire others to start, or crucially to continue to do the right thing. But, I started a direction of travel that was a small positive improvement for our local environment, and with some tweaks and a whole lot of time passing, I am confident we’re moving in a good direction and positive habits are forming.
It’s also important to look back at where this all began and realise just how far this journey has come already in order to gather the energy to continue onwards and upwards! This little rat-infested dumping corner has gone for good, and that should be recognised and celebrated.
After all – sustained change (or the forming of positive habits) requires the passing of time – it doesn’t happen overnight.
Thanks for following along with my little personal journey x