Avoiding a ‘When and If’ Mentality in Sustainability

Don’t let dreams blind you to the possibilities of today for living a more sustainable way of life.

“When we can afford our homestead then we’ll….”

” If work slows down then I can…”

“When I have more time it will be possible to…”

When and if can be useful – it is important to dream about and plan for the future. But a ‘when and if’ mentality can sometimes become a roadblock on our journey towards more sustainable ways of life.

When we focus too much on the possibilities of the future, it can blind us to the possibilities of today. When and if thinking can also sometimes become about making excuses as to why we are not doing more right now.

Our living situations, work stress, busy lives… there are plenty of daily challenges that can make it difficult for us to live exactly as we would wish. It is easy to fall into a mode of thinking where we focus on a ‘dream’ or idealised future that will allow us to live in exactly the way we desire. And we forget about the smaller, incremental changes that will help us get where we are going.

When we’ve paid off our mortgage and finished our barn conversion… we will have more time to devote to our own garden and to really take our own sustainability efforts up a notch. But an understanding of our current limitations (especially when it comes to time) does not stop us from taking small steps to work towards our goals.

So, taking lessons learned from my own life, I often advise my clients against dwelling too much in ‘if and when’. People often tell me that they plan to start doing X when they’ve achieved Y. I often challenge them to consider how they can work towards X in the meantime.

For example, I have had several people tell me that they live in a city right now, but that when they have a garden or some land, they have a dream to grow their own, or even start a small farm.

I mention that growing their own on a smaller scale is not something that is out of reach – right now, they can begin by starting a container garden indoors.

Making growing your own, as one example, does not need to be dependant on other things happening first. You can often start with a few small steps. Even if you are not exactly where you want to be right now, these small steps can help you move towards your eventual goals. And when you focus on the present as well as the future, you can use the present to build, and equip yourself with the skills you need for your dream sustainable future.

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