After Mom died, I was appreciative but a little overwhelmed by the job and board offerings from colleagues who knew I’d have more free time. While that’s true, I’m still responsible for my sweet Dad, who’s in hospice, which makes my schedule unpredictable at best. I had to be careful not to overcommit and didn’t know how to respond to those folks without feeling guilty or hurting anyone’s feelings. It finally occurred to me that I should apply the same rule to myself that I did to the nonprofits I’ve worked for in the past: create a focused mission statement and don’t let yourself creep away from it, no matter how good the cause.
Following much introspection, I decided I would only accept offers that allowed me to write, enjoy the outdoors, or advocate for food justice. Anything that didn’t meet those criteria could be turned down on the spot without regret.
All that changed on Nov. 8, with the election of an administration determined to undermine science and the environment. I won’t belabor the effect of constant news bombardment coupled with a desire to battle against every single attack on human decency. Better thinkers than I have already done so. Suffice it to say that I quickly became exhausted and depressed.
But then my analytical brain and 20 years of zen practice kicked in, and I began to break down society-wide problems into individual-sized goals. I realized I will burn out and be of no use if I spend every minute in a defensive posture, reacting to everything. So as one of my heroes Sister Simone Campbell said, “Just do one thing.” It makes the most sense to use my background in environmental science and outreach to protect the natural world, educate about the reliability of research and data, and inspire others to take individual action to stop climate change.
Go ahead and add that to the mission statement.
If everyone picks their one thing, then we’ll have time to focus on proactive strategies instead of reactive, while still maintaining sanity and enjoying life. And you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you don’t have to worry about education or housing or healthcare, because your fellow citizens who are passionate about those issues have got you covered.
To that end, I’ve decided to do one small thing every day that will help achieve my environmental goals, and I want to share it, in case it will help with your personal mission as well.
Since that thought will most likely be a single sentence or a simple reference back to a blog post with a recipe or instructions, Twitter is the most logical resource to get out the word. So if you’d like to see those suggestions, follow our Twitter feed and look for the hashtag #DoOneThing. If you have your own to share with the community, by all means, post it with that hashtag, and tag us in the tweet.
I firmly believe that if we all do one thing, we can accomplish great things.