Sunday, September 26, 2010

Six Ways to Make Living with Yourself Easier

I like shopping at In Season Local Market to support both local sustainable agriculture and a local small business. The meat is fantastic, the eggs are from pasture raised chickens and everything is sourced from within 250 miles of the store. I also have even been known to pick up a burger and a shake at Sonic, not sustainable or healthy.

The idea of living small, locally and sustainably inspires me. But I have have a desire to see the world and love flying around in jetliners. And getting a pilots license is on my "bucket list".

I ride my bike to work sometimes. But I love driving my little A4.

These are just a couple of the dichotomies that I struggle with on a regular basis. Why should I bother with shopping at In Season occasionally if I'm going to consume unsustainably most of the time? How can I be serious about wanting to move into a smaller dwelling and use less energy if I also want to fly off to Spain, South Africa and New Zealand?

Well, unfortunately I am not perfect. However, I have implemented a couple of strategies to help deal with my inconsistencies:

Just admit it - Like anything else, the first step to dealing with a personal foible is admitting it's there. I've listed a few of my dichotomies here but not all of them. I hope that I can admit to and sort out all of them as they are discovered.

Do your best - Approach everything you do with the attitude and expectation that you will do the best that you can. I like to run. Some days I feel like I can run forever; like I'm running on a cloud so I run longer and faster. Other days, I feel sluggish, like I'm wearing cement shoes and running in three feet of water. But I get out and run anyhow - slower and shorter because that's all my body has to give at the time. Or I rest, because that is what feels right at the time. If you always do your best, then even though everything you do may not be of the highest quality you can be satisfied that you have given the best you had to give at that time.

Don't get discouraged - When you haven't done your best, don't demoralize yourself. It's water under the bridge. It's spilled milk. It is what it is. I rode my bike to work a dozen times during Bike to Work Month (which is in June in Denver). I think I've ridden it to work only a dozen times since then. But that's surely no reason not to ride my bike to work on Monday. Every day is a new day, a blank canvas on which to create your best you.

Make progress - Establish a big goal or purpose to aspire to and then set intermediate objectives to work towards and then make small very achievable targets that you can hit regularly. Running the Leadville Trail 100 is another entry on my "bucket list". Right now I generally run about 5 miles for my "long runs". That's a far cry from 100 miles, so I'm going to schedule a 10k, then a half-marathon, then a couple of marathons, then a 50-miler, then a metric century and then I will run the Leadville Trail 100. It's clearly a long-term goal. But for now, every week I need to run 2 times. (I also hike, road ride, mtb ride and will pick up yoga again to round out the necessary fitness.)

Accentuate the positive - Congratulate yourself when you hit a target. Celebrate when you achieve an objective. When I shop at In Season I feel good about supporting local agriculture and a local small business and I feel like I'm doing something to work towards my purpose of living more sustainably. I pat myself on the back when I do so. When I cook the amazing products I've bought at In Season, I love the flavors and textures of the food that are just plain different from what you get at the local supermarket and I revel in it.

Keep exploring and learning - A year ago, I thought the farmer's market was a place to buy tastier produce than I from the supermarket. Now I understand all kinds of other reasons why buying locally sourced products is better for me and for everybody else. And each time I learn a new reason, I become more passionate about my purpose.

So, undersand that we are not flawless and that we will have conflicting thoughts and desires. Then implement these strategies to help you live with and sort through your inner conflicts.


  1. I think the key with this sort of thing is not to let the perfect become the enemy of the good. I have a lot of the same dichotomies, especially around food. So many people try to paint a more sustainable food lifestyle as an all or nothing gain. But little steps in the right direction are to be applauded, encouraged, and commended. I may be a 50% vegetarian and locavore, but other times I just need a 5 Guys burger and fries.

  2. Sarah's uncle has run the Leadville 100 several times. He's run a bunch of other 100's as well, but goes to Leadville every year. There was actually a story about him in the Post this year. Check it out and good luck!

  3. Wow! Jim has shown a tremendous level of dedication (or insanity depending on your perspective). But it's like Sarah said above "little steps in the right direction" - whether striving to finish an ultramarathon or change your consumption habits.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. I think it's easier to deal with dichotomy when you view it as an issue of integrity. Do I adhere to my own values? If you can answer that question in the affirmative--as you seem to do--there is no real conflict. Others may perceive duplicity, but that is only a matter of defining the core value.