The first couple weeks of the sustainable behavior challenge was tough: I had never formally decided to change a daily habit, I gaged my goal was set a little high, and I had to be constantly conscious of not opening up my desk drawer where those hot pink heart-shaped sticky notes were stored. Then I made a more realistic goal for paper reduction in order to be able to accomplish any improvement towards changing my behavior and things got a lot easier knowing that I was actually making progress. Then step 3 came and I was grouped with my classmates who were striving toward the same behavior as I was! And things got that much easier.
After reading the “paperless” group members’ posts over the prior couple weeks I realized that they were all going through the same sorts of successes and barriers that I was. Most members were finding this change quite difficult, as I was, because paper consumption is such a large part of our lives although we tend not realize how prominent it is with everything we do. I found this comforting in the sense that I was not alone in this challenge and that others were enduring a very similar experience. I felt, as I read their posts, that their successes fed into my efforts and that I could reach those successes too. The coolest part was discovering the approaches that each member took to change their behavior. I found this extremely beneficial because they taught me different methods of paper reduction that I had never previously considered, which helped me make more changes to my behavior and help me progress further towards my goal.
It was encouraging to know that my classmates were able to accomplish what they had set out to do for this challenge, and that gave me confidence that any student at Lafayette would be able to as well. I started to think about how if I slacked on the behavior at any time that my group members would find out and I would be a drag. It was like how I make sure I focus and perform in soccer games, I don’t want to let the team down. We were in this behavior challenge together now. It is much easier to sustain the new behavior with a community acting with the same behaviors around you all the time.
I’m always up for a challenge so of course I enjoyed this assignment by testing my ability to make a change. However, the real challenge is if I can still effectively minimize the amount of paper I consume even though the project is over. I feel that most people will revert back to their old habits just because this challenge was so ephemeral in the grand scheme of our time here. Whether or not that will old true for myself is yet to be determined!