Serial-resolution-maker and breaker Maude Farrugia shows you how committing to permaculture New Year’s resolutions can help to create beautiful, sustainable habits.
How can permaculture help us create great new habits for the new year? It’s all about patterns!
According to permaculture luminary Looby McNamara (author of People and Permaculture): “The first thing is to survey our patterns – which ones are regenerative (i.e. bring us benefits), and which ones are degenerative (i.e. are costly to us in some form such as wasting our time or degenerating our health).”
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that we only think about them in January, then proceed to forget about them for the rest of the year. By looking at patterns we address the functional issues in the mechanism of our life.
Looby suggests thinking about New Year’s resolutions in the sense of things we’d like to do less of and more of, and then sorting through the patterns to see how we stop these from happening, and conversely, how we can make them happen.
So I set to work in advance on drafting my New Year’s resolutions, rather than pulling them out of my hat over a glass of Champagne late on New Year’s Eve!
I thought I’d start with the good news and think about something I’d like to do more of; a beautiful regenerative pattern. There were plenty of ways I’d like to make my life better, but the one I’ve chosen to focus on is slow and special time for my family, and in particular with my awesome little son, Alfie. Time spent playing with him is so regenerative and enjoyable, and it fills me to the brim with joy.
When I moved on to thinking about degenerative patterns I realised one big issue for me is working around family obligations.
As a mum I am a multi-tasker extraordinaire, but this sometimes makes it hard for me to spend quality time working, as moments are snatched when baby is sleeping or otherwise occupied.
The issue snowballs, as I get caught up in all the fascinating projects I’m working on during the day, which then impacts on my ability to spend quality time with my son, as the day is often a jumble of working and playing, with neither being done as effectively as they could.
A simple bit of planning of work times and play times would help immensely – feeding a regenerative pattern and putting a barrier in the way of a degenerative one.
Rather than shaking up your life completely (paleo diet anyone?), Looby suggests looking for edges – small, sly, curvy little ways you can start to make an impact on the bigger issue.
“All or nothing thinking and behaviour is a common trap to fall into, for example, “says Looby. “Thinking, ‘I won’t be able to give up smoking entirely so there’s no point cutting down and I won’t try at all’,” she says.
This speaks volumes to me – I have tried lots of different fandangled time-scheduling tricks, all of which have been doomed to fail when deadlines loom. A small step – making a date with myself, a biscuit and a cup of tea for a little time-planning session at the start of the week will, I think, be a great pattern to get into and mean more conscious time spent playing and working effectively (and I’ll get a biscuit!).
It might not sound as snappy as “this year I will lose 5kg” or “this year I will give up smoking” but my New Year’s resolution are small, concrete and achievable, and addresses patterns in my life which will take me closer to a happier, more effective and fulfilling year (fingers crossed!).
This article was super inspired by reading Looby McNamara’s terrific books and this fantastic article.