At the start of 2013 I ditched the car and started walking or busing it to work every day. I’ve always known cars pollute, are expensive to run, and have a habit of running people and things over, so what has happened to finally get me out the car? I think there are three reasons…
REASON ONE: I made a public commitment. I didn’t realise I was doing that at the time, but by starting this blog I’ve effectively made a public commitment to turn good intentions into actions. Encouraging people to make public commitments seems to be an increasingly popular part of change management, e.g. NHS Change Day. Research shows that “Individuals who publicly stated their position on an issue experience increased confidence in their attitudes, and evaluated the issue as being more important as compared to individuals who did not publicly state their position.” (A good article about making public commitments here).
REASON TWO: I gained a better understanding of the issues. The documentary film “Crisis of Civilisation” (free to view here) and “The Moneyless Manifesto” (free to read here) have been of particular help. Howard Zinn said readers of his book, “A People’s History of the United States”, reported that they were left feeling either depressed or with a sense of empowerment. I was left feeling both. And it’s similar with the Crisis of Civilisation and Moneyless Manifesto. It’s depressing that things have got to this point, but I don’t think it’s hopeless. There are practical things that individuals can do to change things. Not driving is as an act of non-participation in the dominant consumer culture. I’m not confident enough to say that I’m no longer having an overall negative impact, but it’s a step in the right direction.
REASON THREE: I’ve set realistic goals. In Moneyless Manifesto, Mark Boyle employs the “progression of principles” change model. Instead of setting yourself a single goal such as “stop smoking” which, if you had one cigarette in a moment of weakness, might lead you to say, “Sod it, I’ve failed, might as well have the other 19”, you instead set a number of step goals. As far as driving to work goes, this means that I allow myself to drive very occasionally when I really need to – this is achievable now.