Workshops can be motivating but overwhelming …
Written by Karen Spehr & Rob Curnow, Community Change, 2011
Workshops and seminars can be great places to get inspiration and meet with others who are trying to do the same thing you are. They are not substitutes for extended training programs or one on one support so you needn’t feel overwhelmed by the fact that you didn’t come out an expert. Skilled project management is often the thing lacking in behaviour change projects and you don’t need to be a social science whiz to do that. Acknowledge the skills you have, take charge of your behaviour change project, include as much relevant cross disciplinary expertise as you can and inform yourself as much as possible. Create yourself a good team … but don’t expect them to stay for the next project.
At an emotional level, working for the environment is practically an invitation to be overwhelmed. It can be very depressing to be constantly exposed to information on problems like climate change and difficult to view your efforts as worthwhile in the face of such large scale global problems. As far as the big picture worries are concerned, consider the answer given at a seminar by Tim Jackson, a top sustainability adviser to the UK government who makes a compelling case for how human society can flourish without continued economic growth. When asked how he sustains his motivation for change in the face of such huge obstacles he replied that he found the following sports analogy helpful - even though you might lose the race in the end, you would definitely lose it if you gave up five seconds before the finish line (1). It is also helpful to regularly read, watch or discuss inspiring and hopeful stories to help maintain your motivation. Or take this quote from Margaret Mead (1901-1978), the famous U.S anthropologist. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”.
1. Jackson, T. Author’s personal notes, lecture ‘Prosperity Without Growth’, 11 June 2010, Centre for Public Policy and the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, Melbourne.