Will We Be Able to Stick to Our Good Intentions?

During a long holiday I begin to realize that I really don’t need much to be happy. Sun, flip-flops, good company, good food and no obligations. The rest is bonus. During such a holiday I always set my good intentions. I want to work less under pressure, exercise more often, or spend less time online. The bottom line is that I want to have more control over my life and be lived less by everything and everyone around me.

Once back from vacation, I can keep that up for about three days. As soon as I start up my computer and the e-mails come in, I check my phone every two minutes again, order new shoes online and order take-out food because I didn’t have time to go shopping. Gone holiday feeling. Gone good intentions. Or not quite? Often still something changes.

To be honest, I don’t mind that everything doesn’t change all at once. Once I’m home I enjoy the hectic aspects of my life again. I love my work, my family, my friends, and no one complains when I come home with Indian food. So then why do I find it so hard to change my behaviour? Looking at the history of mankind, the answer to that question is logical. Change is not about weeks, or months, but about generations.

Therefore, I look with some suspicion at many reports in the media about the ‘post’ Corona era, in which everything has to be different. Better and more sustainable. Many people are trying to stand up for their own agendas and express their ideas to us.

I don’t think that’s how it works. This time period is giving us a glimpse of what the future may hold. We miss our social contacts and are living in uncertainty about our health and financial situation, but what could done better suddenly is becoming very clear. Many of us see that we really can do with less. Less travel, stuff, noise, and less pollution. This crisis is forcing us to think about what we understand to be important and to set those priorities that will lead to good intentions. Just like when you’re on vacation.

So I don’t think we’re going to change our behaviour en masse, and that everything will get better. I do think that we all have looked at our lives and grasp that something must or can change. In our own lives, but also in the way companies do business. If we all come out of this difficult period together, roughly at the same time, these good intentions might more likely stick. 

In any case, I have experienced again what it feels like, not buying things for weeks, and how happy I am on my old flip-flops. I would like to hold on to that feeling.

Asceline Groot is ondernemer bij hetkanWEL, schrijfster van ‘Het Nieuwe Groen’ en PhD kandidaat aan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen. In haar columns schrijft zij over (start-up) sociale ondernemingen en trends en ontwikkelingen op het gebied van duurzaamheid.