Doug McKenzie-Mohr states, as part of his Community-Based Social Marketing, that individuals tend to stick to behavior-change commitments better if they have made them publicly, in a way that others can see the commitment, and basically hold them accountable. His research is full of fascinating examples that support this, showing that public commitments tend to be more durable than, say, a written pledge or a statement to someone else.
I don’t have a better place for a public, durable commitment than my blog, so I am making two behavior-change commitments here, to make them public, and hopefully more durable. Knowing that you, Gentle Readers, have seen them, and can hold me accountable in the next several months, makes me more likely to try to stick to these changes. This is a good experiment as well! Will it or won’t it work?!
Public Commitment #1 – This year I will be officially vegetarian. I have been for a while, but sort of a “closet” vegetarian, who enjoys seafood while I’m vacationing on the coast, or with family for the holidays. I have been afraid to claim it so publicly, just to give myself some wiggle room. I believe in eating sustainably, and love the idea of shopping a farmer’s market, although we don’t usually manage to do that regularly. So this year, I will make the commitment to be vegetarian. Unless I’m vacationing on the coast and have fresh-caught seafood.
Part of being vegetarian means that I will focus on learning to cook more. I really dislike cooking, but trying to make sure I eat healthy while restricting my protein to sustainable choices means I am more aware of what goes into my body. Hopefully I will learn to be less lazy when it comes to my food! I want to be healthier, and break my sugar habit. I hope this all works itself out together.
Public Commitment #2 – I will not buy any new clothes until The Mechanic and I go to Europe for our honeymoon. Not go shopping?! This is like asking me to not breathe! But I am going to try to do it. There are a few exceptions: anything I need for the wedding itself; undergarments; sewing supplies; and the Athleta skirt I’ve been wanting for years that I was thinking of making into my “trousseau.” This is going to be really challenging – yes, I have a closet full of clothes, but I like to constantly refresh and restock, and spring clothes are always so lovely… And I’m sure I’ll need new work shoes for warmer weather… But I know I’ll find stuff in Europe, and I’d rather shop there, in the hopes of finding things unusual and unique. Or at least from an H&M in Germany, rather than Georgetown.
Okay, there, I’ve said it. No meat, no shopping. The first one will be easier than the second, although I’m setting a goal to cook twice a month, and that could be a problem as well. Seriously, I’d rather sew than spend time in the kitchen. And I’d rather buy new jeans in Germany than at the Gap, so I just need to remind myself, when the shopping bug hits, that I will find cool stuff overseas.
The Mechanic is snickering at me. I suspect he doubts my ability to not shop. I sort of doubt it too, so help me out! I’ll need the occasional reminder…