Make Change Stick with a System

Last week, I mentioned how Pope Francis was calling to us action on climate change. I also wrote how to go about making public commitments. Now it’s time to convert those commitments into sustained action. But how? Perhaps, it’s time to turn to Dilbert and Bill Marty for a path to achieving those goals. 

In a recent prayer nugget (, Bill Marty in quoting Dibert author Scott Adams, states that…

Goals are for losers. Systems are for winners.

Strong words, but what Dilbert, Adams, and Marty are trying to say is this: making goals is easy, but winners achieve their commitments by not just making those goals, but by also creating systems to ensure their success. 

Let me illustrate with examples based on the goal examples from last week:

  1. The goal of “I will take the bus to work instead of driving” can be made into a system by giving up your parking spot at work and heading to Metro or your transportation department and acquiring an Orca pass. 
  2. The goal of “I will not eat any meat or dairy products on Mondays” can be made into a system by communicating with every member of your household of the plan, identifying some recipes (try, and having these recipes in hand when you go grocery shopping on Sunday evenings.
  3. The goal of “I won’t purchase any plastic bottles of water during the month of July” by going out and purchasing a reusable steel water bottle and taking it to work and on outings away from your home.

Summing things up: decide now how you will respond to Pope Francis’ call to action on climate change by making some commitments, publicly pledging those commitments, and then creating systems for sustained achievements of those commitments.

What commitments to take care of our common home and respond to the climate change emergency have you made? What systems have you put in place to help ensure you succeed with your commitments? I’d love to hear from you. Please consider sharing your experience using the comment form.

Working together, we can help take care of our common home.

Paul Litwin

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