The art of choosing

By Inger Dybvig Kenobi

The cCHALLENGE is about finding solutions to one of the most overwhelming challenges we’ve ever had to face in the history of our planet, namely climate change. These two words are often tossed around in political speeches and can be heard on the evening news, and since it’s never connected to any good news, most of us tune out and look the other way. 

But what if you stopped for a second and paid attention? What if it didn’t have to feel so overwhelming and hopeless? Better yet, what if you could do something about it, give it a shot, no strings attached? And what if it was only for thirty days?

Pick Your Challenge
That’s where cCHALLENGE enters the picture, and believe me when I say that it’s a stroke of genius. Unlike other environmental programs out there, this one puts you in the driver’s seat. Here you pick the challenge, you set the tone, and it’s only for thirty days. This is your chance to think outside the box, go off script, break the routine, and try something on for size. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about your challenge being ‘good’ or politically correct. Anything goes.

For instance, if taking up recycling feels like a cruel and unusual punishment to you, skip that one. And, if turning vegan feels as unnatural to you as inviting your in-laws to a nudist beach vacation, then don’t. But if you’re reading this, chances are you want to do something, so get creative. Find something you’re passionate about and commit to it for thirty days.

Back in January, 2016, my challenge was: Spend an hour outside in nature everyday.

Know Your Why
Once you’ve picked your challenge, back it up with a compelling reason. So if your challenge is, ‘I want to bike to work everyday,’ tap into why this is important to you. Is it because you want to reduce your carbon footprint? Or do you want to be a good example for your kids? Maybe you just want to be more outside, like me? Whatever your reason(s), once you make it personal, fun, and meaningful, it will give you the power of focus, the power of pulling you in the right direction, and the power to infuse you with the energy and willpower you need to keep going when the going gets though. In short, when you find your WHY, you become unstoppable.

 My WHY was: I want to connect more with nature so that I can feel a part of it, not just observe it from a distance. Also, the whole point of doing anything related to climate change is to save the planet, so I want to enjoy its beauty while there is still something to enjoy.

Thinking about this made me feel like a real explorer, like Roald Amundsen’s long lost daughter. I was all fired up and ready to go. 

Experiment and Review
On the first day of my challenge I stepped outside in my white winter coat and took a deep, long breath. Right then and there I remembered that I don’t like to be outside when it’s cold. In fact, I hate it. I should have done this challenge in June, or gone to Hawaii or something! My adventurous spirit took a nose dive, but I wasn’t about to give up. I pulled myself together and went on a walk. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was the longest and most miserable walk of my life.

In a perfect world, everything will always go according to plan, but when it doesn’t, it helps have a few good questions up your sleeve. Questions like: What will make this better? Or better yet: How can I make this more fun? What haven’t I tried yet? Then do that.

The cCHALLENGE is not about being perfect, but about being willing to play, experiment and review. Get back in there and don’t give up.

In my case, I quickly learnt that if I wanted a glimmer of daylight and warmth, I had to stop putting my walks off until the end of the day. I also discovered that bringing a flask of piping hot coffee really helped. Stuff like that. With the initial snags out of the way, the real adventure could begin. I wandered into the forest and around the lakes. I braved the weather and stopped looking at my watch. Discovering new and hidden pathways was a source of great joy, and I loved spending time in wide open spaces. The days went by, the world kept spinning, and I revelled in this new sense of belonging and inner peace.

Find Your Tribe
The American author Jim Rohn is famous for saying, ‘You become like the five people you spend the most time with.’ Whether this is the case or not, it’s no secret that when embarking on something new, it helps to surround yourself with like minded people. They allow you to experiment, make mistakes, have fun, learn, grow, feel inspired, feel lost, all at the same time. Like minded people will have your back and lift you higher.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed connecting with my fellow cCHALLENGERS. It was all online – emails, blogs, Facebook – but the support and camaraderie was heartfelt and real. Despite the distance in time and space, we were in this together.

Midway through my challenge I also began to seek out articles about the benefits of being outside in nature (there are countless), I read about the secret lives of trees (it’s all in the roots), and I felt inspired to join The Woodland Trust and WWF (who knew you could adopt a pride of lions?).

What’s Next?
What happens when your thirty days are up? Do you continue? Do you stop? Do you pick a brand new challenge? There is absolutely no pressure to keep it up forever and ever, however, something always leads to something else, so who knows what’s next for you.

In my case, I’m no longer outside everyday, but I’ve just returned from the Highlands where I had a hell of a time hiking up mountains, wading through rivers, and befriending the local stags. Suddenly these things are on my radar. Suddenly I’m in love with the great outdoors. 

Not that I’m a totally changed person, I’m still me, but whether or not the cCHALLENGE changed me into some kind of Shakespearian woodland creature is beside the point. The point is that I’ve gone from feeling hopeless about climate change to feeling inspired to do my part. That all important shift is not something you can expect people to understand, you have to experience it, which is why cCHALLENGE is such a gift. It hands you the reins and let your experience the ripple-effects of change first hand.

Ready to start?
I hope you walk away from reading this article with a clear understanding that you don’t have to be of Mother Teresa calibre to make a real difference in this world. Climate change doesn’t care about your status, race, gender, age, income, or background. It doesn’t care if you work for Greenpeace or are an environmental floater that weaves in and out of paying attention. It takes all kinds. Everything helps. With that in mind, the cCHALLENGE is a brilliant landing pad (or maybe launching pad is a better word) for all of us to approach climate change with fresh eyes and try something new.

So what will it be? What will be your challenge? Will you grow an herb garden in your bathtub? Will you not waste any food? Will you take a 30-day break from social media? Do you feel drawn to making your own clothes? Do you want to experiment with a vegetarian diet for thirty days? How about volunteering at your local organic farm? Maybe you will do one good deed a day?

Whatever you choose, I have a feeling you’ll pick something truly amazing.

Good luck, and keep us posted!

This article is also published in Norwegian in Harvest magazine.