Solitaire Townsend Co-founder of Futerra, shares her 5 tips to survive, and even thrive, while working to change the world.
This month marks my 20th year of working in sustainability. Two decades of climate change, poverty, women’s rights, biodiversity, innovation, growing livelihoods and changing lifestyles
I’m so privileged to have found this career early. But over the years I’ve also had friends and colleagues burn themselves out or just become bitter about the pace of change. Dealing with huge and complex issues of morality, survival and equity can be brutally hard on individuals. Especially on those ‘fighting the good fight’ in large organisations where it doesn’t always feel like others have your back (or are even working against you). Building a business case against exploiting child labour or convincing your boss that climate change might actually be worth paying attention to can take its toll on purposeful people.
Yet most of us are still here. Passionate about the opportunity for sustainability to revitalize business, uplift communities and set out a path to the future. Twenty years in and I’ll admit that I’m driven by the urgency of sustainability, but I’m also enjoying myself hugely.
People who work in service to others – in healthcare, the emergency services, teaching, overseas aid, etc. – all report the highest sense of ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ in the work they do. Which is probably why so many young people want to work in purpose and sustainability careers.
How to resolve the dilemma? A purposeful career can be incredibly fulfilling, and it can also chew you up and spit you out. I’m often asked how I maintain my boundless enthusiasm. So, here are my 5 tips to survive, and even thrive, while working to change the world:
Surviving sustainability doesn’t mean you should ignore the urgency, work less hard or check-out of change-making. Just remember why you’re doing it and treat yourself like you’re going to be doing it for years to come. I am eager for my next 20 years in sustainability and what we’ll change for the better during them.
I’ve been told that changing the world is a marathon not a sprint. Although it often feels like sprinting a marathon! If we’re going to achieve the world we want then every change-maker – in business, social enterprise, charity, campaigning, government, communities and families –matters. We can’t afford to lose anyone.
Self-care and sustainability aren’t mutually exclusive, in fact they may be the secret recipe to change the world.