Guest article: What Is Mine To Do?

Thalia Carr is the WINS Oxford Hub Lead and a Coaching Specialist helping individuals in sustainability to increase their impact. After a running a lively and thought-provoking ‘hybrid’ event (in-person and digital) recently on what our responsibilites are as women in sustainability, and where to draw the line, we asked Thalia to share her thoughts, reflecting on the event and the wider conversation…

What is mine to do?

30 women concerned about catastrophic climate change came together to try and answer that question at our latest Oxford Women in Sustainability event in November.

Why that question? Well, it’s a question I often need to ask my coaching clients and other colleagues. So many people are overwhelmed, trying to save the world single-handedly because it’s important and it’s urgent but obviously, that approach is not sustainable.

So, if we can’t throw all our energy at everything, how do we choose from the many options? Do we choose a job that lets us work on solutions to climate change? Or do we stay in a company where we can make change happen from within? Do we devote all our time outside work to volunteering and if so what of the many options do we choose?

Did we answer the question? Maybe not, we’re all different, but we certainly had the opportunity to share the pressures we feel to do more, or even, sometimes, to do less.

It is always encouraging when you find other people are struggling with the same issues as you are, and you can learn from each other.

We did put together some possible ways of deciding what to do both professionally and outside work…

1)     Think about what you are good at or trained in already and use those skills
2)     Follow your instinct
3)     Choose where you can make the biggest impact
4)     Consider what’s most appropriate – what’s the level of risk that’s right for you? what are your other responsibilities?
5)     Ask yourself what you are already doing and how you can build on it
6)     Learn to say ‘no’ and know what ‘enough’ is for you

Maybe we should have added to that, make time to meet up with like-minded people as we do together at our WINS events. It is easy to underestimate what we can learn and how stress can dissipate when we meet up together.

Finally, we asked our 3 panellists what their one piece of advice would be for their younger self in deciding ‘What is mine to do?’…

Linda Aspey: “It’s not all about you’”

Noora Firaq: “Be ambitious and go for it.”

Saskya Huggins: “Focus more on what you get back than what you give. I get a huge amount out of being part of this [the climate change space]”

So, I would say, remember you can’t do everything, step back and make sure you are choosing rather than falling into things. And if you’re one of those people who feels their hand going up to volunteer every time there’s an opportunity, learn to sit on it – you can always volunteer when you’ve had time to think.

Essentially though, we know we have a lot to offer, so let’s make sure we’re choosing the longest levers so we can make the greatest impact, and let’s work together.