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Over the past several years, I’ve always associated “sustainable” and “sustainability” with environmental efforts. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines sustainable as “of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.”

Ernie Nolan

On January 1, 2024, I sat in my favourite chair with my morning coffee and began to write out my New Year’s resolutions—personal promises, changes, accomplishments, and improvements that people coincide with the beginning of the calendar year. Before not too long, I had filled my writing pad full of ideas. Forever trying to maintain work-life balance and successfully lead my institution in this post-pandemic climate, my hopes for 2024 were BIG. While taking a break from brainstorming to refill my cup of coffee, I picked up my phone and noticed a Facebook post from my dear friend, Creative Consultant, Nina Meehan. She also had New Year’s resolutions in mind. She posted:

“On December 31st, you make all these promises to yourself and plans. And for the first few days of January, you are, in fact, resolute–purposeful, determined, and unwavering–in those plans and promises. But, by January 10th-ish, real life has started up again and with it, the twists and turns of the unexpected have arrived. Can your resolutions ride those waves? Can they sustain the inevitable surprises of day to day existence?”

Along with a new cup of coffee, I went back to my list and reread. Constantly navigating the unexpected day to day, could I honestly accomplish all of these goals this year? Nina’s post continued to answer the questions she, and I, posed:

“For most of us, the answer is NO. Research suggests that only 9% of people actually keep their New Year’s Resolutions. Which explains why the gyms across the country are packed on January 3rd and empty by January 22nd. This year, why not commit to something that is sustainable?”

Nina’s inspiring post got me thinking about the word “sustainable”. Over the past several years, I’ve always associated “sustainable” and “sustainability” with environmental efforts. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines sustainable as “of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.”

After discovering that definition, I looked at the long list on my legal pad and turned that page over to a fresh one. On that new page, with a sense of personal sustainability in mind, I wrote one resolution:

“This year, I will not deplete or permanently damage ME.”

I hope you’ll join me in looking after yourselves in the coming year.

Looking at a future sure to be full of unknown challenges, I’m hoping that my own self-preservation will lead to innovation and possibility. Just as the environment and social challenges are global in nature, I’m hoping taking care of myself will lead to and strengthen the opportunities that I have for international collaboration and cooperation.

I hope that you’ll join me in looking after yourself in the coming year so that we can ensure a better quality of life for current and future generations.

Ernie Nolan

Treasurer of ASSITEJ International