From the Counsellor’s Chair

Welcome to the new decade!

In this article our School Counsellor, Mrs Renata Good, discusses change and the opportunities it can bring for growth and development.

‘January 2020.  New year, new decade, new month, new term.  As the starting point in the year, January is a month where we reflect on the past with an eye to the future as many of us make New Year’s resolutions pledging to eat a healthier diet, exercise more, work more efficiently, find a new job or hobby, be more organised and so on and so forth.  We commit with renewed determination not to let things slide, give this up or take that on.

Within a few weeks the resolutions are often sized down or abandoned altogether.  One of the hardest things in making a change is sticking to it.  The failure rate of New Year’s resolutions is said to be about 80 percent, and most lose their resolve by mid-February (U.S News & World Report).   In 2009, University College London (UCL) discovered it takes an average of 66 days for the average person to form a new habit.  A New Year’s resolution made on 1st January if done daily will not become became a habit that sticks until 7th March!  At that point a new behaviour will switch to being performed without much thinking, awareness or intention, and become much easier.  For some it’s just too long to wait, takes too much effort, or things get in the way.

Why the difficulties?  Surely, we are just trying to improve ourselves?  Change is challenging.  It carries elements of risk even when what is planned is a pleasurable event.  Change provokes anxiety as something familiar is left behind and the largely unknown faced.  It often entails a loss and adjustment to new things.  The bigger your goal and expectations, and the less clarity about it the bigger the challenge and the tougher it gets.

Some will have no control or influence over the changes they encounter.  Families are and will continue to navigate separation, relocation, illness, death, joblessness and many other uncertainties amidst concerns about climate change and the environment, political changes and mental health issues.  Yet people facing huge adversity often make some of the biggest changes in part because they have to out of necessity rather than choice.

January 1st is one day in your calendar.  You can reset it daily and revisit the reasons you made those resolutions and your goals.  There are so many ways you can make changes for the better without resorting to expensive gym equipment or a shelf full of books advocating a healthier life style. Challenging your critical self and practising self-compassion, a gesture of kindness, mindful thinking, showing empathy and understanding or switching off mobiles, tablets, laptops and consoles to connect face to face with others (it’s good to talk) are a few things that won’t cost anything and could deliver a great deal in return.’

Mrs Good is at St Augustine’s Priory all day on Mondays and Tuesday mornings during term time.