Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.
Over the holiday season, it has been intriguing listening to broadcasters look back over the last twelve months – as a listener, you can almost hear the shake of the head in the broadcaster’s voice, the subtext screaming ‘Little did I know!’ before the delivery of a disclaimer about how they are not about to make any predictions for the year ahead. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice – well.
While I am not in the business of making predictions, I am a fan of making big plans, with the understanding that working towards its realisation is an end in itself – one that is perhaps more important than the plan’s actual completion. But what about those goals that we need to achieve to progress through our courses? In the UK, we are moving into perhaps the most intense period of the pandemic; it is as the cliché says: the night’s darkest moment is just before dawn. And as the general badness of the pandemic mingles with the unrelenting darkness of the short days, I feel it in myself – winter is sapping my energy, it is so cold I do not ever want to get out from under the duvet, and the prospect of another three months of mainly online learning is not filling me with the new-year motivation I would draw on in ordinary times.
What to do? One thing 2020 introduced to me was the idea of the ‘accountability group’ – simply, a group made up of people all working towards similar goals, who cheer each other on and keep each other accountable to stated goals. It is pure psychology – much as the average person is more likely to exercise if they are going to team practice than if they must head out for solo gym session, we are often more likely to stick to the goals we set for ourselves if we state them publicly, and then draw on the support of others to help us stick to them. My friend set up an accountability group at the beginning of this academic year, and through it I have managed to maintain some sense of normalcy and feed off the social alchemy is group effort. Powerful stuff.
Undoubtedly, the start of 2021 is likely to be the darkest part of the pandemic before dawn eventually breaks as the vaccine rollout steps up. But one thing you can do to write your own script this year is work alongside friends who are as serious as you are to develop and progress. Happy New Year.