Monday 17th January

Today is the third Monday in January, otherwise known as ‘Blue Monday’ and apparently the most depressing day of the year… Is it really though? And if it is, how can we take some steps to make real change to bust this day wide open? Let’s take a look at what Blue Monday really is, how authentic change might be a better answer and what 4 steps you can take to start making it happen.  

New Year’s Resolution List

  • Eat less chocolate 
  • Learn one new skill 
  • Go to the gym at least once 
  • Knit a scarf

‘So much for New Year, New Me’. 

What is Blue Monday?

 

The dubbing of Blue Monday came from psychologist Cliff Arnall, who didn’t set out for the term to have such negative connotations. Instead he coined the phrase for a holiday company to encourage people to take up their January deals. When talking to the IndependentArnall stressed it was never his intention for the term Blue Monday to take off in the negative way it did. It’s not like he thought that with no scientific backing that people would take the term and run with it is it? That was in 2005 and now the term likely haunts Arnall as the hashtags and advertising campaigns geared up to #BlueMonday only seems to be gathering more attention year on year.

Even though there’s no real evidence that every third Monday in January is significantly worse than any other, there is a reason why it resonates with people for good or bad. The buzz (albeit slightly less buzz-like this year) has faded. The weather has turned from festive frost and Christmas chills to damn right cold and inconvenient. Payday seems to be moving further away rather than closer and while the scales flash your post-christmas numbers with a tone of ‘I told you to lay off the cheese board’ one little voice might be spurring on self doubt and criticism: 

‘So much for New Year, New Me’. 

Year after year millions of us make promises of self improvement; eating a bit better, drinking less, stopping smoking and saving more money are all high on the hit list. Yet most of us don’t keep to our promises, a study from 2020 showed that only a ¼ of Britskept to their new year’s resolutions throughout 2020. These figures aren’t just because of Covid either, year on year the the start of a new loop round the sun send us setting often unrealistic goals that by mid Jan are wavering and for most of us back in the ‘maybe next time box’ by February. 

 

Maybe the question of why so many of us fail to follow through on the new year bandwagon should be more why do we need a new me in the first place? 

 

Instead of changing ourselves to fall in line with what social media, society and stereotypes tell us we should be aspiring to be, this year why don’t we try to be more authentic to our true selves? How many of us motivated by the prospect of authentic change would be back to the drawing board by Feb. Or would we be spending the year thriving, being present rather than relying on the phrase ‘I’ll be happy when…’ and waiting for the next round of resolutions. 

 

What is authentic self?

 

The concept of authenticity or ‘true-self’ can be described as “expressing one’s perceived true nature, being content and relaxed, taking ownership of one’s choices, not giving in to external pressures, and having open and honest relationships.” (Wilt et al. 2019)

 

The thing about true change, and why it’s not often the first choice, is it comes with the biggest risk – failure.

 

Can the risk of complete failure be the motivating factor to succeed?

 

Most New Year’s resolutions fade after the first few weeks because instead of making changes we really want, we hide in the shadows of stereotypical “new year, new me” aspirations; go to the gym more, smoke and drink less and move more etc etc. All these are great changes to make when you are actually committed – or is it that instead of taking steps towards something you really want, you’ve played it safe? Then by about now (aka #bluemondayvibes) you’re sat reading an article or scrolling on social media with a touch of the green eye when someone’s out there doing that thing you so desperately want to be doing.

Many of us have secret aspirations that we’ve either never shared or have only spoken about to a few, that dream of ” if it wasn’t for ‘X’ I’d do that”. The thing is though, people are out there making their pipe dreams a reality and they’re not extraordinary people, they’re you and me, the difference is they’ve taken that first step. 

 

They’ve decided that the risk of not trying has outweighed the risk of failure.  

How to break the myth of Blue Monday

Maybe in defiance of (not so) Blue Monday, it’s time to take that leap. There’s no reason you have to wait any longer than today to start either. Have a think about what steps you might need to take to make that dream a reality. 

It will come with risks. 

It will take more effort and hard work than ever before. 

You will face barriers and maybe some failures but being authentic to yourself and your real aspirations will outweigh any challenge or uncertainty. 

 

As a quick guide here are 4 ways you can get started on a more authentic-but-not-new-you

1) Get Inspired

Follow blogs, social media or YouTube channels of people doing what you want to do. From working for yourself to writing a novel it’s likely there is someone else in this world of billions who shares a similar passion. From this you’ll be able to explore their journey and become motivated to start your own, it will also give you a community of like-minded people who will be supportive of your dream. 

 

2) Plan

Make a plan of some steps you want to achieve and by when. This could be signing up to a course, creating a website or joining a local club. Having a plan will help when it feels you’re not getting anywhere or need some clarity of what you’re working towards.

 

3) Commit

There is no time like today. Right now. Commit to your dream. Say it out loud and proud. Start to tell people, the more it’s out there the more real it will become. 

 

4) Ownership

Now you have made a plan and it’s real you need to take control. You are responsible for making it or breaking it. It can be quite scary and at times you might wonder why you even started. However being responsible for your own outcomes can become addictive because the credit is wholly yours to take.