coach, community

New Year New Start

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 13 January 2022

Welcome to the first Community Coach blog of 2022. Another year working in this role with restrictions still hanging around us, but another year of opportunity for me to work alongside you, the lovely people of Camelon and Tamfourhill.

I know this blog is coming out almost 2 weeks in to the new year, but how are you feeling as we enter 2022? Is it still “same old same old” as far as you’re concerned? Same stuff just another day? Or are you looking to make a positive change this year however small that may be?

If we’re to believe the hype, moving into a new year is a the time of reinventing yourself and living by mantras such as “new year, new me.” You may have set some new years resolutions or made a conscious move to do something new or stop doing something. You might choose to get fit(ter) or healthier? You might choose to take up something new or to give up something that isn’t doing you any good.

But what if, instead of completely changing our ways and trying to be someone we aren’t and possibly won’t ever be – which quite often ends in failure – we simply rebuild the foundations within us that may have lost their strength a little bit recently?

All these things that tell us that we should suddenly live a completely new (and demanding) lifestyle the minute the clock strikes midnight on Hogmanay are not sustainable for our mental health. Neither is setting long-term goals without any structure or progress markers. You want to get fitter but how, by when, and to what extent? Getting fitter could be anywhere from going for a short walk a couple of times a week to running a marathon. You need a structure and you need points to celebrate along the way.

I don’t know about you, but my social media timelines are full of ads for January fitness challenges: run this far for this charity this month; do so many miles for this charity; give this up this month. I’m not saying anything bad about the charities involved here, but if you’ve not engaged in physical activity like this before, this is probably one of the worst months to do so with the miserable weather and dark nights. This, I believe, is part of the reason why new years resolutions – especially those to do with fitness – are unsustainable and completely counter productive. Very quickly in the new year we reach a point of failure and if your mental health isn’t strong enough, you can easily be dragged down – potentially even to lower than you were before.

So, may I suggest that instead of completely reinventing ourselves, how about we just take small and trackable steps towards a new way that will bring benefit to us? The best way to do this is simply to slowly and consciously build new habits and routines into our life, and allow plenty of time to rest and recover too. This is more than about starting or stopping something. This is about you taking control of you.

The graphic below, courtesy of http://www.positivepsychology.com, shares some really helpful and important strategies to help you to reclaim your power in 2022. Stripping away the jargon here, what that really means is putting things in place that will make the most of all your communication, standards, and most importantly, your mental wellbeing.


Of course, just because we’ve come into a New Year doesn’t not necessarily mean that you have to change anything. It also isn’t the only time that you can make changes. Power and control of ourselves can drop at any given moment but crucially, you can reclaim it at any given time too. But sometimes, just the idea of a fresh beginning, whenever in the year that might be, can just give us the motivation we need to actually take action.

So if you want to make a change, however small, how can you do that? Simply, set some goals. That’s it! But make them specific and easily measured. Moving aside of the stereotypical healthy stuff, maybe you want to attend a new group. What kind of thing is that about? Where is it and how often will you go? Maybe you want to take on some new learning? What about? How will you do that – online or in person? What will that lead to? You see the thing I’m getting at here? For both of those things there are points you can celebrate. Signing up for the group or course – celebrate. Attending a first session or lesson – celebrate. Going back for the second part – celebrate. And so on. Reward yourself at each milestone and if you slip up, simply go back to the previous milestone and rebuild from there. That’s okay. And crucially, it’s not about starting right from the beginning again which can be so demoralising.

People much cleverer than me, tell me that when setting goals, the Greek Philosopher Aristotle believed that it doesn’t even matter if we achieve them or not. He believed that the active pursuit of a goal or virtue is the very definition of happiness, not the end state.

There is some debate about this statement as probably, most of us set goals that we want actually want to make happen and for that reason, motivation is critical which is where the milestone celebrations come back into play. As long as you know what you want, my advice is to set goals whenever you like. Set them the right way, by exploring your own powerful why, and make sure they speak to your values. According to the experts (people like you and me), that’s what matters most.

If you want to explore any of this further, or need some help in setting and being held accountable to your goals, then I’d love to walk this journey with you. Give me a shout and we’ll chat through your options so that I can help you to find your way to reach your potential in 2022.

Until next time….

Dan Rous
Community Coach
07444 873151
communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk

camelon, coach, community, development, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill

What’s your story?

We all have a story to tell don’t we? The difference is what kind of story it is. Does it tell of a life where everything has gone fine for you with no issues? Does it tell of a battle against everything that life has thrown at you over the years? Or is it somewhere in the middle?

Wherever your story lands in that range, it is equally important because it’s about who you are, where you’ve been and hopefully what you’ve learned along the way. All of that can help you understand more about yourself and help you move forwards, but it’s also important to capture these stories as part of the ongoing history of our area. When people hear or read them, they may not be surprised at some parts but the joy is when you can surprise them with tales of positivity in spite of everything that has been thrown at you.

The image below was shared on twitter recently. It is an image of notes captured from a talk given at a conference a few years back by Cormac Russell, who is a leading force in the world of Community Development especially when it is focussed on building upon the assets (the people etc) within those communities. I am learning loads from his writings as he speaks so much sense about not over complicating our work with communities. (You can follow him on Twitter here). The key word in that last sentence – as I’ve emphasised from the start of my work here – is ‘with’. We at OPCT are not here to do things to you or without you as has happened in many cases in the past. We are here to work alongside you and with you and as part of that, we love hearing and learning from your stories. Have a look at the image and see what jumps out for you:

So what did you spot in there? Feel free to message me with any key points especially if you want more information or even to push a particular line for something we should be doing better. For me, the following stood out.

  • Studies or Stories. This was the headline from the talk and is worth highlighting and clarifying. In one sense, both are important. I’ve already said how much we love stories and there is so much to be learned from them. However, each story is one person’s viewpoint and it is highly likely that there will be another story that will give a completely different view of a similar situation. So with that in mind, studies also have an importance because that gives us an overview of all points of view in a coordinated way. This is why we have already carried out a few surveys – not just to gather more data for the sake of it, but to help us understand what people want, what can be done to move things forward and to use it to make changes and access funding. We are determined to not let any of the consultations sit idly on a shelf with no action. Neither are we going to use them simply to point out what is wrong in the area. All findings from the studies will be used to ensure the stories we tell in the future will be ones of action and positive steps forward. How great would it be for someone in years to come to tell a story of how they made a comment in a study that led to a positive change right here? That’s our wish so please stick with us when we do a survey and feel free to remind us that there needs to be action in the end.
  • Focus on what’s strong not on what’s wrong. This is so important. I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs and have been accused by some people of ignoring the problems around us by only looking at the good stuff. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes there are issues and yes they need sorting. No one is denying that. But we are not going to be weighed down by them or avoid any opportunity to grow because they exist. We solve them best by building up what is good – what is strong – what is positive – so that in part, we can tackle what is wrong head on because we have the chance to show people a better way.
  • No hierarchies but networks. This is about bringing everyone along on the journey (forgive my use of that word!). It’s not about building up committees but communities. Yes, there will be people that need to step up to lead and coordinate things, but the clue in the meaning of the word ‘lead’ is that they bring others along with them – networks of people with a good mix of skills relevant to each project or activity. This is not about raising up just a few people, but everyone who wants to come along for the ride. And within that, we will work with everyone at their individual level to help them gain the skills they need to strengthen their part in the network.
  • Power of communities to solve problems. You might have missed this one as it’s quite small on the image but I don’t think this represents the strength of the statement. Camelon and Tamfourhill is an amazing community made up of smaller communities that are full of people who have a passion to grow the community they live in. That combined positive passion is where the power comes from. And it’s a power that should never be underestimated by others as it is built on real experiences and real understanding of what makes this community really tick. And as I mentioned earlier on in this blog, that power can and will solve the problems that we face.

I could go on but I won’t bore you any further – for now! Just know that this is really important to me as your Community Coach – as a local resident – and even just as a fellow human being! I believe that everyone has the right to achieve their potential and want to do all I can to help in that goal.

We will no doubt return to this matter again but I want to just focus on the aspect of story telling as I finish off for this week. You have a unique opportunity to tell your story in a written format, and if you want, to have that shared as part of a book that will celebrate this area. That comes via our Creative Writing Introduction Course with the help of Kev McPhee, Susan Marshall and Camelon Arts. We’ve had a great response to this so far but there is still room for a few more to sign up. Join us and be part of something special. All information at www.opcamelontamfourhill.co.uk/creativewriting.

Until next week, keep making and sharing stories and building local power.