BACK TO NEWS & EVENTS ‘Blue Monday’ – Curse or Opportunity? UPDATED FOR 2021

The third Monday in January, aka ‘Blue Monday’ has achieved notoriety – and widespread media coverage – as the most miserable day of the year.  
The term was coined in 2005 by Cardiff Psychologist Cliff Arnall.  He took into account factors such as the weather, time since the making (and breaking) of New Year resolutions, low motivation, debt and general post-Christmas misery, when singling out this particular day as the nation’s most depressing. 
Paradoxically, his work was originally designed to encourage people to see the time of year as the opportunity for new beginnings and positive change.

January Doom and Gloom 

But instead of having positive connotations, ‘Blue Monday’ now epitomises all that is horrible about January.  Such as the cold, dark, gloomy weather, post-festive flatness, weight gain, empty bank accounts and hefty credit card bills.  

In 2021this will be exacerbated by feelings of uncertainty, anxiety and fear, as the UK starts the year in another national lockdown.  Many organisations continue to face unforeseen challenges, with remote working becoming the new normal, furlough schemes continuing and parents juggling their work priorities with home-schooling.  

They will also be noticing the impact on their employees’ morale and productivity. So, as we navigate the feelings of uncertainty about the year ahead, we could try replacing the doom and gloom with a more positive outlook by exploring a growth vs. fixed mindset. The concept has become increasingly popular in recent years and is frequently used to help determine how successful we are at achieving organisational goals. 

Growth vs Fixed – a definition 

Fixed mind-setters believe that success relies on natural abilitywhereas advocates of a growth mindset think that success is based on hard work, learning, training and tenacity/perseverance. 

Four Benefits of a Growth Mindset 

  • Resilience – you’ll be more likely to continue working hard in the face of setbacks whereas fixed mind-setters perceive these as a reflection of their inability and can struggle to focus on the potential for learning. 
  • Willingness to take on challenges – you are more likely to embrace challenges as opportunities for development, thereby enhancing your skills and achievements. 
  • Learning from failure –you see failure as a positive opportunity for learning, improvement and progression, rather than a final negative outcome that concludes action. 
  • Drives intrinsic motivation – you believe that achievement and improvement are within grasp if you invest the additional effort and time required to achieve goals. 

Let your Growth Mindset emerge this ‘Blue Monday’ 

Here are a few tips to help you to shift towards the ‘growth’ end of the spectrum this Blue Monday: 

  • Identify your current mindset – making a positive change begins with identifying what holds you back and which barriers you need to overcome. Taking time out for self-reflection will reap dividends in the drive towards development and personal change. 
  • Determine your goals.  Achieving a growth mindset requires clear, realistic yet challenging goals that motivate you to work towards the desired outcomes. This ‘Blue Monday’ try taking a more can-do attitude and invest fully in your goals, whether just for the day or over the longer term. 
  • Seek insight and accept feedback.  The combination of openness to others’ views and acceptance of constructive feedback provides an opportunity for growth. Reach out to colleagues, engage in constructive dialogue and let their insight help you to achieve your goals.  
  • Encourage an open mind.  Consider alternative perspectives and seek support where you find it difficult to do so. Be more open to possibilities and your own capacity for continuous improvement will give you a more positive outlook on opportunities for growth. 
  • Make the commitment .  Take the initiative, invest the effort and dedicate the time needed to achieve positive outcomes. Your degree of commitment will determine your success in making a positive shift towards a growth mindset. Even if you can only make the commitment for ‘Blue Monday’ , it’s a positive first step! 

Harnessing the power of ‘Blue Monday’ 

Despite the challenges of 2020 and the uncertainties of the year ahead, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a reset button for many organisations; a chance for them to consider what the ‘new normal’ looks like 

We can learn a lot from last year in terms of embracing digitalisation, innovating, adapting in response to a crisis, working collaboratively online, networking and building relationships virtuallyIn additionour health and wellbeing are now more important than ever and prioritising these is essential if we are to continue to live in our current reality. 

So, rather than sinking into doom and gloom on ‘Blue Monday’, consider it an opportunity to reflect on what you’ve learnt in the past year and make a proactive start to 2021. An upbeat mood is catching, and your positivity will have an uplifting effect on your more subdued colleagueseven virtually!