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6 Ways to Channel the Year of the Ox in Your This Way Up Course

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As Chinese New Year festivities close and the Year of the Ox begins, at This Way Up we’ve been reflecting on what the Ox symbolises: diligence and perseverance. These same qualities are assets any time we are trying to learn something new or make a change. While these attributes might come more easily to some, most of us need to train ourselves in them.

The online courses at This Way Up are based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which is about learning practical skills to change the way we think and behave. Whether you plan to start a course or are part way through one, these 6 tips can help you channel the Year of the Ox to get the most out of your course:

1. Give yourself regular reminders to keep going

Our research has shown that people who complete a course have better outcomes than those who’ve only done some lessons, then discontinued. This makes sense as the more lessons you do, the more skills you learn and the more practice you get. The This Way Up system sends automatic reminder emails when your next lesson is available. We also suggest you plan to set aside time to read the course material and practice the skills between lessons. To help channel the Year of the Ox you could use post it notes, mark your diary or calendar, or set up phone reminders to help with perseverance. This will get you in the habit of prioritising the course.

2. Get back on track if you get derailed

Unexpected things like sickness or other life stressors can demand our attention and understandably derail us for a while. Other times are predictably busier such as work or study pressures. If anything, going through a stressful season is all the more reason to learn strategies to cope. However, if you need to temporarily pause working through a course, don’t let this discourage you from continuing it. When you can, log back in. Need a refresher? Take the time to go over previous lessons before moving onto the lesson you’re up to.

3. Be clear on your goals and motivations

What do you want to achieve by doing this course? What would you like to see change or improve in terms of how you think, feel or behave? What strategies would you like to learn? It is normal for your level of motivation to wax and wane throughout a course. You can help yourself stay focused by revisiting the reasons why you enrolled in the course in the first place, or why you’d like to finish it. You can also be aware of any unhelpful barriers or distractions that could lower your motivation and work to minimise them.

4. Reward yourself

Positive reinforcement is powerful! You can build in small rewards throughout the course, whether it be for completing a lesson, conquering something that you didn’t think you could do or having a go at something that is challenging. Rewards work best when they are meaningful to you, timely and give you something to look forward to. They needn’t be anything grand, so consider small and simple pleasures along the way to motivate you to keep going. You could also plan a bigger reward that awaits you when you finish the course or achieve a bigger goal.

5. Keep trying even if a skill doesn’t come naturally at first

Learning how to do something new might be difficult, awkward or seem impossible, especially if you’ve been in the habit of thinking or behaving in certain ways for a while. It takes time and practice to master any new skill, so take any pressure off yourself to do it quickly or perfectly. With training, the ox has learned to work reliably at a steady pace. Likewise, we can train ourselves to consistently practice new skills and many people find  they’ll become easier to use. Try to incorporate skills into your day to day situations as much as you can, as this is what will bring about the most .

6. Ask for support if you need it

It can be hard to persevere on your own, and even the ox relies on its herd for support. You can share with a trusted friend or family member that you’re doing an online course, talk about what you’re learning or ask them to check in with you to see how it’s going. Our research has shown that people are more likely to finish a course when completed under clinician supervision, rather than self-help. Even if you have already started a course as self-help, you can switch to clinician supervision for the remainder of the course if you would like an extra layer of .

For a full list of our CBT-based online courses, please see: thiswayup.org.au/courses

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