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On Friday 16th September I travelled down to Alresford, near Winchester, to take part in a personal development course. Written by Jane Woods of Changing People and delivered by specialist trainers across the country, RenewYou is a one day course that promises to last for a whole year.

I first found out about RenewYou when I started reading Psychologies magazine back in 2013. At the time I had just started a new job and was in a new relationship too so there were a lot of changes going on in my life. I really wanted to do the course, but money was a problem as was trying to find a course that was happening near me on a date that I could make.

Fast forward to summer 2016 and I was determined to find a course. This year has seen as many changes as 2013 (albeit of a different kind) and I felt the time was right. I looked on Jane’s website and found there was one coming up in September. OK, so Alresford seemed a bit far away, but it would be nice to have a day out and it was something I’d wanted to do for about three years so I went for it. I contacted Felicity Dwyer, one of the above-mentioned specialist trainers, to find out more and booked on to the course.

There were only two of us on the course which was lovely as it meant that we received a lot more coaching from Felicity during the day. As it turned out the other lady lives not too far from me so we decided early on that we would try to catch up and hold each other accountable for our goal setting over the next year.

I won’t go into the content of the course too much as I don’t want to spoil it if you choose to attend one, but the aim of the day is very much about reflection and goal setting. We looked back at the last year before looking forward to the year ahead. During the first part of the day I realised that this year I have started to live in the now much more. I have always loved making plans, but the disappointment and heartache that I experience if they don’t come to pass has put me off. As we talked though I understood that I should make plans for me alone and not ones that rely on other people being there or doing something.

One of the things that I found particularly interesting was developing the concept of comfort zones. You may often be encouraged to step outside your comfort zone, but how far should you actually go? I learnt that you should think of it as three separate zones; your comfort zone, your stretch zone and the panic zone. By going into your stretch zone, you will gradually increase your comfort zone. However if you push yourself too far and go into the panic zone then you are at risk of making your comfort zone smaller.

We also looked at the labels we have had throughout our lives. I was amazed at how long the list was and I am sure that it would have been longer if I’d given myself more time. We looked at what labels we wanted to keep and what ones we didn’t. For the labels we didn’t like we looked at why they made us feel the way we do and how we could change that.

One of the activities we did was not from the RenewYou course, but I really enjoyed it and want to find a way to use it in my Girlguiding trainings. Felicity had a set of Chiji Cards which contains 48 images designed to “help participants create their own metaphors and gain more insight into the session or activity”. Of course I was immediately drawn to the owl. Once upon a time it would simply have been because I love owls, but this time there was more to it. When I had a tarot reading in Spain there was one card with an owl as part of the image. Curious to see if my love of owls had happened for a reason I asked what it represented. The lady doing the reading explained that it represent the wisdom gained from a situation, be it good or bad. I found that both comforting and empowering. It seemed fitting for the day.
When you attend the course you receive a copy of the RenewYou journal. It was much bigger than I was expecting and when you see what’s packed into it, you understand why. The journal is split into three parts. The first is used on the day and is full of exercises and plenty of space to record your answers, ideas and thoughts. I’m a neat freak so I used a notebook on the day and plan to transfer everything over to the journal when I get a free moment. The second part contains 52 short articles about your ongoing personal development designed to be read each week in the year following your course. The third section contains 13 interviews with inspiring women (it was originally going to be one for each month, but Jane states that she couldn’t choose which to include so added a bonus).

I would recommend this course particularly if you feel you are at a crossroads and need some direction. The trainer will not give you the answer, but help you to realise what’s important to you and trust your inner voice. I’m really glad there was just two of us that took, but I’m I would have still benefitted for the experience in a larger group. I’m looking forward to the next year and reading the different articles that Jane has written.
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