I’ve been reluctant to admit this, but the fact is that in recent years I’ve only been requiring people to buy the workbook and not the entire program. This decision was not made lightly, and was based on trends I noticed since the program became entirely digital.
Back when the program was something we got in the mail, group members would bring their books to meetings, read them regularly at home and listen to the CDs in the car. Since the online version came along, what I discovered was that no matter what I said nobody was doing the work on their own time because it seemed far less practical. (You basically need to be in front of a screen to do it, and nobody wants to waste paper printing out the handouts.) Meanwhile, other people were choosing not to join at all because it cost too much. So, I was forcing people to spend money on something they weren’t using, while others were missing out who desperately wanted help. Whereas when they buy the new workbooks, they do read them at home and we can read along with the important handouts as part of the discussion.
I’ve never had a cutoff date before, as it tends to work against me. With so many more people nowadays being flaky about committing, I fear that either I would never get enough people by the cutoff to justify running the group, or that people would drop out after the cutoff and it would be too late to replace them.
While it’s true that getting people to join this type of group is a struggle for all the obvious reasons, it seems like it’s recently become even harder. There are still lots of people who write me for information, but there’s a higher percentage of those who then vanish as compared to 5-10 years ago. There’s also a higher number of people who commit but flake out, or who suddenly can’t attend regularly after the first few weeks. Nothing I say seems to change this.
This has been a struggle for me, mostly because I’ve never felt I was fully qualified to do it on my own. When I started as a leader, I was co-leading with someone else who possessed leadership qualities I was lacking. When she left, I kept going because I saw how many people needed it, but I fully admit my group lacks some of the things that make such a group successful. But if I don’t do it, who will?