I woke up today and didn’t realise it was the first day of the last month of the year.
Perhaps it’s because this year has been very much about trying to stay on top of the myriad of life’s journeys I was juggling. A short while ago we were wishing our loved ones every success for the New Year, while carrying out internal dialogues on how life was going to be different this year around. Countless meetings, proposals drafted and submitted, conversations and negotiations, signatures inked, grocery trolleys down the aisles of our neighborhood family mart, commutes to and from work, attendances to professional and social gatherings, flights to exotic places for some – and so on, and we find ourselves right back to where we were this time last year. We welcome December; the promise of closing off yet another year that challenged us to challenge our status quo, yet asking ourselves the rudimentary question – “What comes next?”
As I’ve taken intermittent moments throughout the course of recent weeks to ask myself the same question, here are a few high levels conclusions, or key learnings that really spoke to me this year, many of which I am looking forward to rolling over as my mantra in doing life into the upcoming year. I hope as you read this, you can already relate, and share my aspirations for living well balanced and happy life.
1. Prayer works. Simply said – prayer works. Without it, life seizes to make sense and the world’s noise only grows louder. Make prayer, praise and worship your refuge. Prayer works.
2. Define your beliefs. In a world where there is so much conflicting doctrine and the non-conventional, oftentimes ludicrous or controversial is being peddled as the norm, you will have to find and define your beliefs. What do you follow? What is your new norm? What do you accept and where do you draw the line on tolerance?
My beliefs are centered on my Christian faith, and so my journey has been everything about trying to understand what GOD wants me to do and how I can be obedient to His instructions. I look for answers to life’s question from the Bible, sermons and Christian books. I do understand though that I also have many friends and relatives, who do not share the strength in conviction that I do, and there are others who exhibit some levels of “faith” as they would call it, that is yet to witness to me. And so I take it back to my first point of relying on prayer to help me make sense of stuff, garnering me clarity that helps me with building on my foundations of faith.
3. Love what you do and do what you love. Dear friend, please do not spend any more time doing what you hate, because you will never become a master at something you absolutely loathe. We have all read books or watched Youtube videos about pursuing your passion and what it takes to live your best life. The reason why there is so much content out there on this subject is because it is true. A life lived doing something that doesn’t minister to your soul is a wasted life. Find practical ways to ensure that every moment spent pursuing a critical objective circles back to something that truly fuels your passion and warms your heart. With time you will reap rewards of all the hard work and you know what? – the best part is that it won’t even feel like work!
4. Grow your circle – continuously. It could be my years working in marketing and PR that have taught me the importance of maintaining good relationships. The art of persuasion is further aided by fostering relationships founded on mutual respect, communication and appreciating the hustle of others. Ask others what they do and how you can get involved if there are opportunities for synergies. Watch those who do well at what they do and don’t be afraid to ask questions about how you can incorporate their methods into your functional ethos. Women that inspired me a few years ago are now a part of my friendship and mentorship circle which is an incredible blessing. Also, it’s hugely helpful to have an arsenal of contacts that can help you with answers on just about every topic or idea out there! So join social clubs with a mission and vision tied to them, volunteer, attend networking event and prayer meetings. Reach out, listen and learn.
5. Change only comes with commitment. This year was one of radical change across many fronts. I started off the year with a new job and many decisions about the things that I needed to change. I was also blessed with the opportunity to publish “Reinvented: Challenging insecurity to live authentically through faith” and also co-author the Dear Fear Vol 2 anthology pioneered by visionary author Tiana Patrice.
GOD had instructed me to write a book many years ago, but I felt very strongly that I needed to write it out of the abundance of the lessons He had taught me over the years and not for the sake of just wanting to put something out. Self-publishing was one thing, but keeping the messaging going beyond having a booking launch has required a good bit of commitment. I too have transformed through the process and am thankful that beyond the hard work, the narrative is something much bigger than myself. Change is constant and growth rewarding. But both require commitment to the work and a desire to live out the true essence of your beliefs. Commit to the change you want to see and watch beautiful things happen.
6. It’s okay to dream. I spend a good bit of time studying social media pages of destinations I’d like to visit in my lifetime and personalities that travel or run media-related ventures because it keeps me envisioning my ideal future. I comb through listings upon listings for real estate on sale because doing so is what enhanced my interest in property development and investment. I study my areas of interest so I can pray over the dreams I have about them. Dreaming never hurt anyone. As a matter of fact, dreaming opens you up to a world of possibilities if you allow it to. Ask yourself, what really do you have to lose with entertaining a dream or two or more? Also, is there a way to turn that dream into a reality?
7. Make the decision. Whatever you’ve been pondering on for zonks is waiting on you to make the decision. There are some of us who spend years “trying to decide whether to X, Y, or Z”. You cannot try to decide – you just must decide!! Are you thinking about going back to school or starting a new business? Should you be downsizing or relocating for better prospects? Decide. Make the decision to pursue your goal and GOD and the elements will come together to support your decision, as long as it is an honourable one.
8. Give – even when it’s hard to. We are blessed so we can be a blessing to others. But what happens when it feels like they aren’t enough resources for the month you are in? What do you do when the SOS calls keep coming in, and it feels a little like the world and everyone in it are trying to borrow or take from you without checking on your settings?
Give anyway. I mentioned volunteerism in point no. 4 as a way to grow your circle. Beyond giving your time for the purposes of networking, sharing your skills and knowledge and where possible resources, gets you out of being overtly engrossed in your world and your needs therein. A lot of times, what you may have and not want, could very well be an answered prayer for someone else. The bible says GOD loves a cheerful giver. Whatever way you can pay what you have forward – go ahead and do so. You never know when you may need a helping hand and how the Heavens will save you when you call on GOD for help.
9. Create impromptu opportunities to live a little. With all that hard work you put out, make an effort to have some impromptu fun from time to time. I’m not talking about the kind of fun you have to plan for for weeks in advance, but the one that comes with a phone call or text message that turns your schedule on its side. That afternoon drive with your spouse or loved ones an hour out of town, the rush to pick up tickets from will-call to that concert you didn’t plan on attending or that brunch at that little café you’ve always wanted to try out - these moments are where some of the greatest memories are made. Break the monotony by doing something unexpected every once in a while.
10. Take care of your body, now. I do recognize that I should do better with this. I need to have a more consistent routine in place for exercise. I won’t talk about dieting because my Instagram feed speaks for itself and my insatiable appetite for tasty treats. But a 2017 cancer scare woke me up to the reality that our bodies are not our own, and can complain or shutdown without notice. So while we are conscious, we need to do the obvious. Drink water, lots of veggies, walk or go out for a run – all that jolly holistic living stuff – it’s important. Start to take better care of your body, today, now.
I’m sure you can relate to feeling like there is so much going on and there not being enough time to get everything done on time – and in a manner that’s a close to perfect as one can muster. But that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes it just means that you are working at the many pieces of your life’s puzzle simultaneously, and the more pieces come together, the clearer the picture becomes.
I pray that as you wind down this year, you take a moment to reflect on all the goodness that 2018 brought with it, giving yourself a pat on the back for how you handled the not-so-pleasant bits. You are still standing, and that in itself is a lot to celebrate as you countdown to the upcoming New Year!
Cheers to you for every effort in getting reinvented this year! Keep going - you are doing great!