There are only a few days left before the year winds down. The last couple of days before the end of each year are often a time of reflection even for the most laissez-faire personalities. There’s something about the threshold of a new year that triggers a mixture of excitement and sobriety. We are happy because we are onto something new, optimistic and anxious for a new beginning. We are also pumped to do better than we have previously. We draw lessons from the outgoing season; hoping to avoid the pitfalls and act on the learning points we have noted.
I am deliberate about documenting some of the experiences that have shaped my life during the course of a year, in a bid to learn from them and also share them with my readers. Therefore, in that tradition, here’s a break down of the things I learnt in 2018 and hope to be practice more in 2019:
Stretch: I started teaching writing this year, (I have done it once before, but that was a one-off class). It was a prospect I wasn’t quite certain I could pull off and I practically had to be forced to do it. But guess what? I did more than good with the brief. So much so that one of my students wrote a thank you note in appreciation of my efforts. In 2019, you have to resolve to get out of comfort zone. There are no guarantees that everything new you try to do will turn out successful, but you’ll never know until you try.
Stop winking in the dark: Time was when I believed my work would speak for me. I still do, but now I also know I have to spread the gospel of my work. The reality of the modern day business environment makes this advisable. While you may eventually get noticed if you are good at what you do, in a world where recognition is now largely tied to the visibility of a brand, it may take a long time. Talk about your work, share it on social media, prepare an elevator pitch for a potential investor or client. Make sure everybody you meet knows what you do. That way you are more likely to cut through a cluttered space to earn the recognition and patronage you deserve.
You need people, but never forget to be your own person: No one achieves success alone, I debunked the self-made millionaire myth here. You need other people to bring your dreams to fruition, so it’s important to build friendships and alliances with people of like minds with whom you can build a symbiotic relationship. Nevertheless, be careful to not lose yourself in the quest to be foster friendships. Have your own views and outlook to life and refuse to be swayed by popular opinion when you are sure of yourself.
Mind your business, it earns you respect: In this social media age where everybody is all up in one another’s business, you stand out when you aren’t always commenting on every matter. Some things should be beneath you, and this one of them. Focus on your life, your work and your family. Pay attention to the things that really matter and advance your life rather than spending time dissect other people’s shenanigans.
Respect, never idolise: I know you have people you look up to—mentors, role models. They may even be family members or friends whose lives are inspiring. However, you must learn the difference between according them the necessary respect and idolising them. When you respect them, you are still able to recognise when they are wrong or those aspects of their lives you’d loathe to emulate. Idolising, on the other hand, forecloses rational thinking and keeps you blind to their shortcomings.
Recognise that the longer the wait, the sweeter the victory: Life can deal us a less-than-kind hand sometimes. There are many things we are hopeful for, many things we have prayed about, yet, remain a pipe dream. Nobody likes to wait for too long for their dreams to be realised, but I have learnt that delay is not denial. The challenges and issues can throw us off balance, but we’re strong enough to fight back. More often than not, respite will come. We will get what we truly want or something better; and when it does come, the timing is just perfect. Stay positive, you’re closer to winning than you think.
Give your best even if it goes unnoticed: Excellence should be your way of life. Quit varying the quality of the work you do based on your clientele or how much it’s going to fetch you. Set a standard for yourself that isn’t determined by who’s watching or what’s at stake. Eventually, you’ll be known and rewarded for it.
Have random conversations, you never know what you’ll learn: As one who tends to keep to herself most of the time, it takes a huge effort to initiate conversations with strangers or even familiar people I am not exactly close to. However, I have been more deliberate about chatting to others this year and it’s been a learning opportunity for me. That Uber driver, the office assistant, your customer at the market stall, and even a fellow passenger during your daily commute to work all have a story you would love to hear and learn from if only you’d take the time to hear from them.
Make a mistake, move on: You will make mistakes, no matter how careful you are. If you fail to take conscious steps to ensure your errors do not engulf you, you may find yourself beating you for a long time. Unfortunately, getting mad at yourself never solves anything. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, identify what you have done wrong, learn from it and move on. You’ll achieve more that way.
Be so good you can’t be ignored: This is not something I learnt this year, it is a statement I have adopted as a personal axiom for a while now: that to stand out in my profession, I have to be the best. This means I must continually strive for excellence where my vocation is concerned. I must be on an unending quest to get better if I want to reach the pinnacle of success in my career. It’s a mindset you should adopt in 2019. That way, you are aware that you cannot afford to be complacent. Go from good to great, that’s what champs too.
Here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a hugely prosperous New Year! Thank you for the support in 2018, let’s do this again in 2019.