2022 was an interesting year and I’m so glad to be in this new room of 2023. I have learnt so much in 2022 and I believe that lessons learnt are experiences to guide you ahead. Here are a few things 2022 taught me.
WHEN PLANNING OUT A TASK MAKE ROOM FOR TIME
For those of us who love to make a list, we know it helps us to be productive. I have a whiteboard that serves as a vision board, blank slate for my thoughts and a to-do-list rough sheet. I love to scribble things on it because I could more easily wipe it off. I love to scribble out tasks, from responsibilities that will take a while to chores I could do within an hour or less.
When I look at my to-do-list I feel many things depending on what I have scribbled. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed and apprehensive.
This is when I have many tasks that would take weeks or months, tasks that look too complicated and so must be broken down and I have no idea where to start from and the tasks that look so important and I don’t want to mess it up.
Secondly, I feel purposeful, when I look at my whiteboard and realize that I have a combination of short-lived tasks joined with one or two long enduring to-dos.
During the time I have been faced with the one that gives me resolution, I find out that I get that done because it’s a feasible list of nothing less than three or five. I don’t always feel the urgency to rush through all my tasks and everything doesn’t always fit into the scheduled time.
Sometimes, a distraction comes along or I’m too exhausted and I still have a productive day because I’ve learnt to assimilate my tasks for the day or the week with time management in mind.
BE CAUTIOUS OF THOSE AROUND YOU, BUT NOT TOO MUCH
Not everything can be within our control. You can’t always decide who sits with you in a commercial van or who is taking the longer walk with you down the street. You can’t decide the type of colleagues, classmates, neighbours etc. you interact with in your community. The only thing you can control majorly is the boundaries you set when defining many of your relationships. Sometimes, a long-term relationship whether it is a friendship, romance or collaboration might need to be redefined or abruptly terminated.
The truth is that we aren’t mind readers; hence, it is difficult to read the depth of the other person’s situation or character. Some people drift innocently towards you, others with malicious intent and a few too many come innocently with bad energy and pour it into you or let it sink in bit by bit.
The point is feelings and social interactions are the most unpredictable and may best be described as a web of complexities comprising of individual differences and the three dimensional nature of man.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t be too cautious because you can never be too careful with presumably resilient things that can end up snapping back or snapping off.
In this era we are faced with two things: the first being mindless chatter, where we have the freedom of expression and the second being the struggle to express oneself. In a world where there is mindless chatter you might be filling up the space with empty words or ones that hold memory with time.
The other matter is what sort of memory these words leave behind. On the other hand, when we struggle to express ourselves there might be pent up anger, or a rocking boat. In the midst of this it is important to choose what we say, how to say and when to say it, because it isn’t always about the issue but how we address them.
Majorly, what I’m implying is that you shouldn’t give constructive arguments or conversations in heated scenarios alone, but it should become a habit.
DON’T JUDGE BY YOUR STANDARDS
I have come to accept something about myself, which is my perfectionist nature and this has really gotten in the way too many times. I am either too hard on myself or I give myself a pass and set a standard.
Every personality is different and so I shouldn’t expect people to react in situations where I would, share indecisiveness in fear of deficiency or feel certain urgency while they just want to be calm about deadlines. When you judge people based on your own standards, you become blind and one-sided and so you put yourself into a box, while every other person explores a certain freedom. It is important to look into other people’s perspective and not just be open-minded and understanding, but to let them be, while you do you.
ENOUGH PLANNING AND STRATEGIZING, SWEAT IT OUT ALREADY
If you are someone who loves to strategize over an issue or plan out everything down to the dotted “i”s and crossed “t”s you have to keep one thing in mind: “plan and do”.
Planning things out almost always gives a sweet feeling or a kind of routine humbug, but carrying out the tasks is another matter. It is important to take nearly if not all the time we use to plan to sweat out the good stuff to bring it to reality. I know it is not easy, but if there is a will there is definitely a way.
YOU CAN ACHIEVE A LOT IN TIME SO SAVOUR EACH MOMENT
We live in a world of urgency and fear of the implications of failed ambitions. We want to go gain admission exactly when our mates are gaining admissions, we want to hit a certain Grade Point (GP), we want to get a job in a particular place, we want to get married to a certain type of person at a certain time and in a certain place or manner, we want to attend a major event or go to where everyone else is going and so on. We fail to understand that we are all different for a reason and we cannot always control everything. We may get what we need and not what we want and so we have to leverage on what is at hand and not a passing thing or a major thing we can’t have. Other times, if you find out that you have fallen short of your expectations or disappointed yourself, it is never too late.
Aim for what you want and believe you will have it without a shred of doubt, but these things take time. For instance, when I was doing my project during my master’s program I had the silly notion that an autoclave needed 15 minutes to run and so thirty minutes to less than an hour was always a go when I was faced with stakes like the generator going off because of a hike in diesel price.
The truth is that 15 minutes was enough to sterilize, but before that moment of hitting the plug of the autoclave into the socket it needed time to get to its 15 minutes and it needed time to cool, plus other unforeseen interruptions that came along the way. You cannot always guard your autoclave when watching for your golden 15 minutes and you cannot always seal in its cover if you’re not the only person using the autoclave.
Someone can unplug the socket in the moment you briefly step out to use it for something else that is as urgent.
What I’m trying to say is that you need to give yourself an allowance of time for things like this and there are some dreams that can’t be achieved in a day, or a week or a month or a year and it doesn’t mean that you have failed.
It only means that you are not giving up, but showing up consistently for whatever you find yourself doing, so savour the food you find yourself eating instead of chomping it down, just because you’re in a hurry to meet a deadline. Why don’t you just arrive earlier? Even if you are a latecomer, sweating in the midst of a sea of people looking chill, don’t give in to nervousness.
Stay calm and take your time.
YOU’RE NOT DEFINED BY EXTERNAL OPINION
Know who you are thoroughly. In fact, I recommend that for our extrovert friends, who spend too much time getting to know others and I recommend the reverse for us introverts: we shouldn’t be too self-centred.
The longest companion you will ever come across is “you”. You are your greatest friend and enemy. You are your greatest supporter and naysayer. It is important to know what your values and principles are. Learn to appreciate yourself, especially in times like this. There is too much toxicity in the air and anyone could get splashed or bashed with it.
You could be walking down the road and trip and someone helps you up or laughs at you or makes an un-relatable comment.
You could say what everybody else is saying and someone else could nitpick on your frivolous words. You could be traditional in the midst of radicals and be labelled abnormal.
You could be a nonconformist in a close-knit orthodox community. You are simply different not abnormal.
You might also want to consider the fact that you are in a wrong environment. In another case, your difference might be a calling for change and you are the mocking jay. Just think about the hunger games book series and read the book for crying out loud, or read my classic vampire book series on a vampire who drank the blood of Jesus.
THE SOCIETY PLAYS A ROLE, BUT OWES YOU NOTHING
We all have a role to play in society even if it is minding our business or badmouthing our government. There are so many things wrong with our world down to our closest communities: many unacceptable things are condoned, ignored or celebrated. Many of us were probably born into most of these things so we don’t even know that it’s wrong. We come to accept things or let it slide. I think that our voices matter not just in violence, but in little ways.
We complain about terrorism, but terrorize our family, friends, neighbours or strangers with our toxic attitudes or selfish tendencies.
We complain about corruption and give in to it anyway. We point fingers on the person who started the fire, we don’t look at the main villain (the one who with subtlety fans the flames).
We don’t need to make change in major way, but in little things that don’t look like they count. Let us be kind and helpful. Let us stop taking advantage of others kindness to us. The world is so scary these days that kindness leaves you open to weakness, friendliness tags you as flirty or budding romance vibes coming up, being nice makes you open to scam and so on. We need to gather strength in little ways starting from us. We need to let go of the lobster effect, where we pull others down and wonder why we’ve not left the bowl. In addition, don’t wallow in disappointment or self-pity for too long.
Have you terribly high hopes on yourself, others or in a situation?
Don’t judge yourself or them or it because it failed. You might just need to get the right material for what you want to build or the time is just not right.
FOCUS ON MASTERY
A master of all is a master to none and so failing to prioritize is a big no. It’s not a bad thing to have many interests, but it would feel great if you master one thing at a time and have one main thing going on for you.
You don’t gain significance in dabbling in many important things, but mastering that insignificant thing and setting trends and defining rules as you go for those that follow behind you.
Take your time to be present wherever you find yourself; don’t just do things.
Do things well.
Understand the principles or values or reasons behind the things you do.
LEARN TO SPOT TROUBLE AND DEAL WITH IT ACCORDINGLY
We need to identify what is detrimental to us so that we can deal with them or ignore them. Some things should not be dealt with or handled. In fact, many times the best way to deal with them is to give them over to time.
On the other hand, we have to be able to identify with times and seasons and stay close to all necessary information. For matters that should be dealt with weigh your options and angles and set on how to make it happen.
YOU NEED A FRIEND
If I must be cliché, no man is an island – but an island might have a man by himself. You might be expecting me to encourage you to build support systems, which is my first advice.
Someone actually told me about the importance of having a support system. This is very important, to have support systems at home, in school, at work, in church, allies, frenemies (you know that one archenemy that has principles that they will never break or anti-heroes that believe deeply in some things and will switch sides to see them held in place), and momentary moments like events.
However, we all find ourselves at least once in life, where you must walk alone or deal with something by yourself. It is important then, to have a deeply rooted foundation in Jesus, because there are too many mysterious things out there and all your years of wisdom and strategy won’t save you, only Jesus.
YOU NEED TO BE INTENTIONAL AND GOAL-ORIENTED TO GET RESULTS
You shouldn’t just do things because you feel like it or pend it till the last moment. You need to understand why you are doing what you’re doing and what you want to get from it. You can’t just set up for a journey and have no destination in mind. Where are you headed? Why are you headed there? What do you want to do there? Many of us are guilty of this sometimes if not all the time and it cannot always be helped. We need to imbibe the act of planning, scheduling and strategizing.
Someone may be reading this and be like: “I’d rather not live such a tight and nostalgic life that is too planned and predicted.” But the thing is that being intentional works for everyone at various paces: whether you want to go easy or diehard.
I came across an Instagram post that rang true: when we were little our friends were our classmates and our neighbours, but as we have grown older we can’t be friends with just everybody anymore.
You need to know your goals and if it aligns with those around you. You need to know if your friend’s differences align with your differences as we are all dissimilar. Do you have that one friend that is always getting you into trouble or do you have that one family member that is so toxic and harbours no hope of redemption relationship-wise? In this case you can’t always cut people off, but if you can why not?
Be intentional about it.
If you won’t, redefine your relationship and be more intentional with where you want your relationship to be headed. Be intentional about your life and how you live, about your daily tasks or work schedule.