New Years Resolutions aka the thing I am not doing this year (Part 3)

I promise this is the LAST PART of the NYR post. Also, I know I said 3 weeks but hey, I just wanted to make sure everyone had their 100 dreams/goals you know *insert shrugging woman emoji here*. I was about to give a summary of the first 2 posts but then I was like, nah fam…It’s all good… So, if you have forgotten, check out Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

100 Aspirations, now what?

At the start of my “new year” – aka the week after my birthday – I got aaaaall the way into productivity strategies and anti-procrastination habits (If you follow me on Goodreads you’ll know!!! Sorry not sorry). So I was like, ok Nosi, how do you implement these things, how are you going to get stuff done? How do you DO.THE.THING.NOSI? Hooooow? I will be the first to admit that some of my aspirations were more “blue sky-ish”.

I started off with things that I was certain I could achieve. I had “get a Bachelor’s degree” in there which, now that I think about it, was lowkey counter intuitive since I have that already. But, the more I wrote goals down, the more I realized that I had to dream more! I had to believe for the things that I hope to accomplish and write it on paper even if I thought it was impossible… I told self and was on some, “self, IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING!” BHAM!!! (I can’t remember where that’s from but I told ‘self’ that). Now, when I did that, the ideas started coming, the things that I hope to achieve in my lifetime kept growing and I even got to a place where I felt like 100 is not enough!!

Y’all, there is something powerful about dreaming!! It gives you a purpose greater than yourself and encourages you to get up and go each morning. It gives a focal point, you know, like the lighthouse when you sail through dark waters. I don’t know about you but I got SO MUCH ENERGY from coming up with my 100. Harness that power into action and you are golden!! There is so much to be said about writing goals down too, it makes them more vivid and, I mean, you have to work at it if it’s on paper no?

Introducing End Of Year Objectives (aka EOYO’s)

So, Instead of NYRs I am doing EOYOs this year!!!! *Mic Drop*… I see you reading that in disappointment, STOP!!! Stop right there!! Humor me for a few more minutes, please?

What are they? Good question, I am so glad you asked… I decided to call my strategy “End Of Year Objectives” because #wordsfam!! Basically, it is a list of this that I hope to be consistently working towards by the end of the year; a plan, really, of how I will have gotten to a specific place with my 100 goals by the end of the year.

Why? Remember when I said, “every day is a good day to start again”… Welp, I feel like I stay winning with this statement and that’s why I believe that EOYOs are the future for me. I have learned that, with NYRs, I find myself wanting to see the results overnight!! I want to change in a heartbeat; I want to transform from not going to the gym ever to going every day and losing 20 pounds in 2 weeks (not safe fam, not safe).

EOYOs stay winning because they open the window to small steps, small improvements, that are constantly being altered; Steps that become habits and practices you adopt over time… It breaks down long-term goals and plans into short-term palatable bites… It has me on that, “how can I start working, today, on the things that I want to accomplish in 5 years, 10 years?

For me, this has been transformation (which maybe it might not be for you because you’ve “got your life”… Teach me, oh wise one!! I NEED HELP). It has allowed me to alter my perspective and never lose sight of the ultimate goal. I had to sit down and type EVERYTHING OUT using the SMART strategy. From here, I got really specific with my aspirations and gave myself a timeline. I literally have a milestone – for each – that I hope to accomplish every month.

Hold on, let me backtrack for a minute. I got ahead of myself. So, From my 100 Aspirations, I picked 5 that I “definitely want to accomplish” by the end of the year and 5 that “I would like to work towards”. Then, I drew out SMART approaches for each of these 10 (by drew out I really mean wrote out.haha). Finally, I scheduled 1 day every 3 months to evaluate these goals, see where I’m at, and see if they are on track or if I need to alter my timeline. Then I started tracking – for the active ones – how much I commit to each goal daily/weekly/monthly.

So, you are probably asking yourself, why tracking though? Like, isn’t that a lot of “busy” work? Well, let me tell you *insert hair flip here*… Tracking allows me to course-correct constantly… Yes, it might seem like a lot of busy work to track stuff or have a quarterly evaluation but, it allows me to see how far I’ve gone-how much I need to course correct, and if that EOYO is still relevant to my current sailing direction (aka don’t change your goal but change the course of action??? Right? Right!!)

My first quarterly evaluation has me at 2/5 of my Objectives on track. I’ve got some work to do! Hahaha… I also had to tweak some things but that is the fun of going on an adventure right? I am excited to see what this year will look like and where my adventure will take me. I am excited for YOU too!!! I hope that, if nothing else, this 3-part post allowed you to think about where you want to go – this year and in your future – and how you will make moves to get to that place. I hope that it has motivated you dream, again, and to work at realizing your dreams frequently. We are on this adventure together and it will be what WE make of it.

So here’s to EOYOs: May every morning be an opportunity to become, to improve and to work on being a better US than WE were a year and, even, a day ago…

 

New Year’s Resolutions aka the thing I am not doing this year (Part 2)

Look at me doing the thing and ACTUALLY posting part 2! I am so proud of me *insert slow clapping emoji here – or would it be a gif?*. If you haven’t, check out part 1 of this post here (disclaimer, it is kinda long). So, just to recap, I decided I wasn’t making NYR’s this year because:

1- I have ALWAYS failed at them

2- I didn’t Resolve SMART

3- I did not track my habits

Now, I learnt last year that deciding to just stop NYR’s and not find an alternative wasn’t going to get me anywhere so I wanted to do something different this year. Ok listen though, this is not some new “oh my gosh Nosi created this thing, she is amazing” mess – although I do think I am pretty amazing *flips hair*. No, this is a combination of a variety of ideas from other people. Part of it is influenced by the idea of NYRs, to be honest. So, if you think this is just NYR’s renamed, there’s freedom but I promise you it is not. Or at least I believe it is not.

First of All, every day is a good day to start afresh

Yes, I said “first of all” (because I’m a cool kid and “cool kids” use first of all. Hhahaha). I know we romanticize the New Year as a clean start or whatever and that is great. It gives us something to look forward too, yes, and it gives us the hype to work towards something different. I had to get myself to mentally get over it though. I realized that, for me anyway, there was a self-created pressure to do something right from January 1st and then, if I stumbled along the way, hold off on correcting for the mishaps until the next January 1st. Drilling in the fact that every day is a good day to restart allows me to pick back up at any day. So if I do well January to March and then mess up in April and May, I can wake up one morning and decide to move right along, correct my timeline and keep going.

It started with 100 Aspirations

So, you need a framework right? You need a starting point. I think one problem that I had with my NYR’s was the fact that I thought I had to think up things that I wanted to get better at on December 31st (or January 1st). In doing that, I had a very shallow “why” and, consequently, didn’t have motivation to work at my resolutions diligently. I needed to find a deeper why, and finding a deeper why meant that I had to understand my aspirations, what I wanted to achieve and who I wanted to become. So, after conversations with my sister and with myself (yes, I have conversations with myself. A lot of them. If you don’t have deep conversations with yourself you are missing out. Try it and you will see what I mean). Woah, what I was trying to say is, after these conversations I started jotting down my aspirations.

The goal: jot down your 100 aspirations. See, when I started doing this I thought it would be suuuuuuuper easy; like, I am a dreamer so 100 aspirations shouldn’t be a big deal. It was a lie!!! It took me 2 weeks to have 100 aspirations written down, TWO.FREAKING.WEEKS. I was halfway through November and was like, hold on mami, why are you not done with this yet. Yea, I said November, I start my yearly planning right after my birthday because why not. Anyway, I would encourage EVERYONE to have their 100 aspirations written down because it is seriously eye opening. I discovered more about myself during those 2 weeks, I discovered my why and relearnt what it meant to dream. I pray that none of us ever stop dreaming.

SO, IF YOU DON’T HAVE THEM, PLEASE STOP RIGHT HERE AND GO DREAM. FIND YOUR WHY, GET THOSE ASPIRATIONS ON PAPER AND BURY THEM – IF YOU MUST – SO THAT THEY CAN GROW!!!!!!

100 Aspirations, now what?

I was about to go to the next thing and then was like, waaaaaaaaaaaaait a minute. Yea, I just said “wait a minute to myself.” So, I am going to end this blog post here. I had every intention of finishing this right here, right now, but I realized that it might be a long one again (So look out for part 3! Hahahah). At this point, it’ll be December before I get this whole NYR thing out of the way.

Buuuuut, on a serious note, I am stopping here because I really, really, reaaaaaaaaaally think everyone has to have 100 Aspirations/life goals/dreams/objectives (whatever you want to call it) on paper. So, since it took me 2-ish (read as 3-ish) weeks to get mine together, I’ll give you three weeks to get yours together so we’ll move forward together. Kapish?

“Then the Lord answered me and said, “Write the vision and engrave it plainly on [clay] tablets so that the one who reads it will run. For the vision is yet for the appointed [future] time It hurries toward the goal [of fulfillment]; it will not fail. Even though it delays, wait [patiently] for it, Because it will certainly come; it will not delay.” – Habakkuk 2: 2-3

 

Digging through the Mountains

I went camping  a week ago! Yep, I like camping. There is a lot to be said about being one with nature, even if it is just for a few hours, and getting to press that refresh button. I needed that! I was emotionally frustrated, physically and mentally exhausted and really just in need of some reflection time so the timing of it was perfect. Through reflection I was taken back to a moment I experienced over the winter break, here goes the sharing!!!

So, while I was in the beautiful land of the Swazis (Swaziland) I did a lot of dirt-road driving. I had to stop multiple times to appreciate the mountainous terrain. Now, if you’ve grown up around this it’s not that much to appreciate. In fact, you probably don’t like it very much because you, most likely, have had to walk it A LOT!!! But, having been in Oklahoma for a couple of years, the hills and mountains are that much more significant… See, PERSPECTIVE!!!

If you have driven on dirt roads, especially Swazi dirt roads, you know how frustrating it could get… Those potholes though!!!! But then it hit me, the dirt road I was on used to be a mountain. My perspective changed as I appreciated the fact that trucks (lorries, or whatever you call those vehicles that dig..hehe) had to grate through the mountains, a little rock and soil at a time, to make the road what it is now.

The trucks had to do the undone, go where no one else would dare to go. I’m sure there have been roads grated in other parts but in this new mountain, this act is the undone. Forming the road meant that trucks had to pave the way, literally; removing trees and shrubs, spending countless hours in ‘nothingness’ until there was light and the road was built. Think about that for a second. Isn’t it funny how we often find it hard to go where others haven’t gone and face the forests head one. We go through the motions and fear what is in our wilderness. We hide behind conformity, and fear breaking down the trees and shrubs that are between us and the goal. Isn’t it high time we all start to grate through our own forests – regardless of what they look like – and take a chance at making something out of the nothingness?

The dirt road we drove through had mountains on the side, rock and soil with different chemical make-up. Not to get technical or anything, but with the different pressure and composition of soil at different areas of the mountain there is bound to be variation. These differences do not change the fact that the road exists, they don’t change the fact that this used to be a mountain. I was there like, ok the HS, what are you saying? And he was like, you better stop acting like the different parts of where you are at – where your struggles are right now – convince you they won’t be over. He said, in digging through the mountain, the trucks attacked all the rock types with full force and that’s what you have to do. Of course, you may need different tools for different problems but they shouldn’t scare you. I was like, ayt then. Got you!! Seriously, I couldn’t argue with that.

The funny thing is, driving down the dirt road, the only thing I could do was complain. Complain about the potholes, complain about how rough the road was and everything in between. My first thought wasn’t to appreciate the job that the trucks (and the construction workers) did to get the road there. I did not appreciate how much work they must have put into it and how they successfully converted a mountain to a road and how much work was put into it. Humankind is configured that way though. I am sure we can all think about a moment, or moments, where blood and sweat was put into something and the final result was met with complaints from others (or even ourselves really). We (or they) didn’t realize how much it took, the risks that had to be taken, the trees that had to be uprooted. However, that doesn’t change the fact that work was done. Just take that in for a second.

As the semester comes to an end (my undergraduate career with it) I have been having a lot of ‘those’ moments. I have been wondering if it’s worth bringing down the mountain, whether the ‘nothingness’ can be something. I, and others, have feared grating through because of the uncertainties, the possibility of failure, the complaints that might come because of ‘potholes’ . But, here is the thing, it is all worth it. We are all working (and walking) our own mountains. The path to road construction may be long and tedious, the work may not seem worth it sometimes but it is. It is all worth it. Like the little truck that could, we too can!!!

Go ahead then, dig through that mountain. Make something out of nothing!!!! 

 

Journey to SELF-Discovery (I promise I’m not being ironic)

I really wish I could have come up with a more original title but at that I failed. I am not that “original” unfortunately (insert laughter sound here. haha)…To give credit where it’s due, this post was inspired by a conversation I had midweek with a friend (thanks Manxo)… two claps for Manxo y’all!!

        I have heard so many people reflect on the “journey to knowing yourself”, how it reveals so much of who you are and how it allows you to “learn soooo much more about yourself”. That’s true, I think, and that journey differs from one person to another. Gosh, I’ll stop using journey now, it’s a little on the cliché side of life.Ha!! One of the coolest quotes I’ve heard – which has also become one of my favorites – is “the journey is the destination” by Dan Eldon. Boom, MIND.BLOWN!!!Or at least I was. My first response was, “what does that even mean” but, seriously speaking, this changed my perspective on a couple of things.

        First, the fact that if I get too focused on where I am going I won’t get to enjoy the process as much as is possible. There is so much pleasure that comes from realizing that there is forward movement or that situations are not holding you down and preventing progress from happening. Think about it this way, focusing on the end goal rather than on the process that will eventually get you there is like living everyday focusing on the day you will die rather than on the life you are living. Don’t get me wrong, the idea is not to live goalless lives, goals are important. Just as important, though, is embracing the process.

        I have realized that there is more to be learnt in the process of getting to a goal rather than the goal itself. For me, this realization has come with understanding that a goal is more like a landmark that prevents you from getting lost and living an idle life. I am reminded of how my parents (and most Swazi’s I know, really) give directions to people. They will be like, “drive until you see a school. Once you see the school, make a left turn and then a right turn at the big tree. Keep driving until you see a small market and then the destination will be on the left”. Goals are like the school, the tree and the market. They are not the purpose of the drive but rather the indicators of whether or not the drive has come to an end. I mean, when it comes down to it, we spend waaaaaay more time in the process rather than in the actual celebration of achieving a goal because once we achieve one goal, it’s time to move to the next one (unless of course we want to be idle then we can just relax at the one goal and not move forward. Where is the fun in that?).

        All this to say, I am constantly learning that the fun comes in learning, realizing that I know something that I didn’t know yesterday and then realizing that there is so much more I need to learn. Failure will happen when you get to a new thing. I for one have failed countless times when a new challenge comes my way and that has enhanced the path that I am on but, there’s nothing as fun as getting to a place where that same challenge comes at you down the line and you succeed without breaking a sweat. I always feel like such a winner in life when that happens!!!!

        So, for me, the “journey to self-discovery” is being reminded every day that I am on a journey. Hold up now, what am I even saying. haha…For real though, it’s understanding – or rather trying to understand (because goodness gracious it can be so hard to understand) – that the definition of self is always changing…And then embracing that. It is realizing that once I discover a part of myself, I have to discover something new that I didn’t realize was even a component of who I am. It is discovering that what we see as the core, the foundation, of who self is will be consistent, even unchanging, but the peripheral components of self are evolving. It’s also understanding that I can never resign myself to the self that I have “discovered” because that might,and probably will, change. The journey to self-discovery, well, we don’t have to push it. It’s a natural part of living and being so for me it is not a specific season of my life, it’s an all-day every-day occurrence.

        So next time someone says you have changed, let them know the core is still the same but that you have discovered a new component of the peripheral. Next time someone tells you they are in a season journey to self-discovery, wish them luck because that season might never end!!!

“God, your God, has blessed you in everything you have done. He has guarded you in your travels through this immense wilderness. For forty years now, God, your God, has been right here with you. You haven’t lacked one thing.” Deuteronomy 2:7 [MSG]

Reflections of a 22- year old!!!

So I have been 22 for a full day now and I am feeling like such a grown up!!hahaha… I woke up with a pimple even and I’m sure that was God letting me know I’m getting older…Older and wiser, right? Birthdays, I think, are the best times to reflect, to see what God has done in your life and where you are headed. As I was reflecting, there are a couple of things that I was reminded of about 21 that I felt like taught me some of the biggest lessons of my life, so here goes FIVE REFLECTIONS OF A 22 YEAR OLD…

1. It’s not about you.

The past year has come with a lot of changes, a lot of decisions and a lot of redirection that I had not initially planned on. It was a year of “testing God” in the things that He challenged me on. One of the biggest things was growing in relationships, learning how to put every single interaction and friendship in His hands. I was challenged last summer to be more intentional in seeking Him at a deeper level and the year of intentionality with Him really exposed a lot of selfishness on my part. There are times, in listening and walking with the father, that we assume that everything that happens is for our own edification. I was (and probably still am) very big on asking the question, “what’s in it for me?” Everything has to affect me right? I need to gain something out of whatever is happening, if something goes wrong it is all my fault and I probably have to fix that. If I am not satisfied then why bother? If I feel like a failure in life, go through a few days of anxiety or exhaustion then it’s all me. I learnt this year that, sometimes – in fact, many times – my journey is not just about me. That sometimes the Lord wants to give me a new level of exposure, a new level of growth and a new experience. I learnt that, if I change perspective, I will realize that every single season that I go through is intended for a different theme, a different lesson and a testimony for the future.

2. It is not about anyone else either

I love the song “Jesus at the center” by Israel Houghton. It is such a declaration of who Jesus should be in my life and, every time I listen to it, I am reminded that everything revolves around him (see what I did there, ha). This year, in many ways, I learnt that my go to character is people pleasing. I learnt that my emotions are largely affected by how people around me feel, what they think. I also learnt that saying NO is hard for me, and I am sure I am not the only one who would say that. I learnt, also, that sometimes I worry about people’s emotions when I shouldn’t and that I do the Lord’s job for him when I shouldn’t. It was a big lesson for me, and it really changed the way I view a lot of things. The central focus shifted so much!! I re-understood (if that’s even the right way to say that) what it means not to conform, what it means to thrive and move forward. I learnt that there are things that you have to do without thinking about the responses from those around you. Actually, scratch that, I learnt that if you have conviction about an idea, a dream, a way forward, then there is no reason other people should hold you back from it. Don’t get me wrong, accountability, council and advice are all good but sometimes our go-to is thoughts such as “what will others think?” “how will this change how other people view me?” versus asking God what He thinks and whether He approves and then going for it.

Both 1 and 2 reminded me of what the central focus of my life should be and that, I will be cliche here for a bit, “only dead fish go with the stream”. They, I will not lie, boosted my confidence in so many ways where I struggled with appraisal and finding identity in the opinions of those around me. Yes, I still need to work on these, but sometimes when I feel like I am doing things out of expectation (or not doing things out of expectation) I take a step back and declare, “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU, IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM!!!”

3. Complacency is not an option!!

Complacency, according to the Webster dictionary is:

“a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better : a complacent feeling or condition”

There are many times when I have been comfortable in a specific situation. For different reasons, I get really comfortable and decide I don’t want to move forward or backward and just want to be at the same place. I learnt this year, in some hard ways, that once you get comfortable in the same place you start sinking. I’ll make an analogy: think of a sofa (or couch) that is always in use, you sit the same way in the same spot all the time. After a while, there is a sort of hole on that couch that develops because of that. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what complacency does. It fixes you to the same spot, stopping you for making those failures that will propel you forward or getting those victories that will push you upwards.

4. You are ALWAYS in transition!!!

I think this follows nicely. I remember, sometime this past year, I was struggling with something and I got so frustrated with myself and with the Lord. I found myself asking him, “why is it that I always feel like I am struggling with something?!?”. I am grateful that He can take all of my complaining because He simply told me, “it’s because you are always moving forward, calm down”. And of course I ranted on for a little bit more until I didn’t have any more ways to say the same thing to Him. I learnt that there is nothing lifegiving about going through a routine, and that the father knows that. I realized that transitions mean hard times, they mean challenging times and the struggles might look the same sometimes but they are so different. So I decided, I will always enjoy the ride, seizing the moment and riding along when the next transition happens.

5. Celebrate the small victories.

I was listening to a teaching by Joyce Meyer recently that enforced this lesson for me and I thought to myself, “thanks Daddy for aligning things so perfectly”. It is so easy for me to beat myself up about failures, mistakes, shortcomings or lessons that I fail to learn the first time around (hence lesson number 1). The Lord taught me over the last year that, in as much as it is important to anticipate the big successes and the milestones, it is super important to celebrate the little jumps and leaps as well. I realized that we get so focused on where we are going and how hard it will be to get there and we do not think of where we are and how hard we have worked to get to that place. So here’s to lots of celebrations for the small things in life. Also, being a sentimentalist, this spoke volumes to me because He was like, “you know how those small things resonate, why not indulge in them?”.

So here’s to another year of learning. A year for me to embrace the changes, to fail over and over again and then to succeed. Here’s to a year of zero stive!!! Bring on TWENTY TWO!!!

“Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations. Ask your father and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.” Deuteronomy 32:7 [AMP]