Another Year, Another Lesson (Or What I Learned In 2017)
I wanted to say that 2016 was the best year of my life. Then 2017 came. And the kind of awesome it left in its wake had me gasping for breath and desperate for more. 2017 had clearly turned my world upside down in all the right ways. Now I'm two and a half months into 2018. And I'm already saying, with a big grin, 'Come through, 2018. I'm ready for you.' I am honestly happy that amid the glory that was 2017, I was aware enough to note the lessons that would help make 2018 even better.
1. Pay closer attention to money matters.
In 2017, I made a very firm decision to fix all my money matters once and for all. I decided that I would pursue my best financial self in a way I never had before. I scrutinised my spending habits - the lies I had bought about the kind of lifestyle a mid-professional is supposed to afford, the appearances I had unwittingly kept up - to my own financial demise. And then I researched. I looked for strategies that actually worked. I looked for institutions that had great customer support and programmes that would help me to get where I wanted to be. And then I changed. I took on a pauper's lifestyle. But with the knowledge that today-s sacrifice is only the precursor to tomorrow's success. So I ended the year broke, but aware of exactly where all that money was or had gone. And also very aware of what I was building with every dollar that no longer lay idly in my pocket.
2. Go hard an' dun'.
This is the truth. For years, I've been hearing that God allows rain to fall on the just and the unjust. But it was always explained to mean that God is so benevolent, he allows even the undeserving ('unjust') to experience the goodness of his rain. Nobody ever flipped that meaning for me, and it was through my life's experiences and observations that I realised that it really meant that anything can happen to anyone at any time - good or bad. Which is why playing it safe is an exercise in futility. Life is meant to be lived. And hiding from that fact - denying it, ignoring it - will never serve you. So I upped the ante in several areas of my life. I just went all-in at yet another level. And it yielded fruits. Abundant fruits. Good fruits. I witnessed acceleration, connection and promotion like I'd never experienced it before. All because I chose to abandon inhibitions and forget to be afraid of the bad things that could happen, and just jump in and give everything.
3. Push everything.
There is always another level. And the minute you become aware of that, you can accelerate your own growth process by PUSHING for more. The minute you achieve something, or see maturity in yourself, acknowledge it and appreciate it, but don't settle and get comfortable. You grow quicker when you immediately remind yourself that yes, this is awesome, but there is another, even more magnificent level just out of reach. Immediately envision and start going for more, and you'll soon be realising it. I've applied this to projects, friendships ... it works. I try to exercise wisdom and not be a burden, but I also push as a safeguard against my own laziness and complacency. And so far, it has worked every time.
4. Appreciate the value of now.
I always have to remind myself of this when I have clothes to wash. I don't have a washing machine, so I handwash my clothes, and when there is a lot of sunshine on a particular day and I don't feel like washing, I say to myself: You can't save today's sunshine for tomorrow. It's true. The weather for the next day could be cloudy, or rainy. And then how would my clothes get dried? Or, the way life happens, I could get a project to do that takes up all of the following day, or get injured at the gym ... So many things could happen to stop me from being able to wash my clothes the following day; wisdom is to use the time I am sure of - NOW - to get the job done.
5. Listen to your instincts.
At some point in your life, you must learn to trust yourself more than you trust anyone else. And this trust must be grounded in something deeper, more reliable and more concrete than ego or self-deceit. It's madness to alsways be depending on another person or being's opinion to figure out your life. It's your life. You have to take full responsibility for it. A crucial part of that is learning to listen to your own instincts. Learn to identify the subtle push and pull, the quiet tug of your heart, that intrinsic part of you that just knows ... and listen to it. It's on your side. And the simple fact is, you can't really ever be sure that anyone else is.
6. Unless they're relevant, leave old things in old times.
This is another realisation you must make at some point in your life: the past is the past; leave it there. I just did a big step over certain stories that had been replaying continuously in my mind. I just kinda looked at them, saw their futility and uselessness, and stepped over them on my way to more productive things. I have so many days and years on Planet Earth. I wil not waste another minute trying to relive or undo or fix the past. No. I'm over it. Moving on.
I won't say much on this except that there will come a time in your life when you meet one goal, or project, or purpose, or person that is worth abandoning loads of other things for. When it all feels quietly and solidly right, and is helping to push your life in the right direction, accept it, embrace it, and ride that wave to the very end. And if it turns out to carry a cliche name like falling in love, and by your estimation is worth its weight, take the plunge. Go ahead and fall.
8. Hit F5.
That's right. Frequently press 'Refresh'. On everything. It makes sense to just periodically reset your entire life: your friendships, goals, money, perspectives. Never become so settled that your once-fresh perspectives stagnate without your knowing. Keep hitting refresh. Keep checking your belief system, your core values ... watch yourself change and grow and develop, and, every now and then, just take a fresh look at you and appreciate the expanded perspective, the renewed sense of purpose ... the evolving human being ...