What 2014 has taught me

Hello readers

I cannot believe this is already April 2015! I had promise myself I would have a blog post up and running before the end of 2014 and yet here we are… April 2015, I am still struggling to put my thoughts and desire to become a blogger into a cohesive argument for my readers.

Luckily, I have learnt that what matters on the road to success (however you define it) is consistency, keeping the goal in mind and the ability to stay put even when we least feel like it. As we are about to step into the second trimester of 2015, I thought this provides the perfect opportunity to look back on what the 2014 has been but most importantly, the key lessons learnt over those 12 months, summarised in the points below:

  1. Some friendships are not meant to last forever

Friends just like anything else in life are not meant to permanent. I am the girl that gets attached and suffers from the “hero syndrome” if there was ever such a thing. I believe there are many of us out there, and with time I have learnt that I could not be anyone else but myself-what a relief! But just like every quality, when badly used/placed it can end up being our weakness and perhaps cause our fall. 2014 was emotionally painful when it comes to friendships. I realised many of the people I called friends are in fact acquaintances –people that I define as being there for the sake of being there as long as it is convenient’ and to my biggest surprise I have also realised that a few of those I thought of as nothing else other than acquaintances were in fact friends longing for the same type of attention. I made a promise to myself going forward I would treasure and make time for such people.

I believe that friends are like angels that God sends us. Perhaps they are not in your life anymore because they have accomplished their mission? And if that is the case, then don’t ramble over the little time spent together-be grateful for the time spent together. That can never be erased and allow yourself to move on!

  1. Know your pillar of strength, and do take time for yourself regularly

Earlier this year, I underwent a series of events that led me to believe that the time had come to take my faith seriously and engage more proactively in my relationship with THE creator J. I resorted to attend mass (having been raised a Roman Catholic) more regularly, be involved in the church youth group and expand my circle of friends to the people I go to mass with. This subtle decision had a profound impact in my everyday life, as without realising it prayer has become my “moment of meditation”, that moment of stillness where I plan, offer and discuss my fears and aspirations with the Lord. I made the conscious decision to not only speak to Christ but to take a part of Christ in everything I do on a daily basis. Prayer, has become for me that fountain of courage-especially when I no longer believe in my abilities. I am deeply convinced that Christ is with me and it inspires me to give my best.

My opening line is not to get you join the Christian faith but rather illustrate to you how my faith which is an integral part of me has quickly become my pillar strength and source of motivation… Perhaps that for you it is sports (my brother plays basketball and hikes religiously several times a week for example), perhaps it is Yoga-whatever it might be…. Make time for yourself and take time to replenish your inner being both mind and soul. Why is it important? Because when things fall apart, or stop being great at work/in a relationship/friendship, this will be your energy bank.

  1. Get organised or crumble

I think this is probably BY FAR my biggest weakness. I am not terrible at it, I am just not great at it either J. As a student I got away with not being organized because, I could always pull a few allnighters and somehow submit assignments that make the cut and/or study enough to pass my courses  until I completed both my degrees (thanks to God!). However, when you start working-you realise that this might be the next 30-40 years of your life.  Balance is key to keep performing well at whatever you do. That balance includes a hobby, family, friends and maybe a lover/partner. The only way you can fit all of that into a 24hr day, and 7 day week (etc) is by planning carefully. I have resorted to going through my week every Monday to identify any important deadlines/meetings/etc. This allows me to priorities my activities for that week.

I am also learning to stick to a not more than three items on my daily to-do list for each my professional life and my personal life (e.g. bank, house, church, etc.).  Sound simple right? You will be surprise how difficult sticking to this actually is. Especially when your work is client-facing, and priorities can change during the course of the day, week and/or month. Arg, that learning curve is steep I tell you!

  1. Do believe in yourself!

You are not a random act of nature; you must believe that you were created for a reason and for a purpose. Some people seem to know quicker what it is they want to achieve in life, while others take much longer to figure it out. Wherever you stand, strive to be present in what you do and where you are. Be it in your personal life, and/or your career. This for me is work in progress, as I tend to be my harshest critic. However, looking back I can almost link the bad results I obtained from a test, a course and/or work with the fact that I doubted myself and/or ability to do it well from the very beginning which obviously resulted in a half-hearted investment of time and/effort.  You are where for a particular reason, whatever your dreams might be standing out and believing in yourself can only work in your favor.

 Self-belief is that very first important step required to commit time and effort into achieving anything.

  1. Your entourage will determine your altitude

 This is probably my biggest lesson learnt through my undergraduate studies. The people around you should motivate and inspire you. What works for me? Finding people I look up to both within my field, and outside of it. I enjoy what I do, but have a number of other interests.  So people I look up to outside of my field with hectic careers, and similar interests and/or background. Why? It is important to see how others are handling their responsibilities and what I might learn from them. Social media has been very useful as I use Twitter and Instagram to follow all people sharing my interests such as development in Africa, fashion for the busy woman, etc.  They inspire me when I am low, as I know we are currently going through the same levels of stress, and challenges. If they can keep the faith and smile, so can I!

  1. The importance of the pursuit of excellence

I plan to do an entire blog post on this topic as I think this is of GREAT importance especially in Africa as we are trying to build this beautiful continent of ours. In short, there is simply no way around it. You need to (i) do your job (be it to study, work, etc.); and (ii) strive to it well. I personally believe that perfection is reached when you are resting in your grave, however as  long as you strive to give your best and learn from the process, you will keep learning and improving at a particular task. Why? I believe time is our most precious possession, if you are going to use it to do something-why not try making it great?!

  1. Learn to set boundaries, do shout when overwhelmed

Actually, this is a 2013 lesson but that took me a year to simmer. More than a year ago, I got the incredible opportunity of attending a seminar overseas. Through this programme, I met a woman who planned to start an NGO teaching the youth about social entrepreneurship through enticing their connection with nature.  I heard a friend of mine say, she contacted her to get involved. I then convinced myself I could do the same, and to my absolute surprise, she agreed we could work on this together! I was so excited: me a nobody girl from Congo could suddenly change the world?! Least to say, a few months down the line…my responsibilities increased, the project did not leverage the support expected, I had limited time dedicated to achieve my responsibilities and instead of communicating this earlier-I just pulled a disappearing act and only  shared my challenges a few months later. I am very proud of the fact that the owner of the project (being the go getter she is has pulled the project, and the organization is running successfully), they first camp was in fact last year.  Looking back, I wish I was brave and shouted much earlier tp withdraw from the project without damaging my relationship. I wallowed a lot about the wrong I have done, and really regret the fact that I may have caused irreversible damage.  Looking back my biggest lesson learnt through this has been (i) when unable to honor a commitment, do let the person know. As sad as it may be, they will appreciate your honesty and respect you for that.

My hope is that by sharing my experience with you, it helps someone understand that they are not alone and maybe even inspires them to ‘keep on keeping on’ in their chase for a better version of yourself!

Congratulations for making it this far! I would love to hear back from you about what you learnt from last year and what was your most painful/difficult lesson, and your most valuable one.

Loads of love until my next post


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