Compliments of the season friends. As the year 2017 is coming to a close and the year 2018 is edging closer, it is time for reflection. If you are like me these days, you are probably going through your life in the past year with a fine tooth comb to find what worked and what didn’t. I have now started taking these things more seriously because there is now more to reflect on. I also find that my life is quite influential and I say so practically rather than arrogantly.
I now have three children of my own looking up to me for direction and good example. I have a husband who believes he has found favour and good things by finding me. The stakes are definitely higher, and while there is no pressure as it were to do the impossible, I find reflection a useful and rewarding practice.
Over the next few days I will be sharing ten things I have learned in 2017. Some things I have just learned in 2017, and with some other things, I came full circle and clearly understood in 2017.
BATTLE OF THE AGENDAS
The thing with agendas is that everybody has one whether they know it or not. The interesting thing however is that while everybody is fulfilling an agenda at every point in time, they are not necessarily fulfilling their own agenda. It is ok and indeed healthy to consciously choose to help or take part in fulfilling someone else’s agenda. The problem arises when you are doing so without your knowledge or against your wish/under duress.
Although your arm may not be physically twisted, sometimes things can be presented in a way that convinces you to leave your own agenda and pursue someone else’s at the detriment of your own. It is important to keep our eyes on our assignment because time is of the essence and we are to live and walk circumspectly.
Your greatest asset and resource is your time so if someone has your time, they pretty much have your life. This year I have learned to always have my agenda/assignment clear cut and in full view.
Growing up I can say I was well prepared for this because my parents were almost obsessed with instructing us not to just follow anything and anyone “sheepishly”. They would always remind us to filter whatever anyone says to us. I was recently on a conference call with my two sisters and we agreed that we are independent and confident just because we were raised that way.
It is important for me to know what I stand for and to always be sure whose agenda I am fulfilling at every point in time; knowing that I will give account of the life I have lived. If you are a christian like myself, never pursue anything that God has not spoken or confirmed to you.
There are so many opportunities to give up on the things you should be doing. Frankly, many people are willingly fulfilling the agendas of others because they do not believe they have an assignment themselves. While it is possible that assisting other people with their own agenda is an assignment of its own, make sure it is your specific assignment. It is true that you sometimes find out your own assignment or purpose in life while assisting others with theirs. However it is best not to tow that line perpetually just because it is an easier option than to find out and pursue yours.
IN PARENTING, BE ADAPTABLE
Wow I learned so much this year in the area of parenting but there’s only so much I can share in this post.
The way in which you were brought up will often play a big role in how you parent. For the most part I was raised in an African family where you did as you were told. We were taught not to question authority and this is right. I live outside Africa now and myself and my husband are raising children in a completely different day and culture.
While I stand by the boundary of being subject to authority, I would go further. I would explain more the reasons why. I find that “because I said so” is not good enough reason to tell my kids to follow instructions. We live in a day where evil is all around us and it is so important that our children learn to think for themselves.
I recently found out that one of my children was getting into trouble a lot. This is because she wasn’t questioning her peers. They would tell her to do things and she’d simply do it. After all, the most popular phrase at our house is “follow instruction”. Other kids began to see her as a means to carry out their mischief. As we dug deeper we found out that there was more to it. It would be a stretch to say some of her own mischief wasn’t there somewhere in the mix. But it was in fact the case that she was “following instructions” albeit from peers without questioning. Needless to say we had to immediately change things at home and qualify more.
Recently I was at a kids party when I noticed a mother step in for her daughter who was not in the mood for a hug that she was receiving rather reluctantly from another kid. “…please leave her alone, she doesn’t want a hug. Sorry. ” were her words. I sat there thinking “…hmm whats the big deal about a simple hug please…”. As I pondered more about this, I realised that she was protecting her kid and giving her the confidence to resist unwanted physical contact. It made me think how I would react if my child refused to hug another kid, or even an adult I was familiar with or that I considered a friend… How would you handle it? Was the lady right to insist her daughter be left alone? What if it happened in your absence? Let me know what you think in your comment.
Physical contact is a dicey one especially if it appears to be a harmless cuddle. As parents it is important to protect and instruct our children in a way that will keep them safe from manipulation. I cannot generalise much but I believe parenting is a learning curve. As far as I see, it is OK to allow for questioning ideas and decisions can be a positive and proactive way of protecting our children from falling prey to manipulation.
Great parenting also means that we can be humble and make changes when we get it wrong.
CHANGE YOUR COMPANY IF THAT IS WHAT IT WILL TAKE
I always admired people especially at university who were the very top of the class without breaking too much sweat. I say at university because even I was top of my class up until high school. I probably wasn’t applying myself as much when I got to high school perhaps…. I don’t know. Anyway, I’m not entirely sure how I became more of a “top end of average” student as I have chosen to define myself.
My undergraduate degree course was designed so that third year counted for just about 20 percent of the degree while the remaining 80 percent was determined in final year. This meant that you could party in first and second year; and as long as you did enough to pass, you’d still be on track for a distinction.
I remember this particular girl at university who was with a different crowd every year. She partied hard in first and second year, probably barely scraped a pass. She joined a slightly more serious group of friends in third year and was a lot more present in class. By final year I noticed she totally changed her friends and became friends with the only two students in our class who literally lived in the library. These students were on a totally different level from the rest of us. The kind of students who would be depressed over a score of 99 out of 100. They were brilliant and this girl recognised them. She joined their group and studied with them (probably 24 hours of each day). Those were the only three students that made first class degree with distinction in our entire class. When she deserted her old friends, they may have felt bad and it may have caused a bit of friction. However going forward, that degree certificate she bagged will always open special doors for her.
This year 2017 I have finally learned that it is OK to change company when necessary. If it is not working for you or inspiring you, let it go. If you are not learning anything useful, give it space. Sometimes you have to lose to win. Many times we worry about how things will look when we change company and it is natural. But the truth remains that your associations make you.
Changing scenery always means movement but who is moving; and to where? Have you ever been in a stationary vehicle and suddenly looked out and seen movement? I have experienced this many times sitting in an aircraft waiting to take off. You suddenly notice the scenery outside is changing but for a second you’re unsure if it is your airplane moving or the aircraft in the next parking space. Who is moving is not as important as whether the movement taking place takes you closer to your goals and dreams. Just recognise that movement is not always such a bad thing.
Having said all that, we all need two kinds of people; those that feed us, and those that need us. It is important to be in relationships with those who need you and those who feed you to varying degrees. However when it comes to achieving the goals you have set out for yourself being in the right company can be a powerful determining factor.
Please remember to check out my next post where I will share more about my lessons learned in 2017.