10 STEPS TO MAKING THE BEST OF 2016

The much anticipated New Year has finally arrived. 2016 is here and social media is flooded with “new year, new me” statuses, New Year’s resolutions (most of which will fail within two weeks) and a whole lot of hype and excitement about the countless opportunities and potential for new beginnings on a clean slate that a new year represents for so many people around the world.

A few years ago, I stopped coming up with resolutions due to the stigma attached to them after the first couple of weeks go by and people tend to just revert to old habits year after year. I replaced annual resolutions with well-planned goals which I recorded and embarked upon achieving year after year and that proved effective…

This year I decided to compile a list of 10 steps which I feel would make 2016 a good year… Have a look and feel free to share and drop feedback, add on to the list, etc.

1. TRUST IN GOD

The fact is, different things will happen and life will not always go according to plan… We tend to want to control and plan everything but at some point or another, the unexpected will occur… That is why it’s so important to trust in God. It doesn’t matter what religion you belong to and how religious or spiritual you are… Whether or not you go to church… As a spiritual person, I am not here to preach or impose anything on anyone…

I am merely saying that ultimately, most of us believe in a higher power. A greater being  than ourselves.  Although it is not always easy to accept things we don’t understand and we tend to question why things happen particularly when life seems to be going South, at the end of it all, there has to be a reason and a purpose behind why everything turns out the way that it does. Trust that God has the best in store and just because it’s not what YOU consider to be the best for you, does not mean it’s not HIS best for you…. And He always knows BEST. Sometimes we need to go through something bad to get to something better. Remember that.

2. LOVE YOURSELF

This is something often neglected by many… We fail to acknowledge that how we feel about ourselves oftentimes manifests in how we treat those around us. It all starts within… Know your value and worth… Love and appreciate the person you are… That will ensure that the decisions you make which affect you will be good for you…

Do better. Be better. Do what makes you happy. Respect yourself. When you know what you deserve and you have the necessary peace inside you, that will govern how other people treat you… You will not allow others to undermine you, disrespect you, take you for granted or mistreat you because you will be aware of what you deserve and will not be afraid to claim it… You will also attract the right kind of people and not be afraid to let go of the wrong ones…

3. AVOID TOXIC PEOPLE AND SITUATIONS

If you want to truly have a chance at making this year a positive one and having it consist of more than failed new year’s resolutions, it’s important to identify and avoid the toxic and negative people and situations in your life. If you don’t remove them, how can you truly have a different mind-set? Avoid drama. As soon as you sense it coming – walk away!!!!

Toxic habits and people can become so familiar that sometimes it’s easy to incorporate them as permanent fixtures in our everyday lives. However, if they remain part of our lives, it is very unlikely that some of these much desired “changes” will have an opportunity to occur…

If someone was not good for you in 2015, guess what??? 2016 will be no different. People don’t change just because new calendars, diaries and resolutions are going viral worldwide… If it was toxic in 2015, remove it from your life and make room for more deserving and positive people and situations… Protect your space and circle. Not everyone deserves a seat in your life. A quote I read has stuck with me – “When someone shows you who they really are, don’t try to paint a new picture”…. If you master step 2 above, this 3rd step will come pretty naturally…

4. STAY INSPIRED

Remaining motivated and inspired means a great deal in being a happy individual and continuing on with yet another chapter in your life…

Different things inspire different people… Identify the internal and external triggers to keeping you inspired and incorporate them into your daily routine to keep you going…

Sometimes something as simple as reading a few inspirational quotes can brighten up a gloomy day… Feed your mind with inspirational reads. Write if it helps… Explore creativity… Socialize with people who bring out the best in you… Travel when you can…. The ways to stay inspired are countless…

5. SPEND YOUR TIME WISELY

Time goes by so fast, a whole year can flash before your eyes… If you fail to plan your time carefully and spend it wisely, you may find that you achieved very little or perhaps spent your time on the wrong things.

List your priorities… Schedule your time… Ensure that you structure yourself in such a way that business gets done… You have time for work but also for fun and quality time with those who matter to you most… And, of course, don’t neglect to leave some quiet time for yourself to gather your thoughts and remove yourself from all the commotion going on around you in order to recharge…

6. MAINTAIN CORE VALUES – HONESTY, HUMILITY, LOYALTY AND GRATITUDE

Maintaining honesty, humility, loyalty and gratitude as your core values will be rewarding in all the right ways… Honesty shows integrity and builds trust, which are indispensable in relationships of any kind…

Humility will keep you grounded irrespective of how much you achieve and it will leave room for more growth…

By showing loyalty you open yourself up to receiving loyalty in return… Although in reality, this may not always happen, we are responsible for ourselves… Lead by example and eventually others will follow suit.

By having gratitude within and appreciating all the ways in which you are already blessed, you will appreciate every new blessing even more… Don’t take anything for granted…

7. STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Our comfort zones are nothing more than prisons keeping us away from progress. Sometimes we have to get “uncomfortable” to blossom and become more than what we are… In order to build strength, achieve more and conquer our fears, our comfort zones must be left behind…

The only constant in life is change. And positive change lies with a positive mind and determination to step out of your comfort zone and bring your dreams to life one choice at a time….

8. BE CONSISTENT

Every accomplishment requires consistency… You want to achieve something? Work at it consistently until you do and then remain consistent in keeping it and nurturing it…

You want to create something? Be consistent!!! Everything from professional goals to personal relationships requires consistency… It’s about identifying what you want and being proactive and focused on it!!!!

9. BE A BLESSING

Random acts of kindness are not out of style… It makes little sense to strive towards maintaining a positive life and surroundings without expanding and sharing the positivity with others.

Do something unselfish for someone without expecting anything in return… Being an example can spark and inspire others too…

There are countless ways to be a blessing to others. Both big and small… You are only limited by your imagination… Put your thinking cap on and see how you can be a blessing to someone…

10. DON’T GIVE UP

Don’t ever give up on something because you think it would be too hard or that it is beyond your reach… Sometimes we run out of patience or stop and call it quits because we don’t want to fail… But you could be one hurdle away from succeeding at something… YOU are your only limit…

The above list consists of some of the first and most practical steps that came to mind…. There may be plenty of others… I hope this gave you something to think about…

Here’s to a wonderful year!!!!!

Reflection & Introspection – 2015 in Perspective

 

Years ago I developed my own individual annual “ritual” which entails spending time on my own in the last few days of the year and reflecting on the year that has been. The reason for this is to put into perspective all I have experienced, learnt and achieved. Once I have worked through that, I focus my energy on my goals for the year ahead and getting my mind right for it.

This practice is one I have maintained without fail and I have found it quite useful in my growth as a woman and young adult trying to make sense of life, my purpose and spiritual journey…

I would say 2015 had more triumphs and battles than any other year before it…. It left me numb and I am still trying to wrap my head around everything and figuring out what it means for me and how it has changed me….

My journey of obtaining my law degree and graduating in record time finally came to an end and my life was moving so fast that I didn’t even take a moment to truly take in and appreciate the accomplishment it was… I walked across the stage as they called my name with my head held high and a big smile on my face but it felt like an out-of-body experience. As though I was floating and not truly present in the moment….

I realized that I don’t take the time to acknowledge and celebrate my achievements because my mind is always set on the next thing I want to attain…. The next height I want to reach…. No time to dwell or celebrate anything because, after all, I’m “not there yet”….

So I set my sight on the next step towards building my future…. A practical legal training programme at the school for legal practice under the Law Society of South Africa… At first I was excited because it was something that I wanted for a long time and I had to work hard for it…

It wasn’t long before I became conscious of the fact that I would have to leave my life as I knew it in pursuit of completing this demanding course… I missed out on months of the lives of those closest to me… I lost a part of myself as I was constantly trying to do everything, give my all and attempt to have some sort of balance between meeting all the expectations others had of me and what I expected of myself…. Even though I was doing relatively well under the circumstances, deep down I felt as though I was falling short and nothing I did felt good enough to me… It could always be better… It could always be more… And I didn’t quite live up to my own (perhaps unrealistic) standards…

This left me feeling frustrated, lost and made me question everything… I experienced waves of different emotions which felt inconveniently timed as I felt any sort of emotion would throw me off track and I wanted to just escape it all, however there was no time for that… No time for me… I felt drained physically, emotionally and spiritually…. My ambitions and passion for a life in law were tested in ways like never before and it scared me… I didn’t want to be a failure at the one thing to which I dedicated four years of my life and then some more…

I finally have a break to breathe before I get back for the final phase and I am trying really hard to evaluate what I can do differently to make the last part something I can enjoy and remember with a smile… The answers that come to mind are that I need to have more faith in myself. I have to trust in my abilities and potential and I must stop being so hard on myself. Sometimes we need to take life one step at a time and turn to things that make us feel alive and give us a sense of purpose…

Creativity has always been my outlet and this year I was so caught up in all everyone else expected from me that I turned my back on what brought ME joy…. Music… Writing… Laughter… Time alone… Time with people I care about… Challenges which inspire growth…. Maintaining my inner peace and being true to myself… Embracing all the ways in which I am different and unique and avoiding anything that would make me feel discouraged, withdrawn or which has the potential of being destructive…

Being a perfectionist can be both a blessing and a curse because it motivates you but can also make you your own worst enemy… It keeps you chasing a certain level of greatness but if you fail to validate yourself, nothing anyone else does will ever matter. Because it is not what others think and say that keeps you encouraged… Instead it’s what you tell yourself… And that is dangerous if you fail to acknowledge, appreciate, give thanks and take time to breathe and reflect…

Why am I doing this? Why am I writing something so personal and putting it out there for anyone in the world to see?… Well, I have taken cognizance of the fact that what I have experienced is a very human thing and it is common to many… Merely in a different context to every person… And I genuinely believe at some point everyone needs to know there are others going through the same trials but it’s something we can all get through and learn from…

Looking back, I see that I need to be proud of myself and love myself for holding on and not giving up… I know one day this year will be something I will look back on and laugh about because it will not feel like such a big deal… Yet I will still take pride in knowing that it was an important building block in my life that had a purpose…

The value of time and being present in the moment resonate within me… Going forward, I choose to carefully and consciously decide what deserves my time and energy and what doesn’t…. Who matters and belongs in my life and who doesn’t… What brings me joy and makes me feel alive and what holds me back and pulls me down…

No, I don’t have all the answers… However, I have perspective and awareness… I can hold my head up high and admit to myself that my heart was always in the right place… My intentions were good throughout all I have done and I have become stronger and more enlightened… I have been bruised but not defeated and I am ready to do better and be better…

2015 was one of the best years thus far irrespective of how many hurdles I faced and I am open to the experiences 2016 has in store for me… My main focus will be ME. My dreams. My happiness… Reaching for the next level and making my mark but taking time to be thankful and to enjoy the moments which I will never relive again…

What did you learn from this year? What will you do with the lesson? How will you make 2016 a better year?… Take the TIME to reflect and introspect as that is where the answers can be found…

Cheers to an epic new year!!!!!!

Be brave. Be bold. Be fearless!!!!

 SELF REFLECTION

New Beginnings – It’s All About Perception

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Lately I’ve been observing the sunset & its astonishing beauty… Something I realized is that it never looks exactly the same as the previous day…
 Call me crazy, but it got me thinking about life & all each day represents… No two days are the same… One day is more gloomy than another… Or more colourful…. And just as we have days that feel harder & more complicated, we also have days that are bright & beautiful…
 It’s up to us to decide when we look up at the sky if we’re going to take forward the beauty & learn from the drama & baggage of ourselves (as well as others), leaving it behind us so as to enjoy a better tomorrow or if we’re just going to go through the motions of the same routine, expecting different results.
 We can all have a “better” tomorrow… A tomorrow without insecurities, fears, doubt in ourselves, our strengths & our value… A tomorrow without unnecessary troubles, things that are toxic & not good for us… A tomorrow that is one sunset away… And of course, there comes a sunrise that will be just as magnificent… And filled with prowess… A more beautiful day. Oftentimes, we’re a choice away from that day…
 I’ve made the choice to look beyond the negative things that can hold me back & instead focus on all the things that are good in my life & the countless possibilities of all the things I can achieve by focusing my mind on the things I really want in life….
 I’m doing things I never thought I would. But I’m thankful for the opportunities to grow & expand my horizons. Yes, I’m thankful & blessed. 2014’s a year for success!!!
 
(© Photography By: GMZee)
(Top: Pretoria Sunset, 9 January 2014)
(Bottom: Pretoria Sunset, 10 January 2014)