I’m often excited and grateful to see a new year – being a Nigerian, there’s no other way to enter than with tons of prayers first and then festivities. A new year offers us a new slate to write, new room to do and be.
Preceding 2014, I took out time for a 360 degree review of 2013. I started by picking through my 2013 resolutions, the ones I had written so methodologically, drawing from my management skills I had put down different things under different facets of my life, adding different indices and timelines.
Trust me, I wasn’t a happy bunny picking through this long list of resolutions. What was meant to be a review session was almost a depressing session, I managed to take charge to think up how best I could have achieved these things without the pressure of my fully detailed technical management list.
I was reading one of my favourite websites days after when I stumbled on a different approach, one I have embraced wholeheartedly. So, instead of going with a resolution which identifies a concrete behaviour and seeks to change or improve on it, I have gone for themes, which are key behaviours that drive various behaviours and ultimately results.
So for 2014, I have chosen a principal theme along with subsets as my banner for all of 2014. A bit unusual this theme and being used as is – as a single word, not infused in any sing song sentence, just simple enough so it stays in my subconscious.
The theme embodies something that was in short supply in my daily life last year… mindfulness.
Theme: Mindfulness. I don’t know about you but there were lots of distracting moments last year, due to a busy life. But this relentless multitasking can take a toll on our productivity, health, as well as our overall quality of life. Research has linked mindfulness with many beneficial outcomes, such as improving productivity, being able to curb overeating, experiencing less stress and anxiety, and even helping with chronic conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome.
Mindfulness simply means paying attention to the present moment. We can practice this in many ways – taking time to pay attention to the person talking to us rather than our phones and iPads, taking out time to notice the taste of our food when we eat, pausing to focus entirely on a child during conversation, or purposefully enjoying the feeling while taking a brisk walk are all acts of mindfulness.
Theme: Enjoyment I find also that in 2013, I just ‘got on with life, not convinced I stopped frequently enough to enjoy the tasks – I may have done them well, but still I just got on. It appeared I was always in a hurry, hurry that was reminiscent of being chased, not in this year. In 2014, I plan to be mindful enough to stop and enjoy the smallest things… and the big things, whether it be doing home work or a work task, that I have put down driving as one of the things I plan to enjoy doing shows how much I’ going to enjoy even the most mundane!
Theme: Striving for excellence: Excellence is a common denominator when I take a close look at the great people I know personally. Excellence for me is a journey, which is why I’d rather use the prefix ‘striving.’ It is getting things done in that way that leaves for none or only little improvement. It is never an accident – it is always the result of a high intention, sincere efforts and intelligent execution. I discovered to my joy that it is not a gift or a talent, it is a choice I will enjoin that we each consider embracing.
Theme: Improving character: Character is the glue that holds it all in my view – very useful in ensuring an alignment of all facets of one’s success… character isn’t built when we have arrived but along the way, it is common practice to place emphasis on skill rather than character. This isn’t sustainable in my view… as one in itself does not complete a person. Ultimately, large empires come crashing down through possession of towering intellect but no character, hence I plan to ensure there’s no misalignment with my profession of faith!
To be unambiguous, reputation is not the same thing as character. Your reputation is what people think of you, while your character is who you are. Character needs to be formed on our way to the top. Such things as diligence, honour, integrity, courage, kindness, generosity, sincerity, empathy, patience, loyalty, etc, are developed along the way; not by accident but by amenability.
The above are my thoughts as we start the new year. It is my prayer that God supplies us all with the requisite grace for the journey ahead. Happy new year to you and yours, may it be exceptional for you all.
By: Nkiru Oumide-Ojo