Retrospective on 2018. Part 1 - The Human Experience
I sat back to think of those who have to endure even strenuous commute on a daily basis and I couldn’t help but respect their courage. I am getting used to my commute and I have started using the opportunity to catch up on Netflix, read a book or just listen to soft music to begin my day. After all I am doing this to build a brighter future for myself, family and kids.
I have broken the write up into two parts, with a focus on two essential aspects of my life. I intend to write about the Human and Techie elements of 2018. At every point in time, I seem to exhibit two personalities, the human side which deals with everyday living as a human and there is the Tech side lurking behind. The Techie articles will be a follow up to this. Let’s begin with the Human Experience.
The year 2018 has been a year of surprises, learning and a year I spent looking to streamline my view of the world, figure out what works and develop emotionally, spiritually and aim for peace of mind. To keep my thoughts coherent, I have chosen to break my points into the following headings:
- The Opinion Filter
- Strength in adversity
- Time management
- Social media
Relationships form the crux of our very existence. No matter the form a relationship takes, we are always seeking to bond with people or pets as the case may apply. The type of relationships and the strength of those bonds does shape our state of mind from experiencing happiness, sadness, loneliness etc. This year has been a year of figuring out my relationships and how I react to them.
As kids, forming relationships was easy, we focused on if we could play together, but as an adult, the dynamics have changed, and we now have several dimensions to measure the relevance of a relationship to our personal goals and aspirations. The human connection can be a minefield of disappointments and time wastage. There are guarantees, return policies or Black Friday sales for proper connections. You have to evaluate, grade and decided whether to stick with it or let it go.
I spent most of 2018 figuring out how to find a balance and settle into a stable relationship. When dating and when things get serious in a boy-girl relationship when staying in on a Friday night get traded for a party night in the town when you instead go watch a movie at the cinema as opposed to popping bottles with the lads, things get interesting. This year has been a year I learned and still learning how to send my message across to my girlfriend. I learned to manage and sustain our numerous arguments while blowing off good steam and most importantly reaching out with a white flag to make amends. It has also been a year I think I have been less selfish, learning to put my desires to the side, learning to compromise my stance, learning to let things go and most importantly, taking steps to build ourselves as teams through simple gestures and conversations.
It has also been a year I have spent less time holding onto relationships that didn’t add value to my life. It has been a year of seeking stable, tangible dependable relationships, and I will say, finding such is difficult and maintaining one when you do requires a lot of work. Learning to keep in touch has been difficult from dealing with your issues, being exhausted from a busy week and picking up that phone to say hello. I would say I didn’t make new relationships this year, but I did okay to sustain and be available to the few I currently have.
It has also been a year I realised there is a lot of selfishness about us which makes it difficult to make yourself available to others. People seem to connect for self-centred reasons. Maybe because they need a favour and once that is granted, they disappear to the ether. It has also been a year I experienced first hand how kindness gets taken for granted. Does that mean I should stop being available to others? Nope. But it has also equipped me with the ability to start listening to my intuition. How I feel about a person, whether I should make myself available or not, if it doesn’t sit well with me from the beginning, it indicates a moment to take a step back and evaluate.
I could write a lot about my lessons from the course of relationships in 2018, but that would take forever to finish. I still grade 2018 as a year of fruitful relationships with ups and downs. The ups were, and the downs provided valuable life lessons.
The Opinion Filter
We live in a society with a lot of information flowing in all directions. And with the presence of social media, we have a lot of opinion pieces getting published on a seconds basis. Everyone is suddenly an influencer; everyone has an opinion on every subject matter whatsoever. One of the tricks to navigating the year has been my learning to shut down, disconnect and reflect on an opinion piece for myself. Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone can tell a story based on how they see the world. Learning how to pick at core principles from a write-up and evaluate their merits and see how they could positively influence my view of the world.
I have been more interested in the “Why?” questions. No one has an opinion that isn’t influenced by their personal experience. Sometimes people lean to a specific version of a tale that gives them that happy feeling despite their misses or dare I say - failures.
An example would be if a person drove a Mercedes Benz and had an accident, they would later say that Mercedes is a bad car to drive because they had an accident in it. But here is the missing part of the Benz story, the full context of how the crash came to be. Maybe the tire pressure was off; perhaps they were distracted while driving, the facts aren’t laid out. Now with such an adverse opinion on Benz, we have gullible people jump and align themselves without first questioning it.
There is also the other aspect of personal opinion. These are opinions you get from people on how best to live your life. What I learned this year is the fact that you should take on board as many views on a subject matter as you can but take time out to filter and reason through them. A lot of people with no experience will tell you what decision to make. The sad truth is, sometimes their opinion is from an angle of fear or some unfounded confidence that isn’t a backed by experience. Does that mean they aren’t valid? Not necessarily but you can reason through their logic and decide for yourself.
So, the take-home experience from this is - always review an opinion and make sure in the end, you are the one making the final decision and not just following blindly.
..always review an opinion and make sure in the end, you are the one making the final decision and not just following blindly
Strength in Adversity
Every year has its struggle. Personal struggles, relational and career struggles form the basis of 2018. But one thing I learned from all of it is - not to give up. Keep at it even when you aren’t sure or can’t see the end. There were challenges I faced that were entirely out of my control and wasn’t a result of my actions or inactions and such is the nature of life. Sometimes you could be putting in your best and still get dismissed as though you were of no significance.
Life somehow rewards the brave in the end. Sometimes when it feels darkest, keep going and the break you were seeking could be right at the next corner. Believing in yourself, keeping your mind focused on your vision or dreams is important.
Perseverance is key to success.
We all struggle with Time management and this year I wasn’t good at it. I did pick up a few consistent routines that made sure I wasn’t entirely off track. I also realised I aimed at too many targets at once and on several occasions lost interest and burned out from chasing several goals.
With so many aspects of one’s life to balance, it was difficult to share and give each elements equal attention. For example, I did plan to hit the gym and play a pickup game of Basket Ball once a week. Some weeks I nailed the goals and most weeks I didn’t either because I got distracted by social activities, TV or reading a book I actually enjoy while ignoring other things.
For time management to be effective, I learned to cut aspirations according to sizes. It would be great if we could nail all 5 goals in one go, but some goals can be deferred. Prioritisation is key to effective Time Management, and it is okay not to nail specific goals right way or to retreat to losing them altogether.
The crucial goals sometimes aren’t the most exciting to execute but once completed give the most rewards. Easy tasks are fun and may be useful to achieve between just so you get a breather before the next. A mixture of hard, smooth and medium difficulty task will help and keep you motivated. Focusing on the journey is more important on the quickness to achieve the goal. Maybe in 2019 I would visit the gym for 90 days and get that fitness goal I dream about?
Well what can I say, we can’t entirely live off social media once you have had a taste. This year has been the year I have been able to withdraw from most social media platforms. I deleted my Instagram account because I felt I wasn’t getting any personal benefit from it. And with the infinite scroll functionality, it is straightforward to spend hours scrolling through your feeds. You do this for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram which easily racks up 6 hours or more of your time.
Though I deleted some social media platforms, I have been considering getting back on Instagram but coming from a different angle. No longer about spending idle time but with more purpose. Until I can narrow down that purpose, I will be off it for a while.
I am still stuck with Facebook due to the reach it provides with childhood friends, colleagues etc. But I have been posting less, and I haven’t been able to reinvent my persona up there.
This year has also been the year a post I made on twitter got featured on BBC, The Sun and Daily Mail website.
This post got longer than I expected and there is so much I would love to say but will have to narrow down the lesson learned from the year 2018 and they are as follows:
- Lockdown on goals and keep the goals as few as possible.
- Life will throw surprises at you and that doesn’t mean you are unfortunate. It is just life. Don’t give up. Keep going.
- Relationships are important, make time to invest and maintain the ones you already have.
- Find a balance in your life and it should be shaped by your realisation of what would work for you and not just from the opinion of someone else.
The points above I intend to carry over to 2019 and it sure will be an awesome year. Happy New Year and remain blessed.