Habits For Personal Growth

We’re almost through the first quarter of the year. By now the new year resolutions are either working out really well or are now completely forgotten. Either way, a lot has changed since we stepped into the new year and you’re probably making new plans everyday and adjusting to the period.It’s already spring.  Flowers, lighter clothes and finally, the sun. Perfect time to relax and reflect on yourself and how far you’ve come. If you’re not one for resolutions, then good, these habits will help you grow everyday of each year as long as you consistently practice them. Soon, they become second nature and it no longer becomes a conscious process. Here they are:

1 BE FLEXIBLE

Change is constant and hence you should be constantly changing. You are not the person you once were. The foods you eat, the things you do, the things you like and even the friends you keep. As a human. you’re constantly evolving and hence it is only wise to be flexible in every area of life. Yes, everyone has principles and routines that are the center which your life pivots around but in a dynamic world as the one we live in, you can only keep moving forward. If you’re stubborn enough to stand still the world will leave you and pass you by. Nokia 3310 phone had a really good battery but no one uses it anymore, smartphones are now in.

2 BE OPEN MINDED

He that listens to the experiences and the thoughts of a thousand men has lived a thousand lives. In a society that wants to spoon feed you with it’s unstable versions of right and wrong, good and evil and what is acceptable, a natural defense would be to close the mind to every external force or idea in order to protect it. However, you’d learn so much more from others. Learn to open your mind, listen to other points of view even if they go completely against yours. You may find it easier to convince someone else when you listen to them with an intent to hear them out not to argue or prove them wrong.

3 REFLECT

This should be a daily habit itself. Everyday, 30 minutes before bed, think back and reflect on all that was done during the day, how the tie was spent and all you said. It’s a good way to correct errors in our speech and actions. If you had a fight, a relaxed thought of the things that happened before,during and after the fight might be a good way to clear up your point of view of the events. Weekly and monthly, reflecting puts you in perspective of your goals and how close or far you are from achieving them. It’s easy to see whether the strategies you have are in  place and  they are working. It helps you re-strategize for better and quicker success.

4 USE YOUR IMAGINATION AND CREATIVITY

The difference between one person doing something and the other person is the unique creativity that comes with every individual. IF you want to grow in any area of your life,, your imagination and creativity is required. For every problem you encounter and you have to solve, it may depend on your ability to think outside the box. In whatever situation you find yourself, learn to think independently, irrespective of what you’ve been taught is right and wrong.

5 LEARN TO TAKE RISKS

Taking calculated risks leads to great results which may be in the form of success or experience. In my other post, I talk about the value of gaining experience. Risk taking opens you up to bigger possibilities. You may learn more about yourself while taking risks than when you’re in your comfort zone. It may be as little as trying new foods, finding a new hobby, doing something you’ve never tried. Risks begin little by little and eventually lead to great results. Set goals that stretch you and let you break out of the shell that is your comfort zone.

6  BE UNDERSTANDING

Understanding others, the reason why they do what they do and who they really are is a great way to grow yourself. Be sympathetic. Learn to sympathize with others. Have compassion. Love. Give freely. Be slow to anger and quick to forgive. It enables you to connect with others deeply and while it comes naturally for some, you may need to actively learn to do so. Identify barriers that might exist while interacting with others and break them.  You should want better things for others than you do for yourself.

7 PRAY

I’m a Christian, so I believe in God. Praying helps you deal wiht the spiritual aspect of your life. It is said that the spiritual dictates the physical, what some people call karma. Meditate as much as you can and pray without ceasing. It helps cleanse the the mind, body and soul. Once your mind is clear, you can function at optimum levels and hence grow.

What tips do you do that help you grow personally? Leave them in the comment section. Don’t forget to share with your friends.

Time To Re-Focus

I may be talking to you. I may be talking to me. You’ll never know.

ANGER TRIGGER

Today is Monday, the first day of the week, and it’s the perfect time to do things right to make the week go smoothly. Yesterday, I got angry. Instagram changed its algorithm again and engagement on my page came crashing down to the floor. I have about 1.2K followers with an average engagement of 80-100 likes and 10 comments per post. It’s not much but I was proud of it. Now, it dropped to 20 likes per post, the comment section too embarrassing to speak of. To make matters worse, I was reading blogs on a group thread and I saw a blogger complaining of being locked out of her Facebook account; her stats dropped to about 75 per day, from 250-450 per day. She has had her blog for approx 42 days, just over a month. I was awed by her success, and curious. My quick guess was that she had put in a lot of work on social media promotions, and she attested to that. The best part was that her friends and family had no part in her success. It was all her.

RASH DECISIONS

Just after I finished praising her, and also sympathizing with her for her account loss, I became mad. Why didn’t I do as well? My blog is twice as old as hers with half the success; maybe one-third. I was sad and broken. Why did I have to fail so much? Everyone else seemed to be doing just fine. But was this true? I put in a lot of work into blogging and I have to juggle it with school and all, but that’s just life for you. Guess what I did? Since the anger started from Instagram, I went over to my unfollowers app and unfollowed everybody who didn’t follow me back. I saved some people because I really like their feeds but the rest, all gone. I also discovered that you could remove followers – that is people who follow you, that you don’t want anymore; you could remove them from being your followers. My reason was that I could not have over 1000 people who don’t care following me. I didn’t want my page to look like it was unreal, or that I bought followers. I was wrong.

I was simultaneously complaining to my friend about the drop and how I was just tired of trying to be appeal to people. He told me to take deep breaths. Then he asked me: “Why do you blog?”. “Because I love it”, I replied. “Then why did you remove your followers?”, he asked. I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say. He continued: “You started the blog to be an inspiration to people. If you want to inspire people, why take away the opportunity for them to be inspired. Now, they can’t see what you post, or hear what you have to say. Is that what you want?”

REMORSE

I became sad all over again. I had become so engrossed in the thought of getting to 10K followers with at least 5% engagement so that some big company can sponsor me and I can make a little change out of something I love doing. I forgot the main reason I started this and had become completely sidetracked. I felt really remorseful. I don’t know the usernames of the people I removed but I’m so sorry, wherever you are. My pride got the best of me and I let numbers define me. I was so concerned about statistics that I forgot that these were real people, with real stories, real joys, real problems, and real hopes. Yes, I want success but I don’t want it if it means selling my soul or losing my morals. The deals, sponsorship, and endorsements will come when they will and I’ll be right here when they do. I’m here to inspire and I never want to forget that.

FINAL WORDS

To you reading this, whatever you do, don’t forget why you started. Don’t sell yourself short. Like the song “I Hope You Dance” the lyrics say “When you come close to selling out, reconsider”. I hope you do reconsider. At school, work and your personal endeavors, never ever forget what your initial vision was . Only change for the better, not because of what you could get or what people say. Don’t ever forget it.

Lessons Learned: Hidden Figures

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

Two hours and eight minutes of screen time on a Friday afternoon, absent from school because exams were cancelled. What a way to start the week. I’m quite late to this train, this movie has been release for quite a while and I’d heard it was quite one, being a top grossing movie for two weeks in a row, if my sources are correct. Even though, I don’t like general public recommendations when it comes to movies, i always watch just to clear the doubt and I am proud to say it was a job well done.

I mean, a story of three black women in NASA trying to find a way to achieve their dreams despite obvious obstacles in their path. What’s not to learn from them. Aside the emotions that come with watching this movie, there are lessons you can take home and apply to your life once the excitement of theatre wears off. Here are a few:

LEADERSHIP: As a leader, you’re to bring out the best in the people you lead and direct, no matter who they are and irrespective of their background, you should respect each individual as they come to you and only try to make them better persons/followers than they were. As the saying goes, A group is only as strong as its weakest link.

FRIENDSHIP: Katherine, Dorothy and Mary were good friends to each other and when Katherine and Mary needed a little push to get to where they should be, Dorothy was there to do just that. I really admired Dorothy for the role she played both in the workplace and at home.

PERSEVERANCE: The determination Mary possessed in her heart is one to be admired. I have to say from the start she was a feisty one but some tough people crack under pressure. Even when her husband, doubted her at first because he didn’t want her to get hurt, she knew what she wanted and went after it even though the odds were not in her favour. At her court case, she demonstrated wisdom. She did her homework right and used an excellent strategy to get what she wanted.

BOLDNESS: At some pint, you have to fight for what is right and what you want. Katherine was patient and quiet, despite all that went on in the office. Going to a faraway bathroom and providing solutions to problems that she was not given variables for. When she had proven her worth in the office and still wasn’t being heard, she had to speak up and thank God she did. Else, she would probably have been fired for incompetence.

TEAMWORK: Dorothy took out the time to gain knowledge concerning the IBM and wasted no time teaching the program to her fellow computers which in the end saved them all their jobs. She could have easily learnt it and the rest of the team would have been laid off but she foughT for them even when she wasn’t paid for the role of  a supervisor that she assumed. You should always look out for your colleagues.

SECOND CHANCES: Jim, the guy who Katherine married, made a very bad first impression on Katherine when they first met. Even though he apologised on the spot, it seemed insincere and she walked away but he didn’t give up and kept trying. She saw his sincerity and gave him a second chance which resulted in their marriage. If someone is genuine and sincere, it never hurts to give a second chance.

CHANGE: Change is the only thing that is constant. Things, people and time is constantly changing. The mindset of the period the movie was one with a lot of close mindedness and it paved way for the change that was to come. It’s always good to keep an open mind and look out for faults or weaknesses in already existing systems to facilitate change that helps us become a better  individuals.

I hope you liked readiing. Please share and if you haven’t watched the movie, I’d definitely recommend it. No article can spoil this movie. It’s one to be seen.

Disclaimer: Featured image source here. Property of FOX

Indecision

Slide2.PNGIndecision. The sister to procrastination. Together, they can ruin your life effortlessly while you’re running around wondering what’s going on. When life gives you choices to pick from, just pick. Don’t try to be the smarty pants. If it’s what you really want, then there is no better choice. So what causes indecision? For some people, it’s been happening so long they don’t remember if their was even a starting point but for some there is.

It begins when you lose your childlike innocence and realize that every decision comes with consequences and now, you want to make the best decision given the choices available. Guess what happens eventually? You pick neither. You become so afraid of picking wrong that you do no pick at all. But here’s the truth you fail to see, no decision is worse. If you were to ask me I’d say that there are two main reasons for this:

  • Fear
  • Too much analysis / Overly cautious

So, to deal with them one after the other, Fear. When you’re afraid, what do you do? Fear is an illusion. It exists only in our minds. So the best way to tackle is to face it logically. Ask yourself what am I afraid of? Why am I afraid of it? When you tackle fear with this approach, your mind is able to process the information logically and then you realize one of two things.

  • There is nothing to fear. Or
  • There is something to fear, but you can’t help it, so you’re just worrying.Slide1.PNG

Being overly cautious is quite interesting. You compute every posssible combination of factors, trying to find the absolute best but because life itself is unpredictable and dynamic, you can’t account for everything and you end up calculating until the time for choosing has elapsed. Forget coulda woulda shouldas. If you only make decisions based on what you think should be done, as per what is right, you might end up rebelling and doing what you really want. Then, you’ll look like you don’t know what you want when the entire time you know. The human mind always wants to make a safe decision. A decision that gives security and guarantees safety of whatever is at stake.

One way to tackle it is to realize that uncertainty is a part of life and you cannot have everything under your control. If there’s a chance that something bad can happen, then there’s a chance that something good can happen. Many times we focus on only the bad and ignore the good. WE call this being ‘realistic’ or ‘keeping it real’ when in fact all we’re being is pessimistic. We end up missing out completely on life and with this comes regret. The worst kind of regret being the regret of ‘I could have’. For really big problems, if you have the time to wait, don’t rush into it, but don’t procrastinate either. There’s a fine line.

Remember to do this as an exercise. Just like everything else, it takes time to learn and grow but never give up or think you’re not making progress. At the end, you’ll become a better decision making individual than you were yesterday.Slide3

Don’t Keep Silent

There is a saying that silence is the best answer, well, for a fool. If you’re anything like me, who doesn’t like conflict, you probably do this often. It’s such a bad habit. I let people ride me, take me for granted and use me beyond reason just because I’d rather have peace than enter into a conflict. I’d rather slightly inconvenience myself than confront someone.

After I took a personality test and read the results (read more here), it felt like reading a diary someone secretly wrote about me. It physically drains me that I live in a world where I have to constantly fight for my rights all the time. Take for instance yesterday, I came out of my apartment to take a stroll to a nearby supermarket to get some groceries to make dinner. As soon as I stepped out, a group of men were just whistling and catcalling me. I ignored them and walked past, whereas my usual behaviour was to greet. Immediately I walked past them completely, a couple of them stood up and started yelling at me. I couldn’t make out the words because they had a thick accent. Anyways, I was frustrated. I hate catcalls even though I experience it almost everyday of my life. Some other girls would have shut them up especially because of the insults if I ever heard one but I didn’t.

Same thing happens in class, with friends and anywhere I find myself. I’m painfully soft, that’s why I tend to keep to myself and a small circle of friends. However, this has to stop. Now, I’m not saying you should be all out rude, calling people names or going round fighting people, verbally or physically. But if the need arises, you should stand up for yourself. If you feel uncomfortable, you should speak up. Sometimes, the person causing the discomfort may not be aware of the situation and may be more than glad to make you feel better.walk-human-trafficking-12136.jpg

As a child, I was an interesting personality mix, extroverted most of the time, bold enough to speak in public but not enough to raise controversy which showed my introverted side, and I still am.Sometimes I wonder why I’m not like others that could argue for hours and hours. Being a talkative, I was always asked to speak in debate, i always declined. I never saw the point. At the end of the day everyone went home with their opinions, just that one group was always well spoken so they won the prize. I’m working on myself and whoever is reading this and has similar experience should too. Whenever I’m in a situation where my mind says let it go and I find it really hard to but I want to d o so for peace’s sake, I know then that I should speak up. It takes practice but it works, It will happen eventually. Speak up, say how you feel. Your words might encourage another to take charge of their situation.

We need more voices to be heard. So many people are experiencing things they cannot say in the open because they feel they are the only ones going through such, so the more we speak up, the more confidence we give others. At your job, in your home, in your relationship, friendship, wherever, just speak up. Don’t die in silence. It would hurt to know that the reason you were silent was never appreciated. Open up. Find a safe space and let it out. There are many platforms to do so and if you don’t find one, create it. You have a unique mind and maybe you’re the only one thinking of that idea. Maybe, one day we’ll finally have a world that doesn’t need people to scream before their voices are heard but till then, do not keep shut.

I’ll always be a nice person, I’ll climb mountains for the people I love, and I’ll always go the extra mile for someone who needs the extra support. But I’ve decided not to let myself get hurt anymore, because it has affected me; especially mentally and emotionally. I’ve healed, and I’d like to keep it that way. To all the nice and kind people out there who can’t help it, I know the world is harsh but don’t change. Be the ray of sunshine in a snowstorm. The world needs more of us.

With Love,

Kris.

Why You Should Feel More Confident.

Confidence is such an important trait to possess. With confidence comes high self-esteem which can carry you a long way. Even though we wake up every morning and look like we can conquer the world , most of us feel shy and timid and require coffe and pep talks to get us through the day and when we are then required to step up boldly, even though we try, sometimes we fail.

The quickest resort is to think about all our strengths and all the things we can do quite well and stick to them. It is easy to be confident when you’re required to do things you’re probably an expert at doing. A basketball player will almost always be in the mood to play basketball but once you hand him a tennis racket, his confidence might shrink to the size of a mouse. Why? Because he feels out of his comfort zone and is in danger of looking foolish. We dread looking foolish in front of people because society does not allow for mistakes and shortcomings. We always want to look smart, sound intelligent and have the answers to every question thrown at us. Unfortunately, nobody can be that perfect.

As a child, the only reason we could learn was because we were not afraid or shy. There was no fear of failure. As a matter of fact, looking clumsy was part of the requirements and that was the same reason why we could try new things over and over again. Something to remember is that we are all in fact timid, shy, faulty, clumsy and have irrational fears. A huge wrestler may be scared of a cockroach but that does not make him less of a man. He’s just a man who has katsaridaphobia. All you need is the right circumstance and we’re all on the same level. So why should you feel more confident all the time?

You should because anything otherwise would cause you to miss out on the world at large. You might want to sing, or draw, or say your written words on a stage but you don’t feel confident enough to do it. Understand that everyone makes mistakes and not everyone got it on their first try. You don’t want to miss out on love because you were not brave enough to speak up. Sometimes being confident entails knowing that what and who you are is good enough for whatever reason you may need it for and only by trying and growing can you get better at what you’d like to do. I toyed with the idea of a blog for so long but never did it because I felt like there was not much I could tell anyone about anything because my life was in chaos, so who was I to offer help. Till now, I still hide that I have a blog from a couple of friends because I didn’t think it was good enough for it to be presented but I’ve started telling them one by one and a couple of them actually like the articles. Of course, not all of them love it but they appreciated the fact that I put in my work and time into it.

There’s a saying that you should start before you’re ready and  you should say yes to a job you have no clue about, then go home and learn it. To do so would require confidence in yourself that you can pull through. You must trust your abilities, that in a world of 7 billion people where  there are others that can offer the same thing as you, only you can do it the way you do.

Friendships During Hardships and Crisis

Friends are the family we choose. We pick them, we stand by them, and when needful, we change them. Challenges can make or break any friendship or relationship. The general assumption being that it was never meant to be. But what of situations where both parties were not ready to let go?

I have lost friends because of crisis happening in either our lives. I have pushed people away and people have pushed me away. It’s a normal human reaction during stress. I’ve had cases where I felt relieved talking to a stranger and the familiarity of my friends brought fear of judgement and criticism. I also happen to be someone afraid of criticism even though I still take it. As comforting as the idea is to push everyone away and try to “solve it on your own’, I’m here to remind you that it is not the best approach. Being in college can be difficult especially if you have to juggle all your responsibilities with any kind of struggle outside of your academics. Friends tend to be a good support for anyone in stress. The worst kind of situation to be in is when you and all your friends happen to be in the same dilemma at the same time.

There was a time I and my girlfriend were going through a breakup,emotional crisis at the exact same time. We would come to school and sit on the bench, stare into the nothingness and just sigh all day. The silence was painful but comfortable at the same time. On some days, when we felt like talking or we reached a new low, we would speak, usually with the other doing only listening with no contribution whatsoever. Why this system worked for us was that we had come to a very good understanding of each other. We knew each other’s reaction to such situations so it was relatively easy. It only took three years and a lot of awkward silences.Now that I think of it I’m very grateful to God that I met her. She’s one person but she’s all the trouble and support I need at the same time.IT became even funnier when we both had money issues, emotional stress and spiritual breakdown at the same time. I guess not only your cycles align when you hang around someone too much.

My other friend who reads a lot of psychology says you should not expect anyone to behave rationally when going through stress or grief but somewhere deep down, beneath the chaos that we  might be experiencing, we still know what we’re doing wrong and why our behavior is unacceptable. We expect that our friends, if not anyone else should be understanding and patient as we feel we would do the same for them. Truth is, it gets tiring and exhausting and some days, even you would want to throw in the towel. pexels-photo-167921

COMMUNICATION is all that is necessary. A second just to say “I know I must be difficult to deal with but thank you for hanging in there” could save a friendship from unnecessary death. A friend once said to me when he was having really difficult times “My priorities are right here”, he said, gesturing to the level of his chin, “and you’re right here”, he said pointing to the level  of his knee. “If I ever get to you, then we can talk, but for now I have too many things on my mind”. Words cannot describe how much pain I felt in my heart then. Even in the pain I  managed to understand that he had his whole world falling apart and there was nothing he could do to help it so he  was feeling very frustrated and helpless but those were harsh words for someone who was quite close to him.

Needless to say, he never got to me, we don’t speak anymore despite my failed attempts at starting conversations and that friendship came to an abrupt end. It took months to gain closure because somehow I believed my approach warranted the response I got. I felt like it was my fault but it wasn’t. We have mutual friends and he still talks to all of them but me. I guess because I cared too much he decided to blame me for everything and I received his wrath which again is quite normal from a psychological perspective, it still hurt.

I realize that talking about issues is probably not a guy thing and I also realize that not talking doesn’t help the situation. I’ve read books that say guys need to go into hibernation to come up with a solution to the problem but none said what happens when for you, they never come out from that cave. As much as I respect how the human mind works, with a little practice and conscious effort, almost anything can be learned. TO my guys out there, while we ladies learn to understand your thought process, a one-liner summarizing the problem could save you a lot of drama and this is in a platonic relationship. “I feel overwhelmed right now but I’ll be okay, I just need a little time to myself” would save you drama from your mother, sister and even your girlfriend.

Pushing away is easy,coming back is not, especially if the other party concluded that you needed time and decided to give you space. They’d probably be waiting for you to show signs that you’re back from your retreat and then you realize that a rift exists and you’d be too scared to make the first move. While ideally a “good” friend should understand you  and ‘be there’ for you, the reality of life is when you abandon people, they won’t be standing in the spot waiting for you. Life happens and time still exists.

Whatever hardships and crises you may be going through, don’t put friends through more than they have to go through. Even if they want to be there, life may not let them. When life gets hard hold onto friends tight, they might be hurting almost as much as you are and just want you to feel better.Value your friends and go easy on them.

I hope reading this helps save a friendship. Have you lost any friends because of hardship or crisis, personal or otherwise? Sound off in the comments.