Several years ago, while I was undergoing the compulsory one-year post graduation national service (NYSC: National Youth Service Corps), I was invited for a wedding celebration of a family member. At this time, I was barely managing to make ends meet, the meager income I earned was hardly enough to take care of my basic needs. I resorted to creating other income sources like home tutoring, organizing private lessons for high school students preparing for their final exams as well as buying and selling of food crops, tomatoes especially. I would go to the remote villages, buy at a cheap price and take them to the city market where I sold them at a premium.
Preparing for this journey, I realized that all the cash I had with me was just enough to take me to my destination. So I left for this 350 Km journey telling myself that my rich uncle will definitely give me some money to get back to my base. At least so I thought. At the end of an eventful weekend, where I played a very active role in ensuring a hitch-free party, running errands and making sure the invited guests were well taken care of, I felt I had earned enough appreciation for my efforts to ask for a little cash to augment my transportation back to my base. So I approached my uncle and asked him for some money confident that I will get a positive response. What I got that day was one of the rudest shocks in my life. He blatantly told me he had no money to give me and that I should have planned better before setting out on such a long trip. I begged, cajoled and did all I could, yet to no avail. So, I left and had to take the most de-humanizing form of transport to get back to my place of primary assignment. By the time I got back, I could barely walk, my legs were stiff due to poor blood circulation and it took some days before I finally regained sensation on my right limbs.
That singular event marked a turning point in my life. There and then, in my little one-room apartment, I made a decision that would mark the beginning of a new life for me. I told myself I will never, never, beg anyone for money again! Perhaps, you are reading this and you are feeling angry with the people who have wronged you, frustrated by the opportunities you missed, difficulties in your life that are stopping you from reaching your goals, discouraged by failures and setbacks, ashamed of the mistakes you have made. You might even be feeling disappointed in yourself for the bad choices you have made or perhaps anxious about everything that isn’t working well in your life. I want to help you identify the thought patterns in your mind that has kept you stagnated and hopefully provide some clues on how to release them and transform your life. I want to show you how to re-write your own story.
Take Responsibility: It is always easy and convenient to blame people, circumstances and things outside of ourselves as the reasons for our not doing well. It has been said that the highest form of human maturity is taking responsibility for one’s life. Your rise from obscurity to greatness begins the day you decide that you have a major role to play in your destiny. Never leave anything to chance, make deliberate choices knowing that “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul” – William E. Henley. You must come to the realization that if you do not control your destiny, someone else out there will. Ultimately, your destiny is determined by the choices you make and actions you take. Accept and admit that your life today is a sum total of all your choices and actions over the years and if you want the next few years to be different, you need to start today to deliberate choices and take actions that will steer you in a new direction.
Change Direction: If what you have been doing over the years has not given you the kind of result you want, it is time to change. Stop thinking those thoughts, saying and doing those things that have led you to where you are today, because if you do not change direction, you might end up where you are heading today. While you cannot change or control what happens to you or around you, however, you can choose how you respond. If you have been responding in a certain way, you need to change that today. For me, that simple decision never to beg anyone again for money, small as it was, appears to have been the biggest step in my life. Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote in one of his books that “a river is crooked because it follows the line of least resistance” When I read that line years back, I interpreted it to mean that a person’s life can also be crooked when he chooses to follow the line of least resistance. So I decided to do whatever it takes to change and achieve the goals I wanted for my life. What do you need to change? What price do you have to pay? Determine what it is and start taking little steps towards a new direction. Stop talking the way you used to talk. Stop thinking the same old ways. Develop new friendships. Start reading a book, join the gym, exercise, cut off old destructive habits. Jim Rohn says “if you will change, everything will change for you”
Visualize the future you want: I first came across the subject of visualization when I was in the university. It happened at a time where I had narrowly missed getting a choice accommodation in a new student hostel. This was partly because I was unable to raise the needed amount to pay on time, so I decided to practice the concept I had just learned. It took a combination of prayer, faith, affirmation and visualization to make that desire a reality. Every morning as I lay on my bed, I would visualize myself waking up from my bed in my dream hostel, getting ready for lectures, talking to my room-mates, taking part in the hostel activities and returning back from lectures. The feeling and emotions were so strong that I would practically cry sometimes, eventually I had my wish. I have also done the same thing while applying for a particular position in the past. A lot of athletes also practice visualization before major events or tournaments and they will attest to its efficacy. If you want to bring anything into reality in your life, you need to imagine that it is already there. You cannot create what you do not see. So if you can imagine it and visualize it, you can create it.
Affirmation: In addition to visualizing what you want, also practice using affirmation as it has been proven to be a powerful way to increase belief. As you practise speaking out these words of affirmations, you will notice your mind becoming programmed towards that direction. Another important aspect is writing your goals on a 3×5 cards and carrying this around with you, occasionally bring out the card and go through your goals. Do these several times in a day. There is indeed power in the spoken word. In the book of Genesis we learnt that God created the world with words. He visualized the world He wanted and then spoke the things into existence with words. You to can create your world with words. “I am a success” ” I am wealthy, strong and healthy” “I am succeeding, making progress and breaking new grounds” “I am going to have a great day” Repeat these words to yourself daily and watch the difference it makes in your mood and performance.
Action: Perhaps the most important of all the steps you need to take in order to achieve your goals. If you do all the above, but don’t take action, it will only lead to frustration. You must be willing to take action and take it immediately. Don’t procrastinate, start now, today to do the needful. Every action we take in the right direction no matter how little will energize us to re-create our lives. My advice is not to bite too much at a time. Knowledge when combined with action is power, without action it is just a delusion. The way to conquer fear is by action, never wait for the right time, there is nothing as such. Begin from where you are and build momentum, you will build a new life over the course of time.