New Possibilities

The New Year gives each one of us an opportunity to start afresh while at the same time aiming at doing more and doing better. The big picture of your life and mine comes to us piecemeal year by year. This explains why we have to look at the passing year closely before planning for the New Year. I have had to assess whether I was able to achieve the goals that I set for myself for this year and the progress I made towards advancing my overall purpose in life. I know that I should have done better in some areas and in others; things were beyond my control. I am now determined to use the lessons I have learned from my failures to improve my future, as for the achievements, they point me toward bigger goals in the years to come. They say that Experience is the best teacher.

As I write this post, a quote by an unknown author keeps coming to me: “Set your goals high enough to inspire you and low enough to encourage you.”
Unrealistic goals put you on pressure and lead to frustration.
For the last five years, I have been a keen Follower of Michael Hyatt, the renowned American life coach and Virtual mentor. He advises each one of us to plan for the year as planning gives us clarity and helps us to make progress to achieving the goals. The three elements of the plan are:
1. The Vision- this is the big picture of your life and it should inspire and inform your plan.
2. The Priorities- the most important things in your life that advance your personal development and fulfillment.
We live in a fast-paced world and many demands are made on us. It is vital that we consistently apply the 80/20 Rule of Time Management: prioritize the 20% most important things in your life and devote 80% of your time, energy, efforts and resources on them. It is the only way to stop the ‘Urgent’ from drowning out the most important activities that advance your overall purpose in life. They change as we grow but essentially they are: family, career, health, finances and relationships.
3. The Actions- the steps to be taken to fulfill your priorities. These are the goals and are better laid out using the SMART acronym:
S- Our goals should be Specific
M- should be Measurable( year-long)
A- should be Actionable
R- should be Realistic.
T- should be Time bound.

These three elements should be aligned together.

I have always had to remind myself that I am in control of my life. It fuels my determination to follow things through to achieve my vision and stay motivated to reach my goals.
I would urge you to believe in yourself and encourage yourself by rewarding yourself for the achievements. Be smart to let go of what no longer serves you and pick what really fits who you now are. This is the only way you can be yourself and let yourself have what you truly want.

As you plan for 2018 and try to make it different from 2017, I wish you happiness and prosperity. I would like to hear about your plans for the New Year.

Thank you for visiting my Blog and reading this post.  I hope it will give you the confidence to make Smarter goals for 2018.Feel free to share it with your family and friends.

 

 

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

I spent last Saturday afternoon singing Christmas carols at the home of one of my childhood friends. Before I got carried away by the singing and before the memories of childhood came flooding in , I had to remind myself of the true meaning of Christmas. As a Christian I know that every family in heaven and on earth receives its free name from God the Father. God the Father sent his only Son to earth to change all those who believe in the Son into members of the holy family. So Christmas is about family, friends and focuses on loving, sharing and giving. A group of about seventy people consisting of the young and old sang the Christmas carols bringing the joyful Christmas spirit into our homes. With hearts filled with love and gratitude, we sang and embraced each other .We sang the traditional Christmas carols like Once in Royal David’s City and Silent Night and we the seniors among the group knew each song line by line! The kid in me just came alive as the treasured memories of the Christmas days celebrated in the past floated to the surface.

I could see myself singing the same Christmas carols as a teenager at home and at the Mayor’s gardens in Kampala. Many years later I was to sing the same Christmas carols in Cape Town botanical gardens at the foot of the Table Mountains. Irrespective of where I have had to join in the Christmas Carol Service , the switching on the Christmas tree lights always symbolizes the ushering in of the Christmas spirit into my home. It always brings in smiles, joy and love in my heart.

I cannot even begin to count how many Christmas cards I have had to write out and post early enough to be received by family and friends in time for Christmas all these years. The e-Christmas cards have been around for a while and I sometimes find them convenient and fast but still I feel that a few special people need the traditional card signed by me. I cannot forget the time I spent with my siblings and later with my children decorating the Christmas tree. It gives me hope that someday, I shall be decorating one with my grandchildren.

Memories of the early morning church service where everyone sings cheerfully and with enthusiasm are greatly treasured .The family gathering that usually follows later, remains the cherry on the cake for many of us. The Christmas meal consisting of a variety of family favourite dishes are a constant reminder of a mother’s labor of love. Their smells and taste are safely stored in my memory too. Not forgetting the traditional Christmas fruit cake; moist and fruit laden. I have always tasted it with my eyes before biting into it!

Now that I have earned membership to the Senior citizens’ Club, it thrills me to see the young creating their own memories of this festive season. I know for sure that once such memories are created, they will be cherished forever.

Over time, I have learned to look out for the needy in my community so that I give and share the joy and peace of the season in my small way with them. I have been amazed by the difference it makes.
To anyone reading this post, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. May God’s love, peace and joy remain in your heart throughout the year. We are blessed to bless others so go out and share this love, peace and joy throughout the New Year.
May 2018 turn out to be your best year yet.

 

 

Where would I be Without Encouragement?

Among the definitions of the word encouragement that I came across while preparing this post was: to give support, confidence or hope to someone. This implies that this person has given up or is about to give up on something. Your encouragement can be given in words or as attention or as a reward and helps to keep the person on the path. Children need more encouragement than adults but we all need it. Parents, teachers and friends are always there for us to motivate us to want to do better and to want to give more. As we grow older it becomes clearer that if you want anything enough you have to encourage yourself first.

As I write now, I am being reminded of the three modes of encouragement. In the ancient Greek games held every four years at Olympia, the winners were given a victory crown of wild olive leaves and an olive branch. In my culture: the Ganda culture of Uganda, mothers used to tie locally made metallic ankle bracelets known as endege on young children to encourage them to learn to walk. The sound made by the bracelet as the child moved around would encourage the child to stay up on her/his feet.

In my teenage years, I was a passionate athlete and was a member of the School Athletics team for some years. Winners in the National School Athletics championships were given book vouchers from the then Uganda Bookshop. I can vividly recall the days when my father would drive me to the bookshop and leave me there for some hours to chose the story books I wanted to buy. I always felt like a kid in a toy shop! At the same time, the best class students in each school subject were presented with books at the end of the year. Thankfully, I was able to collect a number of these and this fuelled my passion for the written word up to today.

All children need to hear adults complement them on what they are doing right and to be taught that failure is part of success and therefore should never allow themselves to be defined by one particular event. For any child, being given encouragement in the form of attention or presence is terribly important. As long as you are present especially for a school event in which he/she is performing; it hardly makes any difference whether he is Joseph, the carpenter or just a tree among the many in the forest. As a reward, a mother’s or father’s simple smile always does the magic.

The psychologist tell us that a child has both physical needs like food, shelter and air and core emotional needs:approval,affirmation and acknowledgement to grow into a well-balanced individual. When the parents or caregivers and our friends provide us with these needs, we all feel good about ourselves and it brings out the best in us. Our parents’ approval, love and acceptance condition us to seek approval from others. Away from home, we seek for these from friends, spouses and coworkers. They give us an emotional sense of security and free us to be ourselves and to effectively engage fully in the world around us.

I have been around for a while and have come to understand that the need for approval, affirmation and acknowledgement never stops. We look for these needs throughout our lives. Each time I post an article on the Blog, I wait patiently and excitedly for comments from the readers. When I get some, I am encouraged to write more posts and to write better too. Sometimes I reward myself with a treat after a hard day’s work.

One encouraging quote by an unknown author says: “ Set your goals high enough to inspire you and low enough to encourage you.’’
Catherine Pulsifer, an inspirational writer says: “ A gift that costs no money but one that costs time and your attention is giving some words of encouragement.’’
You and I can go around building up people; it will create happier and more confident people.

Thank you for visitng my Blog and reading this post. May it stimulate you into encouraging those around you every day. I would be very grateful for a comment about this post and others. Feel free to share the posts with family and friends.

 

A Sense of Belonging

A sense of belonging is a human need like the need for food and shelter. We all yearn to be accepted as a member or a part. The psychologists tell us that the worst fear of any child is being abandoned or rejected. A child would do anything to be loved and be part of things, to make others love and be proud of it. A child can only engage effectively in the world around it if he/she feels a part of this world.

We find this sense of belonging traditionally in the family, in friends, in the church or mosque and now in this Digital era; some find it on Social Media. As we grow older, we try to belong to something bigger than ourselves. This improves our motivation, health and happiness. We tend to focus on getting connected to people who are similar to us; enjoying what we love and having similar values. Maturity gives us the courage to be who we are – to see what we see, know what we know and act on that knowledge. When we act on what we know, we tend to find others like ourselves and then together we can begin creating new worlds where we are.

The Reunion that our Graduate Class organised last month where it all began forty years ago, helped me crystallise the value of a sense of belonging.
Among us were colleagues I last saw on graduation day but all along I have been looking for in my mind. The five years we spent close to one another in the Medical school of Makerere University and the shared experiences during the hostile political climate of the 70s, had bonded us and turned us into friends for life. Little wonder then that when we met last month, we just kicked off where we had left off. I was among the finest people I know. We had taken different journeys and had changed. We have transformed our lives and made contributions to changing others wherever we have worked. We consider ourselves wiser and less naïve. Each trusting herself/himself and others, we sat down and shared our lives and were able to learn from each other. It felt clear and right to celebrate the process we had gone through to become who we were more than the actual success or achievements.

Each one of us felt he/she was a member of the group and it helped us to see the value in life and come to terms with what we had gone through in the prime of our youth. A number of us agreed to write about their unique experiences to help the young ones now going through tough times. This can only happen when you feel that you belong as it frees you to engage freely in the world around you.

Celebrating the process of how each one had achieved her/his success opened us up to giving something back to the community that created us. We all felt we needed to pass on this positive tradition by simply trying to be mindful of the needs of the current students. We are developing a clear and achievable vision for our group and focusing on what we want to do together for the rest of our lives. We want to make the most of our group by helping to make the world a better place in our small ways.
All in all, we were proud of being a part of this group. It was worth spending the time together; we learned many lessons from each other, cemented an enriching relationship and had great fun.

Two relevant quotes have come to my mind:

“Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect.’’ Brene Brown( an American scholar)

“We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun.’’
William Glasser(1925-2013) an American psychiatrist.

Thank you very much for taking time to visit my Blog and to read this post. I would be grateful if you left a comment about it and shared it among your friends and family. May it inspire you to appreciate and value the different groups of which you are a member and to work through them to make the world a better place.

A Sense of Belonging

A sense of belonging is a human need like the need for food and shelter. We all yearn to be accepted as a member or a part. The psychologists tell us that the worst fear of any child is being abandoned or rejected. A child would do anything to be loved and be part of things, to make others love and be proud of it. A child can only engage effectively in the world around it if he/she feels a part of this world.

We find this sense of belonging traditionally in the family, in friends, in the church or mosque and now in this Digital era; some find it on Social Media. As we grow older, we try to belong to something bigger than ourselves. This improves our motivation, health and happiness. We tend to focus on getting connected to people who are similar to us; enjoying what we love and having similar values. Maturity gives us the courage to be who we are , to see what we see, know what we know and act on that knowledge. When we act on what we know, we tend to find others like ourselves and then together we can begin creating new worlds where we are.

The Reunion that our Graduate Class organised last month where it all began forty years ago, helped me crystallise the value of a sense of belonging.
Among us were colleagues I last saw on graduation day but all along I have been looking for in my mind. The five years we spent close to one another in the Medical school of Makerere University and the shared experiences during the hostile political climate of the 70s, had bonded us and turned us into friends for life. Little wonder then that when we met last month, we just kicked off where we had left off. I was among the finest people I know. We had taken different journeys and had changed. We have transformed our lives and made contributions to changing others wherever we have worked. We consider ourselves wiser and less naïve. Each trusting herself/himself and others, we sat down and shared our lives and were able to learn from each other. It felt clear and right to celebrate the process we had gone through to become who we were more than the actual success or achievements.

Each one of us felt he/she was a member of the group and it helped us to see the value in life and come to terms with what we had gone through in the prime of our youth. A number of us agreed to write about their unique experiences to help the young ones now going through tough times. This can only happen when you feel that you belong as it frees you to engage freely in the world around you.
Celebrating the process of how each one had achieved her/his success opened us up to giving something back to the community that created us. We all felt we needed to pass on this positive tradition by simply trying to be mindful of the needs of the current students. We are developing a clear and achievable vision for our group and focusing on what we want to do together for the rest of our lives. We want to make the most of our group by helping to make the world a better place in our small ways.

All in all, we were proud of being a part of this group. It was worth spending the time together; we learned many lessons from each other, cemented an enriching relationship and had great fun.
Two relevant quotes have come to my mind:

“Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect.’’ Brene Brown( an American scholar)

“We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun.’’
William Glasser(1925-2013) an American psychiatrist.

Thank you for taking time to visit my Blog and to read this post. I would be very grateful if you left a comment about it  and shared it among friends. May it help you  to appreciate the different groups of which you are a valuable member.

In Search of Opportunities and Choices

The celebration of our 40th Class Reunion on the 10th to 12 the November 2017, got me seriously thinking about the time, energy, the sacrifices and challenges that go into creating the life you want for yourself.
It is every parent’s desire and wish for her/his children to have better opportunities, choices and enjoy better lives than them. Our parents were not any different; they tried all that they could to develop our talents and interests. They worked hard to take us to the best schools available during our time for they knew for sure that the best education would get us into the best jobs. But then the coup of January 1971 changed everything forever.

By the time we graduated  in 1977 from the only university of our time we did not feel safe and secure any more. Many of us felt confined and alienated and feared of the future. We knew that what we wanted in life could not be achieved in this limiting environment. It was only natural that many of us took the courage to make the choice to live Uganda and look for opportunities elsewhere to realize our full potential. Among those who stayed were a few who had the conflicting responsibility of caring for siblings or parents. The civil strife continued well into the late 80s so more of us left.

Thankfully, our teachers had imparted to us knowledge, skills, energy and attitude that enabled us to compete favourably globally. It did not happen overnight; some of us had to re-write examinations to be registered. I for one had to work for ten years before I could be allowed to apply for Permanent Residency and enjoy better benefits as an immigrant. It was tough to juggle against other responsibilities like starting families and supporting them. Finally we got assimilated into the new systems and our children flourished. We made the most of the opportunities and choices available to us. We took responsibility for the choices we made. Having goals and priorities and at the same time determined to keep the passion to make a difference, we strived to overcome the challenges. We opened up our minds and hearts to learn about the people and new environment and we thrived.

The two stable elements that made it easier for us to make all the other changes required of us was having the job we trained for and having a family. Doing the work you love while making adequate living and contributing to society’s good made it worth the struggle. After all at graduation we were all eager to use the knowledge and skills we had acquired to improve ourselves and our society.

40 years later when we find ourselves holding this quickly planned reunion at the very place where it all began, it transformed itself into a purposeful celebration. It enabled us to see, appreciate, and celebrate how far we had come. It gave us the opportunity to remember what we did right and to agree on what we needed to conquer at the next level. It brought clarity to what we want to do and see as a group. We shared our unique personal stories and reassessed our achievements. We were all grateful that we had found both our potential and power despite the odds.
We celebrated and reinforced the good in us mindful of the fact that we never allowed the circumstances to defeat us even at the worst of times.

We acknowledged our remarkable teachers, our families and friends for their role in what we have become. At our age, we have become leaders of our families, communities and societies. We have acquired the wisdom of age: become integrated, whole and responsible. We have claimed our power to influence and impact others while each one of us continues to live her/his own deep and great story. Little wonder then that we are now all focused on finding ways to live with more significance and depth. The synergy we created has given us a momentum to work together as we continue to contribute to society’s good.
Mark Twain an American writer said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did.’’
And Louse .E. Boone said: “The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions:
could have
might have and should have.”

Do not let this happen to you.

Thank you for reading this post and may it stimulate you to go out and find ways of achieving  your full potential for your own good and for the good of mankind.

I would love to hear your personal experiences along this path.