The Thing about Resolutions…

I have never been much of a resolutions person. I do make resolutions, but never at the start of the New Year. Other than being a trifle cliché-ish, I mostly didn’t believe that I should have to wait till the start of a new year and the so-called 365-days-blank slate to decide on what needed to change in my life. True to form, nothing was different this New Year’s. For the second year running I had opted to take my leave in January and this time around I took time to reflect back on my last year, just to see if I was still on track for what I had hoped to achieve by this time.

2014 was a big year huge year for me. My life literally underwent a transformation at all levels – career, business, emotional, spiritual, intellectual…..every single level. It was a roller coaster to say the least and I was looking forward to my long break at the end of the year to just relax and catch my breath! As I started my break in mid-Dec, I couldn’t help but wonder if 2015 could even hold a candle to 2014, but that’s something I shall figure out as the year unfolds.

What struck me the most about last year was that in the midst of all the balls I was juggling, inevitably I dropped a few. I found that I was mostly too busy to nurture quality time with friends and family. Even my closest friends at some point nearly gave up on me due to the fact that I rarely returned their calls or texts. My family clamored for my attention (mostly in vain) and eventually accepted that I had become a rare commodity.

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I distinctly remember being so pressed for time, especially in the second half of the year that I would desperately wish that there were more hours in the day just to accomplish what I needed to. As the year drew to a close, I was in awe of the magnitude of my achievements and simply pushed what it had cost me to the back of my mind as I embarked on a much awaited vacation.

However reality eventually beckoned and in the silence of my solitary moments, it quietly dawned on me that I had lost something that was truly invaluable. Time. Time with people who mattered to me. Precious memories of which I was not part. Moments that I would never get back. Feelings that I would never be a part of. In my intense determination to make something of myself, had I lost myself in the process? As my reflections got deeper, my thoughts grew more forlorn and I became intensely introverted even as those around me threw themselves into hearty celebrations, hardly noticing that I was but barely present.

I was relieved when January dawned (I never thought that I would look forward to this month) as it offered the reprieve of intense activity – going back to school preparations and all that which offered a much needed distraction. Before long however, it was back to reflections as I was home alone with nothing but my thoughts for company. That’s when it hit me. I had a choice. I could allow myself to get caught up in what had already happened in the past, and depress myself in the process. Or I could make a choice to do something different this time. The choice was easy. But I knew the actual implementation wouldn’t be such a walk in the park.

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To start myself off, I looked back on 2014 with different eyes, open eyes. I asked myself what I could have done differently and this time I tried not to judge myself too harshly. I realized that if I didn’t let go then I would not be able to move on. So I forgave myself for each time I let someone down. For each time I didn’t come through. For each text I did not reply and each call I did not return. For all the whatsapp groups I exited from. (this one was easy). For all the family occasions I missed. For each time I came home late and missed my son’s bedtime. For all the dinner dates I cancelled. For each time a friend needed me and I selfishly disregarded them, putting myself above them.

I felt immensely lighter but I knew the hard part was just beginning. The hard part was doing my hardest to make sure that I wouldn’t have to forgive myself for these things again. The hard part starts now, today and every day. The hard part is finding that evasive balance to make sure no matter how hard I work, my family and friends do not suffer the consequences. The hard part is making sure that out of all the limited time available to me, some little time always goes to those invaluable moments. Those precious memories that once taken away cannot be reverted.

Whether or not you believe in making (and keeping) resolutions, ask yourself this year and every year what it costs you to chase after your goals. Find that delicate balance because great achievements matter more when you have people to share them with. You do not want to wake up one day and realize that you lost the moon while counting the stars.

Taking Someone For Granted

Letting Bruce Go.

About a week ago I bid a very heart-wrenching goodbye to my baby – Bruce. Being a very integral part of my life, it broke my heart to see him go. While being one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, it was also time for me to move on, no matter how difficult it was.

For the clueless, Bruce was my first car. (Yes, I got that attached to a piece of machinery so there!). And if you’re wondering why a he and not a she, there is no space in my life for two divas and I am definitely a diva.

I still remember the first time I laid eyes on him. It was a yard in Mombasa and the pictures I had been sent did him no justice; the minute I saw him, I just knew – he and I were made for each other. The drive back cemented our relationship and I knew I had found a gem. He represented so many firsts for me other than just being my first car. He brought true independence into my life which, up to that point had always been subjected to limitations of cab guys and public transport. He also brought a profound sense of responsibility because I was now literally responsible for his maintenance and upkeep which made me seriously re-evaluate my priorities. Owning him opened up my world from its previous shell to numerous opportunities and possibilities that I had never even considered before. So when I say giving him up was like the end of an era, I truly mean it.

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As I struggled with the decision to sell him, I was overwhelmed by memories of the journey that he and I have been on for four years. Bruce literally brought Fun into my life! I don’t think I was a very fun person before to be quite honest. With him I indulged my travel genie and every other weekend was an opportunity to just drive and explore this amazing country with my fun-loving friends in tow on some very random road trips.

On the few occasions that I was in town I became the default chauffeur for my family and friends to run errands, drop people off, provide transport etc. Even at parties or while out partying I was the default driver and none of my friends ever had to worry about taking a cab home. Thanks to these numerous trips I became a rather adept driver and even earned the nickname “Sheka Meta”. (I really want to believe that the name was based on skill and not just speedJ).

Bruce represented so many things for me. Reliability and dependability – I knew I could always count on him no matter what. He never failed me, not once, not even a flat tyre. And trust me, I went all over this country with him! He represented independence – I finally didn’t have to be at the mercy of other people or psv’s to get around. Most importantly he taught me that opportunities were there for the taking, if I could just start believing in myself and just grab them without constantly questioning if I was capable. Before I bought him I never believed I could afford a car; yet the amounts of money I splurged every weekend were astronomical. All I did was rearrange my priorities and boom! I had Bruce.

Just like all things in life, when he had taught me all that he needed to, it was time to let him go. I did hang on to him in denial for as long as I could, just the same way we hang on to things or people in our life who have served their purpose but we refuse to let them go. In letting Bruce go, I acknowledged that I was simply moving on to the next level in my life which was ultimately inevitable.

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How many things are you holding on to right now that you need to let go off? Is it your job? Is it time you changed careers or started a business? Is it a person, a friend who once was in sync with you but is now dragging you down or holding you back? What are you hoarding in your life right now that you need to spring clean? Many of us are often reluctant to move on because we tend to be creatures of habit and enjoy our comfort zones much longer than necessary. It’s important to pick the lessons and learn from them and then move on after that. Do not stay on for longer than necessary and know when to walk away.

Adios Bruce. I will always treasure the memories.

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Stolen

I feel the need to point out something that may appear obvious but apparently isn’t according to most people.

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Listen up. People – adult, live human beings with red blood running in their veins cannot be stolen. Belongings can be stolen. Cars can be stolen. Babies can be stolen. Money can be stolen. Even hair (ouch) can be stolen. But get this – human beings cannot be stolen. They can be kidnapped, which means taken against their will in exchange for a ransom demand before their return. Key phrase – against their will.

So when a person in your life one day ups and leaves please do not make excuses for them and say they were stolen. Because live human beings cannot be stolen. They upped and left of their own free will and accord; for whatever reasons that they felt necessary. To put it very simply, they made a decision to leave. Ask yourself a simple question; when stuff is stolen from your home or your car stolen, what do you do? You make a report to the police right? So why don’t you report these “stolen” people to the police as well?

One of the most frustrating things that coaches/therapists/counselors deal with on a daily basis is that the ones who are left behind seemingly get stuck at this point and became fixated on the person(s) who “stole” their loved one. This effectively ensures that they never move forward, refuse to deal with the reasons why the person left and basically stagnate in life leading to a medley of other issues. Meanwhile the person who was “stolen” is enjoying their life (or not) but most importantly, completely oblivious of the turmoil they have left you in. Largely self-inflicted I might add.

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My question to such people usually is; why would you waste your time pining over someone who made an adult decision and executed it? What value does it add to your life to constantly moan about it when it will not change the said decision? Most importantly, why would you give someone so much power over you, just for the satisfaction of painting yourself as the victim?

Bottom line – life is short. Move on. Time spent moaning about it is time taken away from doing other constructive things focused on You. Because guess what? They don’t care. So why do you? In my experience, this is usually just a form of denial to ensure that you never have to face the real reason they left – whether it has to do with you or not. Plus this denial allows you to wallow in self-pity assuring yourself that they will be back, crawling on their hands and knees for forgiveness.

Whether this happens, and whether you take them back or not is really up to you. However, please be aware that no one can steal a person. If they left, it was because they chose to. Wake up and smell the coffee. Deal with it.

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My Testimonial

The testimonial below was originally posted on http://www.newdawnsolutions.net/expanded-testimonial—veronica-waithaka.html  It is the story of how I discovered my true passion and learnt how to use it to fulfill my purpose…

“I have always been the kind of person who could fix anything; well, almost anything. Every new thing I encountered was merely a new challenge for me to overcome and conquer. So it was extremely frustrating for me to wake up one day and just realize that I wasn’t happy with my life. There I was with a great job, a salary most people would kill for and a social life that could rival that of today’s socialites.

However I was miserable. I found myself barely able to drag myself out of bed, struggling to motivate myself at work and always bored out of my mind. The only thing that made me happy was when I got to coach one of my team members.

This got me thinking, what if I could work with people all the time, helping them find their direction and ultimately fulfill their full potential? But how was I going to show people direction when I didn’t really feel like I had any in my own life?

It was at this point that Caroline came into my life. I had never met a life coach in my life till this point and I didn’t think there were any in Kenya; I had only heard of career coaches and spiritual coaches. In our first meeting together, I immediately knew I had found what I was looking for – I wanted to be a coach. I was exuberant and signed up for her Create Your Dream Business (CYDB) program which basically guides people on how to convert their passion into a business.

Since I have a natural passion for working with people, I initially thought it would be an easy journey. However after the very first session, I realized that to become a great coach, I would first have to work on my own skeletons. What I expected to be a very painful experience was made largely bearable by Caroline’s keen guidance combined with just the right mix of tough love, pushing me forward whenever I wanted to quit.

She showed me how to uncover what was making me stuck and how to overcome all the obstacles that were holding me back from my full potential. She taught me how to accept everything about me, appreciating that every feeling in me serves a purpose and how to turn that purpose into power. I was initially skeptical about the true power of my thoughts over me, but with time I came to see just how much I was able to influence overall outcomes by simply changing the way I think.

Most importantly, she showed me how to truly believe in myself and after just two months in her program, I was already applying the principles to launch my own coaching practice – two people signed up for my own coaching program!

What I love about the CYDB program is the fact that it’s extremely practical and not just textbook theory. The principles that Caroline teaches are based on practical situations that you can apply to any business that you dream of doing – and the results are astounding! I am now running a part-time practice with a realistic time line of ultimately taking my coaching practice to full time; something else that she taught me. What I love most about being a life and motivation coach is that I have been able to take what comes naturally to me and turn it into something I do every day, and get paid for it! I was able to discover my true purpose in life and how to make every day the best day of my life.

I owe all this to Caroline and I recommend her without any reservations – you need her.”

You can find Carol at http://www.newdawnsolutions.net/

RollerCoaster Clarity.

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For the past two months or so I feel like my life has been on a roller-coaster of sorts. Turns out that running a coaching practice (part-time) alongside a full time regular job isn’t a piece of cake. Add to that trying to launch a whole new enterprise on transformational leadership and change management plus keeping the boys in my life smiling and I was basically spinning!

The one lesson that I have learnt during this time is this: Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it!

You see, right before this roller-coaster episode of my life, I had been forlornly regarding my life as too slow and not exciting or challenging enough. I did not feel that I was utilizing my skills and passion to their full potential and I was generally feeling that my progress was too slow for my liking.

Now it’s quite true that life is strange and things happen when you least expect them to. Suddenly, in the course of a couple of weeks, I had numerous queries regarding my coaching practice with people requesting for sessions out of the blue. I took this in stride since I love coaching and promptly snapped up the opportunities. However, life was not yet done with me. Two major responsibilities were dumped in my lap, both requiring my time and attention. Suddenly the hours in the day shrunk to non-existent, and I began to feel overwhelmed at the immense pressure. I was literally coming apart at the seams and the balls that I was juggling began to fall to the ground one by one. I felt I had spread myself too thin and in typical cave-woman fashion, I dropped everything, shut down and bolted myself into my cave to figure out what to do.

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The one thing that conflicted me the most was the fact that all these were excellent opportunities – people would kill for them. I kept feeling that if I didn’t grab them now, then they would be gone for good and I would regret it for life. The more I kept feeling like this however, the more I retreated into the safe recesses of my secluded cave, shutting out any and all attempts to help me.

What I kept coming back to again and again, was my vision. My direction for my future. It was like a guiding light in a stormy dark night. You see, that’s the one thing that I am irrefutably grounded on. I know exactly what I want to do in terms of fulfilling my purpose and I more or less know how to do it. So I finally had to ask myself a really tough question; as excellent as these opportunities were, did they fit in with my overall vision? Would they lead me to my vision or away from it? Would I wake up one year from now happy that I had taken them on, or miserable as I was one year ago and feeling like what I did had no meaning?

What some of us may not realize is that too many opportunities are just as bad as none at all. A year ago I would have simply signed on to everything and somehow pulled it off, regardless of where it fitted into my vision – at that time I was wandering around in circles and grabbing onto anything and everything just to remain sane. This time however was different. As a result of being very clear on the direction I was moving in, I actually turned these opportunities down and returned my focus to what really mattered to me and what ultimately gets me out of bed every morning.

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As I went through this process, I realized that numerous bad decisions are made by people daily simply because of a false belief that opportunities are limited. You know, the whole, “once in a lifetime opportunity, grab it now because it will never again be offered to you!” How many of us have bought houses, cars, land, taken a job, gotten into a relationship etc simply because you thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime deal? Only to later realize that something better came along or you just weren’t happy with the decision you made? I know I have been victim a couple of times.

Truth is, that’s just a sales gimmick. Opportunities will always exist – they were there before we were born and they will be there long after we are gone. What makes an opportunity distinctive is timing. If you’re not ready for it, nothing will come out of it no matter how much you try to force it. As a good friend of mine often quips, “sometimes time chooses the person.” Meaning that, when it’s your time, even you will not be able to stop the roller coaster and you will actually enjoy the ride – you will be ready for the ride.

If you’re reading this today and you’re not clear on your vision or your direction, drop me a line. My passion is helping people discover their direction, develop their vision and in so doing, find their future and fulfill their ultimate potential.

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A Broken Heart

Lately I’ve been feeling really melancholy. You know the feeling when you’re just feeling low for apparently no fathomable reason? Yes that feeling. I have been wracking my brain with little success as to what could be making me feel this way. I mean, I’m typically a really happy person. Plus my life honestly couldn’t be better right now; everything is actually really going well which makes it even more bizarre. I just want to curl up in bed, day in day out with only me for company.

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Then today, wham! Out of the blue, it hit me. I have a broken heart. I know you’re rolling your eyes and thinking, what’s so special about this? Let me explain. My heart wasn’t broken in the usual way, where a relationship between a man and a woman abruptly ends. My heart was broken by a very unlikely source. My heart was broken by a friend.

For those who may still be rolling their eyes, allow me to break it down for you – I have the kind of friendships where I go all out. I treasure my friends, few as they are and I allow myself to be vulnerable with them. In the past I have had friends who’ve come and gone and it really wasn’t a big deal. Seasons of life right? So I never really saw this one coming till it hit me like a speeding freight train and took out my heart with it. Because I never really thought that a friend could actually break my heart. Then again I have been called naive on several occasions.

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Now it’s been a while since I got my heart broken so it’s no wonder that I didn’t recognize the signs immediately. Shockingly though, it was exactly like all the past instances with all the stages presenting. I went through denial (actually I’d been stuck there for a while); making excuses for the person’s behavior and now I’m at grief mixed with anger and bitterness. I expect the next stages will follow logically but I honestly can’t wait for acceptance and finally closure.

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It got me thinking though, should I have protected my heart better? Should I have kept my distance and been aloof right from the start? Would I have been feeling better today if I had? Was it my fault? All these and more are the questions we usually ask ourselves when a relationship falls apart; I’ve just never been in a position where I had to ask them for a broken friendship. And just like in relationships I found myself making resolutions – you know, the “never ever again” type that are typical of waking up with a hangover and swearing to never drink again. Till the next time. At this point, I caught myself and thought, why would I want to change who I am just to be safe? Why would I need to protect myself from my friends which would probably result in me turning into an aloof, insincere snob? Why would I go against the very grain of what I believe in, that people are intrinsically good but make bad choices occasionally?

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After much thought, I resolved not to allow this incident to change me. I resolved to continue being myself and genuinely immersing myself in friendships regardless of the outcome. I realized that I have more to lose if I allow myself to give into the fear of rejection. Yes it hurts and it will take time for me to heal. It will however not hold me back from living my life as I truly believe. With an overflowing abundance of love for all whom I hold dear.

For all my friends, you know yourselves. I treasure you.

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