A Good Year
2018 has been a very good year for me. I had many highs and very few lows. Interestingly, the highs were not what made 2018 a good year. Because at some point during the year, I realized that highs last for a very short while, and the same high lasts shorter with each occurrence.
What made 2018 good was the regular. The day-to-day. In 2018 I discovered that what truly makes or breaks a period is the base state of mind I have on days where nothing outside the norm happens. On regular days. And in 2018, the quality of my regular days greatly improved.
I got my finances in order, achieved a nice balance between work and personal life, had almost exclusively healthy relationships, and related better with the important people in my life. So on a regular day, I had almost no worries.
I’ve also been blessed with a great network (family, friends and colleagues). I am truly grateful to all of you for being part of my 2018. You have been the true highlight of my year, because it is these relationships that made my daily life wonderful.
While I could give a narrative of the progression of the year for me, the truth is very little of what happened to me happened because I planned it that way. A combination of hard work and luck brought me opportunities I could take advantage of.
Instead here are a few lessons I have learned over the course of the year, maybe you’ll find them useful too:
Record as much as you can
Record as much as you can. How we feel about things usually vary a lot from the facts, therefore we often cannot properly change ourselves because what we feel is the problem is different from what the problem is.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
This is mostly useful in critical areas of life such as finances and time use. For less important matters, trying to record everything can just become a waste of time.
Allow for Chance
The best opportunities are rarely ever planned. The best things that have happened to me were unplanned, and so, it does not make sense to try and plan them.
Instead, I try to position myself so I am prepared to take advantage of the great opportunities that come my way.
This is not to say we should not plan, or make efforts towards a plan. Rather it is to encourage us to be vigilant. While the true payoff does not usually look the way we expect, it usually comes while we are hard at work doing something else. So plan and get to work.
The road less travelled
The crowd is rarely wrong, and rarely right. The wisdom of the crowd is built to create the best average outcome. This means that if you follow what everyone is doing, you’ll rarely end up in ruin.
However, the path that leads to the best outcome for each individual is specific to that individual, so it will usually seem counter-intuitive to the crowd. To thrive, we must seek the path that is best for us. We must also take this path with caution because it can also very easily lead to our own ruin. It is a double-edged sword.
Average over Peaks
Whether to judge the quality of a relationship, our finances or a year, value the average over the peaks.
While you would not say you have good nutrition because you ate a single 7 course meal in a month when you were mostly hungry. We sometimes make this mistake when judging things by feelings.
The peaks, being moments high emotion are easier to remember. However the true quality is found in the regular, the mundane. Because we spend most of the time in the regular. Both the highs and the lows are usually momentary, and while they leave a larger emotional footprint, they do not last long enough to truly determine the quality.
With that in mind, the things that will truly improve our wellbeing are not things that have a huge initial emotional impact, but things that raise our average.
Plans and Hopes for 2019
My primary plans in 2019 center around making myself a better person. The other secondary plans are too specific and personal to share here. Also, I am not overly attached to the secondary plans and they could change depending on how life happens, but the primary plans are very unlikely to change.
I am already making steps towards becoming a more reliable person. Often, when I have several commitments, some of them will suffer.
In 2019, the plan is to always make sure I am not trying to do more than what I can handle to avoid disappointing others and myself. It also helps maintain my integrity.
My hypothesis is that I often take on more than what I can handle because I either underestimate the task, or I’m afraid of missing out.
To combat that I intend to learn to better evaluate a task before I begin, and to be okay with leaving some opportunities. Also, it is better to do one thing right than many things poorly. So I’ll pick the seemingly most valuable opportunity and roll with it.
Going with the Flow
For huge part of 2018, I often tried to shoehorn my behavior into an unnatural flow on the altar of consistency. I tried to be over scheduled, over efficient. This leads to a very unhappy life, where it feels like I am not in control.
While I continue to do my best to be consistent, I will allow for flexibility, redundancy, and idleness. It is often these that lead to learning new skills and getting unexpected opportunities.
I pondered a lot of questions about spirituality during 2018 and I will continue in 2019. I hope to find answers that I am truly at peace with.
I do not know where this mental journey will take me, but I am eager to find out.
Pulling away from the Noise
The huge amount of information we have access to contains a lot of noise. In my opinion, most of it is noise. However, I have become addicted to this noise, always afraid of missing out some important information.
In 2019, I intend to curb this. Experience has taught me that the truly important information(signals) will be more visible if I reduce the amount of noise I take in. Matter of fact, a huge noise intake impedes the ability to properly detect signals.
I truly hope that 2019 is better than 2018 in every aspect for all of us. Happy New Year.
Originally published at Stephen AfamO’s Blog.