In June 2016, I decided to stretch my body. I had been feeling lethargic and tired for a while. I had lost interest in many areas of my life that I was passionate about. My job drained the life out of me. I could barely wake up to face another day. I was on the verge of giving up.
So I decided to do a 50-day challenge of fasting, praying, giving and doing certain sets of routine every day. While I struggled with consistency and I eventually dropped the ball, the lessons I learnt are still useful, almost 6 months later.
I did the following things regularly and I can tell you that my life has changed. I’m suddenly winning. I had forgotten what it meant to hold a victorious trophy in one’s hand. So what did I do? As we begin a new year, I decided to revisit one of the most impactful seasons of my adult life. I believe that these lessons if faithfully practised over time can help us to get more out of 2018.
Wake up early
As the old adage goes, the early bird catches the worm. I decided to wake up at 4 am every morning. I would do a routine of devotion, prayer and read at least 60 pages of a book. During this season, I read 40 days of purpose by Rick Warren for the second time. I also read thinking for a change by John Maxwell. I did a devotional book by Timothy Keller. And I wrote a lot about what was in my heart (Around 80 pages of reflections which I hope to make into a book someday).
It doesn’t matter whether you are self-employed or not. It certainly isn’t important whether you aren’t a morning person or not. The habit you need to cultivate immediately is waking up early. The benefits are numerous. You get a chance to start your day ahead of the rest. Research shows many successful CEO’s wakes up really early. By the time the world wakes up, they have already read the newspapers, responded to emails, set the agenda for the day, gotten quiet time and basically plan for a successful day. Also, there is no traffic jam early in the morning and if you use a matatu to work, fare is cheap.
Simply put, waking up early gives you ample time to do those things which makes you whole but aren’t part of your professional requirements.
Well, that looks obvious on a surface level but it isn’t. Don’t just read, absorb what is relevant to you. Find out areas where you are good at and amass knowledge in them. Be among the elites in that field. Read at least 2 books per month in the area that you are passionate about.
Find out the areas in your life where you naturally suck. If they are important to your career, try and improve them. I know I’m a leader, but creating time to meet people is one area I suck at. During this time when I was doing the challenge, I read books that were meant to improve my EQ and John Maxwell is the guy who really breaks it down for me. I also took time to talk to a few mentors to help me out.
Another area that reading helped me with is being organised. I couldn’t plan my day, week, month or even a year so I just tagged along. I wasted a lot of time because I didn’t have a plan. During this time, I read materials that helped me be a better plan and turn off the noise in my head. As we speak, from the lessons I got during this season, my 2018 is already planned out and I’m very happy about it.
Well, we often ignore the spiritual aspects of our lives. Especially now that religion has become such a divisive word and people have exploited it for their selfish interests. Yet a genuine and authentic relationship with a higher being (I believe in God) brings balance to your life. Praying is therapeutic. It removes clogged up toxins from your body. It cleans every single filth and baggage that is slowing you down. When you pray, you acknowledge that you don’t everything. You are an imperfect being who needs to be guided and shown the way.
During this season when I prayed every day, I was at peace throughout the time. Joy was bubbling in my heart. I had a better grasp of my emotional life, which was really tested in 2016. Praying gives perspective. Praying also clears the heart of worry, anxiety and fear. Prayer gives answers especially when done in faith.
Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or any other religion you believe in, pray.
During this season, I calculated the amount of money I was saving by fasting. I then decided to give it to the less fortunate. I bought packets of chips and fed street families. I walked to those who looked like they didn’t have much and I share. But I also listened to their stories. I was amazed just at how much we assume especially when we meet the needy in society.
Yes, give. Think about others more than you think about yourself. Miss a few meals, forego that luxury that you can do without, visit a children’s home, donate your best clothes and shoes, walk to a random hungry child and take them out for lunch. Listen to their stories. It will cure you of the default selfish nature of human beings. You will be more appreciative of the many blessings you sometimes ignore when you compare yourself to others.
You will begin to appreciate why we need each more than why we don’t need each other. You will realize how broken the world is and your role to fix it. Give sacrificially. Visit the needy. Clothe those who are naked.
In 2018, I wish all my readers God’s favour throughout the 365 days of the year. Let’s grow this community.
Happy new year!