I first wrote this article in 2020 for it to be posted around the new year, and my first line was, "I hope by the time you are reading this is within the first month of the new year" as you can see, it is now 2022.
Well, after 2 years, here it is. That time of the year where there is probably a lot of articles to read, if you are reading this then, Happy new year!
How was 2021? or instead, how is 2022 going so far? too early to ask, right!?
It is January 2022, can you try to remember what you did in January last year?
A lot happened over the past twelve months, right! So much that your brain cannot easily remember it all. Either way, I believe you can pause for a minute and try to remember this!
When was the last time you saw a yellow car?
Just think! A Yellow Car! Not Just a Car. Be very honest with yourself, and if the answer is, "Never" or "I don't remember," I challenge you to stop reading this article, set a goal to spot a yellow car and come back after you have seen one (Let me know when you see it by commenting below). If you choose to proceed with reading, you will miss a valuable lesson, but either way, proceed!
Now, for those who can remember when they saw a yellow car, can you also try to answer how many times have you seen a yellow car? I know you don't keep count, but try to estimate; Is it less than 2 times or more than 5 times?
In reality, one will say the possibility of spotting a yellow car is minimal, but that is not true, we know for a fact that you have once or twice came across a yellow car, but you cannot recall exactly when.
Fun fact: All the school buses in Tanzania nowadays are painted in yellow! Aha! There you go, by just knowing this simple fact, you can now recall the times you came across one, if not you will start to see many.
A Yellow car, a phenomenon that described my 2020 and my 2021.
Time like this last year, I published my article and wrote...
“Cherish your 2020 visions; Cherish your 2020 Goals. Dance to the music that speaks with your heart and the beauty of imagination that forms in your mind. The universe will work in your favour; of these, if you but stay true to them, your 2020 will be built. Little did I know staying true meant being more specific rather than consistent.”
As I write this, I promise to keep it raw, direct and straightforward, I will share with you how being specific helped me spot relevant opportunities and achieve what I have achieved.
It might be long, but I promise, it's worth your time. To make it easier for you, I will break it down into three steps which you can read in sequence;
Step 1: A Car or The Yellow Car
So, let's use "cars" as a metaphor for "opportunities". We all know what we want in our lives, but there is one problem, we're not always specific. Often we set goals that are too general. How many times have you heard/used these phrases?
"I want to be healthy."
"I want to be happy."
"I want to travel."
"I want to be financially independent."
Most of the time, we fail or struggle to achieve them because we are not instructing our brain to alert us on the Why, What, When, Where, and How we go about these goals. When it comes to setting goals and achieving them, it is important to be specific because it helps our minds know what kind of goals we are pursuing, and with that, we can make a better plan to get there. Ask yourself the Why, What, When, Where and Who and How questions and the answers will help you be more specific.
What do you mean by living healthy, being happy or wanting to travel?
Maybe "I want to be healthy" means you need to sleep early, eat healthy and not necessarily go to the gym.
Maybe "I want to be financially independent" mean you cut your unnecessary expenses and be more disciplined financially rather than having a fixed amount to save every month, which you never do.
Maybe living a happy life for you is to work hard and pay off your dues on time, and by this, you will be happy.
Maybe you want to travel simply by enjoying nature and hence a trip to Magoroto will offer the same value as a plane to overseas.
Now that is being specific. Can you see the difference now? When you are specific, you can easily formulate a plan or come up with actionable steps to achieve what you want.
Step 2: The Search for a yellow Car
Working in a recruitment company, I see different ways that candidates approach the job-hunting process. Those who are clear on what role or industry they want versus those who simply say, "I am looking for any job". There is a very big difference in the success rate of the two. It is the same in other areas of our lives, from relationships, investment, fun and leisure.
When you are being specific, you become proactive. Your mind will constantly remind you about your specific goals when the opportunity presents itself.
We always see more of what we're thinking about, some people call it the confirmation bias, or the law of attraction. Ask anyone who is interested in a specific type of car how many times they see the same type on the road, they are able to see more of them because they are more aware of them. Every day we are presented with so many opportunities infront of us; we're only able to see, hear and observe those opportunities we want to see more of. Unfortunately for many of us, despite the “many opportunities” Infront of us, we do not see any, simply put, we are looking for everything, and hence we don’t see anything. You have to want to see things, and the things will want to see more of you. You have to want to look for specific opportunities, and the specific opportunities will want to see more of you.
Step 3: It's okay to let go, don’t settle for less
As you are looking for a yellow car, you might come across some which are blue, green, and pink, they might look appealing and possibly elude you to settle for them instead (Most times because you are already tired from searching the yellow one). Unfortunately, we have normalised settling for less, thinking that looking for more is selfishness and thinking what we always get is what we deserve. You're entitled to whatever it is you make a committed decision to go after.
Most times we run out of energy searching for opportunities because of being vague. When you are specific, you can gather all your energy and focus it at one point and that's when the magic happens. When you're being vague, you jump into everything, you try everything and eventually get nothing.
Now what! It is more than having a S.M.A.R.T goal (Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Timebound) i.e. I want to have a car by the end of this year, it is having the right goal, a specific goal a clear goal in the first place then make it SMART i.e. I want to have a yellow Toyota IST by the end of this year.
As you set yourself for the search this year, I hope you will figure out the details of that “car” that you want, Is it yellow, pink, or blue? I hope you will not just go with the flow and hope that things will just happen for you. Most people don't know what they want, and as a result, they never get what they want. Often, when we feel like something is missing, it’s not that something is missing but what we truly want is missing.
I hope you will move FROM I want to lose weight TO I will lose 5 kg by the end of December by stopping eating meat and exercising once a week.
I hope you move from FROM I want a promotion TO I will to learn X skills so I can contribute X to my work and ask for a promotion by the next performance review.
I hope you move FROM I want to travel TO I will save X amount each month so I can visit Pugu forest and Zanzibar in September.
I hope you move FROM I want to be serious with my goals TO I will find relevant sources that will offer me skills and tools that can improve my time management and prioritisation skills for me to achieve my goals..
Something that I just learnt recently is our most important learning experiences come from prolonged engagement in a challenging process. As you are finding your “yellow car” in different spheres of life! try to enjoy the process, find a balance so that the search for the yellow car is difficult enough to remain interesting but not so difficult that it discourages you from continuing.
Happy new year!
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