With only a few hours to the end of the year, there is no better time to share these solid lessons from 2021. Chances are you have your list ready as you usher in the New Year. A rosy list I hope. But in my case, I choose to share the specific lessons that gave me good whipping on my behind. Yeah, you read that right. Don’t sweat the agony involved though. Take the lessons as Thomas Alva Edison did the light bulb discovery journey.

Disclaimer: This is not a list of complaints, though it looks like it. The stories may seem painful, some shameful even. In the real sense, they are. I also had exciting moments in 2021. Lots of them. I will share those later. Maybe. For now, let us chew on these 7 hard formed solid lessons from 2021. Shall we?

1. Thou shan’t slander

A while ago I had to disconnect from close friends and delete their contacts courtesy of backbiting.

It all began with a silly tête-à-tête between a new friend and me about a common friend, in my kitchen. But soon enough we were discussing the deep, dirty, and dotty details about the friend. In the midst of it however, I began feeling uncomfortable about the dialogue. It felt unfair to the ‘victim’ and somehow I suspected that the new friend would tell. So I switched the topic. And no matter how much the new friend pushed for more data, I held back.

A month or so later the ‘victim’ invited me to one of my favorite restaurants for some expensive coffee. At first the conversation felt like a normal catch-up. Then with quivering lips, the victim walked me word for word through all the slander I had spilled. Commas included. Imagine the shame.

No matter how factual the data you are about to spill is, backbiting will cost you friendships. And rain lots of shame on you.

In fact, the minute you find yourself drawn to spill negative truths about a friend, realize that the quota of respect you have for them has been exhausted. So you either concoct more to keep the relationship going or exit while they still have respect for you. If at all.

And even if telling these truths will save your listener, the shame, hate, and hurt generated from such is not worth your energies. Instead, state your warning without spilling the beans and walk out of it. That saves the threesome.

Of course, I admitted my mistake. Sin actually. But that also meant ending the relationship with everyone involved in the conversation. The ‘victim’ included. That way, I would never have a chance to regurgitate the discussion, even from a different dimension.

It was painful to say goodbye, but the freedom that came with it felt so good.

Takeaway: No matter how sweet or justified you feel to spill, backbiting always comes to bite your back. Save the relationships. And your dignity too.

2. No is necessary

Do you always feel compelled to turn up to every good deal thrown your way?

Hold your horses. Even when that awesome opportunity comes knocking at your door with the label ‘urgent’ on its forehead, you always have two choices.

You can either take it and work hard at it (more on this later). Or let it pass, with gratitude.

The latter is not an offense. It is a choice. One that you can take whenever you need to. After all, not all good things are necessary for you. A fact we all need to acknowledge.

In the last 364 days, I have turned down some of the most lucrative opportunities ever dangled before my eyes. Most of them came in the form of partnerships, friendships, and marketing offers. Glittering opportunities that made saying no almost impossible. But upon appraising them deeper, I realized that boarding these bandwagons would compromise my mental health.  An area of life only I could take care of.

More money in exchange for my health?

When it didn’t add up, I chose peace of mind. I hope you will too.

Takeaway: If you are pressed with other matters, especially those that only you can do, or you have committed yourself elsewhere, it is only honorable to say no. Do the math first then brace yourself to saying no those high-income opportunities even if everyone else thinks otherwise. Your sanity comes first.

3. Attention for some

Not everyone deserves your attention. Read that sentence again and let it marinate for a few minutes before scrolling further down.

This great lesson comes with a stinger when you sober up to the fact that ‘everyone’ includes you. But seriously let some people go, even if they make you feel so good sometimes. If it is time to let go, let them go!

More often than not, the people we need to let go of are those we have at one point considered bidding goodbye. That is evidence enough that we will survive without them. The truth is we do more than survive after their departure.

Back in 2020, I remember calling two of my business partners and telling them that I wanted to mind my own business, literally. I had for over two years before this wakeup call placed Fine Wealth second after the partnerships causing an uncalled-for financial bleed. Every time I looked at Fine Wealth’s bank account, my heart ached. Until the moment I chose to ‘woman up’ and let the partnerships go.

Takeaway: The people to let go may include a business partner, client, or even a close friend. If having them in your ship makes it difficult to sail, they are baggage you cannot afford to keep. Let them go before they sink your ship.

4. Take it seriously

Have you ever been assigned a job but ended up giving it a shoddy touch?

Like me, you may have thought, “Oh, it’s just my cousin Jenny. She will understand.”

But after putting half your heart into it and pocketing the labor fee over and over, she replaced you with someone who could do the job to her expectations. Not only did this surprise you, but it also woke you to the fact that as a roll of tissue paper in the loo, you are replaceable!

But the game didn’t end there, she went on to give your replacement more tasks to handle, even those she knew you were good at. And of course nicer rewards for the work done. She also began acting as if you were inexistent, except within the family confines where she could not avoid. She made it clear that she could no longer trust you with other assignments.

If that is your story, then like me this nightmare is real.

The solid lesson from 2021 here is, if you want to keep your network, take the work you are assigned seriously. Forget the friendship’s and relatives’ strings and handle it as if doing it for a dignitary. Think of it as that one assignment that swings open the gates of heaven with the saints singing to your awesome performance.

But if you have messed up an important network and you regret doing so, use this solid lesson for your next assignment in 2022. Trust me, it will shoot your points right back up where you belong.

Takeaway: If anyone ever asks you to do something for them, treat that request as trust. And trust is paid back with respect. So you either tell them you cannot do it and let them choose someone else who can, or do it with a ton of excellence.

That introduces us to the next solid lesson from 2021.

5. Just go beyond

Remember that cousin Jenny from the previous solid lesson? If she or any other person ever trusts you with another assignment, go beyond.

No matter how small, obvious, or obnoxious the assignment seems, true acknowledgment comes from going beyond what is expected.

The problem with doing only what is expected of you is that you turn up as average. And average performers neither get recognized nor do great things never happen to them. So you either give your all, and then some more, or forget the standing ovation. This applause sets you apart from the crowd and grows your marketability.

Is that not what you want for the New Year?

Takeaway: Perform above and beyond the expectations of those you work with and for, and you will never lack.

6. Laziness is real

Working from home comes with numerous benefits most folks can never digest.

Imagine working only a few feet from your bed, couch, TV, fridge, and cooker, to mention but a few comfort givers. If you can fathom that combo on a hot afternoon in a coastal city, then you have my life’s picture in real-time. Add to that the fact that I am a self-employed freelance writer and you have the perfect image of unadulterated freedom on a silver platter.

While the picture tastes delicious to some readers here, my life is sometimes worse than eating a bony tilapia in the dark. I cannot afford to throw caution to the wind when it comes to planning my day. If for whatever reason I wake up without a detailed plan for the day, my addiction to Nigerian movies, roasted coffee, and my couch engulf it all.

So while everyone else is trying hard to defend their breaks, I have to justify mine.

On several occasions this year, I caught myself gallivanting from morning to evening with a phone in one hand and coffee in the other. And as the sun sunk West, I found no accomplishment registered. No proposal written. No article for this blog. No e-book drafted for a client. Yet my coffee jar reflected otherwise.

Then I came across the question, “Can I lay my head tonight satisfied with the work I did today?”

I fail to remember the author, but they gave strict instructions stating that I had to write the question on a piece of paper and stick it on my work desk. I obeyed. And while sometimes I ignored it, it on most days sobered me into being true to myself. To accept that I sometimes allowed laziness to dictate my day. On such days I had nothing to show when I laid my head on my pillow. What a shame.

Takeaway: Getting paid for spending the day in the office is not proof that you worked. Someone may have assumed that you worked and therefore pays you. What matters most is the truth. Did you really work today?

7. Habit or nothing

The solid lesson closing this list is the curse word many would rather not spit in public for fear of evaluation—habit. So I will not ask you to make yours public because I need you to continue reading this blog come 2022.

For a minute however, stop everything you are doing, turn back and look into the past week. Evaluate how you spent your time from sunrise to sunset. If you are honest with yourself, thanks to the previous point, you will notice familiar patterns making up what you called your day.

Those patterns make up your habit.

A habit—the way you do your day, can work for or against you. It dictates your success or ushers in failure. So in the light of the year that was, at least 90% of your current status was contributed to by your habits.  Those things you woke up to do gave birth to your current reality. I am talking about simple aspects like your weight, the money in your bank, and your relationships. The list goes on.

Do you like what you see?

If yes, congratulations! Yet, there is room for improvement.

But if no, you have yourself to blame. Majorly at least. But that also means you can change your status come 2022 by forming enriching habits geared towards the person you want to become. You have the authority to make that change. That takes replacing your daily disempowering patterns with resourceful kind as soon as you are tired of the current status.

Remember, the habits you have right now took time to create and embrace. So will the new set. So list activities that will help you grow towards the person you want to become and begin absorbing them a bite a day.

Start by planning your day so you know what you need to do when.  Then follow that plan.  Remember also to go beyond while performing your daily activities to satisfaction so as to increase your marketability. Then, reward yourself for getting it right often. You deserve it.

Takeaway: Instead of blaming fate on what did not work well this year, look back and identify the self-defeating habits you may have embraced. Then replace each one of them with solid habits that will lead you to where you want to be at the end of 2022.

These solid lessons from 2021 are part of what I choose to take with me to the New Year. 2021 gave me a whipping I would not want to waste. I want to look back on the last day of 2022 and shout, “Yes, it worked. I did it!” Finally, if you choose to do nothing about your own lessons, the next 365 days will come and go, but you will have nothing to celebrate. Choose now. I wish you a blissful New Year!

People who care always share!

Magdalene Kamau

Also known as My_Darling, is a ghostwriter, business mentor and motivational speaker who advocates for turning talents and passions into products of service to others while making a profit while at it.

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