A New Year, a new beginning; new hopes

With the New Year comes a new start. A chance for you to leave the struggles and obstacles of the previous year behind and start afresh. January is the month when people make New Year resolutions or set new goals, every year.

We’re in the second week of January. Surveys tell us that many would have abandoned or even forgotten about their resolutions by the end of January. And many would try to just ‘get by’ until the year ends and start over again with another set of new resolutions or goals.

For many in Rwanda 2019 was a year with so much progress at national level, with Rwanda being rated as one of the fastest growing economies in the region. 2020 will see Rwanda hosting one of the biggest events on the African Calendar, the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting (CHOGM), in June.

My first question is this: What makes this event special for Rwanda? The event certainly has wider economic ramifications on both the business and ordinary community in Rwanda. It is time all the sectors position themselves strategically to grab the capital gains which come with hosting an event of this nature.

President Paul Kagame will once again take centre stage as he will be assuming the chairmanship of this organ for the next year.  Given his astute leadership skills, he certainly will set the tone and position Rwanda as the most attractive investment destination in Africa today.

Psychologically, the CHOGM Summit coming as it is at the beginning of the new decade, will give Rwanda a fresh start with a renewed vigour to go after big dreams and bigger opportunities once again.

Assess your situation

My first piece of advice to those in Rwanda (in business or otherwise) at this opportune moment would be to assess your situation in the context of  this and other events unfolding in Rwanda in this new decade.

Your assessment would begin with your taking stock of events in the past decade and their implications to your successes and challenges - What went great? What didn’t go so well and what needed improvements?

In doing so, you may realize exactly what you need to do differently come this new decade. Either way, it will serve as the basis for your setting of your new goals, aspirations and a new vision.

Identifying opportunities for improvement

Once you have assessed the situation you can move on to your resolutions. Resolutions that are suited to you and the situation you find yourself in this New Year - instead of being ordinary look at the bigger picture and go for the jugular.

Throughout the process of setting these resolutions, remember that you do not have to set resolutions that begin on January 1st and end December 31st.  See your resolutions as a way to better yourself, way beyond the limits of time.

For instance, one of my resolutions is to do things differently this year and be more aggressive in creating and grabbing opportunities. It is not a resolution I intend on giving up on as soon as the next year rolls by. Opportunities either present themselves or are created. It is sometimes being at the right place at the right time.

Why is the New Year the only good time to start afresh? Our happiness and well-being are never dependent on the year being new, or anything new out there for the matter. We tend to look for things and events out there to make us feel good on the inside.

Well, it doesn’t work that way. Naturally, we’re not made to feel the world directly. Everything that we experience is thought-generated, not the external circumstances.

Understanding our thoughts and moods

Because our flow of thoughts changes and shifts in the moment, so do our feelings and moods. When our moods are high, everything is possible, nothing is too difficult and we have all the energy in the world.

When our moods are low, everything seems to turn bleak. The trick is not in changing or manipulating our moods. The key is to recognize them for what they are, their ebbs and flow, and flow with them.

At any moment, new thoughts can emerge, and make no mistake about it…they will emerge – new ideas, possibilities, opportunities and the clear way forward. But here’s the catch: you can’t force them to come any faster just like you can’t make the river flow any faster. Flow with it.

If you do not get in the way, fresh insights and creative inspirations will emerge effortlessly. And with that, you can set new goals (or go after existing ones with renewed vigor), dream greater dreams, go after bigger projects. You can do that at any moment – you don’t have to wait for an external circumstance to be in place, like the New Year.

Managing failures

When you mess up, don’t get drown in the storm of thoughts. Get out and get clear. Again, you don’t have to wait for the New Year to hit the restart button and take steps in a new direction. You can boldly shift at any time. Do not aim for perfection, but rather experiences in every step you take. So one thing we’re often afraid to do is take the first step. I try to remember that the first step is often the scariest and therefore the hardest, but once you’ve made that first move, the world is your oyster.

But remember this: you have the capacity to do anything your heart desires and it is not the fear that lies within that has the ability to negate those capacities. An old age adage that will forever remain true, is that “if at first, you don’t succeed, try try again”.

For the people in Rwanda this is your decade, take it, claim it, and own it. Wish you all the best in the New Year and decade ahead.

The writer is an executive leadership coach, people management and customized corporate education trainer, a certified continuous professional development practitioner and founder of the Leadership Institute of Research & Development (LiRD), Zimbabwe. robert@lird.co.zw/+263772466925.

The views expressed in this article are of the author.

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