Reflecting on 2018; wishing you a happy 2019

You made lemonade from the lemonsthat 2018 threw at you, that’s resilience; congratulations! And whatever you failed to accomplish this year, being alive now means, you have a chance to make use of the 365 opportunities that await you, in 2019. Goodluck to you!

But as we head into 2019, be sure about one aspect. That while we can take care of the factors within our control, we should always beware of those beyond our control. This applies to both countries and individuals.

Remember Rwanda’s economic contraction in 2013? Domestically, the government had every growth aspect in check; revenue projections to support budgetary allocations and growth was assured. Then external factors, beyond its control sprung up!

The effect was 4.6 percent GDP growth, the slowest in over a decade of the Rwanda post-Genocide era. Five years later, the government has since learned to make the best of opportunities within its control while keeping a watchful eye on the external factors.

Initiatives such as Made in Rwanda have been helpful in this context, boosting export earnings while driving growth. Improving efficiency in revenue collection while ensuring prudential government spending have also been the other positive measures.

As individuals, we can learn from how the Rwandan government deals with unexpected challenges. It runs on the philosophy that, you can’t stay down when pushed. You have to step up or be stepped on. When you lose on one front, be fast to find a new opportunity to win.

What Rwanda’s post-1994 reconstruction journey teaches us all, is that when facing real problems, the worst thing one can do is to accept pity from those around you. Nothing good comes out of self-pity. When you’re down, the immediate question should be how to get up!

Personally, the year has been good and bad, in nearly equal measure. But above all, it helped me prove one thing about myself, that I am resilient and have the capacity to pick myself up and evolve, without making a fuss about it. I know, those who know, know.

That’s what media and public relations professionals are trained to do; help companies paint a normal picture of the situation, even as they’re fending off a terrible storm. But even as individuals, we must have the capacity to manage our personal public relations.

For many people that I know, it has been a stormy year; but the ability to weather through, without creating a scene of it, is not just a commendable skill, but a true measure of maturity. The ability to put aside your problems and join your friends to celebrate their success stories is virtue.

For this commentary, I asked a couple of people what 2018 has taught them about life. “Not to trust every smile we get,” is what Alexis told me. True. Smiles could be misleading; deceptive.

Derrick said, “the easiest way to lose friends is to ask them for financial assistance.” I couldn’t agree more. In an economy where nearly, everyone is running a tight budget, unless it is family, the last thing people want is a friend who becomes an additional financial burden.

In 2019, just make peace with your bank. Improve your credit risk profile. Apply for a credit card {and learn to use it wisely}; your financial independence is a sure way of keeping your friends otherwise people will start archiving your WhatsApp messages even before reading them.

For Melissa, her most important lesson in 2018 was, “Don’t count on people’s promises made out of pity for your loss.” The most popular context for this is a grieving widow. During the funeral, everyone is around you, with words of comfort. Try a month later. Lonely and sad.

Even in business, especially start-ups. A lot of people get into business based on promises of support from their friends. These promises form the foundation of business most projections for the first six months or so. Unfortunately, most of those pledges don’t actualise into signed contracts, another reason many enterprises fail.

In 2019, remember the old maxim of, ‘not counting your eggs before they hatch.’

Sometimes it is understandable because the person who gave you the pledge is ‘high up there’ in the organisation, or ‘is a trusted friend’ or simply ‘family relation.’ The thing is, unless it is a signed contract, you can’t take people’s promises to the bank, no matter who they’re.

At the beginning of 2018, Jackson set a new password for all his accounts; ‘2018winning200%.’ It was quite telling. You could see it in his mood, energy and bounce.

“The reason was simple. Always be your own cheerleader. Even when the going is tough, cheer yourself on otherwise, unlike in football, the spectators in your case are probably not your fans but rivals, most likely praying for your loss,” Jackson explained.

My ever-calm friend Salma says her lifelong theme is, ‘keep your expectations in check.’

Asked to explain, she said; “the higher your expectations, the harder the shock. Everyone is capable of letting you down so having that in mind reduces the risk of regretting yourself to death.”

Salma’s philosophy shouldn’t stop us from having high hopes in 2019 but it helps to keep in mind that there are factors beyond our control that could alter our expectations. Goodluck!


The views expressed in this article are of the author.