On the last working day of the year 2010, my colleague threw his desk calendar and diary into the dustbin and exclaimed: “Another Wasted year!!!” I wondered how such a remark could come out of him, though he had had many run-ins with his boss across the year. I was young then, fresh from college and getting a good salary. I always had money – could afford trips to I don’t know where with my girlfriend, could easily buy the latest phone and remain with so much money to buy myself a jet. I was very ambitious – I could easily plot my career progression on a chart and convince you that all that theory would turn to reality a couple of years down the line. Of course, I was suffering from lacking-experience-in-the-real-world disease, mostly suffered by youths in campus or fresh from school. You always think you can move the world, make it tilt at a 90 degrees angle and summon all powers to obey you. What madness! In contrast, nowadays money gets into my pocket and I cannot tell where it disappears to. Maybe I should check whether there are holes in the pockets and get them fixed by the nearest tailor (or fundi as we refer to them). I have also slowed down and accepted that I may never tilt the world even 0.1 degrees. Life kinda humbles you pretty soon. No? I now understand my colleague’s frustration back then (8 or so years down the line). And I know better.

As 2019 rolls on, I tend to reflect on 2018 and glean at some of the lessons learnt and how to lead a better life moving forward. Lessons which could also benefit you the reader;

1) Be More Empathetic
People will never remember you for the position you held in the organization but the help they got from you. Move out of the high table and dine with the rest of the folk, understand what challenges they face daily and offer a kind word, encouragement and social support. Get to understand that giving money is good, but your presence is better to the affected person. Sometimes money will never solve some intricate problems like loneliness and hopelessness. Therefore, strive to be with people at their times of sorrow and support them the best way you can. A kind touch, an encouragement here and there or even giving your time to listen to the other person as they pour their heart out may bring the much-needed healing and relief. Be good to people (especially the vulnerable and defenseless).

2) Always Draft an Agreement Prior to Lending your Money to your Friend(s)
Sometimes you are caught up in an emergency – car experiences mechanical problems, child is sick, need to buy manure before onset of rains, or whatever emergency you may find yourself in. You don’t have money, you don’t want to take loan, worse still you don’t want to withdraw a cent from your savings. But you have “friends” who have your money, who promised to pay you back ages ago but have never fulfilled that promise. You see them partying every weekend but when you ask them when they would settle the ‘small matter’, they give all sorts of explanations and pleadings. Just sickening. From your calculations, if all the money is recovered, it would not only settle the emergency but also fuel your car the entire year. To avoid all this, make it a habit of drafting (and signing) a loan agreement note with specific terms, such that if there is default, legal action can commence. You want a loan of Kes. 100 payable in a week’s time, you better sign on the dotted line or forget it.

3) Read Many Books
Make books your new friend. Read as many as you can get hold of. They open your mind to new perspectives of life. Fiction books make you appreciate your creative part of your brain, they stimulate your thinking capacity (well, there is no research to back this claim). Real life stories make you appreciate your life, your circumstances and how other people overcame the same problems you are experiencing now. Books will give you a quietness and calmness of your mind which you will not get from your social media memes and jokes. And while at it, please return any borrowed book after you are done with it – do not lend it out to your friend without the owner’s knowledge (what if it gets lost?).

4) Save some Money
Get into the habit of setting side some money from your paycheck because you will need these savings on a rainy day. And the rain will surprise you. It will pour in torrents you will have nowhere to seek cover. The beauty is the availability of many investment (savings) vehicles to help you in the market – insurance, unit trusts, fixed deposits, shares, forex, SACCOs, cryptos, banks (including M-Shwari). The little you put aside consistently will eventually cover you when the unfortunate time comes. Be generous to yourself and the needy in the society. Don’t starve yourself trying to save every penny you get – it does not make sense.

5) Take Care of Yourself
Mind. Body. Soul
You need to be conscious that the biggest and most important asset that you have is yourself. Let no one else be your focus. Make yourself happy. Even the holy book instructs you to love your neighbor as you love yourself. You just must start with yourself before the rest – but don’t be selfish in the process. Engage your mind in meaningful thoughts, thoughts to uplift you and not to demean you or your neighbors. By the way, why is it that those in power, often, look down upon their subjects? Forgetting that power is temporary and that none is indispensable?
The more you eat, the more you balloon (except for very few people). Eat well, keep your body active. Wear the right clothes – they don’t have to be the latest in fashion, but they should (must) be clean.
Let your soul be clean. Roho Safi.

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