How quarterly reviews can help keep your goals on track

It’s almost the end of August! We’ve gone through a great deal as a country in the past 8 months and as individuals too. I remember as if it were yesterday, setting out my targets for this year. Setting goals and resolutions. Plenty of us did. And then some of us wait until December to review them. 

I for one, like to check in every 3-4 months, to make sure I’m heading in the right direction. It seems so tedious to check your yourself every 3 or 4 months, but a lot can happen in 90-120 days and it’s easy to lose sight of where you’re going when life is happening to you. It’s tempting to think the year is almost over, why should I bother if I’m already lost. But remember what we said earlier, 120 days is a long time. 

So yes, the year isn’t over, but waiting until the year ends to do a necessary review and audit isn’t always the best idea. Sometimes we lose track of what we set out to do, we forget our promises to ourselves and other times, our method just isn’t working. Let’s not forget the good stuff happening that we must celebrate and be grateful for. Triumphs that need to be acknowledged.

Here are some questions I like to ask myself? (The graphic has more comprehensive questions, feel free to download it.)

  1. Have I done what I said I wanted to do so far? Am I still on track?
  2. What’s no longer working? What do I need to change?
  3. What’s the best thing that happened for me so far this year?
  4. What’s the worst thing? What am I going to do about it?
Something to reflect on 🙂

Hindsight is a powerful tool, use it. Look back and review how your year is going so far, the good and the bad. I, for one, haven’t started on my fitness goals, it’s been 8 months since I set that resolution, and I kept failing to launch (no more). But that’s alright, I still have roughly 120 days. 

READ: I’m 24, and I’m still trying to find myself

Whenever I review my quarter, or year, I own up and  take responsibility where I messed up, forgive yourself and move on (but promise myself to do better next time). I decide whether I need to change strategies or change goals entirely, or simply renew your efforts. This little exercise is partly how I managed to fulfill 3 out of 5 of my major goals, and this year I finished off the last two (as part of this year’s goals). With four more months, I still have more mileage to go! 

The first half of my year wasn’t great for me (work-wise) and only starting turning around in June. Of-course I managed to stay on track with maybe one or two things, and I have a ton of things to be grateful for, and things I’m happy about on the personal front. Whilst I did things I’m proud of,  when it comes to some of my other goals (like fitness and blogging), I need to do better, and I am going to do better!

What about you? Are you happy with your year so far? Do you need to change strategies? Or renew your efforts? Are you still on track? If you’re not, what are you doing about it? 

Why you shouldn’t bitch about your boss to anyone

It’s tempting. It really is. When you’re angry, and frustrated and you just want anyone who’ll listen to know what a horrible human being your boss or superior is, it’s tempting to go on a bitch fest. But it’s never a good idea, believe me, and there are multiple reasons you shouldn’t, and we’re going to get into some of them. 

 It looks bad on you

So first things first, when you trash talk your boss to other people, you run the risk of seeming petty and unprofessional, which isn’t something you want. What’s worse is when the people you’re complaining to don’t feel the same. It’s one thing to voice your complaints, or discuss challenges you’re having with your employer or superior, it’s another thing to bash him or her whenever you have the tiniest chance. 

Everyone is entitled to an opinion right? Yes, definitely. You’re entitled to think your boss is some evil bitch from hell or the devil himself, but others are also entitled to see you as a giant asshole for saying it. You can have your unflattering opinions about other people, but you don’t have to air them to whomever will listen. 

And why should you care if it makes you look bad? Because good relations, networking and referrals are vital to your career growth. You may think that your boss’ boss’ opinion is the only one that matters, but that’s not actually true. Peer recommendation matters too. These are the people who put in a good word for you when need arises. 

I remember in one of my previous jobs, a former colleague of mine recommended me to my prospective employer just after my interview. This guy had joined the company earlier. I had no idea he put in a good word for me until my then boss told me that was one of the contributing factors to my becoming the successful candidate. So yes it matters. 

READ: Dear graduates, it’s a bad idea to apply for and accept just any job, here’s why.

Nobody wants to be around a constant complainer

…unless they are constant complainers too. Often we like to indulge ourselves in complaining, over and over to whomever can listen, and it can get pretty addictive. If you meet about with another complainer, then even better! Half the time both of you are just complaining and relishing it…but constantly whining about your boss will eventually start to irritate others. You’re probably not the only one who’s got a problem with your boss, but there are better ways of dealing with it than bitching to anyone who will listen. 

It increases your animosity

Badmouthing your boss behind his or her back means you’re going to constantly focus on the negative side of things, and anything you pay lots of attention to, will naturally become very focal in your life. Eventually you’ll start to see everything your boss/superior/employer does in a bad light, and majority of the time you’ll be misinterpreting the situation. 

This will increase your animosity and resentment even further. Soon enough it’ll become a cycle of dislike. To worsen the situation your employer will most likely pick up on your dislike and may start to return those vibes to you. It’s safe to dislike your boss, but the reverse isn’t always true. You’re in a world of trouble if your employer actively dislikes you.

At the end of the day, if you have issues with your boss, take it up with him/her or keep your mouth shut. Bitching about your boss behind her/his back could really complicate your life in subtle ways and you shan’t notice until it’s too late. Keep in mind that one day you might require a reference from this person you’re bashing all the time to anyone who’ll listen, and then things will really get awkward (someone will probably have snitched on you). 

Remember, almost any dispute can be fully or partially resolved through clear and respectful communication. 

Dear graduates, it’s a bad idea to apply for and accept just any job, here’s why.

Times are tough for a lot of people; everyone can see that. The formal employment sector is in the pits, we all know that, however, dear fellow graduates, getting any kind of job is not necessarily a good thing. Hold on and let me explain, here’s a sample conversation I’ve heard before:

*“Sha I need a job….”

What kind of job do you want?” I ask.

*“Chero! It doesn’t matter, I just need a job. Anything, as long as I’m getting paid.”

I almost always hear that answer, and I’m torn between telling this person what I know or keeping my trap shut. Firstly, you don’t want just any job! Trust me, that is a road to psychological damage…yes, doing that sort of thing takes away from you even as you earn a few pennies. See, every time I tell someone that doing *“chero basa” (any kind of job) will take you down a dark path, I always hear, “It’s because you have a job, you don’t understand.”

It’s called underemployment, and it sucks

But I do understand. I wasn’t necessarily picky once too, and I managed to land a job whilst waiting to decide whether I wanted to go back to school immediately or not. I hated it. It required barely any intellectual effort on my part, neither did I do anything particularly stimulating.

So there I was, with my Honours degree in Psychology, working behind a counter punching in codes all day long. I didn’t hate it because I thought I’m too good for that (although I was overqualified for it), I hated it because I could feel my mind dying a slow, desperate death from lack of use. And that also meant I’d wasted five years in school, A’level plus university. You can’t begin to imagine what this did to me.

Which is precisely what will happen to you, if you’re not more selective about the kind of job you apply for and the working conditions. Now I understand a lot of us are in survival mode, reacting to a turbulent economy, but there are opportunities to generate income, as long as you’re willing to think, work, and make risky choices. Screw looking for conventional employment if it’s proving elusive, seek to generate income instead.

If you prefer the “security” of someone else finding ways to make money, then give you a small cut for your time, then continue the “rese rese” job search. Almost every organisation needs employees (don’t listen to people who bash 9-5 jobs), but pick employment that enriches you. Beware that there is a price taking a job that several pegs below your capacity. It erodes your self-confidence and sometimes your sense of self-worth too. The way you think of yourself will change, and that affects everything you do, especially the small decisions with hidden, larger consequences.

READ: Why I quit my job and why you shouldn’t. 

Protect your mental well-being

Alternatively, wait patiently until what you want comes along. Something that falls fairly within the parameters of your interests and skill level. Hustle for income in the meantime, but don’t settle for under employment. I remember crying tears of frustration over in an omnibus on my way home several times. It’s a dangerous route to take. Protect your mental well-being fiercely whenever you can.

Consider that maybe you don’t need just any job, you just need any source of income.

The translation

*Sha – short (slang) for shamwari meaning friend

*Chero – any

*chero basa – any kind of job

*rese rese – in this context it means whatever job you can get, any

If you want to be more creative, get bored!

Have you ever been so bored it takes you to the brink of tears? Boredom is a dreaded emotion, and with good reason. It sucks. And it makes you feel like your whole life sucks too. Whilst some people can’t handle being bored, and go on a self-destructive rampage, it can work some pretty impressive magic too.

To be more precise, boredom can lead to some intense creativity, unexpected fun, and funky ideas which you can turn into something more lucrative. Often you might discover things about yourself you may not have been aware of, and that’s always a good thing, because understanding yourself empowers you.

Boredom can be a boon

The majority of us never allow ourselves to be bored, ever. The minute we have any sort of unexpected or unwanted downtime we find ways to kill it, quickly. Standing in a long(ish) queque, sitting in a kombi, walking a small distance…any sort of time we have, we rush to fill, with whatever is at hand. Candy Crush, vines, social media, novels, music, news; anything that grabs attention and holds it. What happens when all your go to distractions are unavailable? It’s panic inducing isn’t it?

This is how my sister and I felt when this one late aftenoon when there was a power cut (this was before the days of massive load shedding). No more internet(before wifi was crazy expensive too) ! The horror! And our last resort for entertainment was eleminated too, television. I had no new interesting novel to read, neither was I very chatty on Whatsapp and she couldn’t access Instagram.

So where did that leave us? Bored as hell.

We only had each other as entertainment, and so we moaned about how boring our lives were in that moment. Which they kind of were, the electricity outage aside, our lives really weren’t at all very interesting at that time. They’re boring, and we know it. We even discussed it in great detail that fateful afternoon.

Getting creative

Anyways to escape this mind numbing boredom, we played a little game. We had dance off. One picked a song, and the other had to dance to that song. Each of us had 45 seconds to dance her butt off whilst the other recorded it on video. We had about six rounds, then called it quits. She lost because she couldn’t stop laughing through an entire video in one of the rounds, but we continued anyways because it wasn’t a real competition.

Afterwards we watched the videos for shits and giggles, and then we went for a walk. Bottom line is we had a great time. The video quality was pretty bad and the lighting even worse, but we it was refreshing and exhilarating. I realised boredom is not such a bad thing.

Two pretty girls
My baby sis and I. She doesn’t like showing her face on social media so I stuck a giant heart to her face 🙂

The good side to boredom

And as a bonus, I learnt I actually have the capacity to choreograph a decent routine if I really worked it. I filed that knowledge away for later. But the biggest plus for me, aside from sisterly love, was the pure shot of energy and zest for life that went into my bloodstream from that little episode (I was doing a lot of self-pitying and self-loathing at the time).

I was still running on that high when I wrote this post that day at 3am. I had numerous little creative experiments I wanted to try after that, and I was crazy excited about them. I had no idea that boredom could be that cool!

If you don’t believe me, or would like more scientific detail you could check out this cool article from The Harvard Business Review and another one from The Atlantic (which I found to be really interesting!) both on the creative benefits of boredom.

Now you try it.

Remove all distractions. Have a time where your mind has nothing to engage it. I mean your gadgets, television, music, books…all of it. Get rid of them. Only remain with objects that hold zero interest for you. Let your mind wander and see what happens. You might not come up with anything initially but eventually it’ll come, just have enough discipline to remain bored.

Share your experiences of a time or times you’ve done amazing things because you were bored.

Your salary feels like it’s never enough

Keeping track of money movement is difficult, especially if you’ve never applied yourself to tracking your spending. It’s not a skill that you suddenly develop, or wake up with and it’s definitely not inborn. It’s really easy to spend, especially when the money is expressly yours. This is why it can be hard to keep track your spending…which eventually leads you to start feeling as if your salary or income is not enough!

Your salary almost always feels as if it’s not adequate no matter how much you’re earning, unless maybe you’re in the multimillionaire stratosphere and above (I don’t know, I’ll tell you when I get there). The problem, however, is that your wishlist expands in accordance to the income you have. The more your earn, the more needs you suddenly develop; and the more things you acquire, the more expenses you have.

It’s tempting to think that if you could just get a better paying job, or a raise, you’ll afford your life, but unless you can manage your “needs list” first, you won’t be able to manage your spending, it’ll just skid out of control. It should be noted though that this applies only on the condition that you earn enough to live comfortably above the poverty datum line. Whilst earning more money will make a significant difference to someone poor, it won’t make the same kind of difference to someone leading a comfortable lifestyle. The difference wouldn’t be comparable. That being said, I realized first hand that earning more money won’t necessarily mean being more satisfied.

See, at first I thought if I got a raise, if my boss could just pay me a little more, I’d be able to get whatever I needed. The problem though was, whenever I imagined what I’d do with the added income, my wishlist would double. Even without the prospect of added income, I reconstructed my budget every 2 minutes. I added new things, scrapped off others, postponed a few things to the future, re-arranged my priority list…all sorts of endless adjustments to make it all fit. I then realized that living beneath your means is not as easy as it sounds!

How to make it feel adequate

Well for starters, you could increase the number of income streams you have. Earn more money, simple. The danger with this being your only solution, is that you run the risk of falling into a vicious cycle. You could earn more, then spend more, want more, then try to earn even more. You could spend years, or perhaps your whole life chasing more money.

Alternatively you could learn to manage your “needs list.” The first step would be to distinguish between actual needs, and wants. Needs are want you must have for a healthy, safe and functional life. Wants are things you desire even though you don’t really need them, especially not on a basic level. Wants are not bad, (not at all!) but they definitely should be managed otherwise they’ll drive you crazy.

When you separate the two successfully and then focus on what you need, and what you need above all else, that monster inside you that always wants more can be leashed and tamed. Learning to be grateful for what you have will also help in managing that want list.

At the end of the day, your income may never really feel sufficient at certain times, but becoming more self aware and developing better money habits will take you a long way towards achieving a healthier relationship with your money, but most importantly good mental well-being.

How to build your self-confidence 101

I’ve heard people say they want to be more confident, show more boldness…that they wish they had enough self-confidence to give a speech. And when I’m having these conversations, it almost always implied that self-confidence is inborn. Yet, it’s not. It’s a real skill that needs to be built. It’s similar to a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets…but how do you use self-confidence?

Here’s the funny thing, to gain confidence for doing anything, you actually need to do the thing first. Take for example, giving a speech. You give the speech first, then you gain the confidence to give more speeches. And more and more, until eventually you become this guru that everyone thinks is super confident, infallible and can speak in front of thousands of people at the drop of a hat. So the first step isn’t really confidence, it’s bravery, bravery to face your fears. Let me tell you a little story…

Brimming with confidence

It was the year 2013, I was the new girl in school having joined in the winter term at a mission all girls boarding school. I seemed posh, maybe a little snobbish, coming from a private school and full of sass that got me into trouble at my former school. There was an annual concert to be held the following term, but of course preparations for it started during 2nd term. The club responsible took their duties very seriously, after all, this concert was a pretty big deal even for us. We got to invite plenty of other schools, and of course, the boys’ schools too. Anyways, suffice to say, it was a pretty big deal. They wanted all sorts of talent for the concert…the seniors clamoured for these slots.

So there I was, the new girl…and I wanted in. Did I mention that I was in Form 1? Oh yeah, I was at the bottom of the rung, but at that time it never really occurred to me that I was younger, therefore should be timider. They had a call for auditions and brave little me responded. I wanted to model, I was determined to walk down that runway, (although I wasn’t concerned about winning the title.) And I did, I made it through the auditions. I don’t know why, but I did. I didn’t win the title of-course, but I surprised people. They couldn’t figure out where I got the audacity from. Fast forward to form 2, and I did it again (though I still didn’t win).

Brave little me at 14 standing on the ramp with the other models (participants)

I vividly remember a particular conversation with a schoolmate, about confidence. She asked me how I did it, and I said you just have to be brave enough to try first, then the confidence will come each time you do the thing. She didn’t believe me, instead she said I was just naturally self-confident. She was wrong…self-confidence is a skill you build by doing the thing, processing feedback, then doing it again. That’s how you become confident in your own abilities; you know you’ve done it before, or that you have the capability to do it even for the first time; because you’ve done some amazing shit in the past.

So…

How to build your confidence?

What’s the secret? Here’s the truth, there’s no real secret to building self-confidence. It’s a simple process really….at least the simplified version of it is.

Step 1: Be brave and face your fears

Step 2: Do the thing

Step 3: Evaluate, process feedback, improve

Result? CONFIDENCE! 

I was the co-host for Miss University of Zimbabwe 2015 at 20 years. I wasn’t born confident, I worked for it

Step 4: Repeat

Now go forth and build that confidence! We always continously need to keep building and fortifying our self-confidence especially when we constantly venture into foreign waters.

I’m 24 and I’m still trying to find myself

campus

Have you ever lost yourself? Is it possible to lose yourself? I always find it a little strange when people talk about “finding yourself”, it’s a bit of an odd statement, but I’m finally willing to admit that I lost the plot a while ago. I honestly have no idea what I’m doing, and where I’m going, all I know is I have to keep moving, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I can’t afford to stop, not now when I have tasted a bit of financial freedom. I also can’t afford to stop because there’s a danger in stopping, you might not be able to start moving again. Once you stop, you lose momentum, it’s hard to get it back. And yet I know I need to recalibrate.

It was so much easier to dream and to work towards something when that’s all you had to think about…when earning a living wasn’t something you have to think about. In growing up, I got lost…my dreams scattered to the wind. It’s easy to say to someone, “How can you not know what you want?” but that shit happens. Sometimes you get so lost in your choices, in taking the options that you see available to you, you lose sight of what the heart wants. I am one of those people, I lost sight, and now I have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going. Hopefully, I will, and maybe I can re-ignite the fire that once drove me.

Choosing to be fiercely honest

I suspect it takes patience with yourself and being willing to forgive your own confusion if confusion is a crime. This is the shortest blog post I have ever written and surely goes against best practices for blogging, but I’m tired of trying to do things perfectly. I’m tired of not embracing publicly acknowledged experimentation. Yes, I’ll declare that I’m experimenting, and I don’t care who sees the failed experiments anymore. I’ve been running my life like a series of experiments since I graduated, I might as well finally admit it. I’m not trying to pretend like I know everything anymore, or that I have it together, I don’t owe anyone that illusion. And if you’re in the same boat as I am, neither do you.

Part of finding yourself involves being your own best friend, here’s why it matters: Learning to be best friends with yourself and why it matters.

I’m Yvonne, I’m 24 and I’m still trying to figure things out, still finding myself. I refuse to be embarrassed about it, I refuse to pretend otherwise…the important thing for me is that I keep moving.