Monday, January 5, 2015

My 2014 Successes and Failures

I got the idea to write this post from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and the post he recently wrote, "My 2014 Successes and Failures". I have been a lover of Leo’s blog for a long time. On his blog he shares simple tips and productivity habits that can help us reduce the clutter in our lives, practice minimalism, and spend our time focused on joy and peace. As I was reading Leo’s post, I could have screamed with happiness. Finally! Finally a post by someone that wasn’t claiming to have had a perfect 2014 or to have had only grand, marvelous experiences. Finally a post by someone that was willing to tell the truth about the not-so-pretty parts of his year. A post that not only highlighted the ways he succeeded (which is always important to acknowledge and be thankful for) but also mentioned the ways in which he failed. So, thanks to a little mojo juice from Leo, I’m going to share with you lovely readers some of my list of successes and failures from last year.

Successes
1.       Wrote and released a free eBook. I got the idea for “GET U.G.L.Y.” early in the year because quite honestly, I was sad. I was sad at the statistics that say 80% of young girls are not happy with what they see when they look at themselves in the mirror. I was sad that for most of my life physical insecurities plagued by existence. I was sad at the growing number of young girls around me that I knew would falsely grow to equate their looks with their self-worth. I was sad that more and more people/organizations continue to use the media to breed physical insecurities and low self-esteem among women. I was sad that anorexia & starvation are becoming acceptable as new “trends” for teen girls. I was sad and tired. Then I got convicted by the Holy Spirit. I realized that being sad and tired wasn’t going to make a difference. So, I decided to stop enjoying the comfort of being “sad while doing nothing” (which mind you, I had successfully done for 26 years) and do my part to help young girls and fellow women like myself begin to shift their sense of value and worth from their looks and onto God and the beauty of His love (the true source of our significance) instead.

2.       Upgraded the Design of the Blog. Woohoo! The old design template was not the best and I am happy that I stayed committed to finding an affordable web designer that could effectively implement my vision for the site. (A huge thanks to This Girl designs for her time & patience!)

3.       Began To Learn Sign Language (ASL). I am simply happy that I started learning ASL. I think it would be extremely cool to learn ASL and expand my ability to communicate with the deaf community (not to mention that I started watching the TV show, Switched at Birth, two years ago that has deaf characters in it and I fell in love with the language). Now, I started off practicing earlier last year by watching YouTube tutorial videos almost every day but unfortunately I allowed procrastination and lack of preparation to get the best of me and I haven’t had a single practice session in about 2 months. This will not derail me though because I intentionally included a practice session today and I am going to continue on the path again to learning ASL with renewed commitment and gusto.

4.       Began Speaking to Teen Girls. I think I’ve mentioned before that stage fright was an issue for me growing up. I hated any form of a stage. The problem is that as I began to draw closer to God, I also grew really unsettled and upset with the lack of godly teaching and truths being shared amongst teen girls and young women today. So, I started complaining…and complaining. What happened next?  In the midst of my complaining days, I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit to stop complaining in futility and start participating as a part of the SOLUTION. And I was fully convinced that I needed to start writing and speaking about my tough experiences & wrong choices, my encounters with God, and the lessons I am still learning as I grow in my walk with Christ. My most fulfilling moments of 2014 were when I was talking to different groups of teen girls discussing the truth about God, His purpose for their lives, and how to live as a life in pursuit of Christ. Nothing beats this! I’m excited for more speaking engagements in 2015. 

5.       Became a contributor for Bella Naija Magazine. This was a definite goal for me last year. I have kept up with Bella Naija’s online magazine for almost two years and was impressed by the impact of the magazine/writing quality of the contributors. And consequently, wanted to become a part of the guest writing team. I emailed and emailed and emailed the administrators until I was approved! It took a couple of months but I was not backing down from this one. LOL. 

6.       Read The Purpose Driven Life. It’s funny I consider this one a success because I didn’t actually plan to read this book. I didn’t own it and I had no desire to. And then divine intervention took its course.  I made a wonderful new friend this year with a genuine heart for God and one day as we were talking about books, she mentioned how much she loved The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren and how it opened her eyes to the truth of who she was and what she was born to do as a woman of God. She was so adamant that I read the book and proceeded to lend me her own copy. Now, I have a very interesting reading style – I like to highlight points that stand out to me and make notes in the margin and every crevice I can find. Although I was grateful that she had given me her copy to read, I was anxious that I wouldn’t really retain many nuggets of wisdom from the book because I wouldn’t have the freedom to write and highlight in her copy. And since I was penny-pinching and had a so-so interest in reading it, I put it aside. Then, guess what happens? The day after she gives me the book, I’m driving by my former college (University of New Orleans) and I see a sign for a weekend book sale coming up on campus. Since I love the words “book” and “sale”, I decided to go and check it out. What book do I see at the book fair? The Purpose Driven Life. But, that’s not the miraculous part. How much was the book? $1.75. $1.75! Immediately I saw this I laughed because it was as if God was saying, “So, what’s your excuse now?” I bought it immediately, read it meticulously (my copy is so full of highlights and notes that it almost looks ridiculous), and have been singing its praises ever since. It stands as one of the BEST books I’ve read and I expect to keep going back to it for the rest of my life. So much for not planning to read it, eh?

7.       Talked LESS. This mainly includes gossip. I began 2014 with a vow to talk less. It became very apparent to me that we are bound to the words from our mouths and I realized I was attracting a lot of negative energy around me by talking recklessly and gossiping. Boy, was this hard! It wasn’t until I took this challenge upon myself that I realized a serious social problem: “everybody” gossips! It seemed as if I couldn’t go anywhere without encountering gossips. At work, the only thing my co-workers wanted to discuss was what “he or she did” or how “he or she looks” or this or that. At social events, the same thing of course. And the worst part? I became the “awkward” one in almost every setting! I would remain quiet when people were insulting others. I stopped laughing at jokes just to make people feel better when I knew they were mean-spirited. I noticed that for most people, if they are not engaged in gossip, they don’t have anything else to talk about. And, if you don’t want to engage in gossip with them, you become “weird” and “antisocial”. The only reason I wasn’t aware of this in the past is because I was one of the gossips. It wasn’t easy, by any means, but I can honestly say that I won most of the battles and lost only a few in 2014. And each time I gave in to the gossip, I felt convicted of the viciousness it breeds, its negative impact on my spirit, and I did all I could to avoid environments that would likely lead to it. No, I didn’t take this challenge upon myself because I wanted to score “good girl” brownie points and show people that I was “better” than them. I did it for one simple reason: because I was convicted of how disrespectful and hurtful gossip is to God and I want to be a person that respects God MORE, not less, in my life.

8.       Began volunteering. I started volunteering at a local food bank helping to scoop and package food in the kitchen that is distributed to shelters, soup kitchens, and food pantries in the New Orleans area. I also started volunteering a few hours on Friday evenings at a local group home for young girls that have been abused and neglected. I was hesitant to add this one on the list because I’m not trying to sell myself to you as a “goodie two shoes”. (I believe in the power of doing good works for the glory of God in silence and not sounding a trumpet every time you help someone.) The only reason I feel compelled to share it is because there is a greater point to make here: we are all born to be miracles. For most of my life, I “wished” the lonely would find hope. I “wished” the hungry would get food. And in more recent years, I “wished” the depressed, lost, and hopeless would know the truth about God’s love for them. But, that’s all I did – WISH. Unfortunately, wishing doesn’t change anything. So, I decided to start taking steps towards being a person that quit reveling in discussions about the problem and started actively being a part of the SOLUTION. Now, I know there are people in the world doing much larger and grander things than I at the moment. But, I also know that I have no excuse when it comes to giving in the ways I am equipped to. I hope this inspires any of you that have had the desire to serve in such a capacity to go on forward – no service is “little” when done for the glory of God and to spread His love. 

9.       Wrote 5 short screenplays this year.  I love when a story idea moves from my brain onto the computer. And last year, I got serious about the transition on 5 occasions. I believe films are a great way to share relatable stories and impact the souls of many. Films were a great source of inspiration for me growing up and I’d love to use the medium to further spread awareness in my work.  

10.   Exercised "courage". I auditioned for a role in a web series early on in 2014. I didn’t get cast for the role. Why do I consider this a success? Well, because if you know me you’d know that I would normally NEVER audition for such a thing. Sitting in the waiting room with the fellow actresses coming in for auditions. Performing a piece from a monologue and reciting lines from a script into the camera in a brightly lit room in front of the writer/director, her assistant, and her camera person. I’d have been too shy to do it. My stage fright would have taken over. I decided I was going to get more courageous last year and that was one goal I had – I’m happy to say I did it!

Failures
1.       Self-Publish My First Hardcopy Book. Yes loves, I am working on my first book and it will be coming out later this year! I’m getting really personal and vulnerable in this book with stories about my ego, failures, courage, doubts, suicidal moments, encounters with God, and more. I’m really nervous about how much I’ll be sharing in this book but I’m also excited for you to read it and hopefully learn from the twists and turns in my life. I will keep you updated with the details as things progress. Why do I consider this part of the “failure” list? It was supposed to be written & published LAST YEAR.  I haven’t finished writing it yet. *sheepish grin*

2.       Hold a Deserve Your Great Life Workshop. One of my goals last year was to host a workshop in the New Orleans area for young women on building godly confidence and living in God-given purpose. This should have happened but it didn’t. I had my mind on everything else and let this one slip through the cracks.

3.       Eating Healthy & Working Out. I did neither. And to be honest, I was not truly committed to either one. I ate all the bread, pasta, and meats I wanted to with no care for the ramifications. My body paid for it though. I felt sluggish a lot last year and I believe this failure contributed to most of the other failures mentioned. I’ve always been lax about physical health/fitness which I believe is due to the fact that I don’t necessarily “show” everything I eat physically. At least I can say that I don’t drink anything besides water (I carried this commitment over from 2013), I’ve been eating more grilled food than fried, and I do my best to stay away from desserts (there’s no such thing as just “one slice of cake”; once I have the first, the second is sure to follow). That’s something, right? Baby steps people.

4.       Shoot 2 of my short screenplays. I was supposed to get a low-budget film crew together to get this done but my first attempt failed and then I kept putting it off month after month after month until I looked up and behold, 2014 had flown right out the window.

5.       Read My Bible Everyday – This one upsets me the most. Mind you, I read and studied my Bible last year MORE than any other year in my life. So, what’s the problem? Well, let me put it to you this way. Did I miss drinking water any day last year? Nope. Did I miss eating my meals any day last year? NO. So, how on earth can I afford to miss a day of spiritual feeding and communion with God and His Word? I can’t. Yet, I did it. And the ramifications were evident. On the days I didn’t begin my day with the Word (or study it at all throughout the day), I felt SICK. I felt spiritually sick. I felt anxious and frustrated more easily. I felt like something was missing and I had shortchanged myself of holy time with God. I didn’t like it. I want more of God this year…much more. So, I need to stay in the Word this year like never before.

6.       Write at least 30 minutes a day. They say writers write every day. I took this saying to heart and challenged myself to write for at least 30 minutes each day last year. Hmmm…do twitter and IG posts count? Lol. Seriously, I wrote most days last year (on many occasions, I wrote for more than 30 minutes) but there were days when I didn’t write one single word. I’ve picked this challenge back up for 2015.

7.       No Procrastination Challenge. I told myself last year that I was not going to let procrastination get the best of me. I was going to attack it head on and beat the stuffing out of it. I was going to have no days of procrastination. Well, that didn’t quite happen. While there were periods last year that I was super productive and got a lot done, there were also periods when I was NOT super productive and didn’t get a lot done. And there are no excuses. I was simply at fault. Either I didn’t properly plan my days or I got caught up in negative feelings and allowed my lack of motivation, at the time, to keep me from staying productive. (I need to Godfilter my feelings much better this year.) Biko, pray for me about this one too. No joke, pray for me.

The Biggest Lessons I Learned in 2014:

·         The biggest obstacle in my way isn’t anyone else or any circumstance – it’s ME. The more I move myself out of my way, the closer I get to the unlimited joy and fulfillment of living a life centered around Jesus Christ and my God-given purpose.  It’s in Jesus that my true identity and significance lies. I need to be mindful of that even more this year.

·         Growth takes TIME. I can be impatient and last year showed me that I am only killing myself with anxiety when I’m impatient because the process of growth must run its course.

·         I need help. I cannot go at things alone. When I do, I am only causing myself headache and I end up less productive than I would be if there were others helping me. So, in 2015, I am openly asking for and receiving your help o! Even if I don’t ask and you feel there is something you want to help me with, biko let me know!

·         The answer is not always “Yes”. Sometimes, the answer is “No”. This applies to responses from God to our requests and the answer we give to other people in response to their requests of us.

And that’s all I can remember right now.  While 2014 wasn’t perfect, it was a great year of learning, success, failure, growth and I thank God for allowing me to experience it all (including the moments of tears). If you like this idea, I implore you to take inventory of your 2014 and pay attention to the highs (nothing is "too small"; even if it's that you made the decision to get out of bed each morning - add it to your list!) and lows you might not have noticed to better prepare you for your journey this year.  

Until the next post.
Cheers to a wonderful 2015!!!
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What are your thoughts on this one, loves? Any successes or failures in 2014 that resonated with you?  Do you think it's good to review past years or just move on with the next? Leave a comment below :)

p.s. If you liked this post, I'd love it if you'd share it with your friends and subscribe to the blog. If you enjoy connecting on social media, you can stay in touch with me via Twitter and Google+ and Instagram.

p.s.s. My new eBook, "GET U.G.L.Y.", is now available!!! In it, I'm talking about my struggle with physical insecurities and the ways you can learn to love and appreciate your own looks/body. Click here to get your FREE copy of the book.

p.s.s.s. I'm now offering $20 coaching calls, loves! If you need someone to help you sort through your feelings of doubt, low self-esteem, negative body image, hopelessness and learn how to see yourself and live as a CONFIDENT and PURPOSEFUL young woman of God, email me at deserveyourgreatlife@gmail.com to schedule a session.

12 comments:

  1. *Smiling* - You won't believe I wrote a very similar post just now albeit very different format.. Thank God for all that you were able to achieve dear. Indeed, 2014 was a great year and you really inspired me and blessed me through this blog.

    May God give you the grace to have an even better report at the end of 2015 :-) xxxx

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    1. Thank you, Ayo darling! Shebi the saying is, "great minds think alike"? I will be jetting over to your blog to read your post shortly :)

      May your 2015 end of year report be equally wonderful and full of stories of God's grace!

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  2. I'm happy for your achievements, especially your featuring on Bella Naija as a writer. I know how great it feels because I also started writing for them in 2014. As for the failures, I share quite a number with you, such as 1, 5 and 6. But I have started 2015 well and I look to go through and end it in grand style. Bless you | www.davidadeleke.com

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    1. Thank you, David! We're BN buddies :) I'll make sure to search for your articles on BN.

      May you go through 2015 as productive as you plan to be, bros. God bless you!

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  3. Glad I came by. It's good to look back on the past, pick the gains and lessons and move forward. I've never done what you just did here even though I sort of know the areas where I let myself down and have built them into my 2015 goals. So what you have inspired me to do now is to sit down early in 2016 and see how I fared viz a viz my goals. God keeping us all alive!

    Wish you all the best with yours!

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    1. Thanks for visiting the blog, Salt! I'm happy to have you joining in on this practice. It is so helpful.

      Have a wonderful year! :)

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  4. I could read you all day, and I'm thankful to have found your blog in 2014. It's great to look back and remember where we've come from, like Jacob going back to Bethel. I'm especially thankful that I'm learning to put my hope and trust in God more every day. I know I try and go it alone too often, but now that I feel like all I have to do is turn and ask for His help, life is a lot easier. Please know it's a two way street with me. You're so generous in offering your time and help to others, I want you to know if no one else is there, I'd be happy to lend you an ear!

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    1. George!!! Thank you so much, my dear friend. I'm so happy you found the blog in 2014 and that we connected - you already know I consider you a great blessing in my life.

      I'm with you on making the daily choice to put my hope and trust in God - every time I go at it alone, it's always evident I'm not cutting it. You'd think I would have mastered this by now lol

      p.s. I watched the YouTube video of Pastor Steven from Elevation Church on Jacob going back to Bethel :)

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  5. As I read this, i kept saying "oh i need to comment about this" and "ah i need to comment about that" now that i've reached the end, i don't even remember all the comments i had to say LOL

    Anyway, from what i remember. I think it's SO cool that you're learning ASL. I have a friend who is fluent and I think her work is so important.

    As for gossiping, you ain't ever lied Loll

    And, I had a similar experience with my own book (planning to publish and taking way longer than intended). Now that it's finally coming out in March, by God's grace, I can see that the delay actually helped me to craft a much richer, nicer manuscript. I hope you stay encouraged to keep writing and keep sharing

    xo

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    1. Lol, I'm happy that you were able to remember the three that you did!

      I'm going to claim your friend is awesome, even though I haven't met her, simply because she's fluent in ASL :)

      Hmm, this gossiping battle is no joke...no joke!

      Thank you for the well wishes, Kola. I will keep writing and continue to share as I feel led by the Holy Spirit too.

      p.s. when I watched your video when you announced that your book was coming out this year, it pushed me to get more serious about writing mine. So, my dear, thank you!! :)

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  6. I'm really motivated to also adopt this method on my blog. It appears that we both have quite a number of things in common which is kinda cool.

    Last year, i defeated the spirit of procrastination and began focusing on my writing career. It's been a long time coming and i took it by force as soon as my mind was totally made up. I also started contributing for BellaNaija Magazine, little did i know that God had a greater plan for me... i had my own blog.

    I decided to also expand my volunteer experience in working with several health care organizations, especially those that help enhance the quality of lives for individuals and diverse communities living with, at-risk for or affected by the challenges associated with HIV/AIDS and this has really enabled me appreciate and realize my reason and purpose for existence...

    It's really essential to be grateful for the little things and if we know we have what it takes to reach out to those who need us the most, we have no reason to decline. God has blessed us with innate abilities to be a blessing and not a curse to many. Let's not misuse our talent to the detriment of others.

    Kudos girl!

    Keep up the good work and may your efforts be crowned with success...

    Ada..

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    1. I love that you nipped procrastination in the butt and that you started your own blog - congratulations Adaora! I also love that we're BN writing buddies - go girl! Lol.

      You're doing great volunteer work - it's wonderful to know that you're involved in that capacity! I'm grateful to hear of people like you that actively find ways to serve others in need because it keeps me inspired.

      I pray you have a wonderful, God-covered 2015, love!

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