How You Can Prepare For Your 2018 Part 1: Reflection

Reflection image
Photo Cred: Berveley Shiller Tumblr

 

Hi bAw family!

 

The New Year is LITERALLY around the corner. Can you believe it??! I feel like I blinked and 11 months swooshed by. It’s crazy how life can happen to you sometimes which is why I decided to do this post.

 

Just FYI: this blog post is a tad long but that’s because it’s more of a coaching post which will get you involved. It’s well worth it though I must say so just set aside an hour one of these days to run through it. You’ll be glad that you did.

 

In brief, this is what this post will help you to tackle:

  1. Reflecting on yourself – noting your strengths, weaknesses, gifts, talents and other qualities that you discovered in 2017. You will learn what these reveal about you.
  2. Reflecting on unhealthy habits/mind-sets – you will intentionally discover the blind spots that may be preventing you from progressing in life.
  3. Reflecting on your greatest victories – you will look at the things you achieved (big or small) to help you repeat or build on them going forward.
  4. Reflecting on God – you will reflect on how you experienced God in 2017 to equip you for the New Year.

 

Writing in your journal
Photo Cred: Ana Rosa Tumblr

 

As I’ve alluded to already, I’m going to put on my Coaching hat in this post, and hoping it helps just one person. I used to be that person that never planned for anything to be honest. I played victim all too well and at the end of a year, I would just go out and have some fun hoping that the New Year would magically be amazing. That I would finally achieve the things I hoped to in life without actually having to think about or change anything.

 

And honestly, it was because I didn’t know better. We’re hardly encouraged to be intentional about stepping into a new season of life, and into a new year, within our black communities. December is about playing – eating mounds of food; having party after party; and just really kicking back.

 

There’s nothing wrong with this at all. We certainly need to take it easy and rest our weary souls after a tough year. But when we set aside a little time to prepare for our new chapter in life, it makes the celebrations all the sweeter. Plus, we get to enter a new year with a clear mind and renewed, directed passion! For your year to be better, you need to plan for it. You wouldn’t travel to a foreign country without doing some form of preparation.

 

Road ahead
Photo Cred: Linxspiration

 

Today I’d like to share a brief exercise for you to do before all the crazy December celebrations come through. The most important step in preparing for a new year, is reflecting on what the current year was all about. You can learn much from it and also see what areas to target in the new season – whether relationships, career, habits, mind-sets, ministries, businesses, school etc.

 

Go ahead and get yourself a fresh journal or fresh writing pad, and find yourself a quiet spot and invite the Holy Spirit to help you with this exercise. He will point out the truth to some of the questions I will be asking you (John 16:13). You can choose to answer the below questions as they relate to your life generally or to specific parts like relationships/business/emotional health/physical fitness etc.

 

  1. Reflecting On Yourself

On your fresh piece of paper, make 5 columns and give them the headings: Strengths, Weaknesses, Gifts, Talents and Other. Under each column, write out the things you learnt about yourself in each of these areas – for the “Other” column you can choose an area not mentioned. Who does this reveal you to be?

You may have gone through this year or even your whole life without realizing who you really are. This little exercise is not going to give you the full picture, but it’s a great start. Understanding what you are made up of wakes you up to what you’re able to do and where you need improvement or external assistance. Seeing yourself right (not through foggy glasses), means that you’re better equipped to face the challenges and opportunities that a New Year brings.

This year, I learnt that one of my greatest gifts is the ability God has given me to see people right – to see the potential He has put inside of them that they often overlook. And to encourage them to pursue that relentlessly. One of my weaknesses is lack of discipline and follow-through. If I do not consciously work on tasks, I do not finish what I started. What about you?

 

Fall in love with taking care
Photo Cred: Soul Wellness

 

  1. Reflecting On Unhealthy Habits/Mind-sets

What unhealthy habits or mind-sets did you consistently engage in this year and what led to them? On the left-hand side of a new page/paper, list each habit or mind-set and next to each, jot down the things or people that led to them.

It could be habits or attitudes like eating too much junk; believing you have nothing of value to add to anyone; not getting enough rest etc. Unhealthy habits/mind-sets can block your progress in life. Doing this exercise will help you become aware of what to avoid or adjust in the New Year. You will keep repeating what you don’t acknowledge.

This year, one of the worst habits I engaged in was to blame other people for my unhappiness. Whether or not their behaviour was wrong, I was not taking responsibility over my own feelings and well-being. It meant that I was constantly open to other people’s manipulations because I was waiting for them to fix things or to do right. Next year, I need to seek to recognize unhealthy conduct from people and choose to set appropriate boundaries or speak up without sulking endlessly or expecting someone else to change.

 

We repeat what we don't repair
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

  1. Reflecting On Your Greatest Victories

On the left-hand side of a new page, list your greatest victories in 2017. Maybe you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro or you finally got your Driver’s License. Maybe you broke off an unhealthy relationship, or you started to serve in your local church. It doesn’t matter how small or big the milestone, it’s just one that fills you up with pride when you think of it.

Next to each victory item, jot down what you believe led to that specific victory – external sources; your skill/effort; opportunities that you grabbed; an attitude you adopted; people around you etc. Reflecting on your victories will reinforce to your mind that you can achieve your goals, and it will help you see how you can repeat or build on these for 2018.

One of my greatest victories for 2018 was stepping out of my comfort zone and hosting events for women I had never met but that God planted a passion in my heart for. This victory was a result of the help of amazing friends, family and strangers who gave of their time, money and skills to make them a blessing. Going forward, I am encouraged that what God has called me to do, He will fulfil and provide for.

 

Success is a series of small wins
Photo Cred: Instead Of Ashes

 

  1. Reflecting On God

This is probably the most important reflection theme. What did you learn about God this year through the good and terrible circumstances you faced? Do not limit yourself with this step. Let your pen free-flow on your page as the Holy Spirit reveals the truths you experienced about God and His character in 2017.

The most important thing we can do in our life is to see God right. He reveals His character through our experiences in life whether good or bad. This is why Romans 8:28 says that “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose”. God does something amazing with every experience we go through, if we would just allow Him to show us. Seeing God right through your past experiences, equips you for the new ones you will walk through.

One of the things I learnt about God in 2017 is that He is good even when I don’t feel it or see it (Psalm 145:9; 1 Chronicles 16:34; Nahum 1:7). His intrinsic nature is to allow things to shape up in a way that ultimately benefits me. I have learnt to wait on God rather than throw tantrums when things appear to be going pear-shaped because He always reveals His goodness to me. Going forward, this gives me such confidence in Him as my Father and Sovereign Lord over my life.

 

The coolest thing about God
Photo Cred: YouTube

 

Once you are done with your reflections, you will find that you see yourself, life, people and God through different eyes. You are no longer seeing through eyes that have been tainted by society or lies or fears and doubts. You are not seeing through your own desires or wishes. But, through the universal and omnipresent perspective of God who sees where you’ve come from, where you are and where He is taking you.

 

I hope you found this exercise useful. If you have any questions or would just like to share your experience of it, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email at theblackafricanwoman@gmail.com. You can also get a hold of me for personal coaching sessions if you feel stuck in a rut in your life or you desire healing and to see yourself the way God sees you. My desire is to help you live a more fulfilled and wholesome life as God intended.

 

Look out for the final instalment of posts for this year which will help you plan forward for the New Year. Thanks for reading as always!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

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What I Will Never Forget About 2016

Having some much-needed fun at our company year-end function!

Greetings bAw family 🙂 It’s been a while since I shared anything on the blog site and some of you have been asking me why I haven’t been sharing and when next I will write. To cut a long story short, 2016 was God’s beautiful way of getting me to sit at His feet so that He could break, comfort and heal me. It was a year of discovery and restoration, which sometimes means putting your tools down and focusing on your own well-being before stepping out to be there for others.

It’s been a phenomenal year. And apart from all the news headlines that I will never forget from this year, there are a number of lessons and experiences that I was blessed with in 2016 that I will always remember. Before we get into the craziness of the festive season, I thought to share these with you:

 

  1. Rejection Can Be Your Greatest Blessing

Ever since childhood I have faced my fair share of rejection (as I’m sure you have too). And this hasn’t stopped into my adulthood. However, what has changed is my perspective on rejection. This year alone I have experienced rejection in pretty much all the important areas of my life – relationships; church family; and career/work. Nobody beams with joy when they feel unwanted so it’s been tough to endure.

But, as I walked through this valley with God’s guiding and strong Hand, I came to realize that being rejected by people and circumstances propels you out of your comfort zone and eventually into a better space. What made me cry before has constantly led me to the feet of Jesus in worship and praise for allowing me to lose certain things and people. I have received the blessings of new relationships; new appreciation of myself and others; new experiences; and above all else a new, more intimate relationship with my Saviour. Had I not felt unwanted, I would not have wanted to draw closer to Him.

So. The next time you’re feeling rejected, ask God to reveal the blessing in it.

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Find the blessing in your rejection… (Photo Cred: Bridget Gwanzura)

  1. You’re Probably The Only One Limiting Yourself

For the longest time now, I have boxed myself in terms of my abilities. I remember telling myself as a teen that all I would ever be is average especially at school. And guess what? I did become average. I also convinced myself that I was no good with numbers and needed to stay away from them. That’s what influenced my choice in studies and career path. And literally, when someone would come to me with work involving any form of finances I would freeze and my mind would go blank. I also felt highly incapable of leading or succeeding greatly at anything really.

This year marked my final year of studying towards being a Life Coach. It involved tedious hours of practical coaching while completing two modules and working at my current job all at the same time. As I juggled these three areas in my life and especially towards the end of the year, I got such a shock when I passed my Coaching Fieldwork course with flying colours! Not only that, I was even more shocked when my employers vocalised their belief in my capabilities regarding work involving (eeek!) numbers and praising my skills! I remember crying at one point in disbelief, then it hit me – I was the only one standing in the way of my greatness.

God had always believed in my ability to succeed and to be and do great things regardless of what I was tackling (Philippians 4:13). My friends and family continually celebrated my talents, skills and abilities. But I just couldn’t see it, until I opened my mind to trust that God could do anything in and through me. It took years but it took me hitting rock bottom to finally see all I am and shall be in Christ.

So my dear friend, take a look in the mirror. You are most probably your greatest obstacle to greatness.

 

  1. Preparation Is The Key To Success

As I mentioned above, this year was jam-packed for me. On top of my studies and work, a close friend and I were leading out a group of young women on a personal and spiritual journey. My days were literally planned out months in advance. I found myself continually tired at some point because of all I had to do and I could not afford to drop the ball in any area of my life. I wanted to graduate. I wanted to excel in my career. I desired to lead these young women as best as possible because God had called me to. And of course, I also needed some downtime every so often.

I remember listening to a powerful sermon by Toure Roberts as he spoke about success in our spiritual life and other areas of our lives. What stood out most for me was preparation being the most important part of you succeeding at anything. I found that when I thought ahead and prepared myself, whether mentally or emotionally or physically, I was able to execute any task well regardless of how small or big. Whether it meant preparing my lunch and breakfast the night before work so that I was on time and not in a rush the next day; or spending the hours needed to read up on a subject and internalizing it before coaching a client; I was able to do things well because I was calm and assured.

Most of the time we struggle to live successful lives because we just go with the flow and react to what is thrown at us. What if we actually got ready for life the way athletes do for a competition? You may find that being proactive is that major difference to you becoming and achieving all you’ve dreamed of.

 

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Always remember how precious you are… (Photo Cred: Bridget Gwanzura)

  1. You Are Worth Pursuing

One of the areas that I have struggled with for most of my life is my worth and value. Because of past circumstances and beliefs (some of which I have written about here), I have believed the lie of the enemy and society that I am not a woman worthy of being pursued and wooed and loved. I have always distinctly seen other women as being pursuable. Yet, at the beginning of this year I realized that I had struggled to internalize that for myself.

This was a problem, not only regarding romantic relationships but more importantly regarding my relationship with my First Love – God. I realized that I did not believe He wanted to pursue me and love me and bless me with good things. I really did not see myself as His beloved or as precious in His sight (Isaiah 43:4). This informed how I perceived my position in the lives of others. It is so important for a woman to know without a shadow of a doubt that God loves her desperately and daily pursues her because she is worth it.

I thank my Jesus that He pursued me HARD in 2016! He pursued me in the sunsets and sunrises; in the smile and hug of a child; in the support of friends and family; in His Word and and and. He literally poured out Song of Solomon 4:1-15 in my life this year and reminded me that I am worth pursuing. Today, I am alright not having a half-hearted relationship or one where I have to go the extra mile to feel desired. I am okay dying single because I have tasted the greatest love of all – the relentless, pure love of a Man who will stop at nothing to be with me.

My dear sister, if you ever remember anything in your life be reminded of the fact that you are most certainly worth pursuing.

 

Thank you for taking the time to share in my experiences of 2016. I would love to hear what it’s been like for you too. So please do share below and let’s encourage one another.

Wishing you only God’s as you prepare to enter 2017!

With love,

Sonia Dee

8 Take-Aways From 2015

Thats All Folks

Phot Cred: Tony Lucia’s Movie House

The year is finally winding down and we’re getting ready to be with family and/or friends and; to just relax and shut down from the busyness of the year. They say that this time of the year is usually the best time to reflect on the year gone by – what you went through and achieved. What you didn’t manage to do that you wanted to. What you were hoping for and how that turned out. What you desire for the coming year. And so, as my last post for 2015 I saw it fit to share some of the lessons I have learnt in this year.

 

  1. Life Is Hard – For Everyone

2015 was a tough tough year. I’m sitting here typing this post and wondering how I made it to this point. As the song by Marvin Sapp says, “Here I am, I’m still standing. Here I am, after all I’ve been through.” Truly, here I am. I learnt this year just how painfully difficult life is – not just for me or an isolated few, but for everyone. People are going through things we have no idea about. You’re not alone in the roughness of life. You’re in really good company 🙂 It’s something to remember when we interact with others – it teaches us to be more patient and compassionate with one another.

 

  1. Pamper Yourself Every So Often

No-one is ever going to love you more than you love yourself except for God. A fellow human being (Parent, sibling, friend, spouse/partner, colleague etc) will love you only as much as you seem to love and cherish yourself. So, take the time to spoil yourself. Do things that bring you joy and fulfilment. Things that say, “I love you”. Whether that is reading; going for a spa date; refusing to do what makes you uncomfortable; getting your nails or hair done; having lunch with friends; star-gazing on your balcony or in your backyard; watching that movie etc. Just treat yourself for no other reason than that you are worth it. This I learnt in 2015. I learnt to be generous with myself and the things I enjoy. This has also taught me to extend that same generosity to others.

 

  1. Not Everyone Sees Life The Way You Do

I’ve come to realize that I am a headstrong and sometimes stubborn woman. Lol. Once I have come to understand life a certain way, it is difficult to convince me otherwise or for me to see it from a different perspective. I’ve also come to learn that this is not always a good thing. How I view life, how I experience it will never be the same way that someone else does regardless of how similar we or our circumstances are. We are all uniquely different, all fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14) and so our perceptions of life are all delightfully different. Lighten up a bit and enjoy looking through someone else’s glasses 🙂

 

  1. Life Is Hell When You Care What People Think

I’ve written a post about how I’m a recovering people-pleaser. That disease, that sin is work! As though we don’t have enough troubles in our lives, caring what people think about you, your decisions, and your life circumstances just adds an extra and unnecessary burden. It’s a work-in-progress but I’m learning to be free of others’ opinions. We’re all struggling with something in life and more than that, we are all sinners in need of God’s saving Grace (Romans 3:23). And so a fellow sinner does not have the final say over my life. I am learning to just let things go and live life the way God says I should.

 

  1. Follow Someone Who Inspires You

Those who know me, know that I’m totally inspired by a few people – Heather Lindsey, Myron Edmonds and Marshawn Evans. Identify people who are similar to you, who have a vision similar to yours, and are excelling in fulfilling their purpose. You will soon find that these are people who have also walked a similar path to the one you’re currently on, and reading up on them every so often and processing the messages they share will encourage you to keep moving forward to becoming who God created you to be. Life has become so challenging and you need to keep motivated and inspired.

 

  1. Pray For Your Enemies Like You’re Praying For Yourself

An enemy is anyone that does not like you or that you do not like. It can also be someone who has hurt you or someone you have hurt. Basically, an enemy is an adversary, an opponent, an antagonist. I’ve had my own enemies in 2015 and I’ve learnt this year to pray for them earnestly. To set aside my pride, my self-righteousness and pray for their well-being and their blessings as though I was praying for myself. That thing changes your heart towards them! It allows God to put you in their shoes and to help you realize that He died for them the same way He died for you. It can turn an enemy into a friend.

 

  1. Do What You’ve Been Scared To Do

I recently read a quote that says, “Fear does not stop death, it stops life.” Many of us do not reach our full potential because we’re scared. We’re scared we will fail. We’re scared there’s someone else who can do what we want to do much better. We’re scared we won’t be able to handle success. We’re scared we will change. We’re just scared. The truth is, what we probably fear will come to pass but it would have come to pass even if we had never tried. So what have you got to lose? Be bold! Be courageous! Start that business. Start that blog. Quit that job and go volunteer in a faraway country. Ask that lady out. Smile at that guy. Many people who have achieved greatness have done so especially when they were afraid.

 

  1. You Are A Miracle

This one I’ve witnessed throughout 2015. I think Kirk Franklin summarized it so beautifully in his song Miracles when he said, “…. But while you’re waiting on the miracle you want, don’t forget the miracle you are”! Too often we equate a miracle to things like money being deposited in your bank account from nowhere or healing from a deadly disease or even surviving a terrible car accident. Those are just the ways of God – nothing miraculous about that. The true miracle is YOU. Your life. The fact that you were conceived and survived labour. The fact that even though you have been rejected, ridiculed, abused, abandoned, and hurt you are still here. You’re still standing. The fact that the devil was out to kill you but Christ died to save you. You ARE a miracle! 🙂

 

There is so much more that I’ve taken from 2015. It’s been a year! I’ve been so blessed sharing a little bit of myself and a the experiences of the ladies who have so willingly shared on this blog site. I’ve enjoyed reading your encouragements and have been honoured to get a glimpse into your life and your journey. I look forward to us growing even more together next year.

Have a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones and I pray 2016 is your best year yet!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee