I stumbled upon a book I have owned for about 12 years now. I bought it during my LASU days, as I envisioned the future with great optimism. Inside the first page it read, MY LIFE IN 20 YEARS in bright colors. Flipping over the pages, I could feel the energy I had writing those words, the belief in myself came rushing back, so much vigor, so much gusto… so much delusion.
I had planned that in 20 years from that time, I would have a mega mall (called The Dome) in every major city in the world (Thank you, Amazon). I had plans to own a worldwide record label, a global fashion label, mega investments in the billions of dollars and an academy for Hip-hop.
While none of these are exactly unachievable, I mean, there are outliers like Mark Zuckerberg and the rest, who from their dorm rooms, went on to build billion dollar enterprises; I however, omitted the single, most important variable in it all, LIFE. By some act of arrogance, I felt that all that was needed for success, was for me to want it; and boy, was I wrong.
To start with, as I grew, my interests began to change; but more importantly, life, as I was later to understand, was waiting for me at every turn. It showed up at my first job, where I wasn’t paid for 10 months and then fired unceremoniously.
It showed up while I was squatting with my friend that eventually kicked me out, for needing more floor space. It showed up in my first startup, where I was sorely unprepared for the logistics of inventory and also in my second startup, where after walking the length of Lagos, introducing a new product to stores, some guy goes to China and floods the market with a similar brand that was half my landing cost. No, I didn’t factor in LIFE.
Also, because I hadn’t factored in LIFE, I started to look outside myself for the reasons for my failures. Could it be my step mother? Was it an attack from my father’s village? Was it that ex from our bad breakup, tipping karma my way? Since I wasn’t given to going traditional, I became deeply religious. I went through deliverance four times, fasted regularly, prayed and prayed, till one day I got fed up of not getting any results and I gave up on everything; GOALS, VISION, FUTURE, EVERYTHING.
Then I decided to (as I termed it then) settle, I chose to take my eyes off becoming and (by mistake), decided to picture what I would want present around me on the day I died (weird right). If you dared to do this for a moment, you’d realize that private jets, yachts and skyscrapers don’t come to mind. All of a sudden, what’s most important rises to the surface, everything becomes clear and all that pressure falls away. Why was I under pressure? Who was I trying to impress? Why did I think the world would not function if I didn’t become? Why? Why? Why?
Anyway, with the pressure gone and taking one day at a time, expectations were re-calibrated, victories were momentary, and failures weren’t crushing. Life all together became better. The super irony is that I have achieved more in these last four years since making this decision than the previous 8 since I set the goals in the book.
So, if I could speak to me 12 years ago, I’d say, dream big, remain focused on your goals but slow down to treasure the journey, taste the food, love with all your heart and live this life like it’s the only one you will get.
Dear millennial, I know you’re antsy, it’s a new year and you feel like you want to do and be so many things that there’s hardly any time at all to waste… breathe, it will all come together.