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Jessica Ireju: You’ve Set Those 2020 Intentions… Now, Make It Count!

2020 is the year to make it count; every single day on the calendar. Even the days when you can’t find your favourite shade of lipstick for that meeting, decide to show up. This is the year to fail at being mediocre. Don’t procrastinate, talk yourself out of opportunities, waste any moment or agree with fear. This is the year to come correct!

Jessica Ireju

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I’m deliberately writing this article weeks after you have been flooded with information on goal setting for the new decade and long after you’ve made your New Year resolutions because research has shown that it takes an average person 21 days to fail at their New Year resolutions. Even if you aren’t into making New Year resolutions, you still need to lose all the weight you gained from #DettyDecember – thanks to small chops (the culprit for me this year is samosa😁).

This is the year to land the dream job, fit into a size 10 Teeshogs dress, marry the love of your life and take pictures with Bae on a gondola in Venice for your honeymoon so that your decade highlight for 2030 on Instagram will be lit – that is if Instagram will still be the ‘in thing’ by 2030.

Are you ready for some life-changing secret?

Here it is: Just Do It!

2020 is the year to make it count; every single day on the calendar. Even the days when you can’t find your favourite shade of lipstick for that meeting, decide to show up. This is the year to fail at being mediocre. Don’t procrastinate, talk yourself out of opportunities, waste any moment or agree with fear. This is the year to come correct!

One of the things I’m hoping to do in this decade is to see a lot of God’s green Earth, collect memories in beautiful destinations, return with a wider view of life, translate my experiences across various mediums and share it with an audience. I want you to think of the New Year as a vacation to an exciting destination you’ve never traveled to.

I have a degree in tourism. One of the fundamentals of tourism I learned is the distinction of the Travel and Hospitality Industry from any other industry. The service it provides cannot be brought to you – tourists must always leave the comfort of their homes to enjoy it.

Think about it: clothes can be delivered to your house, you can also have an at-home pedicure or online shopping. But for travel, the journey is part of the experience, not just the destination. From road trips in cramped buses with sweaty passengers, lengthy train rides to hiking up mountain trails, it is sometimes a challenging journey for tourists, even when the destination is beautiful.

Is it worth it? That is a question you will have to answer. The unique challenge for the travel industry is not just creating an exciting tour, providing affordable flight tickets and crafting a memorable dining experience in a beautiful city, but also that the tourist will agree to board a long flight to catch the sunrise in Mykonos. One with hydrophobia will have a desire to go Kayaking. Some people will go skydiving while screaming and take steps on the canopy walkway in Obudu even with a fear of heights. Just so they can see the artist that God is from the bird’s eye view of the forest.

Here’s the catch though: while a tourist is trying to decide whether they will travel or not, the tourism product is one that expires every day! Unlike a physical product like shoes that have the opportunity to sell out any remaining stock and still recoup the exact revenue from the product the next day, the travel industry doesn’t have that luxury. That is, the tours, hotel rooms and airline seats that were never booked on any given day expires; revenue meant to be collected on it for that day is gone. Empty seat on a flight not booked is considered expired; the sales you would have made on flight tickets for those unbooked seats are forever lost.

The New Year is just like traveling; every day you refuse to show up for your life is a day of wasted opportunities that can never be recovered. There’s so much to explore, so many opportunities waiting for you to grab them but you have to do the work. No one’s going to do it for you.

One of my favourite destinations I’ve been to in Nigeria is the Obudu Mountain Resort in Cross River state. It’s also one of the most tiring journeys I’ve ever  had – about 10 hours on the road. My most memorable moment from that trip is my canopy walkway experience but it’s also the scariest. Trust me when I say that the best way to discover you might have a fear of heights is not on a wire bridge suspended 70 meters above the forest company. That’s what a canopy walkway is – a swinging bridge above comfort levels. High up in the air is the best way to be convinced of your frail mortality and how fleeting life is. Every step I took on that 100 meters long walk was deliberate. All I could think about was getting to the end without my heart giving out from fear. That is what you’re going to have to do this year. Be intentional about your life – no matter how scared, tired, exhausted you are each day. Decide to take steps toward a better version of you… even if they are slow.

For me, the one thing amidst all my goals that had kept me going is perseverance – just doing it, irrespective of my feelings or circumstances. Not stopping on writing this post because I’d rather be watching Bob Hearts Abishola and snacking on chin-chin – especially since my device’s malfunction is making this take twice as long as it should at 11:55 pm. Overcoming unexpected challenges such as having my bath with cold water in freezing Port Harcourt – thanks to the unscheduled harmattan visit in January instead of December. Moisturizing my natural hair after my big chop even if some days, I really don’t have time to make much of an effort. But then, I see pictures of Ijeoma Kola’s natural hair on Instagram and the possibility of a full mane makes me lavish shea butter on my hair.

Although I could hear the sound of my heart beating on the canopy walkway, I could hear the louder voices of others behind urging me not to stall because I was causing a hold-up on their own walk. You need to hear the sound of purpose louder than the beat of your fears and critics this year, so you don’t hold others from doing the impossible. It was quite exhilarating being on the canopy walkway in Obudu but even better are the breathtaking views of nature at its best – a symmetry of the divine and man pushing his boundaries for unhindered access to the forest floors. Incredible! That’s the best word to describe the view from up there. I hope that’s the way you view your 2020, not just the end results, but in the little steps each day.

What do your intentional steps look like this year? Where’s your favourite place you’ve visited and why? Where’s your dream destination to visit before the end of this decade? For me, it’s Santorini and Greece.

Share your answers in the comment section, I’m hoping to find a travel partner.

Jessica Ireju is a writer crafting words together on her thoughts, dreams and experiences either on the pages of her diary or online to serve as a compass to her and hopefully others on navigating life, love and faith. She has a degree in Archaeology and Tourism from the university of Nigeria, Nsukka. She's an avid reader, a lover of home made pancakes and on the days when she's not having conversations with herself she can be found on instagram @jessicaireju and can be reached for conversations, content creation and freelance writing by email on [email protected]

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