I’d started smoking again. It was my delaying tactic. Hmm should I start writing or should I take an ‘inspiration’ walk?
I’d gone too far this time. Disgusting greyish phlegm now came out of my throat as I dashed back and forth from the bathroom like a basketball player.
It was like I was being punished, like God was saying ‘Should’ve done the work, now look at ya!’
Procrastination is often called a disease. It’s insidious in its nature.
It starts with something small then envelopes your whole life.
You get to a point where running away is now harder than actually doing the work.
When I was at my lowest, that was the moment that I wanted to do the work. When I was struggling to take two breaths in a row I realised the futility of running away.
Where was I going anyway? It always led back to the same point.
Many studies have shown that when patients find out they are going to die is when they really begin to live.
When they begin to do those things that really matter to them.
The meaningless worries of the present moment is zoomed in 100x. The preciousness of time has a microscope on it.
In my previous job I used to go schools and talk to kids about options after school. I’m 26 now and think back to when I was there age. It seemed like school would never end.
Now it’s 10 years later, it’s surreal.
All it shows is time is fleeting. It’s like a relationship – sometimes you give space though when you’re together you get lost in the moment.
Gaining that perspective has been difficult.
Sometimes you might have to go to an incredibly painful place.
But don’t be afraid to die.
Because maybe that’s what you need before you truly live.
Do you think about the areas that need to be improved? I know I do. I need to exercise more. To read more. Clean my room more!
Then you have the famous improvement answer of all – the New Year’s Resolution. Everyone has made one at least once, if not actually written it down then had it in their head. This is the year I quit smoking or this is the year that I become financially independent.
Now, the big one, how many actually succeed in these improvements? Well statistics show only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s Resolution.
Isn’t that incredible? 92% of people didn’t accomplish the thing that they CHOSE to do. Nobody forced it upon you to want to start a business this year. That’s what you wanted!
Well I don’t know if that’s what YOU wanted it was definitely what I wanted. In fact all of those New Year’s Resolution’s listed were things that I personally set out to do over the last 5 years or so and I achieved none of them. Probably gave up on them after about a month….
There was a lot of pain associated with this. How could I improve this and improve my life?
That’s a question I started asking myself. And that’s one place where improvement starts. Instead of just giving up, actually asking yourself questions.
What can I do differently next time? Where did I go wrong? Why did I stop?
Then you have to look for answers to those questions. I discovered the large majority of the reason that I was failing at these goals is because I didn’t have a solid foundation to build on. I didn’t wake up on time, wasn’t organised, physically, mentally and spiritually lacking.
I was incredibly negative towards myself internally. To not achieve something was the end of the world and thus it became a vicious spiral where not improving would lead to more non-improvement.
And that’s the key to improvement. To keep going. To know hitting the floor isn’t the end of the world and that if you really want to achieve those things you say you do then you have to get up.
And your wiser this time. Because you’ve learnt what not to do.
So you either go again with renewed wisdom and humility…..or you keep thinking about it and digging a hole in the well of the past.
Because the improvement is not in what happened. It’s what happened next.
Shame is the silent killer. Because nobody knows of your shame. You carry around it with you like keys in your pocket. Every movement is the jangle – I’ve done wrong. I’m a bad person.
Why did I do that?
I was doing it with this article. Said I was going to post on Wednesday (technically it’s Thursday morning) and was getting on myself then I remembered…..
‘Whose judging you?’ a friend once said to me.
I was walking around with these thoughts. Nobody was pointing there finger at me.
So I was punishing myself for previous experiences. And even if somebody blasted me – I can only make myself feel that way.
Self Hating At Me Everyday.
How do you replace shame? Well I broke it down to the basics:
1. Can’t change the past (oh I’ve spent many years trying to!)
2. Can change the future
3. Darkness is the absence of light.
It’s the last point that was the one. I had to replace the shame with love. So I started repeating I love myself in my head. As much as possible.
Reading spiritual text from which the light came.
Any creative endeavour is built on love. Yet love can only be spread from a source of love.
“This too I know – and wise it were if each could know the same – that every prison that men build is built with bricks of shame,” – Oscar Wilde
I’ve been in prisons of shame. Now I choose to live as a free man.
‘Never give up!’ ‘Don’t stop’
But what if you do stop? What if you gave up?
If you’re like me, you’ve been kicking yourself.
It wasn’t how you planned it….like a thief in the night the fear crept in the backdoor and violated ya house!
When I started writing my intentions we’re there. I just wanted to share a message from the things I’ve experienced. And then somewhere along the line it became about the image.
As one week turned into two, my fears and stories became part of me. The claws we’re sunk in and it was dragging me back to the cave of quiet suffering.
Most days I thought about writing. By this time there had to be an elaborate plan attached to it. 4 week launches, podcasts, social media marketing. It had to be perfect.
I knew it would happen…just not now. Not now.
I started to believe it.
Until Tuesday. I attended one of my best friends book launch. We’d both felt the pain of inaction, yet she took the leap.
And I knew it was time.
I’m so grateful for this interim period. The internal conflict was a guide – there’s another way. A
s the Bible says – Seek and ye shall find.
I joined personal development courses, read, developed my spirituality.
Now I got tools for this battle.
And when you got the tools – you have responsibility.
I believe everybody is a genius. In the definition that they have a burning desire to create.
Yet to harness it you
2. Create a plan to keep this in existence
Sounds simple eh?
Simple but not easy.
Anyone can start something. How many businesses, books, paintings and songs have been started and never finished. Millions I’d guess.
No it’s not the start – it’s the restart. Having the courage to step back into the ring after that defeat.
Being humble and acting where you didn’t before.
I’m in this game for life. Yet I’m no longer living in the future.
I’m just committed to being as well as I can today.
And then doing the same thing tomorrow. And seeing where it takes me.
So I’ll be blogging here every Wednesday and Sunday.
To share what I’m learning about living a fulfilled and self-expressed life.
What it takes and what stops it.
That’s my plan. So let’s see where this goes….
Is there anything you’re putting off restarting? That’s calling you?
Let’s work together. Drop a comment below.
‘There is the life we live, and there is the unlived life within us. And between them is the Resistance’
You may call it fear. You may call it negative thinking. You may call it the devil.
Whatever it is – it’s that thing that stops us from living the life we want to lead.
From advancing our spiritual, physical and creative state.
It’s what stops a singer from singing. A writer from publishing. An actor from performing. An entrepreneur from starting a business.
I’ve known Khafi for over two years and in that time we’ve shared many conversations on creative suffering. The struggle to write. The struggle to publish.
The struggle to live the life within.
So when I got the message that she was publishing her first book I was delighted.
Often when I see someone do something that I want to do, feelings of envy and unhappiness emerge. I feel inadequate in their presence.
This happened slightly, yet the overwhelming feeling was one of joy. It was like seeing a fellow slave break free from the plantation. Yes I was still enslaved as I wasn’t expressing myself in writing – but there is hope. It is possible.
Going to the event I wasn’t expecting anything. Knowing Khafi and the effervescent personality she is however, I thought there’d be something interesting up her sleeve. And that inkling was confirmed.
When she opened up with singing it was like angels calling. The tone was set – this was not going to be any old book launch.
Action Jackson as the host for the night was a perfect fit. I’ve crossed paths with him many a time. He’s one of those people that you feel momentum just being around. He’s moving and he wants you to move too.
‘Everyone Smiles in the Same Language’ and ‘Don’t Accept The Poo’ were the first readings. Smiling I got… I did not think shit would be on the agenda. Shhhhiiiiiiiiitttt was very appropriate.
It’s what my genius had been mired in.
The bullshit stories of starting tomorrow. I’m not good enough. I don’t know what I’m doing. Nobody cares. I’ve lost my mojo. I haven’t wrote in months and mon…
Don’t accept that! Looking around the room I saw kindred spirits. Dreams deferred. The Resistance swarming over the magnificent creative armies.
The night continued and I got a paperclip to play the networking game. I met a couple of inspirational characters in Emmanuel and Samson. Holy warriors joining the fight with laughter and empowerment.
By the time the greatest storyteller Alim Kamara got on stage to tell a tale of the shrieking donkey that wouldn’t stop howling I was lit. Everyday I’ve thought about creating. The howling never went away.
No matter what I did… it was calling to me…
After this there was a Q&A with Khafi and Action Jackson. When Khafi said the message for tonight was that anyone can do it, he wasn’t buying that! And I liked that, because as he explained it was the example.
What you’ve done and are doing….that’s the real message.
And then she proceeded to break out in 5 languages…show and prove baby!
By the end of the night the question was not if I would create….it was when. Reading the book on the way home I was buzzing. Yet there was a warning sign.
‘Beware of unused inspiration’
Khafi received many gifts tonight. The gifts of friendship. The gift of love. The gifts of book purchases! (Thank you Mrs Ogunyemi!)
Yet she gave us the greatest gift. And that is the gift that any artist can give to another – to serve as an inspiration through their creations.
Through living that life that was within her.
Darkness is the absence of light. She is the light. So use it.
You don’t have to be great to start. But you have to start to be great.
And you are the greatest when you can restart.
So shake it off and step up
A Quarter Centenarian’s Guide to the Galaxy will be released on the 30th of November 2015 and will be available to order from Amazon.co.uk. For updates on the book follow Khafi Kareem at @KhafiKareem on twitter and like the facebook page -www.facebook.com/25by25book
“What the hell are you doing here??”
Jordan slumped up on his bed, rubbing his eyes.
“Errrr this is my room der brain! Why are you in my bed?” the child replied.
“This is my bed what are you talking about?” Jordan said.
Jordan sighed. He was so confused. Sitting on the corner of his bed was him.
But not quite.
“I always wondered what it would be like to meet you.” the child said, excitedly. “I bet you’re awesome. I always knew I would be!’
“So what do you do? Spaceman, ninja, footballer, fireman or ooooh I kn’ the child carried on.
“No I don’t do any of those things” Jordan responded flatly, interrupting th child..
I’m actually having a conversation with his 5 year old self….well might as well go with it, he thought.
“So what do you like doing?” Jordan said as he swung his legs from under the covers to sit next to the child.
“Oooh I like to ride my bike, play football with my friends, drawing, reading horror stories, playing with Ian, going to the…”the child rambled.
“Playing with Ian?” Jordan raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah ya know Ian? My best friend!” the child said grinning towards Jordan.
Then he leant in his ear and whispered “Psssk don’t tell anybody he’s a secret!”
Ahh yes Ian, Jordan remembered. The imaginary friend. How long since I’d thought about him, Jordan thought.
“So what do you do” the child said, refocusing back to Jordan.
“I work in finance. Buying and selling stocks and derivatives. Seeing how the dollar effects the…”
“BOOORRRIIIINNNG” the child snapped back, pulling a silly face.
Jordan was angry now. Who the hell was the kid in his green dinosaur onesie to tell a grown 25 year old man that he was boring?
“So what else do you do?” the child carried on.
“Well, I like…”Jordan drifted off. What else did he do?
Gosh, this kid’s right, I am boring! he thought.
“You was saying?” the kids smiling face now intensely looking upwards at Jordan.
Going to have to disappoint the kid, Jordan thought.
“Ya see kid life isn’t as simple as you have it. Once you get older you can’t just run around all day having fun. You have responsibilities. Need to pay the bills. Gotta survive.”
“Why?” the kid replied, putting one arm on his knee to hold up his chin eagerly awaiting the reply.
“Because that’s just how it goes.” Jordan began to explain. “You go to school, you get an education, you work and you live.”
“Why?” the kid said, still in the same position.
“Because that’s how the world works. Companies create jobs and we get an education to show we can do those jobs. Then we get paid for doing those jobs.” Jordan said, pretty content with his explanation.
“Why?” the child wasn’t giving up.
“Because if everybody lived in a dream world, the world would be chaos! Nobody would do anything and nothing would happen!”
Jordan was angry now. It’s bad enough he interrupted my sleep now hes bugging the shit out of me!
The child fell silent and a calm came over the room. They both observed the room.
The bed was perpendicular to Jordan’s desk, and young Jordan was facing in that direction.
He looked at the table filled with textbooks and pieces of paper. Above it was a wall filled with to-do lists and numbers, larger than he could count.
He got up from the bed and walked over to the other side of the room where his toys used to be. He looked down in horror at stacks of bland newspapers.
‘Where’s my toys?’ he exclaimed, and stamped his foot.
‘Toys?’ Jordan sat up. ‘There long gone, I’ve got no need for them. Have to keep up with the news.’
‘But that was my fun time. Playing. That was my ‘magicnation….’
‘Magic nation?’ Jordan cocked an eyebrow. ‘You mean imagination’
‘Yeah whatever!’ ‘Well that’s what Mrs Harper used to call it. It’s Magic Nation time. In timeout we play make-believe.
Jordan’s mind flashed back. He remembered magic nation time. Where he and the other kids would play doctor. Or pretend they we’re fireman. Or draw pictures and then put on their own show for the other kids.
Jordan sighed. How sad is it that was more interesting than my life now?
Things changed through the years. He went to secondary school. His dreams of becoming a painter and a craftsmen we’re put to the side. His dad told him to be realistic. School told him to focus on studying.
And look what it’s brought me, he thought. Talking to a bloody 6 year old at 2am!
Young Jordan sensed some sadness in his older self. He sat down back next to Jordan.
Jordan turned to look at him.
‘Nothing’ he replied.
‘You have a sad face’
Great now I’m being counselled by a 6 year old! he thought.
‘I remember.’ he began. ‘I remember how we used to run around in our own world. Spend days just drawing. Nights dreaming.’ He sighed again. ‘There’s something of that I miss’
He had a good life. Good paying job. Interesting friends. Loving family. Yet something was missing.
‘You know mummy says you’re never too old to start’ young Jordan replied.
‘To start what?’
Ahh yes of course she did. She still pushed him towards a stable path though.
Jordan began to understand. Maybe it was because nobody helped her in her dreams.
‘You’re a good kid you know that.’ Jordan said, while ruffling the hair of his younger self.
‘Hey let’s make an agreement. I’ll start dreaming again. And start creating. And I want you to do something for me?’
‘Yes?’ younger Jordan said with a big smile on his face.
And then Jordan did something only his younger self would know. He put his thumb up. And younger Jordan pressed his against it.
They looked into each other’s eyes and slowly the child began to disappear as the sun rose from the window behind him…….
I want to get a six pack. I want to become a writer.
Started doing press ups – lasted 5 days.
Started writing a blog – stopped after 10 days
Then I beat myself up – rinse and repeat.
The cycle of ambition and disappointment.
Have you ever had goals you gave up on? Wanted to make a drastic change?
But why is who we are wrong? Because we say so?
Wanting more is only human.
The problem comes from taking one out of the present.
And thinking of the end goal rather than NOW.
Not loving where you are now. And who you are now.
Long Term Mentality
When we start rushing for that dream self – not accepting and loving who you are now defeats the purpose.
Because if we can’t embrace who we are today, how will we love ourselves in the future?
It will be a constant cycle of unfulfilment.
Because who you will become is dictated by who you are NOW.
Acceptance is not the same as settling. If you want to start a business it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
Acceptance means you acknowledge you don’t have the skills and consistency – yet.
Embracing that will open the doors to learning. To doing. To growing.
To not hating yourself.
Disclaimer – This Is Not Easy
I told a fib in the title. This isn’t a small shift – it’s massive.
And it’s not easy – it’s a daily challenge
But if it was easy everyone would do it.
Because the opportunity is open to everyone
I am inconsistent. That I leave projects unfinished. That my mindset is not strong enough – yet.
Everyday though I get better. And I love who I am now.
And one day I’ll look back with adoration.
Because you never forget your first love.
‘You look like J Cole – except he actually gets shit done’ my brother said.
Where did that come from? I thought.
Is he watching me?
Have you ever said you we’re going to do something and didn’t do it?
I always looked at it like I let myself down.
That’s just an interpretation.
What actually did happen?
I stopped others from seeing
Because when we see someone else do it we know it’s possible.
Just the simple act of them living up to their words – it inspires us.
It makes us take stock of what we’re doing.
My nephew is one years old – and he loves mobile phones.
He’ll take your phone and pretend he’s talking to someone
Why? Because that’s what he sees from the people around him.
We are the same. We may not be consciously watching, but the actions of those around us affects us.
Should you fret about whose watching? No
Be aware that they are though.
Because we have the power to expand or limit other people’s perspectives as well as our own.
And perspective’s leads to actions.
Thus we all have great power.
What are you going to do with it?
‘It is not easy to find a man who studies for three years and cannot think about earning a salary’ – Confucius
The biggest problem with the education system is it’s a funnel.
It’s directing kids into areas which they have no passion for.
I’ve been to schools all over the country talking about careers. Do you know how much money is allocated to careers and personal development?
Most of the money goes towards achieving grades, so they can move up the rankings.
Because that’s how a school gets allocated more money.
Kids (a term I use loosely) are much more aware, but the cycles repeating.
At that age most students don’t know what they want to do. And that’s ok.
We shouldn’t be telling students what to pick.
We should allow them to find things they’re interested in NOW.
And give them encouragement in how to explore that.
Because finding out things you enjoy is only half the battle.
The keys is to eliminate those things you don’t enjoy.
I saw so many people in University studying courses they hated.
For jobs they would then go on to hate.
There’s nothing wrong having a job. There’s nothing wrong with having a career. The problem is if:
- You don’t like it
- If that’s the ONLY thing you have
We need to feel creative on some level. If not at the day job then at home.
Because this is what one will really pour there heart into.
This is what you’ll study when nobody tells you to.
It’s no wonder many people are miserable. Why depression is so prevalent.
Unhappiness with where you are is not an internal problem – it’s societies problem.
You don’t bring anything good into the world in that state.
I’m not saying stop teaching science. I’m not saying kids shouldn’t learn maths.
What I am saying is that it is not ENOUGH. And we have to start emphasising the individual.
And you can’t measure passion on a spreadsheet.
By Dubem Menakaya