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ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.

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Editorial -Don’t Forget Your Umbrella!

Happy New Year! As 2024 takes off, get ready for the avalanche of articles urging you to structure your life, set SMART goals, and basically plan everything from your next career move to any other project you have in mind. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m already over it. This includes those WhatsApp banners and memes with ‘deep’ messages that really aren’t that deep, the sagacious quotes from people whose lives turn out to be just as messy as ours, and the ‘how to’ articles written by those who clearly didn’t follow their own advice. The longer I live, the more I appreciate how little control we have over things that are external to us. Random events like an unexpected illness or the loss of a job can change lives in an instant, destroying aspirations and straining both finances and relationships. .

Planner or ‘Pantser’

As a writer, I’m often asked if my writing style is that of a planner or a pantser. A planner, as you can probably imagine, is someone who likes to structure every aspect of their book before getting started. A pantser, on the other hand, is someone who prefers to dive into writing with a vague – or even no – idea of the plot, but is happy to create while flying by the seat of their pants

The longer I live, the more I appreciate how little control we have over things that are external to us.

As a classic over-thinker, I have always fallen closer to the planner end of the scale rather than the pantser, both in writing and in life. Even though constantly thinking three steps ahead can be exhausting, simply going with the flow has never come naturally to me. However, time and reflection has led me to understand that removing rigid expectations of how things should be, when they should happen, and what success must look like, allows both space and grace for things to work out without me attempting to intervene and direct things. ’

Timeline or Trajectory?

To be clear, I am not advocating against big dreams or ambitious goals. But I am urging caution in defining your success by when and how you achieve those goals. There is nothing wrong with having a plan, but overly relying on it can lead to disappointment and disillusionment, followed by abandoning said goals and feeling like a failure.

As an Executive Coach, I support my clients to identify the obstacles to their professional and life goals and then develop strategies to navigate them. This means being crystal clear about what they want to achieve before determining the direction of travel to reach success

The way I now approach goal setting is to encourage a focus on clarity and then being willing to move in the right direction rather than plotting what should happen along each step of the way. Remember the saying that God laughs when he hears us making plans? If it’s helpful to establish timelines, be my guest, but if life does what it does, what matters is that you stay the course and continue along the trajectory.

Circles of Control

One of the tools I use in coaching is the concept of circles of control. In essence, this means being aware of how you feel when you focus on things you can control versus when you focus on those things outside your control. For example, we can’t control the weather for today, but we can control how we respond to it – for example, will we need to wear a heavier coat or just make sure we carry an umbrella?

By recognising where our planning stops and where life takes over, we can reduce our frustration and despondency. Keep in mind that the more that sits outside your circle of control will mean the less say you have in what happens and when. In other words, no matter how much you try to plot the course of these coming twelve months, life will go on life-ing, regardless..

So, at the risk of adding to all the ‘how to’ soundbites popping into your inbox and onto your social media feeds, my advice is to clarify your goals, identify your trajectory, and be ready to adapt to those inevitable situations outside your control.

In short, aim high, hope for the best, but keep that umbrella handy!


Founder & Managing Editor, ReConnect Africa

Author of Imperfect Arrangements,‘Imperfect Arrangements’ ‘From Pasta to Pigfoot’ and ‘From Pasta to Pigfoot: Second Helpings’ and the books I Want to Work in… Africa: How to Move Your Career to the World’s Most Exciting Continent’ and ‘Everyday Heroes – Learning from the Careers of Successful Black Professionals’

*Adapted from an earlier article

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