New Year Reflections – Some Things Never Change

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Siphumeze Khundayi, ithongo musings

A Happy New Year to all of you! It has been 3 months since I last posted on my blog. With each New Year comes many New Year’s expectations in the form of resolutions. Resolutions are as many as there are people wishing to change. These include obvious ones like starting to save money, stopping to smoke, losing weight. Some private ones include resolving to visiting family members more often or treating your children or spouse better. New Year resolutions are great, it shows that one is reflecting about self and setting goals to achieve better in the coming future. Some make their resolutions public and promise not to be proved wrong others commit to themselves but in both cases with the hope that their utterances is the same as doing.

In my blogs so far, I have alluded to the mindset changes required for people to achieve their plans; whether to save money, execute strategies or managing people. To move from hand to mouth existence to an empowered position where they build reserves and are able to leverage their positions takes a host of character changes which borders on re-inventing oneself. This is almost painful to think about and so, how many people will self-inflict pain to change. How great is that change?? Only if one clearly has a picture in mind which is glittering with goodies! Therein lies the difference. Most people will not have a crystal clear picture; it’s usually hazy and therefore not attractive.

My articles have been about the need to understand money. In achieving this understanding, it becomes possible to use it to bring ideas to life. Money behaves in the manner that you want it to. It can be used as a tool to fuel your already existing plans i.e. it can work for you. Conversely without a plan, money gets wasted and you get enslaved to find money to fill the gaps.

Start with a vision – a real life/ virtual picture of yourself embodying all that you want to become. Once the vision is very clear, then you work backwards on what needs to get done for you to realize the vision of yourself i.e. to bring the picture to life. This is where your New Year resolutions start. How clear is the vision that you want to create to life in 2015? You say you want to visit your family a bit more in the year. Visualize yourself in a car, on a bus or plane; with or without your immediate family. Arriving at your destination the family are all smiles to see you. Your ageing parents looking happy and expectant. You and them drive home from the station to the house. What is in the house? What are you eating? The stories, their neighbors come to see you. In all this, what are you doing?? What goodies are you laden with?? Money, presents. Is the house large enough for you, is it in a state of repair. As you visualize all this, you will know what you need to do….

Much has been written about the attributes required to achieve goals in general, any goals, for self-leadership, for institutions etc. Setting and achieving goals is like going to war. You have to prepare. Things like planning, commitment, knowledge, discipline, compassion, etc. It is quite obvious that without commitment to a plan and not having sufficient focus on the goal and dedicating resources to bring it to fruition, things cannot happen. It is no different with New Year’s resolutions. If they are casual ad hoc plans and decisions without much of the above attributes, they will fail. It is no wonder therefore, that a myriad of New Years resolutions are made with very little planning and turn out to be unrealistic and do not get fulfilled. They are abandoned so soon after being declared for lack of commitment.

So why do people make New Year resolutions if only to abandon them so quickly? Where does one get the motivation to follow through with your New Year plans?? From one’s own volition, encouragement from siblings, partners, your banker? Inspiration is everywhere these days. In the print or electronic publications. Everyone is connected these days via phone and computers, what are they looking at? The daily papers, churches, life coaches, friends and so many inspirational speakers and mentors are crisscrossing our lives with information; all dotted with nuggets of wisdom. Pick up any printed material and such information is there. I will give a quick illustration. Just this past weekend (the first week of 2015), there were three newspaper articles in the Zambia Daily Mail (ZDM), 2nd January 2015 alluding to the various attributes required by anyone who is planning on a life changing course of action.

The first article was entitled ‘Save Money’ by Kalonde Nyati . This article was reporting about comments made by the CEO of one of the local banks on the culture of savings in the country. ’ If people saved more, banks would have more liquidity to lend cheaper loans to borrowers. In many economies where saving is strong, this is the case…’(ZDM, p7) the articles continues. Financial literacy is critical in this case for people to understand the importance of their actions i.e. saving money in the bank. People must be aware that by saving, they are part of a wider value chain that leads to good outcomes. Therefore, if or when people know the outcome of their actions, this can be a motivator to the saver. They become responsive to the need to raise deposits and they also become demanding to the banks to meet some of their needs. Question to ask is whether savers are aware i) of the power they have to demand certain services from the bank and ii) the important role that they play in funds raising for the banks via their deposits.

As a student of Economics and while studying Banking as a module, the first thing you learn is how banks create money. Depositors’ money is an important function of the amount of loans that banks are able to create for onward lending to customers. It therefore follows that banks with higher deposit base will have greater capacity to create more loans.

At the fundamental level of how banks should match deposits and loans creation, this is true. The question is why have the banks not used this most vital information to encourage more depositors? Why is this information not sold to you and me to demonstrate our key role to achieve cheaper loans? There is a huge outcry for reduction in the cost of borrowing by most borrowers in this country. The irony is that the solution to reduce the cost of loans is so simple, readily attainable and in the hands of humble depositor!!

…. Banks you must change your narrative. By doing so, you are solving a problem that has eluded the banking system. Show us that the solution to such a fundamental problem is in our own hands….literally. With this revelation, we see a surge in deposits in the banks in 2015? I would also like to urge the banks in general to start to look at the incentives side of the equation so as to entice and encourage more people to deposit their money with them. So far there is too much distance between deposit rates and borrowers’ rates. Whatever is happening in between to keep these two rates separate requires some interventions to bring them closer together. The lesson in this story is that depositors must understand the importance of their role and start to take their money to the banks. They have power to change the narrative by making banks listen to their needs so that their efforts lead to a win-win situation for the bank as well as the depositor through better interest rates.

Another article that caught my eye was ‘Pursue Realistic Dreams to Achieve Success’ by Yande Musonda.

Again, I found this article relevant because the writer was alluding to those attributes that foster success of any plan. She is a young writer but obviously well-read and appreciates good information when she finds it to the point of sharing it with her fellow young readers. She uses those attributes we know contribute to long term success. These are: goal setting, consistency of actions and commitment. She also talks about the mindset towards failure. Many people are discouraged when they fail to the point where they give up and move on to other seemingly easier things. In reference to the title, goals must match ones resources and skills to be realistic. Thereafter, actions must be consistent, a sign of commitment. Without both, plans will die. Failure is pain and it is widely accepted that without pain, there is no joy.

In my articles and many that I have come across, failure seems to be a great demotivator to many people when they try new things. One small hurdle and the whole game is abandoned. It seems easy to blame the rules, the regulator or even competitors for our lack of progress. Knowing your limits is the first step to manage failure.

My last article to discuss is the one on the release of a former government Minister who together with another former minister was pardoned by the head of state to leave prison before their term is up.

The senior of the two ministers gave an interview of his time behind bars. He referred to many attributes that we now know are important to the stature of man whether in incarceration or not but more so when one is in jail. He talks about his own experience and what he had to do to keep mind and spirit together. First was the humility to accept that his circumstances have drastically changed. While once he was powerful and influential in the matters of government business, he was now powerless and had no voice. His behavior and reactions to stimuli obviously had to change. No one not even the prison warder was going to tolerate any arrogance or defiance from him.

The other attribute he mentions that we have not talked much about is recognizing the power of divinity; i.e. to recognize that perhaps there is a power greater than you and to surrender oneself to this higher power and follow his lead. He used the time on his hands to reflect i.e. being honest to oneself and recognizing his limitations under the circumstances. He mentioned that to avoid depression he used his time to plan and set goals for himself for when he got out. All these activities we know are of people who have defied the odds to overcome adversity and succeed.

In looking around his environment, he was able to point out who his friends were, whom he could rely on, identify those who mattered to his life and apportioning forgiveness to those he felt were responsible for his situation. It was a review of his circumstances and making adjustments according to his needs. This change was painful no doubt but it did not make him give up in despair. He found resources within himself to survive the temporary situation.

I would like to wrap up my post as follows: Make decisions that will help you deal with a situation for a positive outcome no matter the circumstances. Don’t give up or fall apart. Take responsibility for what has befallen you good and bad. Ensure that those decisions you make are implementable. Merely making decisions without matching it with resources and making commitment is setting up to fail. Therefore, follow up the New Year’s resolutions with pain (resources) and commitment otherwise nothing will happen. In the three articles I have reviewed, there are plenty of key words to guide one in how to successfully follow through with a plan. The key words are embedded in the passages and one must have interest to read widely and seek knowledge. Motivational words do not come packaged in neat bundles. They are embedded in every message that people are writing about. To me this qualifies every writer famous or not to be a mentor. Success in life is about finding purpose which leads to fulfillment.  There is little room for guessing. Start the journey to your destination. Let 2015 be the beginning of your journey to the destination.

BN

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