Alumni of the Week: Cynthia Nyongesa

Cynthia runs a personal blog (cynthiauntamed.com) where she writes stories of young Africans who are positively impacting their communities. She is strategic in the issues she wants to write about. She was part of ELF’s leadership program in 2017 where she learnt the power of using her voice through the different films that she watches. She uses her skills to speak up on social issues in the society.
Currently, Cynthia is working on relaunching her blog and brand to align with encouraging the youth to be global citizens. Since graduating from ELF, she has had the chance to work as a Youth Advocate with UNICEF Kenya where she continues to use her writing and public speaking skills. In addition, she is a Generation Unlimited Youth Ambassador for Kenya where she engages at the global level to advocate for employment and education for young people.

Cynthia has ambitions of being a well known and paid public speaker as well as a brand ambassador for programs/projects that involve empowering the youth and children on issues ranging from education to employment.

Her favorite quote is by Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
We celebrate Cynthia and her efforts in being a change agent.

The Devil in My Life

As a young person, I have been fighting an elephant for a better part of my life. I have also struggled with delay and avoidance of things that really matter. ‘I will do it later’ is what I always tell myself and move on. Procrastination is like a ‘chase me’ game, one that will take you down. It has a major impact on our productivity and success. Have you ever procrastinated until you started wondering if your village-mates are on your case? I have procrastinated on very important matters, from acting on my goals to applying for jobs among others. This has practically caused a lot of damage in my life. It has left me jobless, broke, lost weight and emotionally unstable. I know most of you can resonate with me.

Last year, I got a wake-up call and decided to do my research on procrastination. I needed to understand what it is and how it can be avoided. I’m going to briefly take you through procrastination and share practical actions to take against it.

The truth is, the present self cannot be motivated by future rewards and so we must find ways to move the future rewards into the present.

Studies have shown that we have two selves. The present self and the future self. The future self can set goals and envision how the future will look like. However, it is the work of the present self to act on the goals. Let’s say you are planning a summer vacation this year. You’d want a bikini body, right? That means you’ve to start working on it right away. Well, that’s what your future self wants. So how will you attain that? Your present self will have to consistently exercise and diet. Since the benefits of exercising are far away (weeks or months away) the present self will continue asking for all kinds of junk foods. This is because our present self is conditioned to value immediate rewards than long term. The truth is, the present self cannot be motivated by future rewards and so we must find ways to move the future rewards into the present.

I decided to come up with ways to help myself fight the elephant in the room by.

  1. Habit Stacking

I love listening to music and I can choose it over exercising. I thought to myself, how about listening to music while exercising? Sounds like a deal, right? I can comfortably exercise and listen to my music as well.

  1. Rewarding Myself

I have developed a habit of rewarding myself after doing an activity that I procrastinate about. Let’s say I’m supposed to do an article and I also have a very interesting movie to watch. The movie acts as a motivation and a reward after accomplishing my task. After I’m done with my article, I can comfortably watch my movie without feeling guilty.

  1. Having Immediate Consequences for Procrastination

Create ways that will make you pay for procrastination sooner enough. For example, if you procrastinate about going to the gym, make sure you pay your subscription for the whole month such that if you fail to go your money will be wasted. There are also other forms of punishment, try what works for you. The idea is to have a consequence that happens if the planned action is not performed.

  1. Breaking the Task into Small Bits

If a have a two-thousand-word article to write, I divide it into small bits and choose to do like two fifty words after every 3 hours. Whatever it is, breaking it into small bits is more achievable and easier to face. Once you start finishing becomes easy and the same momentum will carry you unto the next one.

If we want to stop procrastinating, we must train our present self to get started and trust that motivation and momentum will come as we go on. The difficult part of starting a task is actually starting it. Once it’s started everything else flows. The other thing is prioritizing. Most of the time we procrastinate because we do not have a clear list of what to do. Making a list of the most important things according to how important they are works better. Regardless of the method you follow, make sure you get started. With determination and consistency, this devil will be kicked out pretty soon.

Submitted By:

Shalom Musyoka, Cohort 8. 

 

Kenya’s Cursed Generation – The 90s

The babies born in the nineties! This article is about young people between the ages of 20 and 29.

In March last year, I was part of the stop these thieves march. This was on the backdrop of millions of Kenya shillings stolen from public coffers, an unsustainable public debt and lethargic delivery of public services. Walking into freedom corner, I met a couple of people, most of them way over 35 years of age but there were probably just a handful of 20 – 29 year olds. You who are most affected by these ills, didn’t even care to show up to protest. Your very future is being auctioned in front of you, yet, you still expect your parents to take care of this one, just the same way they take care of every bottleneck you encounter.

You are the generation that has voted once, twice or never. And this is why your views on things that matter like governance and economics, among others, are, ‘‘I don’t care.’’  You were born at a time when the Moi government was implementing the Structural Adjustment Programs, a pathetic foreign program that crippled the economy and left many with economic wounds still being nursed to date. Then came the repeal of section 2A of the constitution, after years of struggle and an attempted coup, multipartism was reintroduced. For the next two elections, Kenya witnessed election-related violence like never before, some of your parents actively took part in the skirmishes. Between 1990 and 1999 your parents made poor choices, and going by recent trends it looks like they passed down their poor decision-making skills to you, because in the two elections you have taken part in, you have redefined the meaning of poor electoral choices.

You have voted for and supported incompetence, you have given mediocre politicians a god-like status, you have sat back unperturbed by reckless economic policies, you have cheered at nonsense and jeered at sense.

You have voted for and supported incompetence, you have given mediocre politicians a god-like status, you have sat back unperturbed by reckless economic policies, you have cheered at nonsense and jeered at sense. You have laughed when the police brutalized fellow Kenyans and tweeted in support of such immorality.

Truth is, your parents cannot save you from this one. You cannot call home and get an M-pesa message that solves your trouble. Here is the thing, you must grow up and part of this means taking up responsibility for your future. Knowing that it is important to work hard in school, but even more important is asking about the quality of that education and an assurance of a job upon completion or having an enabling environment for you to innovate and create jobs for other young people.

Growing up means less tweeting and more action. It calls upon you to organize yourselves and support those among you who can represent you at the table where decisions are made and where the national cake is being shared.

Growing up means stopping less complaining and more taking of responsibility. You must teach yourself to not only understand your rights but also embrace and take responsibility. Participate in shaping your future and in defining the destiny of your nation.

Like the hummingbird, what’s your little thing? Find it and pursue it relentlessly. Make your voice heard. Salvage your generation. Be the change.

The Author is the Communications Officer at ELF. 

New Year, New Decade: Set Goals

As each year comes to a close, people all over the world set goals and resolutions of how they want their new year to look like. Some of the most common resolutions are financial stability, saving up more, eating and living healthy and exercising. But how many people live up to them and follow their new year resolutions with no fail? For some people however, they live by the saying, ‘‘Live one day at a time and make each day a masterpiece.’’

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ditched making new year resolutions this year, a practice that he has carried on for the last decade. In a long Facebook post on his official page, Mark briefed his followers on some of his successes which he attributes to new year resolutions. This time however, he has set his sights on long-term focus. “This decade I’m going to take a longer-term focus. Rather than having year-to-year challenges, I’ve tried to think about what I hope the world and my life will look in 2030 so I can make sure I’m focusing on those things.”

Is it reasonable enough to set goals – short term or long term – and have a vision board to accompany them with timelines or it is incisive enough to live a day at a time?

Previously, I haven’t set my goals in writing but instead I have always had wishes in mind for the new year. This, hasn’t been the best way to do it and it has been such a challenge keeping track of expectations and following them accordingly. Some wishes have always been ‘superior’ and pressing which has always led me to forego a few of my goals which I felt weren’t of much urgency. This has led me to fail not only in the particular year but in keeping up with my long-term targets. This year, however, I have decided to do things differently.

For the first time in as far as I can remember, I have my goals set in a SMART way with high self-promise of commitment and discipline on closely following them with each passing day.

For the first time in as far as I can remember, I have my goals set in a SMART way with high self-promise of commitment and discipline on closely following them with each passing day.This change has been immensely contributed by my time as an ELF mentee. Having listened to revelations and testimonies from various members of Cohort 8 (2019) on how setting SMART goals has changed their lives, I lowered my pessimism levels and decided it’s time to give it a shot and get one or two confidants to help me keep track. As I write this, I am in the process of coming up with a vision board for the year 2020.

What exactly is needed to achieve your goals to avoid having a list of resolutions just because everyone else is doing it?

Purpose and imbue your resolutions with joy and meaning. Do not just set a goal because everyone is doing it or because it’s being talked about, set goals with a purpose to work on them and regularly check on them to assess your progress.

Many people are not framing their resolutions in ways that will motivate them over time. For example, “exercise more” is a clear directive which lacks depth and personal meaning that could help promote follow through. Overly simplified resolutions and goals, such as “exercise more” and “eat healthier” contribute to the ongoing problem that emerges as early as mid-January each year: unintentional neglect of important self-improvement goals. Such targets end up as fallacies and don’t live up to what new year resolutions were meant to stand for.

As we unwrap the year, take sometime and deeply think on what you want to achieve, change or improve this year. It is never late to set a clear plan for your success. I am looking forward to seeing how the year turns out with my new found plan which is decently clear. I pray that I get to accomplish all that I have in plan and so should you.

Cheers to a new, purpose filled year!

 

Andrew Kamoche is a Communications Associate at Emerging Leaders Foundation