5 Golden Rules of Setting Goals

Do you set goals, or do you just fumble through life and hope that success will come looking for you? Setting SMART goals allows you to concentrate on your efforts, make better use of your time and money, and improve your chances of achieving your objectives. To ensure that your objectives are straightforward and attainable, each one should be:

Specific

You won’t be able to concentrate your attention or feel genuinely inspired to achieve your goal unless it is straightforward and precise. Try to answer the following five “W” questions as you write your goal:

What exactly am I aiming for?

What is the significance of this goal?

Who’s on the hook?

What is its location? 

What resources or constraints are present

Measurable

Measurable goals help you keep track of your success and remain motivated. This makes you stay focused, meet deadlines, and enjoy the thrill of moving closer to your target. A measurable target should answer questions like:

How much? And how long?

How many are there in total?

How would I know when it’s done?

Achievable

To be successful, your target must also be practical and attainable. To put it another way, it should be able push your skill while still being achievable. An attainable target will typically provide answers to questions like:

How can I achieve this goal?

How feasible is the goal based on limitations like financial constrains?

Relevant

Ensure that your goal is important to you and that it is aligned with other important goals in your life. A relevant goal should agree with the following questions:

Is this something I am interested in?

Is it the appropriate time?

Is this in line with my other goals and requirements?

Am I the best person for the goal?

Is it important in today’s socio-economic situation?

Time Bound

A target date is needed for any goal so that you have a deadline to work against. Having a deadline prevents your daily activities from taking precedence over your long-term objectives.

These questions should be answered by a time-bound goal:

When is it going to happen?

What will I be able to do in a year?

What will I be able to do in five months?

What am I able to do today?

Overall, SMART is a useful tool that helps you accomplish your objectives by providing clarification, concentration, and encouragement. It also helps you achieve them by motivating you to set goals and deadlines. Some people argue that SMART is ineffective for long-term objectives due to its lack of versatility, while others argue that it stifles innovation. Try using SMART to set your goals and you might realize that the real reason you have not met your objectives is that your plans were too fuzzy or impractical. Consider changing your vision and recast it as a SMART plan so that you can achieve your goal.

Lastly, remember to have an accountability partner to help you maintain the momentum. Make sure to pick a supportive person.

Have you set your goals for the year yet? It is not too late, set SMART goals and conquer each of them.

Written By: Shalom Musyoka, Cohort 8.

Women’s untapped leadership potential an unexplored resource

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid19 world. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have seen women all over the world standing fearlessly at the front lines, working tirelessly as health care workers and caregivers.

In countries like Denmark, Finland, Germany, and New Zealand where there has been effective, rapid and sustainable response to the pandemic are headed by women. This goes to show that women have untapped and unexplored leadership potential.

Gender inequality has contributed majorly to the lack of representation of women in leadership positions as it is in only 20 countries worldwide where women are the heads of state. Despite the already existing Barriers to women’s leadership like cultural norms, new barriers have emerged during the pandemic. There has been an increase in violence against women and denial of their Human rights. This in turn leads to unemployment and poverty and results in them being unable to realize their full potential.

Education also plays a key role in ensuring that women are empowered hence preparing them for leadership roles. But unfortunately, girls are still unable to attend school due to lack of sanitary towels, harmful cultural practices and poverty. This instead leaves women and girls vulnerable and uneducated, hence unable to know and understand their rights, fight for them, and make informed and empowered decisions. All these factors prevent women from getting into leadership positions.

I urge governments globally to fully leverage on women’s leadership potential and have their voices represented and integrated into decision making processes. Girls should be empowered at an early age while they are still in school on the importance of partaking leadership roles so that they may be accountable leaders in the future.
Let’s break all barriers.

Written by: Esther Aoko, My Sisters’ Keeper Alumni, Husika Fellow & Sexual and Reproductive Health Youth Advocate

THE HAUNTED SOUL

Trampled upon

        Lies and deception

A hope was worn

         Oh did I mention

…………………………………………………

Was to be great

        Bright and promising

But cry and guilt

        A hope that was missing

…………………………………………………

He would look back

         With fright and no might

Afraid it would attack

          Any day any night

……………………………………………

The future seemed dark

          Bliss yet amiss

Even without a mark

          Its existence still is

…………………………………………………

This monster, this beast

         So dreary so scary

Was to make him a feast

         Though weak and weary

He was a haunted soul          

By a beast untold!    

……………………………………………

Written By: Perpentual Wangari.                                                                                         

OOOH POLITICIAN!

Never seem to do what you say

With our minds you choose to play

You speak of this only today

But to seize only power you may

…………………………………………………………

Funny how desperate you look

When you feed with lies you cook

And your words like a hook

We could never read your book

…………………………………………………………

To you our hope we placed

When trouble is what we faced

Beautiful lies we embraced

Oh how that was to be erased

……………………………………………………………..

I hope you find pleasure in all you steal

I hope you’re able to pay that bill

I hope your bell you ever fill

I hope it haunts to your last meal.

Written By: Perpentual Wangari.

The impact of COVID-19 on Mental health especially on school-going children.

There has been disturbing news of students physically attacking their teachers and fellow students; not forgetting last months’ gruesome incident of a young man who butchered his almost his entire family, blaming it consuming mystery and murder series ‘killing eve’. In retaliation, Prof. George Magoha, the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Education has proposed the return of corporal punishments. The question however should be, will that be a good-enough solution to get our students disciplined or are there other root causes of students going on rampage that we should investigate as a society such as the impact of Covid-19 and their mental wellbeing? Are we just ignorant?

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought into focus its effect on different populations including school going children, according to journal of medical internet research , the pandemic has created new stressors and mental health challenges including fear and worry for oneself or loved ones, constraints on social activities and physical movement due to quarantine, sudden and radical lifestyle changes, where in Kenya, for instance, schools were promptly closed. The closure of schools and other education institutions caused increase in teenage pregnancies, rise of gender-based violence and increase of drug and substance abuse among many school going students which was experienced nationally, and it was established that school was a safe space for many students which was an underrated issue.

As the government, NGO’s and other stakeholders are putting efforts to come up with effective solutions and policies to better the situation, we have forgotten one important effect of Covid-19 to school going students and the entire population at large; mental ill-ness. There is stigma around families losing their loved ones due to Covid-19, anxieties and fear of losing our vulnerable family members to the pandemic, but we often forget the psychological and emotional toll on school-going students. According to Elizabeth Kubler, a renowned psychologist on loose and grief, there are five stages of bereavement which include: anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance which due to lack of mental health awareness, school-going students are not accorded the chance to grieve. Hence, we get surprised when the suppressed feelings and emotions spill out and our children making them act out in bizarre manners since they have not been taught that it is okay not to be okay and that it is okay to grieve in whichever manner that they can since grief sits with everyone differently.

The ministry of education should work on holding capacity building forums for teachers in understanding mental health as a concept while bringing in its correlation with Covid-19 which will include understanding loss and grief and how to provide psychosocial support, this will be an important shift and change of dynamics since teachers would not forthright label their students as hardheaded but would consider understanding where they are coming from and offering the necessary support.

Secondly, the ministry of education should work together with the Ministry of Health to come up with policies that would make accessibility of mental health resources easy. Student based counselling centres should be made available while at the same time creating awareness around mental health, covid-19 and grief through student friendly avenues, like animations, magazines and games. This will help students have information on how they can be support systems for their friends at schools and improve awareness that will be important for family settings. Their psychological well-being will be improved, and they will always know where and at what point they need to get the necessary support to make their mental health better.

Written By: Amisa Rashid, Psychologist and My Sisters Keeper Fellow. She is also the founder of Nivishe Foundation

THE UNKNOWN POWER OF MINDSET

What you put in your mind will last for a lifetime but what you put on your body is temporary. Mindset is defined as a set of attitudes or fixed ideas that someone has and it’s often difficult to change. We all have different, somewhat diverse mindsets. We set our interests and focus on certain things for various reasons.

The extent to which mindsets affect our behaviors and attitudes, bears the greatest percentage. Your thoughts, what you believe in (beliefs), opinions, all your ideas and to some length, your assumptions all depend on your mindset. You will love what your mind will find to be pleasant to you. This might be the exact reason why we have different opinions, likes and dislikes.

As human beings we often take in most of what comes our way. Sometimes, we tend to overlook the fact that something is positive or negative. Is it really worth thinking about? Is it beneficial? Do I really need to be hearing/watching/listening to this? Why do love what does not deserve my interest?

Funny fact, our mindsets however different, may be greatly influenced by those around us. I tend to love or hate certain things or people depending mostly on whether the closest people around me do. Why do students hate certain subjects and love others? Simple, mindset! Changing one’s mindset will more than often change a lot about them. Their concept, opinion and general living will take a diverse turn once they change their thinking.

How does one’s concept influence attitude? We are often given the illustration of a glass half-filled with water. From this concept, do you see a glass half empty or a glass half-full? Half-filled brings the positivity of the illustration while half-empty means you are only seeing the negative angle in the illustration.

Will you set your mind to believe in everything that people make you believe? Won’t you want to reflect on whether it’s beneficial or not? Whether it’s worth taking in or not? The same way you decide on what you consume, it should similar when it comes to our mind-set.

Do not hate something or someone because of what you heard someone say. It is best when we base our assumptions on facts, not just opinions from anyone or everyone around us. Attitude makes a huge difference. Have a positive mindset. The results will not disappoint!

Written By: Perpentual Wangari.

THE SILENT SONG OF CORRUPTION

A song whose rhythm we’ve embraced

Being one whose origin can’t be traced

Its beats we dance to with haste

Its moves we copy and paste
……………………………………………………….

Its a song that we’ve known to always be

Overlooking its effects that sting like a bee

Anyone takin the seat will agree

To embrace it times not one, two nor three

…………………………………………………………..
This song speaks evil, injustice and hate

Like a wild fruit that we all forbiddenly ate

The kind that makes us not regard our mate

Causes us to take not our own and blame it on fate
………………………………………………………………….

That song will cause our people to cry

Gives no regard to one who will work and try

When its played the word ‘yours’ becomes ‘my’

And as one crashes the other begins to fly
…………………………………………………………………………….

I speak of a song that never seems to end

In our system it will always bring a bend

Do you know of this song dear friend?

It’s one you’ve heard, one we could mend.
…………………………………………………………………..

Written By: Perpentual Wangari.

An Ultimate Guide to Making the Right Choices in Romantic Relationships

Majority of our young men and women are perishing for lack of knowledge in the name of love. Whoever said love is blind was right. It makes one do stupid things to please their romantic partners. What we fail to understand is that some of these things that we do blindly can have lifetime effects on our lives and those close to us. Please note that a healthy relationship comprises of two people who want to be in one. So, as you get all lovey-dovey today remember that it may not always translate to the phrasal ‘happy ending’. Sometimes an unexpected plot twist may happen, ending your relationship in premium tears. As you follow your heart take your brain with you. 

Below are some pointers on what love is and what it is not.

  • Love is not Great Sex

Do you love them because they are good in bed? If yes, then you are sick and lost. Sex and love cannot be on the same table. Sex won’t make them stay but love will. Do not break your back for someone who is there to enjoy the moment. Remember they may get all acrobatic in bed and still not love you. Love is beyond physical gratification. It is connecting deeply with someone such that when you look into their eyes you see their soul.

  • Love should not Hurt

Love is a beautiful thing, and it does not hurt. It is the person you are in love with that hurts. Betrayal, abuse, loneliness, and rejection hurts but love erases that pain and makes one feel wonderful again. True love makes you happy in a way you have never experienced before so if it hurts it’s absolutely not true love. Do not get it twisted.

  • Love is not Obsessive 

There is a very thin line between love and obsession. To love is to want your partner to be happy and wish them the best even when you are not in their lives. On the other hand, obsession is an unhealthy longing to be with someone 24/7 or talk to them all the time. Obsessive love can lead to insecurities in a romantic relationship and cause unnecessary drama and pressure. Note the difference and make a wise choice. 

  • Love is not Uncertain 

Ambivalence in a relationship can be nerve-racking and lead to a rollercoaster of emotions. Your partner should be clear about where the relationship is headed to avoid unnecessary stress. It is either you are dating for marriage or a breakup. There is no dating for fun. Do not stomach the “let’s see where this is going” phrase. Stop asking them “what are we?” Raise the bar and vamoose from their lives for good because you deserve better. 

  • Love is not saying yes at the Expense of your Own Happiness 

Stop saying yes to everything to please people. You know what, your parents did not raise you to be miserable so that others can be happy. Learn to ask what is there for you, as well as saying no without feeling guilty. Take charge of your joy, your happiness, and your worth and protect it at all costs. If your partner can’t handle that kick them out. 

  • Love is Supportive 

If you look for nothing else in a partner, make sure you have a supportive one. It is important to have a partner who can be there during tough phases in life. Having a reliable support system gives a sense of security and pride. Support may be emotional and also financial when need be. It feels nice to have someone you can turn to during a crisis and receive immense support from them. 

  • Love is Work

Anything worth having demands effort and intentionality and true love is not an exemption. Love takes work to resolve disagreements. It takes intentionality to communicate and understand one another. Love requires nurturing and care for it to thrive. You deserve effort, you deserve consistency, and you deserve everything good that true love has in store. Anything short of that is not worth your energy.

When all is said and done, you are the only one who can decide if you are happy or not. Until you believe you deserve better you will always attract the same version of what you disposed. Take care of your heart and value yourself. At the end of the day, all that matters is how content you are with your story.

Happy Valentines 🙂

By: Shalom Musyoka, ELF Alumni, Cohort 8.

UNITY IS STRENGTH

Someone once said that we share the world for a short time. The question is do we spend that time looking at what pushes us apart or do we give ourselves to look at the future we want for our children?

As human beings, it is only natural that we disagree and have conflicts amongst ourselves. But of what benefit is all this? We spend a lot of time arguing and disagreeing. Time which could have been spent building us is wasted on bringing others down. What does one gain by bringing another down? Is it fame, popularity, pride or what feeling do you get while watching another break?

It’s sad, really sad to see people disagree and fight because of differences that do not even change who we are. Whatever one gains by bringing another down only lasts for a second. The effects, however, can last a lifetime. In the long run, we all need each other. Each of us contributes to another’s life in one way or another, whether it’s clear or not. What would you do if you woke up one day and you found yourself alone in this world? Or even worse, what would you do if you woke up one day to a world that does not hear you, one you are absolutely invisible to?

We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools. Let us teach ourselves to focus on the positive side of each one of us. The negative side is of totally no benefit to any of us. Do not protect yourself by a fence but rather by your friends. True friends will stick by you and offer help that you may need along the way. But only if you let them. Don’t be that kind of person that just pushes people out of their lives.

Ever heard of the proverb that goes ‘Two heads are better than one’? Our strength lies in our differences and no one gets to where they desire to be absolutely on their own. If we were all the same then the world would probably be the most boring place ever. Imagine the rainbow, what makes it so unique and beautiful is the fact that it has multiple colours. If it had one colour, it would probably not be as significant.

We are all angels with one wing and we can only fly by hugging each other and flattering our wings in unison and order. Alexander Dumas once said ”All for one and one for all.” We were all created to serve a purpose in someone else’s life and be there for each other, the same way we need others to be there for us.

We need to stick together, appreciate each other, through good and bad time. Never forget, UNITY IS STRENGTH!


Written By: Perpentual Wangari.

“MY SISTERS’ KEEPER GAVE ME A NEW BEGINNING” Dr. Esther Njeri.

I remember a time when I used to exalt over-working and never setting time for personal life. There were moments when I picked several bad habits which I was afraid of letting go. I quarreled with a colleague at work amidst the covid-19 pandemic. This did not go well, in turn, it affected my overall performances.

I remember not grieving the loss of my mother and just working, hiding my pains at work. It crushed me; or so I discovered way too late. I forgot who I was, and I had to actively work on it. I sought help; this was all in vain. I had a lot of tears, fears, my soul was troubled. This was until I came across ELF’s My Sisters’ keeper call for application. The program that reminded me of my power and reinforced my journey. As I write this, I feel like words are not enough to explain the impact that was brought about by ELF.

This was journey of service, a journey of self-discovery, a journey with direction. I am grateful to God for giving me a chance to see life with a different perspective. My life’s journey has had multiple challenges, but my stint at ELF has given me a different view of life. You will fall, fail, trip, but you can always leap forward.

The lessons given were interesting. Personal branding fascinated me (who even thinks about that). The speakers were well chosen, people who are passionate about their fields, ready to teach and mentor others in life’s journey.

If each of the fellow were to be asked to talk about their experience, the stories would be different, so is mine. I have a story, and I plan to share it as time goes by, with no fear or shame.   

I was reminded of why I chose a career in medicine. I learnt how to maximize on my knowledge and skills and make change in my community. I learnt what it takes to be an accountable leader and how to keep my leaders accountable.

We have so much power which we ignore or forget. We all have a voice, in one way or the other, we have a contribution to make. We all have a voice.

Whatever happens, remember you are WORTHY and VALUED. You have power within you, to change and cause change.

My Sisters’ Keeper gave me a new home, a new beginning, and a new responsibility.

By: Esther Njeri, MSK 2020.