How To Be Productive: The Way Forward In 2024

By Quadri Afolabi
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Quadri Afolabi

Today, a few days into the New Year, I want to talk about how we human beings often get ourselves trapped in illusions. We oftentimes make life tough for ourselves, thereby causing ourselves setbacks instead of progress because we fail to position our minds to see and understand the reality of life. To be honest, many things in life cannot be changed, and some perhaps may be changed but not by us.

However, a change of mindset can make us live the best of our lives. Indeed, our behaviour is the result of the experiences we have had in the past, together with our expectations of the future. So, we believe that if certain things had happened in a manner in the past, things that bear the same features as those things should be approached in the way we were able to gain the best of it then, or otherwise, if the earlier approach failed to turn out well. As a matter of fact, to maximize our productivity in life and focus on our peace of mind, it behooves us to understand that some things are naturally rigid to be changed or manipulated by us and they should be taken as such.

Also, It should be understood that no matter how wise a person is, some life circumstances will still leave him vulnerable and in a state of despair. That is life and there is nothing we can do about that. As undesirable as mistakes are in life, we cannot avoid making them. There is, similarly, nothing we can do about our mistakes in the past but we can choose to not let them weigh us down in the current moment. Real life wisdom is knowing what we cannot change and not bothering ourselves about it, and knowing what is within our control and exerting adequate efforts to make a positive difference in it.

This will make me cite the Serenity Prayer of a wise theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Knowing the difference between what we can and cannot change is a great source of calmness in life, and the calmer we are, the clearer we think and reason about progressing.

To be factual, life is hard. Difficult moments are inescapable. However, instead of draining our energy with the unchangeable, many other things will be worth our input. We cannot change how people behave but we can control how we react to their actions to maintain a stable mental health. We cannot change nature but we can do what benefits us of the weather.

To add, when we focus on things we can change, we become proactive, and when we get ourselves perturbed with what, even though may concern us, we do not have a bit of influence on it, we become reactive. Stephen R. Covey explained this better in his book, The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People: “Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.” In contrast to that, He wrote: “Reactive people, on the other hand, focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weaknesses of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization.” Both the Serenity Prayer and the description of proactive people, if studied and ingrained in our mindset, will boost our understanding of life, allow us to let go of the unchangeable -nature, the past, and external factors- focus on our inner strength and on how we can improve our productivity.

Quadri Afolabi writes from Lagos State.

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