2023: A solid year

Ayetoro, 31/Dec/2023.

2023: A solid year 

Solid /ˈsɒlɪd/:  “firm, hard, compact; [Of qualities] “well-established, considerable.”

The 2023 sun sets forever.


One thing I learned about myself recently is how I have built internal systems and customs; an example is this annual review. Some years ago, I decided to make these reviews digital for easy access and documentation. In 2019, I wrote about winging it; in 2020, I adopted a different approach primarily due to the impact of COVID on our lives; 2021 was meh but with gratitude. Unfortunately, I did not write about 2022 - now that I think about it, it is sad that the 2022 journey isn’t documented. Before I go into what 2023 looked like, let me share something I’ve been thinking about. I was also reflecting on [personal] relationships. The people we spend the most time with, especially our family, caregivers, and close friends, play a crucial role in shaping who we become. I thought about the same timeframe and how much I have evolved, and three [people] stand out; they have greatly influenced and impacted me - Chisom, Babajide, and Clement. I am indeed grateful for these blessings, and I love you all.

What was 2023 like?

Okay, I did not write about 2022 because I was busy in school writing papers. I read, wrote, and wrote repeatedly as if my life depended on it. My best [academic] piece was my policy paper on financial inclusion in Nigeria. I wanted to publish it, but procrastination got the best of me [I’ll fix it up, I promise - open accountability]. It was a great experience as I learned, investigated, critiqued, and discovered exciting sustainability-related things. Summarily, I completed all the requirements of my MA program. Professionally, my work evolved. I left my previous role in September 2022. 

Taking career breaks to do other things in life - study, spend time with loved ones, backpack across countries or just be idle - should be normalized.

 I enjoyed that the only problems I had to solve were academic ones. I had time to enjoy myself, read, sleep, work out and watch football. I got an exciting consulting gig earlier in the year. A random DM from someone on Twitter led to this [the underlying lesson for me is to talk about my work more]. I loved the project and what it aims to achieve, and I wish the team the best in implementing this good work. I also got other decent projects, and using my spare time on meaningful things was good. I had been thinking about what to do next, and boy, I was exhausted from outreach and applications. I got a part-time role mid-year, and figuring out this interesting piece of work has been a good ride. This was an answered prayer because, in 2021, I had an idea of what I wanted to do next, which was one reason I  opted for a master’s in Sustainable Communities. Later in  2022, my interest started changing, and I prayed for God to lead me through. When I started this new role, it became clear that He held my arms into this. I also got to join the Advisory Council of the Global Shapers Community. I am grateful for the chance to do meaningful work.

On the personal front was a rollercoaster. Phew!  I would like to loosely divide the year into two halves - a much happier first half and a sombre second half. But in all things, I choose to give thanks and build on the positives. One thing that stood out for me is the sense of increased self-awareness. I must confess how life-changing it is. I have a better outlook on life in general. I understood my motivation for my actions and weighed and bore the consequences. I have become more empathetic in relating with myself and others. The outcome of this is greater life satisfaction for me. My coaching sessions became the highlight of my Q4. I looked forward to those sessions because of their reflective nature and my coach’s wisdom. I had such a rekindled devotion and closer fellowship with God. The Bible App was one of my companions for the year. A renewed interest in the Word was liberating - very liberating. I have personal struggles and internal conflicts but this year was transformative. 

God’s love and grace change a man’s life. He loves you, and He can transform your life.

What did I do well?

  • I take pride in my knack for organization and productivity. While I can’t measure this quantitatively, I significantly improved in these areas. I transformed my offline annual planning into a digital one and shared it with two dear friends for accountability. By June, I had achieved many things.” That is one of the most rewarding experiences this year. I also adopted weekly planning, and it was good to start the week from an empowered position. Interestingly, I am slowly becoming a better executor as well.
  • I choose consistency over intensity. Short bursts of well-regulated/relaxed work over intense/deadline-driven work. The excellent pieces of work I did this year came from the former.
  • I spoke more, connected with people, and shared ideas. Sidebar: I remember a funny incident during a panel session where, somehow, sunscreen entered my eyes, and I became teary on stage. LOL! I also mentored two exceptional students from the UK, which was a beautiful experience. This made me recall when someone reached out to me on LinkedIn asking for mentorship, and I felt I wasn’t ready because I was still figuring things out. Now I know I can share from the little I have/know.
  • I also visited new places and tried new things - new food, a boat cruise, and a hot air balloon. Safe to say that I am in my Ajala era. I particularly enjoyed Haifa, Aqaba, Accra, and Geneva this year. Oh yes, I saw my first wonder of the modern world - the magnificent Petra! One down, six to go.

The Monastery, Petra - Jordan

On the flip side:

  • I was passive and reactive in making a few personal decisions, ultimately putting me in the wrong spot. 
  • I needed to read more. While I did not set a target, I could have done better. But I did enjoy reading the following: Who Moved My Cheese?; On the Incarnation: Saint Athanasius; The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy; and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (best read of the year).
  • Too much time on social media; wasted man hours. When transitioned into sombre mode, I was glad to have taken some time off.
  • I still downplay my achievements and do not talk up my work as much as I should. I didn’t start my newsletter as I had intended. 
  • I could have made better financial decisions. My tracker revealed my foolishness when I reviewed my finances. #SMH4Myself. 

Thank you and shout-outs

What an annual review without saying thank you to the beautiful people who made my year. Like Ayodeji Balogun (the real one, not the one moonlighting as an artiste these days) said, “I know bad guys… I know real guys… my guys.” Grateful for my family - Dad, Mum, Gibs, Jane, Logo, and Linda. I love you dearly. We lost Grandpa this year; it was sad, but he lived well and lived fully. Shout out to Jide (you’re a blessing, and I am grateful to have you in my life. Proud of you and your growth); Chisom (thank you for everything, and this is to more intentional friendship); Clement I. (I miss you and hope to see you soon); Opemipo (you are a star and a bundle of joy). Seyifunmi (you’re my 2023 hero, thank you for everything); Omolayo (so proud of your strides); Peter (such a gentle and amazing young man, I appreciate the constant check-ins); Dawali (you’re a shining light, thank you for being a source of encouragement); Solomon (King Shlomo, thank you for making my year); David A. (life of the party, I miss you); Annah (fiercest of all, I pray God’s light guide you); Abby (church walk partner, you’re such a delight); Clement M. (best in humour, proud of you); Bunmi (A queen and more, the most interesting person I met this year); Aderinsola (go and conquer bro, much love); Dan, Ron (thank you for the B7 memories, wishing you joy and peace); David N. (001 for a reason, keep shining); Ifeoluwa (I’m sure it was a beautiful year for you); Ayodeji (thank you for the impromptu reviews, shine bright). Shout out to Zira, Angele, Chiugo, Ondela, Tosky, Kimaiyo, Daniel A., Adewale, Nii Noi, Shahaf, Ethan, Peace, Kenechukwu, Somto, Blessing T., Princess, John E., Tolani, Thierry, J.J., Abraham, Stanley, Kidane, Marcela, Emma, Julius, Leah, John M., Gabriel, Aniebiet, Murtala, Julius, Damola, Sodiq, Clinton, Chammie, Kayode, Clinton, The Ogunleyes, and The Chapmans. How can I forget amazing communities like Abuja Shapers, Susyvibes, B7 Campus Connect, GSC, and ASC Class of 2023. This year, I was inspired/motivated in one way or another by the following: Peter Obi (easily the man of the year), Professors Schler, Goss, and Avidar. Peterson Ozili, Al Gore, Klaus Schwab, Tobore Oru, Israel Armada, Saliem Fakir, Iva D., Emmanuel Iren, Greg Boyd, Timothy Keller (of blessed memory), Motaz Azaiza, Bernard Kalu, Ojuolape Kuti, Miriam Peters, Imoh Eboh, Damola Morenikeji, Charles Isidi, Isaac Ewaleifoh, Tosin Eniolorunda, Fuad Lawal, David Kuko, Ola Brown, Rick Wienecke, Dawali Exodus, Ibukun Ogunyemi, Achuth Pradeep, Olatunji Olaigbe, and many more. Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world. 

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