It would be easy and accurate to say that 2018 will not be very different from any other year. Some say it has to be better than 2017. Of course it doesn’t, but it may well be.
We live in a fractured and fracturing world. Much of this is the result of poor or non-existent leadership. We see it in our own country, but it is equally prevalent and maybe even more dramatic abroad. Here we just have to think of the tweeted rantings of Trump and the dithering Theresa May to put our own trial and tribulations into context. Some say that emigrating is the answer. I am not so sure about that.
Whatever happens; things are going to happen, some big and some small, over which we have no control. This, however, is not the issue, what is the issue is that we may have no control over events and circumstances round us, but we most certainly have control over how we view and react to those things. Before we get into any scenarios about 2018 let us be sure that we fix our mindset. Last year I wrote about the crucial attitudes needed for success. They are no less important for the year ahead:
Fix your Mindset
There is little more demeaning and self-defeating than a victim mentality! Have a sense of hope, spread this hope and be joyful about life. It really is worth living!
Surround yourself with like-minded people who also want to make positive change happen.
Make Creativity your Centrepoint
Society starts with you. We CANNOT leave the future to the politicians. You are the centrepoint of all of society and if ever there was time for innovativeness and creativity it is now. Be at the centre of renewal.
There is no way you would be able to summit Mount Everest unless you are prepared to persevere, hang in there, keep going. Especially when the going gets rough and tough! But the rewards are priceless!
Spread the Love
There is too much animosity in the world. We are all too angry about too much, but do not really know what we are angry with, or at, or about. Anger is a useless emotion. Get rid of your anger it will not help you in the long run. Love is contagious. Love those around you and let them know it. This will come back to you in countless, and often surprising ways.
Live and Work IN the World
The world is truly a village; a village of increasing complexity which simultaneously becomes more accessible and more opaque; bigger and smaller; faster and slower; closer and further. Without education it must feel like a world of chaos. Even with education it is often extremely difficult to understand. And yet it is our world. It is critical that we are part of it; just as it is part of us. We cannot escape from this globalised world. Avoid looking only at the needs and wants of our village, or our country. Be a world citizen, but live and work locally.
Make sure you Stand for Something
Too many of us concentrate on being busy; almost as though busyness on its own will bring rewards. But busyness on its own will inevitably lead to disaster. At the end of one’s life no-one will ever ask what we were busy at; instead they will talk about what we represented; what we stood for. These are the things that make for positive change in society. Think of global icons – Mandela, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Desmond Tutu. All of these individuals are known way beyond their singular area of activity or interest because of what they stood for, not what they were busy doing.
So now for 2018:
Politics: For South Africans 2018 will, to all intents and purposes, be a precursor to 2019 when our next National Elections take place. This will mean our year ahead will be filled even more than usually with politics, politicians and politicking. It will be tempting to get sucked into this maelstrom. But rather make your presence felt at local level where it really counts. People protest locally about local issues. There has been very little protest nationally about national issues although Zuma has helped to change this somewhat.
Economics: Economics is the twin sister of politics: Especially for a little country like South Africa which is so dependent on the goodwill of the world. This means that we must make our democracy work for all at all levels. Especially locally! We desperately need radical job creation! Be entrepreneurial. Support local entrepreneurs. Buy South African!
Education: Much of our education is shambolic. If you are reading this you are probably amongst the educated elite. Education is an easy area in which to make a meaningful contribution. Teach kids to read. Volunteer at one of the local schools. Mentor teachers, principals. Provide financial support to the kids of your employees. The matriculating class of 2017 represented only 37% of those that started school 12 years earlier. Education is our biggest crisis!
Technology: We are in the throes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. New technology will be in our faces at every turn. Jobs will be lost, but many new jobs will be created. Embrace the change. It is all designed to make living and working easier and to make our connected world even more connected.
Society: Our fractured, tormented past haunts us. We live in divided dormitories. But recent research shows that South Africans are generally not racist and all want to be part of a really new and undivided South Africa. If we wish to build a united South Africa at peace with itself we have to reach out to those who we see as being different, maybe even strangers. Indeed many of us see our own countrymen and women as foreigners. Only we can change this. Not someone else. Not the politicians (actually for many of them it is not even in their interests to do so). Not the government. Us, we and them, are the only ones who have the capacity to make the change happen and we will be the biggest beneficiaries.
In summary 2018 is a year of change, of opportunity, of some uncertainty on the economic and political front, but it mostly a year in which the citizenry can really make our presence felt. It is really up to us to create the kind of country we want. This is far too important a task to leave to the politicians!