'Chak Achak Nyathina…' is one of the most captivating posts I have ever read on social media. In this post, Dr Okinyi Nyawade shares his difficult journey to earning a PhD. He had just received his fee structure from Moi University totalling Sh850,000 in 2012 when he met his father, Charles at a bank in Homa Bay. He explained to him about the admission letter. But he added: "Baba there is a problem, they need Sh850,000". His father held his hands, then slowly but reassuringly said, "nyathina chak achaka”. To drive his point home, his father entered the bank, withdrew Sh14,000 from his account that had Sh20,000 and gave the money to his son. Nyawade added Sh16,000 that he had and paid Sh30,000 to the Moi University account and his journey to earning his PhD begun. The rest is history.
What is is your 'Dream Tray’ today? Have you been wanting to start, but something keeps on holding you? Recently, Dr Harriet Kidombo of University of Nairobi said during a workshop on academic writing: “only 25 per cent of people in the academic world write.” Research has showed that people find writing difficult.
We are coming to the end of the year, and it is common for people to develop wish lists for the New Year dubbed “New Year Resolutions”. Some of these resolutions never go beyond the second month of the New Year. Some of the most common resolutions we hear or read about include starting an exercise regime, enrolling in an education programme (degree, Master’s or even PhD), starting a business, getting married or building a house. Sometimes these wish lists are repeated in the next New Year because we never even started working on them.
I cannot agree more with Dr Nyawade when he says in everything you do, always remember 'chak achaka'. Just begin no matter how difficult it seems. If you want to build a house, chak achaka. If you are planning to buy land, chak achaka. If you want to further your education, chak achaka. If you want pay dowry, chak achaka. Nothing is powerful as these words. We just need to begin. Don't give up in life, just because it looks insurmountable. Do not be defeated before you begin. What looks like a mountain soon becomes an anthill only if you begin. No one loses a race until they respond to the start gun and begin.
In most cases, we fail to begin because of procrastination. Most of us don’t even know why we procrastinate. There is a belief that a procrastinator is a poor time manager, lacks willpower or self-discipline or is simply lazy. This is not the case at all. Procrastination is not laziness, it is a coping mechanism for stress, according to Carolyne Onkoba of VEGA Life Company, United States. Research done by Prof Timothy Pychyl, who has been studying procrastination for over 20 years, has found that the main thing driving procrastination is not avoiding work, it’s avoiding stress.
Procrastination is "a subconscious desire to feel good right now" so you can feel a little stress relief. How does this show up in our lives? Ms Onkoba says when you have that important task or project to be done, you decide instead to turn to online shopping, watching the highlights of last night’s game or surfing through social media and laughing at viral videos. While you get short-term relief and feel good, over time this adds up and takes away time from the important task or project at hand which then creates more stress in your life.
Remember that procrastination is the most common manifestation of resistance because it is the easiest to rationalise. We don’t tell ourselves, I'm never going to….(fill this gap with your project, book, business, health, weight loss…). Instead we say, "I am going to… I am just going to start tomorrow, later". Procrastination can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today, we put them off till our death bead.
Dr Nyawade advises people never to allow themselves to be threatened by the 'size' of their problems. Begin doing something about it in a small way. If it is lack of money, do a small thing to get money. If it is marital issues, look for a small way to solve it. In whatever you face, chak achaka. Even those with big debts can do something about it - chak achaka and it will shrink each day.
There has never been a moment when we are without power to alter our destiny, and that moment could just be that first step, Chak Achaka!
Ms Otwori is a trainer and consultant in communication, official protocol and etiquette at Kenya School of Government
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