Three Things To Tell Your 20 Year Old Self Before Hitting The Dredged 30

I turned 30 recently, and truth be told, it’s all been very anticlimactic. I don’t actually feel different, but there is a constant awareness that I am older and I should feel different. A big part of this is because I spent my 29th birthday having a pity party in anticipation of turning 30.



Silly, I know, especially considering the fact that tomorrow is not guaranteed, much less another year. My closest friends couldn’t understand why I was having a premature break-down, but 29 reminded me of all the things I promised my younger self that I would do by the old age of 30.

In my mind, I had one year to get married, buy a house with a white picket fence, start a business, have 2.5 children, and get a doctoral degree.

I’m all for miracles, but the realization that I was still so far from some of these things left me immobilized and in bed for most of my 29th birthday.

In the months and days leading up to my 30th birthday, I expected much of the same. Thankfully, no matter how much I willed myself into a funk, my heart and mind just would not let me get there.

Somewhere in the days between my 29th and 30th birthday, I’d finally accepted the following truths about life.

The tough lessons in my 20's allowed me to know better - @Andrena_Sawyer Click To Tweet


Ditch the Plan

No one’s life ever goes as they planned. That truth alone should bring a sense of relief to everyone, especially if you’re a planner like me. Since my teenage years, I’ve had a 5-year, 10-year, and 20-year plan.

Each plan has inevitably been met with opposition. Some plans, like my goal of becoming an internationally-known civil rights attorney, I’ve had to forego completely.
One of the most difficult lessons life has taught me is that if despite my best efforts, something is not working out, it may be time to step back and assess the other opportunities that are coming my way.

I’m not talking about quitting, but rather using wisdom. I spent three years in my mid-twenties in a place I was miserable in because I wanted one career path to work out so desperately.

When I finally let that plan go, and opened my eyes and heart to new possibilities, I discovered hidden talents and a career that I thought I could only dream of. When I ditched the plan, I became free to try new things, meet new people, and gained the boldness to grow beyond my expectations.

The only way that aging can become a bad thing is if you are not fully living in the moment now- @Andrena_Sawyer Click To Tweet


You are Getting Older. Embrace It.

If no one else will admit it, I will. One of the reasons that 30 is scary, especially for some women, is because it seems…old. Culture has done a great job of getting us to believe that lie.

As you approach 30, the time seems to go by much faster, and you become keenly aware that you cannot get away with the antics you used to get away with. Society now holds you responsible, and so does your body and your bills.

Overall, you’re expected to have a level of stability that’s unprecedented in your life. I dreaded it. I didn’t so much mind looking older (some people still think I’m 23), but I dreaded having to relinquish my youthful fervor for the doom and gloom that I thought was coming my way.

There’s good news, then bad news, then good news again.

The good news is that I was wrong about the doom and gloom part. If you’re like I was, and you’re dreading what 30 represents, then you can breathe a sigh of relief.

30 is not old. In fact, I feel more calm and confident than I’ve ever felt before. A defeated attitude is your choice. However, it’s not a choice based on reality, and as with anything, your attitude will determine your actions.

The bad news is that you are getting older. For those of us who take the lyrics to “Forever Young” literally, it’s an inescapable reality. We have to get over it, and continue to live in the moment…each moment.

The only way that aging can become a bad thing is if you are not fully living in the moment now. I look back at my 20s, and I had a blast and formed relationships with people that are now more like family than friends, I started a business, I visited new places, and even wrote a couple of books.

However, amidst the great things were some tough lessons, which brings me to the other good news.


There’s Freedom of Responsibility

There’s an old saying that when you know better, you do better. The tough lessons in my 20s allowed me to know better, which will hopefully allow me to do better. There are certain situations that, if we adjust our perspective, can become our practice field for a game-time opportunity.

I was reckless with my finances in my twenties, ate poorly and devalued relationships that should have had more value and gave way too much attention to people and things that should not have had any of my time.

That realization comes with heartache. However, with heartache comes an opportunity to respond and adjust. While the recklessness and forever young attitude was great, there’s no greater peace and freedom than knowing that healthier decisions now mean less stress and more security.

The Roaring 20’s is more than just a term to describe a decade in history. For many of us, it’s a decade in our individual lives that determines, more so than any other decade, the course of the rest of our lives.

Use it wisely. Reject comparison, because circumstances are fleeting. Focus on your own journey, and you’ll be amazed by how much you accomplish.


Lastly, choose to live in the moment. You will never get another time in history that is just like the moment you are living in now.

Collective moments make for great experiences, so live each one loudly and boldly.


Chika Ilang: I always dreaded the idea of running a business

Chika Ilang - Besides the money there's that freedom the life you truly desire gives you. Click To Tweet

Cliche but true; if you have a dream or goal, pursue it. It doesn’t matter how terrible your job hopping may seem, doing what you love is all that matters. In most instances it may be that you know where you want to be but you just don’t know how, now that’s when Chika Ilang International comes into play.

This personal development company was launched in 2016 by Chika Ilang. It is dedicated to help women overcome the fear that keeps them from turning their dreams into a reality. Chika believes everyone has equal opportunity to achieve greatness if you show up for yourself. But just like Dr Rob Yeung puts it, “Unless you want to be one of the floundering masses, take the time to identify your vision”.

She’s driven by the desire for career advancement, financial independence and living a fulfilled life. It’s her earnest desire to teach more women how to live a happier, wealthier and fulfilled life.

Chika Ilang, the Clarity Mavern, please introduce yourself to the readers.

I’m Chika Ilang, the founder of Chika Ilang International. A personal growth platform that helps women overcome the fear that keep them from turning their dream into a reality.

Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today.

I’d say mine is a long walk to purpose and freedom. You know that freedom you get when you are finally able to get your acts together. I mean, beside the money and fame, there’s that freedom and fulfilment the life you truly desire gives you.

So in 2015, I started my side hustle because I was tired of desiring to do something besides my 9 to 5…something that I didn’t have a definition for at the time. I occupied myself with that side hustle while I figured out what was next for me. I sold smart kitchen tools, gift items and even did fruit carving and display. Life seemed okay at the beginning but that feeling was short lived. The hunger for growth set in and I felt unsettled. I wanted more.

What this ‘more’ was exactly , I didn’t have an answer to, yet. And like most people I have multiple interests in different things but I couldn’t coordinate them optimally. One thing was rather certain, “I am made for more“. To get this more, I decided to shut down my business and seek what my heart yearned for. This period gave me the opportunity to understand myself better, connect and engage coaches and mentors who guided me, some of which are still guiding me on my journey.

Bit by bit, the vision started forming, got clearer and got bigger. In 2016, Chika Ilang International was birthed, to help other women who like me, desire more but do not know the how to birth this more, to be able to turn that desire into a reality.

Interesting! Can you tell us more about the Fruit carving and display. How did you start and did you have to do a course of some sort?

I started off with gift items and smart kitchen tools. When it seemed like a good venture, I decided to add another item to the list. I always admired fruit carving and my tutor was on my BBM contact. You can imagine my thoughts each time she uploaded her work. Eventually I reached out to her and decided to take a course with her on fruit carving and display.

Chika Ilang

Chika Ilang International helps women who desire more but don't know the how to birth this more Click To Tweet

And Chika Ilang International? What is it and how well is it going in relation to the purpose for which it was created?

Chika Ilang International is a personal development hub for women who seek life and career growth. We work with them to gain the clarity to build the life and careers they truly love and turn that dream into reality. It’s been a fairly smooth ride since inception, but there’s always room for improvement.

So how long were you running the business before you started paying yourself? How did you live through those first few months/years?

The business didn’t start making money immediately. But when it did start, I was careful not to lounge but churn back into my business and build myself up.

Fortunately for me, my 9 to 5 sustained me before I started earning from my business. That is why I always tell people, don’t run to quit your 9 to 5 when you catch the rhythm of your life purpose, because you surely need money to fund your dream.

Don't run to quit your 9 to 5 because you surely need money to fund your dream Click To Tweet

What techniques do you use to increase your clientele? What are your goals for increasing the number of clients you serve?

Referral works for me. I love it when a client says, “Miss A told me you would help me get the solution I seek”.

It simply means, Miss A has experienced me, has achieved positive result and feels the need for Miss B to achieve that result too. I just want to keep helping more women to become more and birth their dreams.

Chika Ilang

Recently on your YouTube channel, you gave a tip to craft a personal  mantra. What is your chant?

I actually have more than one mantra. There was a time I easily got distracted with things that didn’t matter much. I coined a mantra sorta that says “Chika, you woke up to be great, and not because of XYZ”. XYZ here represented the things that didn’t matter much but somehow, they always eyed me and wanted my attention.

I have another from the Bible that tells me “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” … oh this one fuels me when fears and doubts set in. It just takes me back to my source.

I have yet another that says “successful people do what is important and not necessarily what is easy”. This resets my head when I see a task as “difficult”, thereby loosing sight of the importance. Let’s just say when it comes to mantra, I make it very personal.

I have personal meaning for all my mantras. They aren’t just another line of words, or famous quotes, no, not exactly, they speak directly to me in ways that keep me sane and focused.

So Chika you are also an author, what do you think are the common traps for aspiring writers?

For anyone who would want to take up writing, I would say, well done! Don’t fret about perfection, just express yourself in the best form you truly can, but bear in mind that this best form isn’t the least form. You are you either ways, just do you and enjoy yourself while at it.

Nonetheless, the common traps you should know;
They won’t like my work…
Well you cannot know this till you put your work out there. Understand who you are writing for, so as to know the best way to feed  them with useful contents

– Everyone will like my work…
No honey, not everyone reads or enjoys same type of article.

– My work doesn’t make sense…
You probably decided to write because you believe in words, you believe in it because it makes sense to you. If it makes sense to you, there’s a big chance that it will make sense to the next person. So go ahead and write.

Chika Ilang
I am sharing my thoughts bare, as they are in my heart - Chika Ilang Click To Tweet

So with your articles do you try to be original or do you write what readers want to hear?

Personally, writing is a way of sharing with my audience, and expressing my thoughts and concerns. So when I write my articles, I am sharing my thoughts bare as they are in my heart.

It’s entirely my expression, in my element. But again, it has to make sense to my readers. It’s basically getting a message across to the readers that would improve their lives, but in my words.

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

That’s certainly starting a business.

I always dreaded the idea of running a business because I couldn’t imagine putting myself out there, or telling someone to “come and buy” whatever I sell…because “come and buy” was the understanding I had about sales, but now I know better and I do better.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Is your personal growth stunted? 5 signs that it might be

Sometimes we get stuck because we haven’t learned anything new, these tips should help Click To Tweet

What to do when you’ve lost your mojo

We all want to become the best we can be. But what happens when you’ve lost your mojo? There’s a chance that your personal growth might be stunted. There’s no shame in that, it happens to the best of us: sometimes you just get stuck and it feels gross.

Here are some signs to help you tell, and some quick simple ways to overcome it.

personal growth for she leads africa - self improvement and personal development
Source: theclassywoman

1. You’re really comfortable right now

Life is fine. Like, just fine. Everything is just okay. You’ve got a good steady rhythm at home, at work and in your relationships but it’s been steady like that for A WHILE… to the point of standing still.

You look around you and feel the buzz around you, but you’re on the outside. While being in this position isn’t necessarily bad, it’s not amazing either. It’s just —you guessed it— fine. You’ve stopped growing.

Ask yourself: When did I last get excited about creating something new and of real value?

If you’re struggling to find an answer, it’s time to change. Why not take on a new challenge? Join a society at university, or a network at work. Volunteer at a local charity that your care about or look for opportunities to give your skills to budding entrepreneurs. All you have to do is reach out and ask —over the phone, in person or using social media. It’s all there ready and waiting for you.



2. You’re bored at work

Even when we’re in our dream jobs, work can sometimes be less than glamorous. There’s always that one activity that you’d rather skip. When you face this boredom or frustration you need to….

Ask yourself: Is it time to move on, or do I just need to do something different where I am?

Next, have a conversation. With your boss, your manager or your team (if you are the boss/manager) about new opportunities or projects that you can try out. Of course, the way you ask depends on your role at work, so take that into consideration.

Once you’ve identified these new personal growth goals you can set monthly or weekly goals to drive your progress. Many of us make great 1-5 year plans but struggle to translate them into our daily hustles.

3. You don’t leave conversations feeling inspired, motivated or energized

You can’t remember the last time you learned anything of value, every conversation feels the same. I get it, it’s happened to me before. But too many people blame others, they claim that there aren’t ‘enough people to have intelligent conversation’ with.

Well, before you blame others for anything in life, always look at yourself. Be the change you want to see in the world.

tiffany pollard yawn

Ask yourself: What do I bring to the table?

If you’ve followed personal growth steps 1 & 2 above, you may eventually have something new to bring to your conversations. Once you’ve done that, you can start planning how you expand your horizons and your network.

The age-old saying goes, ‘your network is your networth’ and if you haven’t made any new friends lately, maybe it’s time to go to an event, #SheHive or conference to get the conversational juices flowing again.

Before you blame others for anything in life, always look at yourself Click To Tweet

4. You know as much as you did yesterday, and the day before that… and the day before that

Sometimes we get stuck because we haven’t learned anything new. Personal growth involves your body AND your brain. We all have our niche —whether it’s fashion, tech, finance, politics or anything in between. But we can all benefit from knowing a little bit of everything across the board.

Some employers call this being a ‘t-shaped’ person, someone who has deep knowledge in a few areas and broad knowledge across many others. These types of people can work well in many situations and are typically more employable.

Ask yourself: When was the last time I learned anything new?

The good news is that in the age of Google, a lot of information is $free.99 – shout out to SLA for this free guide right here. You can learn most of the basics on a shoestring budget, or no budget at all. What have you got to lose?


t-shaped person personal growth for she leads africa - self improvement and personal development

5. You lack energy and feel sluggish

Sluggish. What a word, sounds horrible right? You might feel chronically tired, or that you’re living life in slow motion. Sometimes this is because you’ve been working too damn hard, but other times it’s caused by the fact that you aren’t doing much at all. If it’s the latter, the final thing you can do to boost your personal growth is actually get moving.

Ask yourself: How can I shake up my routine in some way?

This might be something really small like changing the route you take to work or your night-time beauty routine. It could also mean becoming more active. YES, I do mean going to the gym, joining a sports team or doing a class.

A little sweat never hurt anyone! It sounds kind of crazy, but the more you work out, the more energy you have for other areas in your life. So, no excuses.

running gifTry these recommendations out and let us know how they work for you.

Doing something new is scary, but life begins outside of your comfort zone. So does personal growth. You’ll be challenged in a new way, and you’ll develop into a more well-rounded person in the process.


How to tailor a career development plan to your personal development goals

In creating my own career development plan, I’ve realised the importance of aligning my career with personal development goals. Also, everyone should possess this skill. At the end of the day, we’re the masters of our own careers. We owe it to our future success to do this.

Your company’s goals should align with yours

Before building a personal career development plan, determine if it agrees with that of the company you work for. Be sure it already aligns to your specific role. That way, you can have a great starting point.

This will help you align the company’s goals with the goals you’ll put in place for your own personal career development plan. If there isn’t a career development plan specific to your role, don’t worry. It really isn’t a train-smash.

The career development plan from your company will not be the be all and end all of your career. But it provides a good start for establishing your short to medium term goals, and how to achieve them.

Determine what your goals are

The first step in putting your plan to paper is determining what you ultimately want to achieve.

This process might seem tedious at first, as it requires a considerable amount of effort and thinking. However, knowing the end goal lets you clearly define the intermediate steps to getting there.


How you craft your end goal is up to you. One may model themselves after someone they look up to. Others may visualize it in their mind’s eye and work towards a ten to twenty-year projection.  Some may decide to dwell on what’s most important and what they’re passionate about.

You may actually combine the first two examples, creating a model of yourself. I’ve been using the latter to help guide me to envision my end goal. I also believe as the years go by, this image of yourself will change, and so will your goals.

Set timelines

Once an end goal has been set, finding the intermediate steps could be done. Ask questions about what you need to do in the next year, two years or three years to get to the end goal. I’ve found that this helps in answering the questions of where I want to be in the very short term, and ultimately the long term.

The time frames here can be different for different people. Others may be comfortable with monthly time frames, while others could be more comfortable thinking in years.

Blue Concrete Pavement With 100m Sprint Paint

As I’ve said before, this process may seem difficult at first. But once you start putting goals on paper and executing them, it’ll help you have a sense of control over your own career.

Set comprehensive goals

A good career development plan is one that spans over different areas of your life. It’s important to note that a personal career development plan will include setting goals for your career, finances, physical/body, social and personal goals.

These categories may also be divided according to short, medium and long-term goals. To actually make your plan as comprehensive as possible, your goals are also divided over three and six months (short term). One and three years would be considered your medium term goals and five and ten years are your long term goals.

For a category like career, you should have a comprehensive plan and you’d need to set the short, medium and long-term goals. Under each time period, you ask yourself what you want to specifically achieve for that particular category in three months, six months and so on.

Once you’ve established what you want to achieve, you’ll need to answer why it’s important for you to achieve this and if it speaks to your core. There are various questions you can ask yourself until you fully understand your goals and why and how you can achieve them.

Keep track

It’s well known in management circles that you can only control what you measure. The next step in taking control over your goals is keeping track of them. The onus is on you to make sure that your goals are constantly updated.

In six months to a year, your goals might have changed. Putting this on paper is important because it shows you the transition in your life, from where you initially thought you’d want to be to what you have become or wanting to do. Keeping track helps show growth.

Free stock photo of writing, vintage, time, hoursFinally, it’s important to be transparent with your plan and to also remember it is as important as setting goals. Treat your goals like chains and be bound by them.

Your career development plan is meant to be a guide that can be amended when needed. With that said, however, changing your short, medium or long-term goals shouldn’t stem from laziness.

Rather, the changes should be necessary in aiding the achievement of set goals. After all, it is your guide to navigating through all spheres of your life.

The art of dusting yourself off

zendaya dusting off shoulder

What’s the difference between successful business people, and those who are less so? I’ve always wondered about this and for a while, I thought it boiled down to factors such as innovation, technical know-how and networks. I have since found that while these factors play a large role, a lot depends on your ability to self-motivate during the down times.

It is easy to be focused when things are going your way, but this is not always the case when the reverse occurs. This partly explains why a majority of small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) do not get to year two of their existence. Running your own business means you are forgoing a predictable source of income for something that you have no guarantee will work. Yes, you go into it having done your homework and armed with a clear projection of your revenue. But, we know what they say about the best-laid plans. The reality is that business is tough. It is not for the faint of heart.

I have come across a lot more ‘depressed’ business people than happy fulfilled ones. Hell, I have had more down moments in the space of a year and a half than I’d ever had in my entire professional career. When you are in the services business like some of us, the going can get a lot tougher than most. So, if the harshness of the entrepreneurship path is so prevalent, how come we hear very little about it?

Human nature prohibits people from admitting that things aren’t what they thought they would be. It’s as if doing so makes you less human, better yet, less ‘entrepreneurial’. We walk around pretending the world of business is fine and all of us are making money and not spending sleepless nights wondering where payroll money will come from. You end up feeling discouraged and exhausted, sometimes even considering the attractiveness of a predictable income.

When this moment hits, it’s easy to forget all the good things that attracted you into your business industry in the first place. You forget all about the well-laid strategies that you have developed over time and the urgency to generate cash becomes a dominant factor in your mind. At this point in the journey, it’s time to dig deep into your internal resources. No, I’m not talking about spirituality. Accessing your inner resources takes a clear understanding of the following:

You are not unique

Everyone goes through dips in every area of their lives. You are not unique. Don’t worry, you won’t die from it either. Understand that even the ones you admire today went through the struggles you are going through. It passes and it comes back again, get used to the cycle.

If it comes easy, you’ll take it for granted

I have learnt that when things are handed on a silver platter the amount of care we place on them is different to when you work for it yourself. Make sure success is important to you, that way you give things you work on all you’ve got.

Dusting yourself off is a skill you learn

Mental fitness does not just happen overnight, it is a skill that gets better with exercise. The more you use this skill, the better it becomes. All it takes is knowing what you want to achieve and knowing and believing that you have all you need to realise it. In addition, remembering that obstacles are part of the game and a chance sometimes to recalibrate.

Get used to downtime

We all go through down moments in every area of our lives, it’s even worse in the world of business. There are many businesses offering similar goods and services and it is always about reinventing yourself.

Sometimes it goes your way, other times it doesn’t. Failure is also part of the journey and that is normal. How you move from the dips is what determines the level of impact you and your business will have for the next generation.