If you want to change or move forward in your life, you have to be willing to seek clarity around what's holding you back. The road to bettering herself, leveling up professionally and personally, and empowering others with how to do so is a journey that native Detroiter, social entrepreneur, and youth advocate Danielle D. Hughes has committed to.
Her debut book Always Make Your Bed, shares seven principles that readers can use to dream it, do it, and get what they want out of life. "The title was inspired by the importance of consistency. People would always ask how to stay encouraged and inspired. It's simple, make your bed." The book explores the science behind having a routine and consistency. In it, Danielle shares the journey and strategies that led her from being least likely to succeed in high school to being a Chief Changemaker in her city and being honored on Forbes' 30 under 30 list for her work in education.
Courtesy of Danielle D. Hughes
The book itself was inspired by Danielle's own becoming story. One day after speaking at a local university in Michigan, 30 young women came up to Danielle asking for mentorship. She didn't have the bandwidth to help every woman who stayed back, but thought writing a book could be a way to share the wisdom she'd acquired along her own journey. Being vulnerable about her challenges wasn't always easy, but Danielle knew that sometimes "the story you want to hide is the story you need to share the most."
After graduating from Georgia State University with a degree in journalism, she struggled to find her passion. After being fired from her first two reporting jobs, she was forced to reckon with what her true purpose was. An idea to start a vision board workshop for local youth fueled her a desire to make helping young people in her community part of her life's work. She went on to co-found a youth-focused Detroit non-profit, Detroit Speaks. Now, Danielle serves as a Dream Director for the Future Project and is responsible for coaching and mentoring students in the Detroit public school system.
"Every single day I try to reconnect to my why. My why is being the person I wish I had when I was younger. It's so fulfilling being able to share with my students the things I wish I had: financial literacy, finding what you're passionate about before you to go to school and get an expensive degree and realize you don't even like it. For them to see someone like me make the Forbes list [opens] up a seed of possibility for them that they can do whatever they want."
xoNecole chatted with Danielle about some of the life-changing, yet simple, principles she teaches in her book. Check out her advice on how you can start living a more impactful life below.
1. Develop a routine (consistency + execution):
"One day I got fed up with myself and said I need to put myself in a routine. Every successful person I knew had a routine. I needed to emulate that because something [must be] working. Consistency breeds consistency. Make sure your foundation is laid and business is handled. Once you become a serial entrepreneur, it's important to make sure that all of your ducks are in a row.
"The two main things that serve as the defining line between being a dreamer and a doer is consistency and execution. As human beings, we struggle with consistency. We'll try something new but if we don't see it working, we're over it and on to the next. That's not how great things are built. Great things take time. Once I started making my bed every morning, I started getting more done in the day and prioritizing my time. It was repeatedly doing one task every day. It's a super simple task: waking up, pulling your sheets back and making your bed. That will lead over into your personal life, business, and whatever else.
"You can be consistent but that doesn't always mean you're executing. Create a task and then finish it. You can work at it every day and still not finish it. We put so much on ourselves for things to be perfect and for it to look a certain way. Done is so much better than perfect any day."
Courtesy of Danielle D. Hughes
"Great things take time. Once I started making my bed every morning, I started getting more done in the day and prioritizing my time. It was repeatedly doing one task every day. It's a super simple task: waking up, pulling your sheets back and making your bed. That will lead over into your personal life, business, and whatever else."
2. Have a strategic vision for your life:
"Having a vision for your life is so important. Without a vision, you're going to just go through life doing the same thing and doing the same normal routine. If that doesn't make you happy, eventually, you'll get burned out and [feel] unfulfilled. Having a strategic vision is [critical]. Write down your daily goals every single day. Get a planner. Check them off. Make sure you're happy. Ask yourself, 'Am I doing this because I want to or am I trying to fulfill someone's else's dream?'"
3. Have a strong financial foundation:
"I've made a lot of financial mistakes. My car got repossessed two years ago because I was mishandling my money. I was young and didn't have any financial literacy. I was making what I thought was a lot of money. I had to work to build back up my credit and savings account. Being a young Black woman, we don't always talk about saving, budgets, and credit in our households. I taught myself when I got older. Make sure you have a handle on your money. Make sure you have at least emergency funds.
"Financial freedom is everything. Cash does really rule everything in the United States. Money rules the world. Everything costs. As much as we hate it, that's what it is. It's so important to know where your money is going. Life happens to all of us. You're going to need something to fall back on. Life is a lot harder when you don't have anything in the bank or low credit. It's easier to get what you want out of life when you have a strong financial foundation."
4. Bounce back from failure:
"I try to be as transparent as possible. I've been fired from every job I ever had, except for two. It happens to all of us. We all deal with something. It's not so much about what happens to you or how you react to it. It's how you bounce back. No one cares about the people who have played it safe and stayed down after getting knocked down. We celebrate and hear about the people who got back up. Those are the people who are the icons and change the world. The ones who go down in history are the people who got back up ten times after being knocked down nine times. No matter what you go through...no matter how big or small, always get back up. There's always something better if you just keep fighting. I've been told 'no' a thousand times more than I've been told 'yes'. I'm going to keep going."
"I've been fired from every job I ever had, except for two. It happens to all of us... It's not so much about what happens to you or how you react to it. It's how you bounce back."
5. Seek a mentor:
"Mentorship is essential for success. I like to consider myself a life-long learner. People that I admire or look up to are all life-long learners. They always tell me to never stop learning. The moment that you feel like you have enough knowledge and know everything, you've failed. I don't have any super close mentors now, but I have a lot of 'virtual' mentors. One of my 'in my head' mentors is Myleik Teele. I also have a group of three close friends. We're all in different industries and they serve as my mentors, too. It's important to note that your relationships change as you change. My entire circle has changed in the last ten years. The people who I now surround myself with every day are most certainly my mentors, advisors, and counselors."
Proceeds from the sales of Always Make Your Bed will benefit Danielle's newly formed scholarship program the "David Jackson Jr. Scholarship For Emerging Leaders" - a fund that will be used to assist local Detroit youth in their scholastic and entrepreneurial endeavors.