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Dream Director Danielle D. Hughes Has 5 Life Hacks To Change Your Life

Struggling to see changes in your life? Vision strategist Danielle D. Hughes shares simple tips that will help you live the life you want.

BOSS UP

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."


To learn more consistency and life hacks from Always Make Your Bed, visit www.amybbook.com or follow Danielle on Instagram (@danielledhughes).

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.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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