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Why Fall Is The Perfect Time To Prep For The New Year

Why put off until January what you can handle in October?

Inspiration

Man, is autumn my favorite time of the year. Aside from when global warming decides to completely show out, the temperature is mild and the leaves turn into vibrant hues. When it comes to clothes, layering is always fun. I adore all of the signature scents of autumn (like cinnamon apple and pumpkin). On the emotional tip, my late father and fiancé both had birthdays in October, plus, my father used to love to bug me to death about the Cowboys on Sundays—so I have fond memories around all of that. And, because I am a Rosh Hashanah person (Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year) and it always falls during the autumn season, for me, the fall also marks a fresh start too.

Yet, whether autumn is your favorite time of year or not, I still encourage you to look at this season from a truly beneficial perspective in the sense that, with roughly 12 weeks left in the calendar year, what better time to get your life in order for the year that is to come? Just think about it—rather than waiting until New Year's Eve and then stressing yourself out by coming up with a New Year's resolution that probably isn't going to hold up anyway (because a whopping 80 percent of them don't), why not ease into January by preparing for it now? It's a lot easier, so much more realistic and, you might be surprised by how good you feel about stepping into a brand new year, if you put, at least a few of the following 10 suggestions, into practice.

1. Decide What Kind of Life You Want in the New Year

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Let's begin here. A broadcaster by the name of Germany Kent once said, "Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction." She's exactly right. And here's one reason why now is a great time to prepare for the new year—if you are a procrastinator, you can quit telling yourself that you'll change your life on January 1; instead, you can change it right at this very moment. Listen, as a marriage life coach, something that truly tickles me is how so many engaged couples, whenever we discuss red flags that already exist in their relationship prior to marriage, shrug them off as if to say that strolling down the aisle—or in our culture, jumping a broom—will miraculously change those things.

Chile, please. Marriage amplifies what already exists. And you know what else?

There is absolutely nothing supernatural about January 1. It's just another day that happens to fall on another calendar year. So, if you want your personal or professional life to be different, try to avoid saying to yourself, "I'll get to it in the new year."

Cop yourself a fresh journal and figure out what you want your world to be like, three months from now. It'll give you time to really think long and hard and come up with a strategy to make your desires a reality—well before the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day.

2. Create A New Savings Goal

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Yeeeeeah, this isn't good. Did you know that, reportedly, 69 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings account? Shoot, for a lot of us, that reality means that if we lost our job today, we could barely pay one month's mortgage/rent, let alone anything else. So, while I know this is actually the time of year when a lot of us spend more money than we should (you know, due to the holiday season 'n all), try and put aside enough money to where you can go into the new year with at least $1,500 saved up. If you saved $125 a week, starting the first week of October, it would get you there. I know that might sound steep, but I'm just giving you an angle to work from.

If you already are a pretty good saver (and if that is indeed the case, Mazel Tov!), come up with something that you want to save up money for. A new car. Some money to do some investing. Maybe a travel account. If this is something you're interested in, there are cool savings apps that can help you to keep track of your coins or, if you're married, I'm all about couples having a sex jar. You can read more about that by checking out, "5 Reasons Why Every Married Couple Needs A Sex Jar".

3. Do a Health Detox

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Detoxing your system is beneficial on a lot of different levels. Since it's literally about removing toxins from your body, it can give you more energy; reduce breakouts; boost your immune system; put you in a better mood; decrease body inflammation; help you to lose weight; improve your digestion, and help your liver to function better. Personally, I think that the early side of autumn is a good time to do some sort of a detox because one, you can cleanse out your system before the holiday season of food approaches and two, you can figure out what type of detox you like best.

On a semi-surface level, if you're not doing it already, it's a really good idea to detox your scalp and armpits. But when it comes to fully flushing out your system, spend a couple of weeks researching the approach that you wanna take. Articles like Gaiam's "10 Ways to Detox Your Body" and Max Living's "10 Natural Detox Strategies to Cleanse Your Body & Lose Weight With Your Diet" are both helpful when it comes to helping you to learn about different approaches to detoxing your system and which one will prove to be most beneficial to you in the long run.

4. Break A Bad Habit

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Remember how it used to be a common saying that it takes around 21 days to break a habit? And so, we would try, but usually fail after a couple of weeks, all the while wondering what the hell was wrong with us? Well, more research has gone into this very topic and, come to find out, it actually takes more like—you ready for this?—18 to 254 days. Yep. In the time that it roughly takes to conceive and birth a child, that could be how long it takes to break a bad habit too.

While on one hand, that might seem self-defeating AF, I choose to look at it from a different perspective. Since some things really do require months to get past, you can actually offer yourself a little more mercy and grace by taking a more logical approach to habit breaking. Since it's not realistic to get over certain things in three weeks or less, try and take your journey one day at a time—and consider starting that journey now. That way, come January 1, you'll be at least three months in and…who knows? You might actually be stronger in your areas of weakness while everyone else is trying to figure out how to go a week without breaking their own resolution(s).

5. Get Clarity/Closure in Your “Questionable” Relationships

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There's a quote from the movie The Life of Pi that says, "It's important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise, you are left with words you should have said but never did and your heart is left with remorse." What this quote is basically speaking on is closure and yes, I am a fan of it; mostly because, to me, closure is a sign of profound respect. The thing that two people started together should be the thing that both people end, together, as well. While I know that sometimes we're not given the closure that we deserve, a Scripture in the Bible that I really like is, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18—NIV) In the context of this particular point, to me, it means that we should be as proactive as possible about getting clarity or closure in a relationship so that, if things do end, they can at least end…peacefully.

So, whether it's personal or professional, if there is a relationship that either isn't serving you well or you're super unclear about, why bring it into a new year?

Why not use these last several weeks to get the answers and/or do the grieving that needs to be done now, so that you can step into January from a more healed and positive space? I've shared, several times before, that one of my favorite quotes from the movie Love Jones is when Nina said to her ex-fiancé, "All we have or all these years." Life is too short and purposeful to be in relationships or situationships—again, whether they be personal or professional—that aren't really benefitting you. Figure that out now so that your heart can be open to something better once the new year rolls around.

6. Put Yourself on a Schedule

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An author by the name of Matt Fox once said, "Time and effort can get you anything you want in the world. But nothing in the world can get you more time." On the time tip, he's exactly right. That's why, I'm a firm believer that, one of the worst things that someone could ever do (or we could ever do to someone), is waste our (or their) time. And yes, waste is exactly what can happen because waste means "to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return". So yeah, this is definitely a good time to pause, ponder and reflect over if you feel like someone has you out here giving when you're not receiving anything adequate in return (Lawd!). It could be your employer. It could be the guy you're currently seeing. It could even be a friend.

And then, once you've got that figured out, ask yourself if YOU are the one who is wasting your own time. Maybe you spend too much time on social media. Maybe you let your emotions rule you when it should be the other way around, so that you can discipline your feelings and get stuff done. Maybe you're someone who puts things off until the last minute which prevents you from doing them in excellence. Maybe you complain too often. Maybe you gossip too much. Maybe you worry about things that are out of your control. Maybe you let things trigger you to the point where they leave you stagnant.

For all of these things, you know what can help? Putting together a schedule. Think about it. If you only have a certain amount of time set aside for Twitter, maybe less people will piss you off and you'll have less celebrity gossip to talk about. If you make sure to leave work when you're officially off, maybe you can put more time into building your own company so that you can leave that crazy boss of yours in six months or less. If you aren't watching so much television, you can read more. Or, if you're not always on the phone with your bestie who is always caught up in a cycle of toxicity, you can soak in the tub longer and get to bed earlier.

Oftentimes, when the topic of scheduling comes up, it's from the angle of figuring out what goes where on our to-do list. Yet I'm encouraging you to look at it from a bit of a broader perspective. A wise person once said, "The difference between success and failure depends on what we decide to do with the 24 hours in our day." Whether it's a calendar on your desk or a scheduling app on your phone, try and get into the habit of scheduling your time better as we get ready for another calendar year. By the way, please make sure that on your schedule, 6-8 hours of rest and quality time with yourself are on it. This one tip alone is a total game-changer if you take it seriously and literally.

7. Set Pampering Appointments

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While I'm more an advocate of bucket lists or goal-setting instead of resolutions, if you are a resolutions kind of woman, please make sure that pampering is on the top of your list for the new year. While it took me getting well into my 30s before I embraced how essential pampering is, it's extremely important to do, just what the definition says—"to treat or gratify with extreme or excessive indulgence, kindness, or care". For the record, pampering IS NOT maintenance. What I mean by that is, if you're gonna pamper yourself in the bath, make sure there are rose petals, champagne and some milk in your water. If you're gonna get a pedicure, pay for the higher end kind. If you like wine, get it from somewhere other than the grocery store. If it's time for new panties, make sure a couple of pair are lace and in your favorite color.

Remember that the key words of pamper are "extreme" and "excessive". It's not about if it "makes sense" so much as it makes you feel very special and extremely adored. Every woman needs to feel that way, so every woman needs 1) a pampering budget and 2) to make pampering a monthly priority.

There's no time like the present to set aside some cash and to make some hair, nail and massage appointments for January. Get to it, sis.

8. Upgrade Each Room

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OK. When it comes to this particular point, I'm not saying that you have to completely remodel each room because I'm pretty sure we all know that, in order to do that right, you've gotta have more than a couple of bucks in your bank account. But since the new year is all about being out with the old and in with the new, you can use the next couple of months to bring in some new and affordable additions. Maybe some new bedding in your bedroom. New throw pillows in your living room. A new set of dishes for your kitchen. A new shower curtain in your bathroom. Or, how about some new window treatments, some different art prints or a different chair in your office? Not too long ago, I purchased some of the coziest looking throw pillows for a corner of one of my rooms and it's amazing how that one upgrade has made my space look completely different. Hey, no one is saying you gotta be Bob Villa over there…but why not give yourself a little something new to look at? You've got time. Use it.

9. Nix Resolutions. Cultivate Goals Instead.

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Resolutions typically don't bring forth the best results. But you know what does? Setting goals. The key to this particular recommendation is first that you create long- and short-term goals. Then, follow that up with prioritizing each goal, organizing how to execute them, setting aside time either every day or each week to work on your goal and then celebrate your accomplishment once you actually reach it.

Say that one of your goals is to do more networking in the new year. This can be the time to research who you want to connect with and how to get in touch with them. Or perhaps your goal is to write your first book. If you want to have a publisher, this is a good time to find a reputable literary agent. If you'd prefer to publish it yourself, find out now how to go about that and get to working on/completing your manuscript. Maybe one of your goals is to become a more positive person. No time like the present to figure out what your "negative triggers" are so that you can remove them from your life.

The thing about waiting until January 1 to put some goals into place is you're basically setting yourself up to be overwhelmed. Planning your goals out now gives you the time and freedom to look at each one from a practical headspace so that you're able to increase your chances of actually reaching them.

10. Get Your Sleep Patterns Together

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If you don't make any other plans for the year that is to come, please at least consider getting more rest. The reality that 1 in 3 Americans are walking around here moody, irritable, unable to concentrate, worn out and/or with a weak immune system and low libido and it's because they don't make getting 6-8 hours of sleep a top priority. If you know you could stand to get more zzzs in, use these last few weeks of the year to study your sleep patterns; to get the electronic devices out of your bedroom; to consume less stimulants (like sugar and caffeine) two hours before bedtime; to create a sleep ritual (like a soak in the tub and/or reading a book) and, if need be, to see your doctor so they can see if your lack of rest is tied into a hormonal imbalance or some underlying health concern.

Autumn has been the season when I've been super intentional about getting my world in order for several years now and it's been the absolute best decision. Go into the new year less worried, less preoccupied and less stressed by using this season to prepare for January. Then watch how much easier next year is for you. For real, for real.

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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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