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10 Habits You Should Break Before The New Year Arrives

Habit: an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary

Inspiration

While I'm personally not that big on making resolutions at the top of each year, I must admit that it is around the time when I tend to do a lot of self-reflecting; especially when it comes to the habits that are a part of my daily lifestyle and routine. Yeah, habits are a trip because, just like the definition of it states, if you're not paying close attention to the things that you do (and don't do), you might not even realize which practices are unhealthy, counterproductive or even straight-up harmful to your mind, body, spirit or all of the above.

Since habits are involuntary patterns, I figured that there's no time like the present to bring some really popular—and pretty bad—habits up; ones that typically are never broken because they aren't detected as easily or as much as they probably should be. With that being said, something tells me that if you make a point to remove these from your life, 2020 will be calmer, easier and so much more fulfilling than if you don't.

Are you ready to let some bad ish go so that you can start putting into practice what is truly so much better for you? Then commit to no longer participating in the following 10 behavior patterns.

10 Habits To Break Before The New Year

1. Saying “Always” and/or “Never”

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When it comes to this first bad habit, I must admit that initially I was going to put down "exaggerating" instead but honestly, since using the words "always" and/or "never" are the way that a lot of us tend to do it, I'll leave the title of this point the way that it is. You might've heard somewhere that "always" or "never" never really happens and, for the most part, that is true. No one is "always" taking advantage of you and it's not the case that things "never" go your way. But if you choose to speak in these kinds of extremes, not only is it a peak form of exaggeration, it can also alter the way that you view reality.

So in 2020, why not only reserve those words for the very—and I do mean very—few times when they actually apply? That way, you'll be able to speak (more) in absolute truths so that you can make decisions from a much clearer perspective.

2. Breaking Promises

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A wise person once said, "People with good intentions make promises but people with good character keep them." And just what is a promise? It's "a declaration that something will or will not be done, given, etc., by one". Y'all, when it comes to one of my absolute favorite people on the planet, sometimes we have conflict and it's really only due to one thing—they make promises and don't keep them. Although they say it's because 1) they are overwhelmed most of the time and 2) they don't want to disappoint me by not making said promise in the first place, when they redundantly break them, it tends to backfire. For one thing, it affects my level of trust in their word and them overall and two, saying "I promise" continues to mean less and less.

The way I see it, adult people are too grown to be using the word "promise" anyway. We need to be mature enough to believe that our word is our bond, period; that if we say we're going to do something—or not do something—that really is all that needs to be said.

But either way, if you have a habit of assuring people that you are going to do—or not do—a certain thing and you don't follow through, commit to building trust and strengthening your bond next year by keeping your word. It's how character is built. It really is.

3. Eating Fast Food

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Last summer, I wrote an article entitled "Why You Should Consider Leaving Fast Food Alone". Some of the reasons that I shared included the fact that fast food is bad for your brain, kidneys and even your hair and skin. Although I personally don't think that it's an unpardonable sin to have a burger and fries every once in a while, if you find yourself sitting in a drive-thru three days out of every week, love your body—and budget—enough to do more grocery shopping and food preparation at home. Oh, and also do yourself a favor and check out "We Present: America's 20 Most Unhealthy Fast Food Chains". It just might surprise you what food joints actually made the list. Why sit up here and pay to get sick via your diet? Amen? Amen.

4. Getting Less than 6-8 Hours of Rest. EVERY NIGHT.

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Sleep is not a luxury. I repeat—sleep is not a luxury. And that ridiculous quote, "I'll sleep when I'm dead"? Nooooo, you'll be dead when you're dead. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 individuals do not get enough of the z-z-z's that they need. And since sleep deprivation can lead to moodiness, fatigue, a lack of productivity, poor eating habits, a low libido and so much more, if you happen to suffer from any of these things, before you chalk it up to aging or a potential health crisis, ask yourself if you're constantly getting less than six hours every night. If you are, check out our articles like "'Team No Sleep' Is A Ridiculous Concept", "10 Simple & Effective Ways To Improve Your Quality Of Sleep" and "Meet The Mattress That's Reinventing The Way We Rest", then commit to not making anything (except perhaps a newborn) so important that you're walking around here like a zombie. It simply isn't worth it.

5. Investing More in Others than Yourself

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One of the most cryptic forms of low self-esteem is when you constantly find yourself making choices that convey that everyone else's needs and wants are far more important than your own. As someone who has a spiritual gift of giving (if you've never taken a spiritual gifts test before and you want to, a test that I really like is found here), I know what it's like to not only give a lot of yourself but even enjoy doing it. But real talk, I used to give so much of my time, attention and resources away without rarely getting anything back in return that it started to make me resentful…and drained…and broke.

What did I do to change that? I made sure that I invested in myself—first. I pampered myself. I made sure to "disconnect" and recharge whenever I started to feel overwhelmed. I set aside a budget that was for no one other than myself and for no other purpose than to do fun and random things. I made time to read, brainstorm and listen to the little girl in me to make sure that she was good. All of this got my all of me to a point and place where I was able to give more freely. All because I made the choice to invest in myself.

There are two definitions of invest that I totally dig; two that I don't think get nearly as many props as they deserve. One is "to use, give, or devote (time, talent, etc.), as for a purpose or to achieve something". Another is "to furnish with power, authority, rank, etc." Whatever it is that you set out to do in 2020, don't forget to fuel your own purpose and to feed your own power. Doing that will benefit you and those around you, in the best way possible, moving forward.

6. Not Guarding Your Heart (in a Healthy and Productive Way)

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Guarding your heart is biblical—"Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life." (Proverbs 4:23—AMPC) What I find to be so impacting about this particular Scripture is it says that life comes from "the center of our emotions" which is the definition of what the heart is. This means that we need to be intentional about who we let into our life because they have the ability to bring out good and bad emotions in us. At the same time, guarding doesn't mean that there should be such a high wall or a metaphorical barbed wire fence up that fear, bitterness or a lack of forgiveness prevents people from ever getting close to us.

At the end of the day, guarding your heart is really all about setting boundaries and honoring them. It's about knowing yourself, your triggers and your desires and needs so well that when someone comes along who unsettles your peace, you know not to let them into the "inner temple" of your feelings or your life, in general. It's not about closing yourself off so much as operating in the wisdom of who to open yourself up to. And yes, safe people do actually exist. Let discernment tell you who they are. That's a habit you won't regret further developing in the upcoming months.

7. Being Consumed by Drama—Online or Off

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I'm not on social media. I haven't been for about a decade now and I have absolutely no regrets. But most social platforms even let non-members see what's going on. And if there is one hill that I'm pretty ready to die on, it's the crusade to get Black men and Black women to stop spending (or is it wasting?) so much time putting each other down. I can't tell you how many tweets and posts that I notice, pretty much on a daily basis, that totally degrade both genders. Hmph. Let me tell it, there is some PTSD from slavery that has us doing that because if anything is a superpower, it's how Black people are able to love each other.

Anyway, I try and only peek in to see what's going on a few times a week because I don't want to be consumed by all of that drama and negativity; especially since there are more and more articles creeping up like "New Studies Show Just How Bad Social Media Is For Mental Health" and "11 Ways Social Media Is Ruining Your Physical and Mental Health". So yeah, if you know that social media has you all pent up and upset, resolve to at least fast off of it more often in 2020.

As far as offline drama goes, two quotes express great points about it. One is "If you want to know, ask—don't assume. That's how drama starts." Another is "Don't start drama when you say you hate drama." Toxic people? Drama. Cyclic unhealthy relationships? Drama. Constant chaos? Drama. Nothing comes from drama but more drama. Be super vigilant in leaving all of that behind you next year.

8. Not Physically Detoxing

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Here are some pretty telling signs that you need to go on a detox. You're always stressed out. You can't ever seem to get enough sweets. Your skin is a mess. You're constantly tired. Your joints ache. Your hormones are all over the place. You can't seem to sleep straight through the night. You're anxious. Your allergies are getting worse. Your immune system is weak.

If any of these things are a relentless reality for you, you'll be doing your body a real favor if you detox your system. It could come in the form of eating strictly fruits and veggies (and drinking nothing but herbal tea and water) for a couple of weeks. It could be a juice fast, a liver cleanse or a colon cleanse too. Just know that if you could use more energy, you want to reduce bodily inflammation and/or you want your digestive system to be better, detoxing once a season is the way to go.

9. Not Having a Personal and Professional Mission Statement

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One bad habit that a lot of us need to break, just as soon as possible, is having a lack of focus. If this has become such an innate part of you that you're not even sure if this personally applies, here are some signs to pay close attention to—you have a hard time making decisions (and sticking to them); you struggle with completing tasks; your plans seem to be all over the place; you can emotionalize yourself in and out of just about anything and/or you constantly feel like you're doing a ton of things but still aren't really getting anywhere.

If that's you, something that can help to better center you is putting together a personal and professional mission statement. It doesn't have to be anything super long or elaborate. Just a couple of paragraphs stating what you want your personal and professional world to look like in the upcoming year. If you've never put one together before, click here for tips on how to make a personal one and here for how to make a professional one.

10. Settling

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This is how much we hate the entire concept of settling over here. We've published "Self-Truths That Will Stop You From Settling For Less". We've published "7 Reasons Not To Settle In A Relationship". We've also published "No, Your Standards Aren't Too High As Settling For Crumbs Will Leave You Starved". All of these pieces point to one common belief—we are all too beautiful, valuable and purpose-filled to stay at a job that doesn't appreciate us, in a relationship that isn't going anywhere or around people who don't appreciate what we bring to the table.

It's been my personal experience and observation that settling is birthed out of fear; the fear that if we don't let go of the little that we have now, somehow we'll end up with nothing. 2020 needs to be the year that we break out of that mindset. I don't care if it's a person, place, thing or idea—if it's not bringing out the best in you, if it doesn't confirm all of the positive thoughts you think (or should be thinking) about yourself, and if it doesn't challenge you to accomplish so much more than what you currently are, you—clap—are—clap, clap—settling.

And settling is so beneath you. If you agree, this is the time to release, whatever it is you are settling for, so that you can be free, open and ready for what won't even cause you to settle in the first place. A new decade is on its way. Leave the bad habits behind so that you can receive the good!

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

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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
Sign up

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