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10 Ways To Reach Your Goals In Life & Love

Only 8 percent of people succeed at reaching their goals. Find out how you can be one of them.

Inspiration

Goal-setting is at its highest point around the first of the year. But all too often, the grind of our everyday routines distract us from reaching the finish line. Before we know it, days turn into months, in what seems like the blink of an eye, and we end up putting our dreams on hold until the countdown of a new year. According to a study by the University of Scranton and published in December in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 92 percent of people who set goals as New Year's resolutions fail to achieve them. I've been guilty of this myself, in the past, so I know just how frustrating it can be. But instead of staying stagnant and continuing to let my dreams fall by the wayside, I wanted to know the secrets of the 8 percent of those who do achieve their goals. I did some research on the habits of successful people and this is what I found.

1. Real change begins with a shift in mindset.

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As a communication researcher, I love seeing what I call "the mindset movement". What most people refer to as a shift in mindset is actually derived from a combination of theories known as cognitive reframing, or looking differently at a person, situation, or relationship and intrapersonal communication or self-talk. Most people apply these concepts in the form of an affirmation, a short statement that offers encouragement and support. Using affirmations to replace negative thoughts with positivity is a great way to rearrange your thoughts. Changes in your mindset, even small ones, can be used over time to help you cope with problems, embrace change, and move you in the direction towards reaching your goals.

2. Get clear about what you want. 

When setting a goal, it's important to understand what exactly you're working towards. For example, if you're looking to improve your love life, ask yourself some key questions like: Am I looking for a committed relationship or do I want companionship, instead? Am I ready for a long-term relationship or a close friendship? When you don't really know what you're looking for, then you may not recognize it once it shows up. Oftentimes, it's easier to identify what we don't want but we're unclear about what we do want. This is why it's important to seek clarity. Eliminate vagueness.

3. Make a plan & write it down.

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I didn't always understand the importance of having a written plan but now I see it as a way to organize my ideas, and it serves as a tangible representation of my thoughts. I've also learned that it helps to have physical evidence of your goal. Vision boards, checklists, or daily planners work well for personal ideas. And business plans are usually required for aspiring entrepreneurs. While I've used this strategy in my romantic life by making a "bucket list" of what I want in a future partner, this idea can be extended to specify your goals, whether it's getting into shape, meditating, or writing a book.

The key to a great plan is to be specific, so try creating a plan that specifies when, where and how often you plan to work on your goal. Instead of just saying, "I want to work out," you could write something like, "I plan to work out at the gym for 30 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday of next week." Once you have it on your calendar, or somewhere you can see it, it's no longer an idea but something you are responsible for checking off your list.

4. Save money to fund your dream.

Whether it's a dream vacation or starting a new business venture, your goal will likely require some kind of cash flow. I like to use what I call the trade technique where you trade the money that you would usually spend on one monthly expense, for another. For example, if you are someone who subscribes to a monthly subscription box, manicures, or haircare, you'll use the money from those expenses to go towards your "vacation fund". It's not easy, but it's worth it knowing that your money is going towards something more valuable than acrylics.

5. Find a coach, mentor, or accountability partner.

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These days, you can find a person for everything from financial advising to career planning. I, myself, work as a Breakup Coach so I recognize the value of having a checks and balances system in place. Not only do coaches hold you accountable and provide support, but we also seek to help our clients maximize their potential with positive feedback and practical strategies to reach their desired results.

6. Set small goals.

Experts suggest when you have a long-term goal, like writing a book, that it's best to break down your goals into more short-term ones. For example, if you want to be a writer, set a weekly goal for a certain number of words you'd like to write. This does two things: first, it creates a sense of immediate gratification because you've completed something you set out to do. Second, it coincides with the bigger picture of writing your book and gets you one step closer to your goal.

7. Celebrate success, no matter how small.

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It's helpful to acknowledge the progress you're making towards your goals. Celebrating your accomplishments can remind you of how far you've come and motivate you to continue on. You can do this by cutting a deal with yourself. Decide if you do 'X' by 'Y' then you'll reward yourself with 'Z'. Take time to reflect on what you accomplished. A win is a win.

8. Send yourself a reminder. 

Write yourself a letter (or an email) in the future and schedule it to send to yourself on a certain date. You can do this in one of two ways. First, you can write a letter to your future self to remind you of your goals and deadlines you set for yourself. It may even help you remember ideas that have slipped your mind. You can also write yourself a "love letter" just to check on yourself, love on yourself, and encourage yourself. Remember to be kind to your future self and remind yourself how proud you are of everything you have accomplished.

9. Take a break if you need to.

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Burnout is a real thing so taking time to reset or tweak your original plan may be necessary. Just be sure that if you take a break, you establish a timeline for getting back to work. When I was going through my breakup, I gave myself a designated amount of time to cry. I decided that I could cry for a day, a whole day if I needed to, but then I'd pick myself back up the following day and get back to my routine. That doesn't mean I didn't cry again after that day, likewise, you may need another time to step away and reset again, but the important thing is to not allow your break to become permanent.

10.  Stay the course.

Consistency. In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear explains the importance of consistency and describes how breakthrough moments can change the trajectory of our goals. The moments leading up to the breakthrough are what the author calls the "plateau of latent potential." Clear uses the analogy of an ice cube to illustrate how shifts in temperature from 29 to 31 degrees seem to do nothing in terms of melting. But with the increase of just one more degree (to 32 degrees), the ice cube begins to melt.

Just as we can't see the inner workings of molecules in an ice cube, it's important to remember that while we may not always see the process working, that doesn't mean it's not. If you get a chance to read his book, I think you'll find it's packed with tips for successfully creating habits.

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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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