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Adopting These Habits Can Totally Change Your Life

"One day or day one. You decide.—Unknown

Inspiration

We've all heard the saying, "Today is the best day of the rest of your life." But let's get real—that's only true if you're going to make the most of today. One of the best ways to make that happen is to commit to not doing what so many of us do daily—procrastination.

If you're good for getting to work 10 minutes early and/or paying your bills on time, you might not think that procrastination is an issue for you. Maybe. But before you dismiss it as being a potential obstacle in your life, here are some of the more subtle signs that it very well be a stumbling block for you. Complaining is a sign of procrastination. Quitting when things get too hard is a sign of procrastination. Justifying bad habits is a sign of procrastination. Remaining in a dead-end job or relationship is a sign of procrastination. Envy, anxiety and negativity? Yep, you guessed it; they are procrastination signs too (because these are the kinds of feelings that keep you stagnant).

The reason why it's so important to decipher whether or not procrastination is an issue for you is because there is no way that you can truly change your life until you get that nasty little issue under control. The good news is once you recognize what is keeping you from moving forward, you can start taking steps that will get you headed in a totally different direction. A direction that will have your life looking almost unrecognizable, in comparison to this very moment, in less than a year from now.

Are you ready to make the kinds of moves that will evolve everything about you, as soon as today? If so, read on.

Write Down 20 Things That You Love About Yourself

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If I were to walk up to you right now and ask you to give me 20 of the things that you love most about yourself, how long would it take you to do it? Deeper than that, could you even do it? Not too long ago, recording artist Kirk Franklin was on The Breakfast Club talking about how, even with all of his success, he still struggles with insecurities. His candor is a reminder of the fact that it doesn't matter what someone else thinks about you, if you're not self-loving and self-confident, life is going to be really difficult, to say the least.

Currently, one of my favorite self-esteem quotes is by Oprah— "Self-esteem means knowing you are the dream." When you know that you are awesome, capable and worthy, c'mon. How can that kind of self-assuredness not cause you to totally change your life for the better?!

Send an Email to a Potential Resource

I can't tell you how many opportunities I've landed, all from simply sending a random email to someone who may seem "unreachable" on the surface. A lot of us spend—and by that, I mean waste—a lot of time thinking that a publication will never give us a byline or a producer will never listen to our music or a platform will never consider our story when the reality is when we are original, candid and concise, we can catch the eyes of all kinds of movers 'n shakers.

Shoot, the reason why you're even reading this article is because one day, I sent Necole an email. She told me that she happened to catch my message right as she was about to sign off. She pointed me to who I needed to speak with and…here I am.

One of the best things about the internet is, one way or another, you can find a contact to just about anyone you're looking for. If you're ready to change career paths, start your own company or you simply want ways to get your name out there more, peruse the site or company's contact info that you're interested in and send an email. This tip alone may be the very thing to drastically change your life. (Again, I would know.)

Sign Up for a Skillshare Class

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Knowledge is power. That's not a cliché; it's the truth. If you're a creative who wants to brush up on your design, writing, illustration or photo skills, or if you're an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to get tips on how to thrive in that lane, Skillshare offers all kinds of courses. Although they do have premium packages, the really cool thing about the site is that they have an entire section that offers free courses as well. Another thing that I really like about Skillshare is if you live by the motto "she who learns teaches", you can hit them up to apply to be an instructor as well.

Subscribe to Scribd

Author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, "Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary." So true, so true. Reading does everything from stimulating your mind and reducing your stress levels to expanding your vocabulary (and imagination), improving your concentration, developing your analytical skills and, of course, educating you.

If you want to make the time to read more, but you're having a difficult time looking for a particular book or your budget won't let you splurge as much as you would like, consider subscribing to Scribd. For one thing, it's the largest digital library around. Plus (after a 30-day trial), you only have to pay $9 a month to get access to all of the reading material—including audiobooks and magazines—it has to offer. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Download the Happier App

Some of us could totally change our lives if we simply made an attitude adjustment. If this is the category that you fall into, getting enough rest, releasing toxic relationships, exercising regularly and altering your diet a bit are a good place to start. Something else that can help is downloading an app like the Happier app. It's basically an app that helps you to focus on how to see the beauty in life and practice gratitude on a daily basis.

If you know that happiness isn't an emotion that you are able to tap into as much as you'd like, don't wait for your circumstances to change. Being happy is something that you can choose to be, despite what is or isn't going your way. And, a woman with a positive attitude is a force to be reckoned with. Period.

Also Download the Offtime App

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It's been reported that we spend around 11 hours each day engaging some sort of media. The real reality check about that comes from reading articles like "101 Things to Do with an Extra Hour". It lists everything from taking a bubble bath or catching up with a friend to creating a budget or planting flowers in your garden. And that's just after one hour.

If you know (that you know that you know) that you spend entirely too much time with electronic devices, another app worth looking into is the Offtime app. What it does is provide you the option of temporarily restricting you from sites/applications that continuously distract you while also providing a report of how much time you spend (or is it waste?) on them. You might be surprised by how much of your life you can get back, if you simply make the decision to unplug a little more often.

Shoot Your Inner Circle an Email

Something that I used to do, at least a couple of times a year, is send an email to my friends (BCC on the email addresses). It consisted of what I appreciated about them being in my life, where I was in a particular stage in it and what I was needing from them, moving forward. I asked what I could do for them as well. I don't regret any of the messages that I sent because, every time, at least one person wrote me back thanking me for the clarity they got and/or they hit me back to share something that they needed that I wasn't giving them, or some kind of transition that they wanted to make me knowledgeable of too.

I share often that one of my favorite relationship quotes is "People change and forget to tell each other." A lot of people—people who truly care about each other—grow apart, simply because they weren't open, honest and consistent when it came to communication. Just one email could breathe new life—or set necessary boundaries—into your relationships. It's worth the 30 minutes it takes to write and click "send".

Implement These Five Travel Planning Hacks

Over here at xoNecole, we're so fond of traveling that you're gonna see at least a couple of articles on the topic, pretty much on a weekly basis. If the farthest you've gone lately is to your favorite restaurant, it's time to plan a trip. Travel is educational, relaxing and a great way to expose yourself to new people and things.

If you know all of this, but you can't figure out how in the world to pay for one, I've got a few hacks that you should implement. First, sign up for some cheap flight newsletters; they typically feature deals that you wouldn't hear about any other way. Next, when you're shopping around for rates, do it while your browser is in "incognito mode"; that way, your browser won't collect any cookies and sites won't raise prices based on them knowing that you're planning a trip and where it is that you are trying to go. Third, when you're booking a hotel, don't do it through travel sites like Expedia or even hotel sites like Hotel.

Call directly for deals and to negotiate. Online sites tend to get paid by commission which means they tend to jack up prices (better yet, rent a vacation house; it'll give you so much more bang for your buck. Just go to your favorite search engine and put "vacation house rentals" in the search field). Fourth, if you don't mind living on the edge a bit, visit sites like Last Minute Travel and HotelTonight. Both provide some pretty great deals if you're willing to wait until the last hour to book your flight and/or accommodations. And finally, don't go alone. Split the costs by going with some friends. Let me get more specific—friends who will be prepared to put down deposits so that you don't end up paying for everything…at the last minute.

Stop Procrastinating

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When it comes specifically to procrastination, artist Pablo Picasso probably said it best—"Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." I think that one of the most overlooked issues with procrastination is it's a very arrogant way to look at life—I have tomorrow or even next week to get around to doing such-and-such. Really? Who said?

Right now, I have a pile of T-shirts that are sitting on a wicker basket in my room. Guess how long they've been right there, all because I've been saying for two weeks now that I'll go through them…later. Really, it's a bit of a visual on procrastination because I've ordered a couple of more since then (these T-shirt lines are so addictive to me) which means the pile is only getting bigger. That's what procrastination does—turns small things into big things, overwhelms you and, usually makes a big mess in the process.

That report at work, that treadmill that's collecting dust and/or that hard conversation that you need to have with someone in your life—handle that ASAP. An organized life is a stress-less life. A stress-less life is a totally-changed-for-the-better one.

Try Something New

To tell you the truth, any article worth its weight is going to offer up this tip because if you want to evolve, you've got to do new things. You've got to get out of your comfort zone. You've got to attempt something that makes you a little anxious. You've got to be open to people, places, things and ideas that you've never really considered before.

If you need a little inspiration, call that crazy friend or relative who always seems to do stuff that has you responding like, "I'm sorry, you did…what?!" or check out Insider's article "50 New Things You Should Try in 2019". I can personally attest to the fact that once you go on a blind date, try a new food or visit a new place, it's going to expand your way of thinking.

And the moment that happens, even if it's initially unnoticeable, something about you has indeed immediately, changed.

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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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