Adopting These Habits Can Totally Change Your Life

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


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, Skillshareoffers 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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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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