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6 Ways To Start Making YOU Your Top Priority

Inspiration

Make yourself a priority. At the end of the day, you are your longest commitment.—Unknown


The quote you just read? Humor me and focus on the word "commitment" more than "priority" for just a sec, please. So, we all know folks who are scared of commitment, right? The term that is usually used for them is commitment-phobe. Some of the signs that indicate if someone is one include—they don't like to make long-term plans; most of their relationships are casual; they flake on personal commitments; they're attracted to individuals who refuse to fully commit to them; their expectations are unrealistic in both personal as well as professional relationships; and they're pretty poor communicators.

OK, with this list in tow, rather than thinking about all of the other people who may immediately come to mind, point the finger towards yourself. Is this how you are when it comes to your interactions with others? More importantly, is this how you are when it comes to how you interact with yourself?

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When's the last time you planned to go on a summer vacation and started saving up for it the previous fall? How many of your relationships consist of people who are as committed to you as you are committed to them? One sign of a poor communicator is someone who doesn't listen well. Are you truly in tune with your own mind, body, and spirit to the point that when they need you to give them some extra TLC, you stop whatever is going on and do it?

I don't know about you, but I'll definitely raise my hand in this class and confess that, for years, I was so focused on trying to change the ways of the commitment-phobes in my life that I didn't realize I was one myself. How? I didn't access the reality of what that quote said—I didn't see myself as being my longest commitment and therefore, honor myself as such.

Oh, but bay-bay. I have done a complete 180 on that for the past few years now. Here's how I stopped being the greatest self-commitment-phobe I knew and made myself my own top priority. I think if you try some of these tips, you can master doing the same thing for yourself as well.

1. Look at Your Daily To-Do List. Make Sure You Are on It.

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There are a billion-and-one reasons why all of us should have some sort of daily to-do list. It creates order in our lives. It holds us accountable for our tasks and how we utilize our time. It keeps us productive. It significantly reduces our stress levels. You know what else it does? It teaches us how to properly prioritize.

If you want your day to be super-productive, it's a good idea to do the hardest things first. That will keep you from procrastinating. It will also boost your level of self-confidence. But as you're in the process of figuring out what goes where on your list, make sure that you are somewhere on it.

Whether it's a mani/pedi appointment, stopping by the store to get your favorite bottle of wine, or simply setting aside an hour to listen to your favorite podcast, it's important that you consistently remind yourself that you are something that should take precedence—each and every day of your life.

2. Double-Check Your Reason(s) for Agreeing to Things

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This is something that took me a long time to learn. Sometimes, when someone asks us to do something, we say "OK" or "sure" without really thinking it all the way through. Then, because we want to keep our word, we follow through although we're slick irritated or resentful about it.

You're not really helping anyone out if you're doing something with a bad attitude. You're also not benefitting yourself if your "yes" always comes from a place of fear ("Will they still like me if I say 'no'?") or codependency.

Nothing is good about being a selfish person. But if you want to be a true blessing, give when you know you've got the time, the resources, and the right spirit. You can know whether or not you do by taking a moment to check your own schedule, your own bills, and if you've made sure that you're rested and centered enough to help out.

A healthy person knows that it's always best to give from their surplus; not from their lack.

3. Designate a Day Each Week That Is Yours (ALL YOURS)

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Let me clarify what I mean by this. I'm not saying that you need to call in sick once a week. I'm also not saying that you should blow your budget with reckless spending. What I am suggesting is that you set aside a day when you make sure you do exactly what you want to do—no justifications, explanations, or apologies to anyone else given—on a consistent basis.

It could be a weekday to binge-watch a favorite show. It could be a weekend morning to have brunch at one of your favorite spots. Whatever you decide, it needs to be about disconnecting from your regular schedule and focusing on what makes you happy and peaceful (not one or the other—both).

I'm not saying it has to be the same day each week either. Just make sure that you block out a few hours, each week, to cater to you and only you. Doing something as simple as this will get you used to prioritizing life so that you'll be better at doing my next recommendation.

4. Realign Your Other Priorities

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It's gotta be one of my favorite quotes on the planet. And it's been my personal experience that the only ones who get offended by it are the very ones who need to hear it more often:

"Poor planning on your part does not automatically constitute an automatic emergency on my part."

I can't tell you how many times someone would be reckless with their own life and then call me to fix it like it was something I had to do. Wanna know why they felt that way? Because I let them. I didn't say "no" enough or I didn't make sure that my needs—the things I am actually responsible for—were taken care of before tending to their stuff.

If you're constantly playing catch-up with your finances because you're always paying someone else's bills or your relationship is suffering because the friend who wants you to shut up while she's in a toxic relationship also always wants you on the phone with her for hours on end when it blows up in her face? Listen, I'm not saying to shut down on these types of folks. What I am saying is give $40 rather than loan $100 and meet your friend at a coffee house after you've spent quality time with your own significant other.

Realigning your priorities is simply about making sure that all of your priorities cooperate well with one another; that none of them cause chaos or disarray in your world as you're in the process of addressing them all.

When you make sure that you're good, it helps to keep you centered and focused. By making you your top priority, you can make much wiser decisions about everything (and one) else.

5. Make 6-8 Hours of Sleep Non-Negotiable

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Moodiness. Fatigue. A lack of motivation. An increased appetite. A low sex drive. A damaged immune system. Clumsiness and forgetfulness. Guess what all of these things are a direct sign of? Sleep deprivation.

There are some people I know who are super emotionally unstable. They've been like that for so long that they think their mood swings and pop-off nature are normal. Guess what they all have in common? They each get no more than five hours of sleep every night. (Oh trust me, I've asked.)

Me? I'll sacrifice a lot of stuff, but what someone is not gonna get in the way of is my sleep. Personally, I like my bed so much that it's like a taking a trip to Six Flags but that's totally beside the point. For the sake of your health and your sanity, make getting no less than six hours of sleep a top priority. Nothing (or no one) should be more important than your body being on point and you staying in your right mind.

6. Totally Spoil Yourself (at Least) Once a Month

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The way I handle everything and everyone in my world has totally changed once I started to spoil myself. Once I made sure that treating me to something that makes me feel sacred and special was on my agenda, it became more and more difficult to let others make me feel less than or challenge my worth and value.

That's why I'm a HUGE FAN of encouraging my sistahs to spoil themselves. Don't let the word "spoil" put you in the mindset of being frivolous or a brat. One of my favorite definitions of the word is "a treasure accumulated by a person". You are a treasure so why not surround yourself with things that remind you of this very fact?

The more you value and prize yourself, the less you'll settle for less from others.

It's the ultimate perk of making the decision to make yourself your own top priority.

Featured image by Getty Images.

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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

Featured image by Shutterstock

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