Never Complete Anything? Here's Why You (Probably) Don't.
Man. If there was ever an article where I wish I could put a friend's first, middle and last name in it, this would be the one. I say that because the person who I'm speaking of is brilliant. I'm not being biased either because, most of the people in their world, feel the same way as I do. Problem is, this person sucks, BIG TIME, when it comes to completing things. Genius idea after genius idea never fully manifests because the minute the concept comes into their brain and they begin, after about a good week or so, they're on to something else. As a result, nothing ever really materializes. And that really is a total and damn shame.
If this sounds like someone you know because, in all honesty, the person is you, please take a moment to at least finish reading this. It really is my personal belief that completing tasks are a form of self-discipline and, the more you do finish things, the better you are at taking on bigger, better and greater opportunities along the way. I've always been a firm believer that some of the best answers come from asking self-reflective questions. So, pull out your journal and write down your own answers to the ones I've listed down below. It could be what helps to put a fire in you to not just start things…but to actually complete them.
Do You Set Short- and Long-Term Goals?
Let's start with a point that should be obvious but actually, it might not be. Sometimes, we don't complete tasks because let's be real—some of the stuff that we set out to do is not going to happen overnight. A real investment of blood, sweat, tears and time is gonna be required which can wear us all the way out before we even begin. Sometimes I feel that way about my writing. When I know that I've got 10-15 articles to do in a week, I will get up on Monday already shaking my head. But things seem a lot less daunting once I break my assignments down into increments; you know—I create short- and long-term goals. On the writing tip, I actually tend to do the easier/quicker stuff first because that typically leaves me with only 5-7 articles by Wednesday. In my mind, because most of what I needed to do is already done, it's like getting a second wind to knock everything else out.
We've all heard the saying "So-and-so-crawled so that so-and-so could now run." If you struggle with completing stuff, put your name in both "so-and-sos". Set short-term goals (crawl) and finish those. If you do that, they will give you the extra "umph" that you need to get to the bigger stuff (run). If you make this way of approaching matters a part of your daily routine, you'll be amazed by how much you'll be able to complete—basically all of the time.
What About You and Time Management?
Social media takes up a lot of time (on average, it's about 2 ½ hours a day). Reading gossip blogs takes up a lot of time. Watching mindless television takes up a lot of time. Being in relationships with fruitless individuals (folks who take more than they give and/or are always trying to turn you into someone you're not) takes up a lot of time. Talking about what you're gonna do rather than actually doing it takes up a lot of time. Listen, we've all got 24 hours in a day, and, based on how you utilize those hours, your days can be really beneficial—or not. The harsh reality is, that there are a lot of folks who don't complete things for no other reason than they absolutely suck at time management (check out "These 10 Habits Are Totally Wasting Your Time").
A hack that helps me to avoid falling into this demographic is reminding myself that there will never be another day that is quite like this one. And since tomorrow isn't promised, I need to make the absolute most of it. Hmph. You'd be amazed how effective that is if you really take these points seriously. And literally.
How Excited Are You About the Things You’re Setting Out to Do?
Only a child (or a childish individual) would think that everything that we do in life is supposed to be fun all of the time. But something that I've learned is what you can do is "trick yourself" into feeling some level of excitement about the tasks that are on your list of things to do. For instance, I recently had two screws in my loveseat become stripped (because I've had this piece of furniture for a hot minute now). It's not really in the budget to buy a new couch; plus, I still like what I've got. So, I devoted an entire Sunday towards figuring out how to fix it myself. Do you think I really wanted to do that?! Heck no. But the excitement came from the thought of being able to fix the loveseat on my own while being able to keep some extra coins in my pocket. After doing a little research, I found an under-five-dollars solution and now it's good as new. And yes, I'm super duper excited about that!
By the way, I chose the word "excited" very strategically. One definition of it is "stimulated to activity". Whether it's a project for work, paying a bill (on time), completing a DIY project—whatever it is that's on your personal to-do list, if you struggle with completing tasks, figure out a way to get excited about starting in the first place. The faster you complete a work project, the easier it will be to either impress your boss or move on to something else. Paying bills on time will keep you from incurring late fees and can add some points to your credit score. Completing a DIY project can boost your self-confidence (I can totally vouch for that one!). Human nature is kind of wired to need an incentive for why we do the things that we do. If you can figure out at least three reasons why completing a particular thing will benefit you, this alone can gas you up to start and finish it.
Are You an Overthinker? Maybe You’re Constantly Overwhelmed.
Last summer, I wrote an article entitled, "How To Handle 'Purpose Fatigue'". In it, one of the things that I addressed is how overthinking can be our biggest deterrent in trying to accomplish, shoot, pretty much anything in life. Overthinking can cause you to create problems that don't even exist. Overthinking can make you super anxious. Overthinking can turn you into a worry wart.
Overthinking can make you live in the past to the point where you can't live in the present or plan for the future. Overthinking can literally stop you dead in your tracks. And, if you allow yourself to get—and then remain—in this kind of headspace, you will think your way out of possibly starting and almost definitely finishing something.
Know what else that overthinking can do? It can totally overwhelm you. This is one reason why it can be a really good idea to either begin each week—or day—with a to-do list that has things listed in an order of importance. That way, you can start off your week being clear about the fact that, if there's anything that you will prioritize, it's what you've already written down. That can help to organize your mind, manage your time and take some of the stress off—so that you can actually get things done.
How Good Are You at Celebrating and Encouraging Yourself?
Some people aren't able to complete things because they have wired themselves to believe that, unless someone is constantly encouraging them, then what they are doing might not be worthwhile. This is a really dangerous way of thinking. For one thing, you should never expect anyone to be more thrilled about and invested in your life than you are. Secondly, humans are flawed. This means that sometimes they will disappoint you. And third, there are gonna be certain things that you want to get done that folks around you may not get or support. I've shared before that I have family members who refused to talk to me while I was writing my first book. Close family members. Still, I knew it was something that had to be done and so…I did it.
Something that creatives, especially, need to keep in mind is, some of the ideas that come to your spirit are gonna sound straight up crazy to people around you (truly original things oftentimes do!). You've got to discipline yourself to push through the naysayers and do what you know is best and right, in spite of. It's an epidemic, the amount of people who don't ever complete things because they don't know how to hype their own damn selves up. Post up affirmations. Celebrate baby steps. Remind yourself why you started in the first place. If you are your biggest fan, anyone else will just be…surplus.
How Good Are You at Protecting Your Energy?
On the heels of what I just said, here's another great point. Energy. Energy is power. Sometimes, even if you've got the first three things that I mentioned checked off, if you don't protect your energy—especially from negative people, places, things or ideas—that can also bring you down and hinder you from finishing projects. A great example of this is, I have a close friend who is about to blow all the way up! A part of the reason why is because she's a really good person and when you put good out, good comes back to you (if not immediately, eventually). Anyway, meanwhile, she's got a hater in her midst. Not just a hater but a hater who poses herself as being a friend (check out "5 Signs Your Closest Friends Are The Most Envious Of You"). Because this so-called friend of hers is so cryptic and calculated, sometimes her stratagems can throw my friend off to the point where she's more focused on why her "friend" is doing the things that she does rather than tending to what can take her to an even higher level. Bottom line, that non-friend-friend is draining my friend's energy—that person is tapping into my friend's power source and that's preventing her from getting all that she needs to do—done.
You need power to start and complete things. This is why it is imperative that you protect your energy at all costs. If you don't, there's a pretty good chance that you'll never really get anything that's worth doing done (or done as well as it could've been if you hadn't let stuff infect your energy).
What’s the Benefit/Blessing Upon Completion?
I make sure my articles get done on time so that I can get paid on time. I finished my loveseat so that I could comfortably sit on it again. I make elaborate dishes sometimes because I enjoy certain foods that are hard to find in a "regular" restaurant. While these are semi-small examples of what it means to find a benefit or blessing in completing things, they are still really valid. Just like you should find your why for beginning something, it's also important to find your what when it comes to finishing it. Because the reality is a lot of people have a challenging time completing things because they forget why they began what they did in the first place (I deal with this when it comes to married couples all the time). An author by the name of Toni Sorenson once said, "The secret is not following the right path, it's following that right path to the end. Don't quit, my friend, until you've arrived." If you know that you have a hard time completing things, think about what is awaiting you once you arrive. Let that be the driving force to getting things done—the benefit or blessing that is guaranteed to wait for you on the other side.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Janelle Monáe's Reveals The Real Reason Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Tuxedos
Singer and actress Janelle Monáe exemplifies how change can be a powerful catalyst for growth and transformation.
Monáe, who rose to fame in 2010 following the release of her debut album, The ArchAndroid, captivated fans' hearts with her powerful vocals, catchy tunes, and style. Around that time period, when various female artists were known to wear provocative ensembles on stage, the "Tightrope" songstress set herself apart by wearing her signature black and white suits and continued to do so for almost a decade.
In the later years of her career, after the release of her studio albums The Electric Lady in 2013 and 2018's Dirty Computer, many began to notice the shift in Monáe's artistry and fashion, which some widely praised.
Although the now 37-year-old rarely addressed the reason behind the transformation over the years, that would all change when Monáe sat down with radio personality Angie Martinez on her IRL podcast earlier this month.
During the interview, Monáe --who was promoting her latest album, "The Age of Pleasure"-- opened up about her mental health struggles, how she would cope, and why she chose to live in freedom.
Janelle On Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Suits All the Time
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
In the May discussion, the "I Like That" vocalist revealed she suffers from anxiety, which she claimed would occur around "winter to spring."
Monáe added that when she has her bouts with anxiety, she tends to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Further in the interview, the "Lipstick Lover" singer disclosed that her emotional eating habits caused a weight fluctuation and that she could no longer fit into the suits she once wore earlier in her career.
Monáe explained that even though she tried to diet and exercise to return to her smaller figure, she ultimately stopped and made peace with herself with the help of therapy because she acknowledged that she isn't the same person she was nearly a decade ago and shouldn't try to be even if it was a highly "celebrated" version.
"I'm petite, but it can get thick... When I couldn't fit them suits anymore, and I was like, 'Oh my God, what is going on?' I would be dieting, running, or exercising, trying to fit into [it]. I'm just like, 'No. No, we're here. This is where we are.' We [are] not about to be utilizing life trying to be an old version of ourselves. No matter how celebrated that version of me was. I'm here. I'm here," she said.
Janelle On Freedom
As the topic shifted to freedom and what that meant to Monáe, the "Primetime" vocalist shared that in this new era of her life, she enjoys it because she can boldly express herself however she wants and honor who she is as a person right now.
Monáe also revealed that she had found ways to become a better artist and the best version of herself because of her freedom.
"What is the new version of freedom? What does that feel like? That's usually when I feel the most free is when artistically, I can honor exactly who I am right now," she stated. "I feel most free as a human when I can honor exactly who I am right now."
Monáe's fourth studio album, The Age of Pleasure, is set to be released on June 9.
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