As we leave last year behind us, I can admit that things still feel like nothing has changed. It is hard to not forget what last year has done to us mentally, emotionally, and physically. While we can't change what has happened, we can change how we move forward, regardless of what is to come for 2021. Offering an assist in helping us find our way back and improve our mental health is licensed professional counselor, Pamela Smith. When it comes to mental health and prioritizing it for yourself, she mentioned that it is easy for us to get so wrapped up in our everyday obligations that it hinders us from realizing what exactly we actually need for positive mental health.
"Being a black woman is very difficult. As much of an honor it is, it can be extremely difficult. So my self-care is knowing when. Not only will my body tell me it's time for me to have several seats, but mentally you can feel [yourself] becoming more and more drained." Pamela Smith was willing to share 5 mental health practices with xoNecole that we all can apply for the year 2021. If you apply these practices, it will help you differentiate if you are operating in survival mode vs actually living for yourself.
1.Maintain a Schedule
"The pandemic hit everyone off their balance. This sense of normalcy was hijacked and it caused a lot of fear in people. In my profession, what I have learned is that uncertainty is a true root of anxiety. You need to bring back something that can ground you and to keep you tethered to life," Pamela explained. "This year, one thing you can do is create a new schedule for yourself and maintain it. You can bring in some of the old things you used to do in your routine, while also opening up to adding something new. Part of creating a schedule, with or without limited resources, can help with that fear of uncertainty. You have something to look forward to and you feel less and less impacted by things you don't have control over."
It is something about setting intentions that helps with the flow of each day for people. We cannot predict what each day will hold, but putting in certain daily tasks for yourself can help you stay focused, feel more grounded and centered.
2.Be Kind to Yourself
"We are our own worst critics. We don't need somebody else to beat us up because we do a really good job doing that on our own. In this new realm that we're in, remember you are not by yourself. It may feel lonely right now, but I promise you are not alone in this. There are a lot of people feeling the exact same way," Pamela began. "To help with that aloneness, learn to quiet that voice in your head that is telling you those negative thoughts. Give yourself grace and know that you are just doing the best you can."
"If you are not doing the best that you can, then step your game up. When you are able to be kind to yourself, it can ease that feeling of something's missing. It will allow you to live with a mindset of positivity and gratitude."
What does being kind to yourself look like? Is it reading positive affirmations out loud to yourself, taking a nice bubble bath, or letting out a good cry? Whatever comes to mind that can pivot those negative mental stories when we are alone, apply and repeat. These kinds of moments will always come, so practicing your go-to act of kindness will go a long way.
3.Take That Nap, Sis!
"I will admit that this is the most difficult one. We give so much of ourselves to others, that it's hard to find time to pour back into ourselves. Every day we are the employee, the mother, the daughter, the friend, the soror, you know we are all of the things. So this certain self-care technique is beneficial to add to the daily hustle and bustle. I recommend getting a good sleep regimen to get some quality rest," Pamela shared. "Even if it's not a nap and you need to plan for times to eat or exercise, do that for yourself. It is those moments of pause that makes a huge difference for your body's energy. Think about your cell phone. When you see that 10 percent notification come on, we instantly put it on the charger. If we treated our bodies just like we treat our cell phones, we would be able to perform a lot better."
A moment of pause is exactly what we all need. It is easy to lose track of time and it is difficult to imagine where to fit in this moment of pause. But if you are determined to add 15-30 minutes of recharging, you will find a way to fit it in. You can create your own time during the day and there is no wrong answer. It is OK to give yourself permission to relax and it will not stop you from completing the rest of the world's demands of you.
"I don't think I have met anyone that hasn't experienced some sort of trauma. The severity differs, but I do believe that everyone has had some sort of trauma or traumatic event in their life. Oftentimes, we don't know how to deal with that trauma because we don't know who we are. Not knowing who we are doesn't afford us the ability to forgive ourselves for something we did in our past. Forgiving yourself will be beneficial for self-discovery and once you can do it for yourself, you can forgive others."
"Everything that you are now is a sum total of all your experiences. Accepting that you will not rely on your past experiences can help with you reimagining a new definition of how you are showing up for yourself."
Self-reflection and letting go of some of that baggage is important for this one. Just like we said goodbye to 2020, try and say goodbye to things that you have been holding on to that no longer serves you. You may have done something you regret or the way someone mistreated you is still in the back of yor mind. Right now, you owe it to yourself to not let the past have so much power over you. You cannot change what happened. So let us accept what was, acknowledge the heaviness it brings, and be brave enough to leave it exactly where it is in order to move forward.
5.Accepting Life Adjustments Aren't Always BadGiphy
"We got very creative during this pandemic. Us as a people, if we can't do anything else, we are going to make things happen. This pandemic allowed us to be on a time out. To sit and think for a moment on what is important to us. Because of this time out, we have readjusted our priorities a bit. We went back to the basics to try and maintain our relationships and build new ones," she began.
"While the pandemic has been hard for us, our values have shifted and who is to say that is not what we needed? Who is to say that by adjusting our values and accepting what we have zero control over, this doesn't help us in the long run? We started to appreciate things we already have instead of looking for the next thing to gain."
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Goddess Erykah Badu said, "Write it down on real paper, with a real pencil, and watch shit get real." And if Erykah said it, it's law. More than ever, we are consumed with our phones and laptops that the craft of planners and journals have become somewhat obsolete. We also think that 2020 didn't help with all of its drama – people literally burned their planners after March. In a Zoom kinda world, I'm still glad I got my planner.
What better way to set the tone for this new year than with a planner full of intention? Using a planner has shown to have benefits including better time management, realistic productivity, improved focus and lower stress levels. Without further ado, we have gathered six planners that will change your life in the most fabulous way!
The Book'd Store
I fell head over heels in love with my Book'd Planner last year despite the year being a shit show. It was an easy purchase because of the beautiful product AND the creators are Black women. According to Tamera and Adrienne, "Book'd Store is a luxury stationery and lifestyle brand for Black women that is super stylish, uniquely quirky, and most importantly, speaks directly to who we are." Each page has an inspirational quote to help you plan your life and be intentional about how you'll slay each day. It's the details, the stickers, and the everything for us.
Black Coils Paperie
This handmade planner is a crowd favorite. You can customize the cover with your name and title to really show off your boss babe status. It means everything to see the Black woman clipart all up and through these pages. You can even choose different date ranges in case you're still processing 2020. Between your many goals and priorities, the Black and Educated Planner is most definitely a winner.
You are the magic, baby girl. And the magic will only get more powerful as you start to organize your plans and goals. Papier created this planner with you in mind. Made up of weekly, monthly, and daily overviews, you can easily document all the things on the smoothest paper ever. You can also personalize the cover to your liking.
Black Girl in Love
Made for a Black girl by a Black girl, Trey's lifestyle planner will have you feeling like you have the same 24 hours in a day as Beyonce. It's the perfect place to write down everything, from your hair appointments to your next vacation. Consider this the planner dedicated to meeting the professional needs of Black women so we can really fall in love with our essence.
Daily Worth claims the Savor Planner is, "The planner that changed my life." We believe it's life-changing because it's centered around self-care. Inside the planner, you'll find four monthly calendars, 90-day vision worksheets, Organize Your Gorgeous Chaos layouts, and a place to Detox Your Brain. Before you know it, you'll be taking it one day at a time and you'll need a new 90-day planner.
Create the life you desire with this weekly planner. It is devoted to helping you learn to value yourself by fighting for your happiness. One of our favorite things about this planner is that you can choose the color of the cover to match your skin tone. Not only are there pages to show gratitude but there are also amazing plans for your diet, hydration, and self-reflection questions to help set goals.
Are you a member of our insiders squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!
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The New Year has finally arrived after the wild ride that was 2020. This month we've got Mars finally shifting out of impulsive Aries after a six-month stint into down-to-earth Taurus for the next couple of months, gifting us with a more grounded, steady approach to our 2021 resolutions. When Venus and the Moon meet up in Capricorn, it's time to get serious, whether that's taking a relationship to the next level or committing to that new career goal. The middle of the month could shake things up once Uranus goes direct. Towards the end of the month, things are getting a little weird with our first Mercury Retrograde of the year. Read more to see how this month's cosmic blueprint affects your zodiac sign!
AriesLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The New Year starts off on a high note with Mars leaving your sign and transitioning into Taurus to help mellow you out. When Mars enters Taurus on the 6th, you're taking a slow and steady pace towards your financial goals. On the 8th, Mercury shifts into Aquarius reigniting the flame of passion towards your dreams. Rally the troops, Aries. There are people that can't wait to be a part of what you're creating! When Venus and the Moon meet up on the 13th, you're attracting positive feedback from an influential figure that could help boost your own social status through an opportunity extended to you.
On the 14th, Uranus goes direct which could require you to switch up your approach to making money. Don't limit your abundance by pigeon-holing yourself into one lane when you have the ability to expand in other directions. When Jupiter squares this part of your chart you're encouraged to embrace the changing tide guiding you toward a new tribe. Aquarius season officially begins on the 19th, assisting you in making new friends and growing your social media following. The Full Moon on the 28th invites you to nurture your inner child by going on an adventure or doing something creative. Some of you may even announce a pregnancy around this time. January winds down with Mercury going retrograde, giving you a chance to revisit some old connections that may have the potential to be integrated into your life again.
TaurusLaci Jordan for xoNecole
January begins with Mars transitioning into your sign after a six-month long stint in Aries. Over the next couple of months, you'll have a lot more energy to get things done with a slow and steady approach. When Mercury enters Aquarius, you're focused on strategizing your way up the career ladder. On the 13th, Venus meets up with the Moon which could have you attracting romance from overseas or from someone who is culturally different from you. When it comes to finances, imports and exports are on the brain as you come up with some ways to work around the current shipping delays.
Uranus goes direct on the 14th which could have you feeling a little agitated. Be mindful of your temper leading up to Jupiter squaring off with Uranus on the 17th. Either your supervisor, or someone in a position of authority, is getting on your last nerve. Don't let them take you there! On the 19th, the Sun enters Aquarius which could have you receiving recognition for handling a recent career challenge with such grace. The Full Moon on the 28th could stir up some tension within the home environment or family unit. Take a deep breath and count to ten before responding. The month closes with Mercury going retrograde, inviting you to reassess your strategy for success. Work smarter, not harder.
GeminiLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The New Year kicks off with Mars entering Taurus on the 6th which could have your energy levels lower than usual. Avoid doing the most during this transit and pace yourself when it comes to achieving your goals in the year ahead. When Venus and the New Moon meet up on the 13th, financial support lands in your lap from an unexpected source. On the 14th, Uranus stations direct after disrupting your subconscious for the past five months. The greatest revolution is our personal, inner transformation. When Jupiter squares this part of your chart, you may feel like someone is trying to enforce their way onto you as if they're some Higher Power. Avoid getting sucked into their drama of self-righteousness and continue along your own path.
The Sun enters Aquarius on the 19th, encouraging you to expand your horizons and making this a good time to go back to school or sign up for that workshop to refine your knowledge. On the 28th, the Full Moon motivates you to use your gift of gab to catapult you into the spotlight. It's your time to shine, superstar! January winds down with your ruling planet going retrograde, making it a good time to review any travel plans, study material, or written work to make sure everything is in order. If you're taking a trip, make sure to arrive at the airport earlier than usual to avoid delays!
CancerLaci Jordan for xoNecole
You can finally breathe a sigh of relief now that Mars has exited fellow cardinal sign Aries and transitioned into slow and steady Taurus. The troops are rallying around in support of you so make sure you're using your social network to your advantage. When Mercury shifts into Aquarius, you're focused on analyzing your emotional landscape which could have you feeling a bit disconnected from others. On the 8th, Venus enters Capricorn which has you considering a long-term commitment with your current partner. If you're single, the New Moon on the 13th could orchestrate a fated encounter with someone who will be significant to you in the year ahead.
On the 14th, Uranus goes direct which could be the lucky break you've been waiting for to catapult your brand or business to the next level. Unfortunately, with your success comes jealousy from those intimidated by your will power to make sh*t happen. The Sun enters Aquarius on the 19th, inviting you to take a more objective look at some of the painful experiences you typically cling to, but this energy helps you healthily detach that old sob story. The Full Moon on the 28th helps you resolve any financial issues by clearing out debt and those frivolous spending habits you've developed during the quarantine. January wraps up with Mercury going retrograde, guiding you to uncover another layer of your healing process.
LeoLaci Jordan for xoNecole
There's a lot of action taking place for your sign this mont,h starting off with Mars transitioning into Taurus which has you feeling the pressure to make an impression within your chosen career path. When Mercury enters Aquarius on the 8th, you're having some important conversations with a significant other, business partner, or employer. On the 13th, Venus links up with the New Moon in Capricorn inviting you to get more disciplined when it comes to your health. A new workout plan could be just what you need to jumpstart your fitness resolutions.
Lay low around the 14th as there will likely be a bit of a shake up when Uranus stations direct. Between your boss and your spouse, you may feel like you've had enough of everyone's demands when Jupiter squares Uranus on the 17th. The Sun enters Aquarius on the 19th, encouraging you to partner up with more like-minded people that can help you achieve your dreams. The Full Moon in your sign on the 28th is a great time to reveal your new hairstyle or ensemble you've been dying to show off. The month winds down with our first Mercury retrograde of the year giving you a chance to revise existing contracts and agreements so they serve all parties involved.
VirgoLaci Jordan for xoNecole
After a crazy 2020, you're still feeling pretty optimistic about the New Year, thanks to Mars finally letting up on the gas in Aries and transitioning into Taurus on the 6th. Over the next couple of months, your energy will be exerted towards higher learning, international affairs, and long-distance travel. When Venus and the New Moon meet up in Capricorn, you're feeling the romance in the air. Work can wait another day. Schedule some time to cuddle with bae or have a coffee date with a new suitor. On the 14th, Uranus goes direct, gifting you a much-needed "a-ha" moment about something that has been holding up your spiritual growth.
Be mindful of how much time you're spending on online—whether you're researching your latest topic of interest or casually scrolling through Twitter. When Jupiter squares Uranus on the 17th, you could be experiencing technology burnout. Close your laptop and put your phone on DND for a day. On the 19th, the Sun enters Aquarius encouraging you to find a community to hold you accountable for your health and fitness goals. The Full Moon on the 28th motivates you to wrap up a cycle in which you've been dimming your shine. January comes to a close with Mercury going retrograde, inviting you to revisit an old routine that contributed to a more balanced lifestyle.
LibraLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The New Year kicks off with Mars entering Taurus, directing your energy towards healing emotional wounds and traumas that affected your self-esteem. On the 8th, Mercury enters Aquarius encouraging you to indulge in some romance. If you're single, you could actually wind up getting lucky on a dating app over the next few weeks. When Venus and the New Moon meet up in Capricorn, you're setting new foundations with some long-term investments, making this the perfect time to buy a new home or rental property.
Uranus goes direct on the 14th which could cause some emotional disruptions, especially when Jupiter squares this part of your chart on the 17th. You'll be a little more sensitive around this time so be gentle with yourself and avoid harsh people that ruffle your feathers. On the 19th, the Sun enters Aquarius, reminding you to let your freak flag fly. Most people know you to be prim and proper but it's time to let your wild side out to give voice to your creative genius. The Full Moon on the 28th could be a time of sudden growth, especially if you're an aspiring influencer. January wraps up with Mercury going retrograde and some former romantic interests hitting you up in your DMs.
ScorpioLaci Jordan for xoNecole
January is packed with a lot of action for you this month, starting out with Mars entering Taurus which has you directing your energy towards relationships, business partnerships, and contractual agreements. Over the next couple of months, you could find yourself solidifying more solid connections, whether professionally or romantically. When Mercury enters Aquarius, home and family matters receive much of your attention. On the 13th, Venus nestles up with the New Moon in Capricorn which has you on the receiving end of some important communications about your career and finances.
A minor shake up in a significant partnership can occur when Uranus goes direct on the 14th. When Jupiter squares this part of your chart, be mindful of reacting strongly to other people's annoying behavior. The Sun enters Aquarius on the 19th, encouraging you to redefine what family means for you. Planning for renovations or a relocation is also supported. You could be celebrating a long-awaited career breakthrough around the Full Moon in Leo. See where hard work and consistent effort gets you? The month comes to a close with Mercury going retrograde. Avoid signing a lease or closing on a house until mid-March to avoid issues later down the line.
SagittariusLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The New Year kicks off with you setting some intentions to improve your health when Mars enters Taurus on the 6th. Although this is a time in which you'll likely want to lean into what makes you comfortable, you're encouraged to create some new habits and routines that truly support your well-being. When Mercury enters Aquarius, you're strategizing ways to expand your reach on within your local community, making this a good time to embrace your humanitarian side. On the 13th, Venus meets up with the Moon in Capricorn, helping you attract a new opportunity that will help you achieve more long-lasting financial security.
When Jupiter squares Uranus on the 17th, be mindful of erratic communication, particularly with people in the workplace. With these planets duking it out in fixed signs, there could be a clash of opinions. Do your best to handle it with grace. On the 20th, the Sun enters Aquarius, making this a great time to work on that novel, blog, or website you want to launch. Revamping your social media aesthetic is also favorable during this time. The Full Moon on the 28th illuminates your path through some sort of spiritual breakthrough. The month wraps up with Mercury going retrograde, giving you a chance to make some final touches for your big debut.
CapricornLaci Jordan for xoNecole
Creativity and romance are lighting up your world when Mars enters Taurus on the 6th. If you've been wanting to start a project, now is the time to get to work. Just make sure to carve out some time for your inner child to play as well. When Venus enters your sign on the 8th, your personal magnetism has you on the receiving end of some amazing opportunities that can help you establish long-term wealth. The New Moon on the 13th invites you to reinvent yourself in some way, making this the perfect time for a new hairstyle or an overhaul of your wardrobe.
Around the middle of the month, Uranus goes direct, resulting in a pleasant surprise from a romantic suitor or someone that admires your creative gifts. You never know who's watching you these days. When Jupiter squares Uranus on the 17th, be mindful of making erratic decisions about your money. Aquarius season officially begins on the 19th, encouraging you to explore innovative ways to get in your bag. The Full Moon on the 28th motivates you to overcome any fears of standing out from the crowd. January wraps up with Mercury going retrograde, making this a good time to reassess your budget, debt, and savings plan.
AquariusLaci Jordan for xoNecole
January is packed with action for you this month starting off with Mars directing your energy towards your home environment. The next couple of months invite you to indulge in your creature comforts. When Mercury enters your sign on the 8th, life is getting busy and everybody wants to be all up in your business. Don't be afraid to use the DND option on your phone when you need a break. On the 14th, Uranus goes direct which may require you to think on your toes if a sudden change arises on the home front. Emotions may be on edge when Jupiter squares Uranus so be mindful of family drama around this time.
Your birthday season officially begins when the Sun enters your sign on the 19th. It's time to reintroduce the world to the new you. The first quarter moon in Taurus helps you smooth out any tension that may have occurred with your family or roommates. A significant relationship or business partnership could be going through some changes as you choose to strike out on your own. The month comes to a close with Mercury retracing its steps through your sign, giving you the opportunity to double-back on an important conversation that was left open-ended.
PiscesLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The month begins with Mars directing your energy towards all of the amazing money-making ideas you've had lately but lacked the vitality to follow through on. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. Your disciplined effort can have you seeing big results in a short amount of time. When Venus enters Capricorn, you could find yourself attracting a lot of attention online, making this an opportune time to gather supporters for your dream team. The New Moon on the 13th encourages you to shoot for the stars and surround yourself with people that truly want to see you succeed.
On the 14th, Uranus goes direct which could have you striking gold with a genius idea. When the Sun enters Aquarius take some time to disconnect from the daily grind to reconnect with your Higher Power. The Full Moon on the 28th could reveal some hidden motives from someone in the workplace but it's nothing you can't handle with some nice, assertive boundaries or a simple "No, thanks. I'm not interested." January wraps up with our first Mercury Retrograde of the year inviting you to tie up loose ends so you can start your new solar year baggage-free.
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Featured image by Laci Jordan for xoNecole.com
I think it's fair to say 2020 is not what anyone envisioned. This year has been a whirlwind full of COVID-19 cases, protests, millions without employment, an intense election, and much more. 2020 has worn us out, honey! I'm tired. You're tired. We're all tired. But, as we close the chapter of 2020, it's only right we do some reflection. This time of year is perfect for discovering what we need to work on, what lessons we've learned, and how we can do better moving forward.
I love using journaling prompts this time of year for reflection. Through these reflection prompts, I have been able to be grateful for the challenges I have overcome, and look forward to the lessons ahead. If you are in search of a path to move forward in the year ahead but don't know where to begin, here are some key questions to ask yourself before the new year.
What is one thing you could have done, but were too afraid too?
It's incredible how many people never achieve their dreams because of fear. Some of us are lowkey having anxiety over what people will think or say. Psyching ourselves out because we don't want to be seen doing "too much". We can even be afraid of failing and making a fool of ourselves too. Nothing positive can come from staying in your comfort zone because of fear. The only thing that can manifest from fear is being stuck in a situation you don't want to be in.
I was stuck at a dead-end serving job for years because I was too afraid to quit my job and become a freelancer in digital media. I was so concerned with how people would see me as irresponsible for quitting my job and going for my dream. Eventually, the misery of working at a job I had no passion for took over, so I quit.
Fear is mental more than anything else. Once you get past the mental aspect of fear, there is not much that can stop you. If there is anything you always wanted to do, but didn't out of fear, make it your goal for next year. Achieving the things that scare you the most will give you the confidence to challenge your goals. As cliche as this may sound, you never know what can happen if you don't try. Life is too short to be living in fear.
At what point this year could you have been gentle with yourself?
I am my biggest critic. I believe my critiques of myself comes from being a perfectionist and wanting to be the best at what I do. The negative side to this trait is sometimes I can stress myself out. I have learned through trial and error; that my best is enough and perfection is an illusion.
We need to be better at checking in with ourselves and being mindful of our needs. What's the point of filling our cup if we are the ones also draining it?
Reflect on times you were in a stressful state; how did you talk to yourself? Change up that inner dialogue. Were there times when you overworked yourself? Take more breaks. Did you do anything to celebrate yourself or your wins? Treat yo' self! Being gentle with ourselves is keeping our cup inflow.
What can you thank yourself for this year?
First off, let's all thank ourselves for making it through 2020. We all deserve a T-shirt that says: "I survived 2020." Seriously though, thanking ourselves may seem like an odd thing to do at first. We are so used to people thanking us or validating us for our efforts, but we can also do this for ourselves. We don't need to wait for anyone to acknowledge our efforts.
I'm a huge fan of thanking myself because they're milestones in my life people don't see. This year, I focused on myself and healing inner child wounds. I invested in therapy, meditation, and journaling. All of these tasks were done privately. For me, this was a huge step towards connecting with my higher self. I worked on my inner child wounds for me, so it's only right that I thank myself. Thanking yourself can feel a bit egotistical at first, but there's science behind the madness. We thank ourselves to recognize the value we've provided for ourselves. By thanking ourselves; we are subconsciously encouraging ourselves to keep going and not relying on anyone for validation.
Who in your life deserves a big thank you?
There were times during this year I didn't think I was going to make it. Times when I thought it was all "too much" for me to keep going. Having a strong circle of friends and family to help me see the light when I couldn't have been a lifesaver.
I truly believe in showing gratitude to those who have been there for you. Letting your loved ones know you recognize their efforts will strengthen your relationships.
People need to feel like they are appreciated. If not, the relationship will eventually start to deteriorate. Let your loved ones know you appreciated them during those times.
What do you want to be a student of in 2021?
In life, the only way you can continue to grow is if you never stop learning. Being a student of life keeps you fascinated when things aren't going right. Instead of being frustrated when life isn't going according to plan (aka 2020), you can view situations from a productive mindset. Asking yourself questions like, "What can I learn from this situation?" or "How is this making me better?" can be helpful tools when navigating through a difficult season.
Before the pandemic, I was a DJ. Live events and large crowds are the heart of the industry, two things COVID-19 rightfully banned. I was no longer able to do my job, so it was back to the drawing board. Instead of dwelling on being unemployed, I decided to stay curious and see where life was taking me. Now here I am with the best writing job ever, working from my living room, and helping you glow up.
Being a student of life is the best gift you can give to yourself. Flowing with life's obstacles can lead you to some of life's greatest treasures. Observe, remain curious, and stay hungry for more. In the words of Forrest Gump, "Life is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you're going to get."
I hope you all have a new year full of blessings, happiness, and growth.
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I must admit that I'm not the biggest fan of New Year's resolutions. The main reason why is because, if you think that something is gonna miraculously change by waiting until January 1 to do something, that already has you in a pretty unrealistic state of mind. What I mean by that is, waiting until some specific date to accomplish a goal is not only low-key procrastination but a pretty futile ambition because, if you want to see real progress, a profound key to making that happen is seizing the moment that you're currently in—you need to prepare to take steps towards your growth and evolution, just as soon as possible.
It probably is a major understatement for most that 2021 can't get here soon enough. Yet please don't wait until then before doing what needs to be done to walk into it with a clear, solid and resilient state of mind. Yeah, if you want next year to be your best one yet, here are seven suggestions that can definitely help to make that happen…if you act—now.
1. Create Spiritual and Emotional Mission Statements
Most folks have heard of a professional mission statement that companies create. While it can serve a myriad of different purposes, the main one is to keep everyone involved clear on the purpose of the business and the overall goals that the company ultimately wants to achieve. Well, for these same reasons, I think it's super important to also have a personal mission statement; it's so we, as individuals, can also have clarity on what our purpose is and what we want to personally accomplish too. Because there are so many layers to our lives, over the years, I've come to realize that sometimes one personal mission statement isn't enough. What I mean by that is, sometimes, our "missions" need to be broken down into various categories. And if there are two that I think are super important, it's a spiritual and emotional mission statement.
What does that even mean? Well, what do you want to accomplish when it comes to your personal development on the spiritual tip? Do you want to pray more? Meditate more? Figure out what works for you when it comes to the faith you grow up in vs. the person you are now? Have you ever really sat and pondered what it means to have a spirit or soul or now to nurture either or both (check out "Here's Exactly How To Start Protecting Your Spirit" and "I've Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul"). Do you desire for your romantic relationship to become more spiritual in the upcoming months? Emotionally, how do you want to handle your emotions in the new year? Because, contrary to popular belief, while emotions are important, we do have more power over how we react to what we are feeling than a lot of us realize. Plus, when we're paying close attention, our emotions can give us a heads up on some of the patterns we're repeating, red flags that we're ignoring or decisions that we should be making.
Again, a mission statement speaks to having a purpose and then setting goals around it. So, why not think about what purpose your spiritual and emotional facets of your life should serve in 2021 and what you would like to say transpired in both areas by the time 2022 gets ready to show up?
2. Put Together a Pampering Plan
Someone on the xoNecole team (who I won't put on blast, but she knows who she is), when I first came on board, we used to talk about the importance of pampering. It was kinda crazy to me, how much she struggled with even grasping the concept of participating in this form of self-care. But you know what? When you really stop to think about it, how many of us can raise our hands and honestly say that pampering is something that was taught to us while growing up? Boy, do I wish that I could find for y'all a tweet that I saw several weeks ago of the cutest little Black girl who had a turban on her head, candles all around her and was sitting in a tub that was filled with flower petals. Sis couldn't have been more than five or six and man, do I salute her mom for modeling the importance of engaging in that kind of self-love, at such an early age.
Being a Black woman in this world—and especially America—is both powerful and draining at the same time. And so even though pampering is literally "to treat with excessive indulgence", it still shouldn't be seen or treated as a luxury. When you are extremely focused about taking care of yourself, it de-stresses you, it elevates your self-esteem, it creates (or solidifies) a standard for what you expect out of your life, it energizes you and it brings you peace.
So yeah, you definitely need to go into 2021 with a clear plan for how you want to pamper yourself. This should include putting together a pampering budget and also a pampering schedule. For instance, while I care for my own hair at home and I'm actually not big on massages (I know, right?), I'm not missing a nail or eyebrow appointment and that's period.
2020 threw us all kinds of curve balls. Hopefully, something that we learned from them is we shouldn't wait until we're totally spent to care for ourselves. A plan should already be in place so that, no matter what comes our way, we already know that a hair appointment, a facial, a massage, a mani/pedi—something is just a few days away to get us off of the grid. What will that be for you next year?
3. Get Clear on What Your Job vs. Your Career Is
Wanna know a very telling sign that you have matured as an adult? It's when you stop being dependent on other people (parents included) in order to take care of yourself (unless you're in dire straits, of course); it's when you accept that a part of what comes with growing up is doing what needs to be done, whether you always, automatically or necessarily want to do it—or not.
This is where learning the difference between having a job and developing your career comes in. There is someone in my world who is a bona fide creative. Problem is, they are constantly in a creative cul-de-sac because they are so focused on wanting to do nothing but music that they never have enough money to fund their dream; that's because they are always quitting a job because it has nothing to do with their creativity (see what I mean about the cul-de-sac)? The mature approach to this is not, "This job has nothing to do with what I really want to do, so I quit." The much wiser hot take is, "My job helps to pay my bills, invest in my dreams and take the stress off of me so that I can someday do what I want to do, full-time."
Many studies indicate that as much as 85 percent of people hate their jobs. I can only imagine that a lot of folks do because all they think about is "I need it to pay the bills" instead of figuring out how they can make their job fit into their purpose while putting together a time management plan so that they can devote some time, on a daily or weekly basis, to make their dreams and desires come true; if not immediately, in due time.
Walking into your office every day, saying "I hate my job" on repeat is not gonna benefit you one bit. Instead, decide that next year is going to be about using your job to make your career thrive. So that purpose, come 2022, things can look very different for you on the professional front.
4. Set Some Skin, Hair and Nails Goals
An author by the name of Michael Korda once said, "One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals." When you read that, I'm willing to bet my next paycheck that you didn't think about this as it relates to your skin, hair and nails. Oh, but I think that you definitely should.
Recently, I had a conversation with an older friend of mine about how it fascinates me that we as Black women can go 20 years looking like we're 35-40 and then one day—BAM! We look 65 (even if we aren't quite there yet). While there is nothing wrong with that (because aging is a blessing), I do think that a part of the reason why that can happen is we take our own melanin for granted. We walk around here on the "Black don't crack" tip, assuming that we don't have to do as much maintenance/upkeep as "other folks" do; then we end up with fine lines, age spots and a loss of elasticity that could've been avoided had we be more proactive.
Your skin is the biggest organ that you have. Your hair is your crowning glory. There is something so feminine and beautiful about well-manicured nails. Not too long ago, I checked out an article on Simone Williams. If you've never heard of her before, she's currently the title holder for having the biggest Afro in the world. Do you really think that she didn't have some hair goals to make that happen (an article that might be able to help you in this area is "Looking For Hair Growth? It Might Be Time To Bring 'Blue Magic' Back")?
A lot of us want clear skin, longer hair and bangin' nails. Those things don't just automatically happen; you need to have a plan and that includes creating short and long-term goals for all three. So, make sure that at some point, before this year closes out, you jot down what you want for your own skin, hair and nails. Make sure to reward yourself in some way for reaching every milestone too. If you do, you might be floored by how different you look, come this time next year. Real talk.
5. Go on a “People Fast”
There's a filmmaker here in Nashville by the name of Molly Secours who once said something to me that I will pull up in my mental Rolodex and personally apply from time to time—"I'm going to get still and quiet and see what comes to me." While, in many ways, introverts and ambiverts fared pretty well during this pandemic (on the social front because we don't really pull our energy from others in the first place), I totally get that it was probably a bit of a struggle for extroverts. Plus, being on lockdown really did take not being around a lot of people to the utmost extreme.
That's why I get it if some of you read this particular point and said to the screen, "Are you f—king kidding me?" However, just because you may not have been in a lot of people's physical presence, that doesn't mean that Zoom calls, Facetiming and constantly being on social media and reading emails wasn't on a totally different level.None of us are an island. We need human interaction and relationships. At the same time, if you don't take a break from folks from time to time, they can start to drain you, their conversations can start to feel more like background noise and you can find yourself becoming resentful because there aren't any healthy boundaries in place (including the art of knowing how and when to say "no"). I do people fasting a few times a year and it's one of the best practices that I've put into my life. It gives me time to journal. To reflect. To figure out what relationships (professional and personal) are benefitting me and which aren't. You can never go wrong with getting quiet sometimes. Find at least a long weekend to put your phone on silent, to not check your social media or email and just chill with yourself. One way or another, everyone who you interact with will only benefit from it because you did.
6. Cultivate a Sleep Ritual
Even if you Kanye shrugged your way through this entire article, I am urging you to strongly take this point into some serious consideration. As if it shouldn't be alarming enough that sleep deprivation can result in things like severe mood swings, a weakened immune system, a lower libido, high blood pressure, a lack of concentration and productivity and an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, not getting at least 6-8 hours a night can also lead to brain damage. No joke.
Just like it's insane that a lot of us think that pampering is some sort of luxury rather than a sho 'nuf necessity, it's even weirder that some people treat sleep in the same fashion. Listen, when it comes to your overall health and well-being, it's not about not having time to go to bed, on a schedule, each and every night—it's about whether you are gonna make it a priority or not.
As you're figuring out what you actually need as you prepare to step into the new year, set aside some coins to get some new bedding; to play some rain or ocean ASMR videos (YouTube has a ton of commercial-free ones); to rub your feet down with some lavender or chamomile essential oil (both will calm you; make sure to put some on your sheets while you're at it); to stop eating and drinking around two hours before turning in (and if you are going to drink something, consider having some herbal tea or tart cherry juice); to turn off all devices that have an on-off switch and read a book or just chill out instead; to consider taking a magnesium/calcium/zinc supplement (it's a natural nerve and muscle relaxant), and if someone is in the bed with you, to maybe get an orgasm or two in. Creating a sleep ritual can make getting up every day so much easier. It can actually extend the length of your days on this earth too. And that should be an annual goal for all of us, wouldn't you say?
7. Figure Out What You Need. DON’T SETTLE EITHER.
Just recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about needs in relationships. When I said, "I need certain things from all of my friends", initially she offered pushback by saying she doesn't really "need" anything from anyone. I know this person well and there are walls that have gone up due to years of not having needs met, so she's programmed herself into thinking that needs and being needy are one in the same. They absolutely are not.
We need food, water and shelter in order to survive. Well, if we want our relationships to thrive, there are certain things that they need too. I don't just mean personal friendships; professional ones have certain requirements as well. And so yeah, I'm gonna close this particular article out by encouraging you to really think about what you need from those around you because 1) it's not people's fault that you aren't getting what you need from them if you're not telling them what that is and 2) there's no point in remaining in certain relationships if your needs are constantly being overlooked. Right?
No matter what this crazy world that we are living is has going on, you can soar like you never have before by simply tending to some specific areas of your life. As someone who has applied all seven of these in 2020 and, for the most part, had an extreme peace-filled year, please consider doing some of this in preparation for what is to come. 2021. Can you believe it? Yeah, me neither.
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First and foremost, I'm not sure who needs to read this but this past year should not be the reason why you've decided to lower your goals or not set any at all for the one that's coming. Now more than ever, we realize how nothing should be taken for granted, how unpredictable life is, let alone how little control we have over it. All of which can be scary.
Yet, looking at the bright side of the current situation we live in, I believe that 2020 can also be seen as this evidence that anything, literally anything, can happen.
Everything is possible and that, my dear, if you put the right strategy in place, includes fulfilling your goals and dreams—regardless of the circumstances. Speaking of strategy, among other things, mine includes creating a vision board. Not the usual type of vision board, though. An upgraded version—more effective.
The Original Vision Board: What Is It & How To Make One
In case you're being introduced to the concept for the first time through this article, a vision board is a collage of words and images—and anything else you'd like to add to it—that mirror one's aspirations and desires: a flat stomach, a new car, a career in acting, building a home and family... It's a law of attraction technique commonly used at the beginning of a new year destined to help you achieve any of your goals through inspiration, motivation, and most importantly, visualization. Vision boards have proven to be extremely powerful; numerous success stories can be found on YouTube.
Back in the day, creating a vision board was simple. All it required was a few supplies—a pair of scissors, a stick of glue or double tape, some pens and sharpies, several of your favorite magazines from which you'd crop words and images, and finally, a blank canvas to decorate with those. Add to that two to three hours of your time, and you've got yourself a vision board.
But as the concept started gaining more popularity, people began adding their own twists to the creation process, like using different physical mediums, printing their own images...even adding more rules to follow to make sure manifestation occurs, which requires much more intentional work.
With that being said, not enough work for me. At least not anymore.
Let me explain.
How To Take Your Vision Board To The Next Level
Writer Savannah Taïder for xoNecole
I've been making this kind of collage for five years now, diligently applying every tip and trick that I'd come across over time.
I was able to witness a lot of my goals manifest, but I deeply believe more of my dreams could've come to life if it wasn't because of this one flaw vision boards have.
Indeed, I've noticed that once our vision boards are completed, all we can do is think back on them and reflect. In the very beginning of the year, it's something that we do every day. Yet after a while, even if we make sure to display them in a strategic place in our homes, eventually we don't see them anymore; and if we ever take a look in their direction, it's rarely on purpose.
If that doesn't f*ck up the entire manifestation process in itself, it certainly slows it down a whole lot because how are we supposed to manifest the things that don't even hold our attention?
Recently, as I was scrolling down my Twitter timeline, I found myself very inspired by one of my friends' goal-crushing tips. In her tweet, she was briefly breaking down the strategy that she's going to use to achieve her goals in 2021. The latter turns out to be super simple: create a to-do list for every goal pictured on her vision board. Talk about a brilliant idea.
If you want to ensure that your vision board works its magic all year long and beyond, take it to the next level by following this step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Define Your Vision
I've been debating whether I should make this part the first or second step for a good minute until I finally opted for the former. Indeed, as mentioned earlier, vision boards shouldn't just be random artistic collages. In order to work, they must be created with a lot of intention. Therefore, I believe that before partaking in such an activity, we must have a clear, well-defined vision of our desires.
For some reason, this step is the longest and most complicated part of the process. As easy as daydreaming about the life we long for can be, when it comes to taking our fantasies seriously and believing that we can, it can get a bit intimidating. Some people can barely tell what they want in life. If this is your case, here's a short list of questions that should help you figure it out:
- What are the things you enjoy? What are your passions?
- What makes you feel alive?
- What would you like to try that you've never tried before?
- If you had no limits, what would you like to achieve?
- What's the meaning behind the things that you want to manifest? Do they have meaning to you or someone else?
- What truly brings you a sense of purpose?
- What are the things that you need?
- How hard are you willing to work to fulfill your dreams?
- What are the dreams you doubt your ability to fulfill but are willing to let God or the Universe help you with?
- What would your six-year old self want to see you do? Who would she want you to be?
If I can give you one piece of advice, when defining your vision, "never downgrade it to fit your reality." As Stuart Scott once said, "Upgrade your convictions to match your destiny."
Step 2: Gather Your Supplies
Writer Savannah Taïder for xoNecole
The list of materials you'll need is pretty much what you would need for the original vision board. Except, for this upgraded version, you will also look for images in places other than magazines—that is to say the Internet, so you can add a printer to the list—and we will trade the board for a refillable journal or a planner binder. The decision for dimensions (A4, A5...) is yours to make. The purpose of using such kind of medium is to make you able to 1) carry your vision board everywhere with you and 2) move or add pages when necessary.
As far as images, because precision is key when manifesting, you don't want to limit your possibilities to find exact representations of your vision by searching magazines only. If the intention is to manifest a trip to the Giraffe Manor in Kenya, characterizing this goal by the portrait of a woman boarding a plane because that's the most accurate image you were able to find inside of a magazine isn't the way to do it. Search Google or your favorite social media platforms. Most of the time, they will provide you with the exact pictures that you need. Moreover, if you happen to be Photoshop- or Canva-savvy, do not hesitate to create your own images and add yourself to them—just like you should put a photo of yourself at the center of your vision board as well.
Step 3: Set Up Your Journal
The latter will be divided into two main sections. This is not a requirement but I suggest using dividers for better organization. The first section will serve as an introduction and an overview of your vision as a whole. Following the same order, it should contain:
- An overall vision board: Use two facing pages or more to glue all the visual materials that you've collected.
- A list of all your goals: Although images speak louder than words, they might not always say the right things. Writing down a list of your goals will help maintain your focus on what the real intention is as well as keep track of the things that you've accomplished.
- An About Me page: Your About Me page is a journal prompt that should be taken very seriously. This self-introduction must be written as though you're already living your best life, using the present tense and positive words only. Who are you becoming as you're fulfilling all your dreams? What state of mind are you in? What opportunities are coming your way? What are you letting go of? This technique is called scripting, manifesting through written affirmations.
Writer Savannah Taïder for xoNecole
The second section is meant for you to concentrate on each one of your goals individually and hold you accountable. This is where the vision board that was initially just a piece of art on the wall becomes a real (daily or almost) manifestation exercise. Again, it's best to use dividers for clarity purposes. For example, you can divide this section to suit every area of life you've set yourself goals for: love and relationships, health, career, passions, etc. Then for each goal, you must:
- Create a more specific vision board: The first vision board that you made was an overall one. It was a general representation of your vision. Now, you must create individual vision boards specific to each goal to narrow down your vision and make it even more accurate. For example, let's say that you put a house on your overall vision board because your desire is to acquire your first property. This means that the vision board related to this goal should contain pictures of the furniture that you want, kitchen or bathroom designs, bedroom arrangements, etc.
- Write down your why: Speaking from experience, I can tell you that whenever you feel like giving up, your why is the only thing that will keep you going. Write it down on a page corner close to your goals as a motivational reminder.
- Develop your game plan: How do you plan to accomplish your goals? What actions do you need to take? Did you set yourself a deadline? This is where a to-do list and a schedule come in handy. Both will hold you accountable and make your life easier. The best way to accomplish a huge task is by breaking it down into smaller ones. The best way to prevent procrastination is to establish a calendar.
- Be mindful of your struggles and fears: Along the way, you'll experience some struggles and sometimes be pushed to the edge of fear. You'll see that the journey to achieving a goal rarely is a peaceful one. It comes with tons of setbacks and bumps in the road. When this happens, it's tempting to want to back out. Don't. Instead, try to be mindful of what your fears and struggles are; list them down in your journal, study them until you get a grip on them. Once it's done, create another list this time made of affirmations and solutions to overcome your hardships. Refer to those whenever you feel stuck.
- Journal your journey: This one is a bonus in case you enjoy writing and find documenting your life exciting. Who knows, maybe someday you can turn it into a novel or a memoir. Or use it on your lowest days to remind yourself of how powerful you are.
I believe it's important to wrap up this step-by-step guide to creating a vision board by telling you this: It's possible that your vision doesn't manifest exactly as you want it to or take more time than initially planned to do so.
While the achievement of your goals mostly depends on you, I also think that God and the Universe have their say—if not the final say, period. With that being said, it's crucial to remain positive about your goals at all times. Learn the lessons they're supposed to teach you and trust that everything happens when it needs to happen and the way it needs to happen.
Furthermore, if your goals don't manifest within the different timeframes that you've set for each, it's not necessarily a sign that your vision board is dysfunctional. Some of my goals that I displayed on my 2017 vision board manifested no later than 2019. Sometimes the seeds that you plant require more time than you think to break the ground. Keep watering them anyway.
My last piece of advice would be to keep all the vision boards and journals that you've worked on in a safe place. You never really know when your dreams will become reality. But when they do, it feels magical to be able to look back and say "I finally made it."
Are you a member of our insiders squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!
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