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From a global pandemic and massive unemployment rates to civil protests and a dramatic presidential election, we all can agree that 2020 has been a year of unprecedented circumstances. Sure, some moments remained the same; loving couples still got married, babies were even born, and bills were still due, but our lives were not quite the same. If anything, this year has allowed us to see what is truly important, like family, health, resiliency, and community. As 2021 slowly approaches and this year gradually becomes a distant object in the rearview mirrors of our minds, it’s time to take a breath and call out the things that hinder our growth, progress, and happiness.

Playing Small

Ask yourself, “What do I allow others to believe about me that is not true?” If you find yourself playing small at work or even in your relationships with family and friends, don’t let that behavior follow you into 2021. It’s time to start programming your mind to think bigger. You owe it to yourself to go after that promotion, start that business, go back to school, or whatever else you set your heart on. You deserve to want more and dream big because greatness lives in you.

“You are built not to shrink down to less but to blossom into more. To be more splendid. To be more extraordinary. To use every moment to fill yourself up.” — Oprah Winfrey

Patient wearing a mask during therapy session

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Neglecting Your Physical and Mental Health

2020 has taught the world not to take anything for granted, including physical and mental health. The mind-body connection must be nurtured and maintained. Your physical well-being includes everything from how much sleep you get to the type of physical activity you participate in, to what you put into your body to keep it going. Don’t accept the stigma of mental illness, and don’t discredit your feelings. Counseling, as well as support groups, are available to assist you with mental illness concerns. There’s no question that life gets busy, but it’s important to stop and evaluate where you are with your health journey and identify what changes you need to make to ensure you live as healthy a life as possible.

_Beautiful girl with curly hairstyle

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Not Admitting Your Faults

“I messed up.” Those are three words you should never be afraid to say. You’re human; you will make mistakes. When you can maturely admit your faults, you show that you have integrity and courage, even if the consequences are not favorable. More importantly, once you have acknowledged your responsibility and apologized, don’t beat yourself up. Forgive yourself and begin the process of moving on. Don’t give others the power to hold anything over your head. Once you have admitted your error(s), it’s time to reject guilt and self-criticism and move on to self-compassion, self-care, and finally, peace about the matter. Will this happen instantly? Definitely not. The truth is while no situation is the same, your faults should not live with you forever.

I'm so nervous for what's about to happen

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Unattainable Perfection

Come a little closer so you can read this clearly. No one is perfect. We are all perfectly flawed humans. Striving to be perfect is exhausting and, over time, will only lead to disappointment and unrelenting fear that you will undoubtedly fail. In 2021, do yourself a favor and allow yourself grace to be imperfect. Celebrate the characteristics that make you unique emotionally, spiritually, and even physically. Focus on doing your best, not reaching some non-existent mythical perfect golden star. This small yet significant change will increase your self-esteem and allow you to appreciate and celebrate who you are just as you are.

Sad and unhappy teenager looking out of the window

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Living with Grudges

You’ve heard it before: forgiving others isn’t for them; it’s for you. Let’s be clear. Your experience and the effects of what happened are valid, but that doesn’t mean you should stay in that experience forever. The truth is resentment keeps you bound from moving forward. It keeps you reliving the same moment(s) day in and day out. The person that hurt you moves on with their life and is seemingly happy while you can’t seem to let go of the burden that has turned into disappointment and, yes, even rage. When you can surrender your feelings and make a conscious decision to move on, something remarkable happens; you become surrounded by freedom.

Wake up and get off your phone please

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Negative Relationships

Toxic people can show up in different areas of your life. It can be a manipulative supervisor, a rude cousin, an emotionally distant partner, or a disloyal friend. The cause of their negativity toward you can be because of a variety of factors, like insecurity, depression, or resistance to change. However, their reasons for their behavior, regardless of validity, has nothing to do with you. In 2021, understand that it’s not your responsibility to take on other peoples’ burdens or their animosity toward you. You have the power to decide when you need space from someone or when it’s time to remove them from your life altogether.

What's the point anymore?

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Putting Plans on Hold

At the end of 2019, you said you would finally run a marathon, plan a girl’s trip, get in shape, or go on a seven-day vacation with just you and your partner, then BAM! 2020 turned the world upside down and told us all to take several seats. So what did you learn from the experience? If you’re honest, many of the things you had on your list were the same things you have been saying for years and always found an excuse of why that time was the “wrong time.” 2020 has given us nuggets of life lessons, and this particular one is not to believe that there will always be more time. Start actively planning for 2021 and even 2022. The world will eventually open back up, and you need to be prepared to start making your plans a reality.

Young woman with African roots and curly hair looking at her smartphone - Stock photo

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Saying “Yes” to Everyone and Everything

If you suffer from the “saying yes to everyone and everything” syndrome, it’s time to pump the brakes. When you overcommit your time, energy, and resources, the results will have you feeling drained, trapped, and even resentful. To combat this in 2021, start choosing things you genuinely want to do. Before saying yes, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does the ask help to build relationships with important people in my life?
  2. Does the ask match my core value(s)?
  3. Does the ask sound like something I would enjoy?
  4. Am I willing to be inconvenienced?
  5. Do I have the physical and mental capacity to do the thing asked of me?

If your honest answers are “no,” then it’s time to stop accepting responsibilities that you’re not comfortable with taking on.

two mixed-race teen girls have a tense socially-distanced conversation sitting on opposite sides of picnic table

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Trash Opinions

To be fair, some opinions that come from people you trust, love, and respect carry weight and should matter. These types of views will usually consist of constructive and mature conversations. On the other hand, you should take self-imposed, unsolicited opinions for the trash they are and throw them all away (the views, not the person expressing them). You have to learn to filter appropriately. You determine how much light and darkness you will accept. In 2021, promise yourself that you will not give your power away to others whose opinions and critique are not constructive, warranted, or add any value to your life.

It takes determination to overcome obstacles

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Timeline for Success

2020 was the year of the Pivot for a lot of people. From CEOs losing their jobs due to the pandemic to entrepreneurs shifting the types of products they sell to meet their customers’ needs, everyone has had to evaluate where they were and where they wanted to go. It’s normal for people to want to hit certain milestones by a certain age, and while it’s great to have a plan, life’s timeline doesn’t always match the one in your head. In 2021, don’t focus on the time that has passed; instead, focus more on the time you have to achieve weekly, monthly, and yearly goals.

A word nerd and storyteller from the midwest, Michelle has a passion for working with brands that exhibit courage and creativity in finding new ways to advocate and support causes/issues that affect black women. Think of her as a favorite quirky Auntie whose infectious laugh, calm presence, and warm hugs make even the most skeptical stranger feel like they’ve known her for a lifetime.

Michelle has worked on more than a dozen film and television sets, ranging from live studio to narrative production and documentaries, created a children’s books series, and founded a boutique copywriting agency to help hundreds of entrepreneurs and brands share their unique stories for optimal impact and influence.

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