Write it Down

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I did a vision board back in 2013 just out of fun initially but decided to include some large goals, like finding a legal assistant position where I could be exposed to real matters affecting the company and running a 1/2 marathon. In addition to inspirational thoughts and images I included the training schedule and was very specific about the tasks I would be performing in the future role. Looking at these goals daily was a reminder to do some sort of activity to push my goals forward. When the end of the year came and I looked back I couldn’t believe that I accomplished both things! I had two realizations from that experience:

  1. In order to make things happen you have to do the WORK. When it came to finding the job, I tweaked my resume to perfection and was relentless to applying for jobs not haphazardly but specific to what I was looking for within the legal field. So instead of applying to every law firm or in house legal department, I focused on the IP related jobs because that was what  I wanted to do and it paid off. When it came to completing the race, posting the training schedule didn’t turn me into a runner by osmosis but I looked at the schedule everyday and it reminded that I had to get up and train that particular day. You have to do the work to make stuff happen. I don’t idolize Hollywood. But the uber popular stars didn’t just wake up one day and decide to be famous. These people are extremely dedicated and extremely hard to get to  place where the entire world wants to be
  2. Writing things down immortalizes your goals vs disappearing when you just speak them. A funny thing happens when we talk about what we want to do in the future.  Your brain tricks you into thinking your goal is already in process even if you haven’t done anything to move them forward. They are just words at the end of the day almost to be forgotten when our attention is drawn to something else.

I used to be the person who just talked and I’m trying really hard to change that about me. Of course I’ve had some great accomplishments but not nearly what I am capable of doing, I can do much more and I want the same for you.

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My mini daily to-do tracker

My strategy:

Plan out my day from start to finish. I am still trying to finesse this and it may seem a bit regimented but for someone like me who has a very short attention span…it’s necessary!

I recently read a book called Make Your Brain Smarter by Dr. Sarah Bond Chapman. I know the title sounds oversimplified but she highlights a term called the “Brainpower of Two” which rejects multitasking but promotes handling your elephant goals first (your most important/challenging task of the day) and then your rabbit goals which are quicker and easier to get done.

I find myself a lot more focused and productive when managing my goals. What are some strategies that you employ to reach and accomplish your goals? Leave a comment below!

 

Attainable Goals: Student Loan Escape

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So this is where I’m at with these bloodsuckers:

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A huge goal that I have been trying to reach for years has been to pay off my student loans. I graduated college over 10 years ago with a very expensive parting gift.  Yeah I know. It did balloon up to $36,000 at one point but I paid it back down to what my initial tuition bill was when I first left college.

A few things have temporarily derailed my paying it off including…

  1. Myself!

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy , standing in the way of our dreams due to fear of the failure, fear of success or pure laziness. I made pretty good money over the last few years, more than the debt and could have gotten rid of it with a good budget and a curbing of unnecessary spending. But I got comfortable at my fancy job, didn’t stick to my budget and the debt stuck around.

Lesson: During a time of financial prosperity, think of your long term goals first and prioritize. Wanna buy a house? Travel? Start a family? So many things are halted and put off because of a debt bill hanging over our heads (essentially becoming slaves) and it doesn’t have to be that way.

2. Circumstances.

Life is beautiful but can really suck sometimes.  As I write this I am under/unemployed (due to a job loss early this year) looking for a full time position and thinking of ways to increase my side hustles/financial portfolio. I have virtually no income and I’m scared. But I learned SO MUCH from this experience I know exactly what I want to do in the next few years and have planned. Above all else, I’m staying optimistic.

I know that I can get rid of  the debt in short order and will be taking you guys along on my journey as I pay it off. I will share some tips along the way that I am using to accelerate the process. I know it’s possible after reading how folks have paid off ridiculous loan balances  and I’m very inspired by that.

I do want to stress that I take part of the responsibility in this as I am the one who almost signed my life away but financial education REALLY needs to be part of the curriculum in school. Throwing tens of thousands of dollars at an 18 year old is fiscal madness but the private lenders, banks and government aren’t thinking about what is in our best interest. It’s all business, it’s all about making money, we just pay for it in more ways than one.

I’m sharing a few of my fave personal finance books/blogs below:

The Bible: Believe it

https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/nwt/books/

I’ve always enjoyed reading her blog and I love how it has grown into a real community.

https://www.google.com/#q=and+then+we+saved

http://www.wisebread.com/

Are you facing a huge financial obstacle? Leave your comment below!

 

 

 

Habit Metamorphosis

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Winston Churchill

I’m implementing a series of behaviors, small habit changes that will positively impact my everyday routine. Time to stop waking up like it’s an accident and design my life. I realized the best place to start is to analyze and monitor my  habits.

Why do we partake in certain bad habits? What drives it ? Is it fear? Boredom? Habit is a powerful thing that automates and ingratiates itself into our brains and everyday routines, for good or for bad. Here are the steps that I am taking to shift the bad habits to good ones that will help me reach my destination

  1. Identify the problem/ bad habits

One bad habit I’m changing is that first thing in the morning, I’m reaching for my phone. We all do it. Checking the weather, reading my timeline or scrolling through Instagram. Spending precious time on things not related to building ME up.

2. Identify the solutions/good habits that are equivalent to the bad habit

One helpful remedy is to physically keep the phone far away. Like charge it across the room and resist the urge to respond to the ping. Groundbreaking I know! But seriously it’s been a big help. The first thing I do now is offer up a prayer to the Creator , thanking him for everything. I then try to write down my goal list for the day. Write down all you can remember and be realistic. Instead of spending hours watching YouTube every.single.day (crazy!) , I now limit it to Sundays and try not to OD.

3. Be mindful of reverting back

If you do it’s not the end of the world. For me I realized I crave distraction because I sometimes have a very short attention span when I’m trying to focus on a particularly important task. I remind my self why it is important and that it will ultimately move me one step closer to my goals. Plus your confidence quotient will go up because you are doing what you said you were going to do.

4. Do not give up.

You will stumble but so what. Nobody who trips and falls out in the world, continues to lay down on the sidewalk. You get back up. Changing your bad habits is no different and you will wake up and realize that the good habits have overtaken the bad ones.

5. Reward Yourself

When you do have quick wins in changing behaviors for the better, don’t forget to celebrate. Watch that inspirational movie or two in your Netflix cue or buy that (reasonably priced) sweater you’ve been eyeing.

I really enjoyed reading this book, “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg that pulls back the curtain on the part of our brains where habits form, how they form and the “habit loop” that includes cues or triggers , routines and rewards. It really helped me to pinpoint my “why” and offered suggestions on changing habits once and for all. Not easy to implement but it is possible!

habit

https://www.amazon.com/Power-Habit-What-Life-Business/dp/081298160X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480986075&sr=8-1&keywords=power+of+habits

Honor Your Goals, Honor Yourself

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Well, we are officially in Chapter 12 of 2016, another year coming to a close. How did you do?  For some, this year brought goals and long time dreams to fruition. Others unfortunately were met with a series of unpleasant events, or allowed fear and immobility to lead their lives. I sadly found myself in the latter part of this group…but it’s only temporary :). What I realize about myself is that when things don’t go the way I want them to in one area, other areas go by the wayside. I guess that’s normal but it didn’t feel good in the end. My internet and YouTube viewing spikes all the way up,  I become withdrawn and I don’t track my spending.

I started out 2016 with a singular financial purpose: pay off my student loan and FINALLY be debt free! My job loss temporarily derailed that focus and no income basically means only using money to support survival and no extras. However, after the anger and frustration of the lay off subsided fear remained and I “self medicated” by falling into bad habits. One too many trips to Target, 711, Golden Crust, the food court at the mall, the chicken spot (every hood has one ha!) and  Taco Bell (ugh). I rationalized that $4 here or $9 there wouldn’t really dent my wallet but as many know those small purchases can lead to big financial problems. This has been a pattern for me for years. Death by a thousand cuts.

Something changed tonight though. I hadn’t meal planned properly at the beginning of the week and found that I had run out of the basics. So I went to the mall to grab something quick. I was standing in line trying to decide between a meal for $6.19 or $6.29 thinking that I could save .10 cents, wow lol. A voice popped into my head that said “why are you eating out when you still have goals to reach?” I still have debt and continuing this pattern is not going to help me get there any quicker. I promptly stepped out of the line and left the mall.

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I came home and cooked ;0! (chicken breast, sweet potato and broccoli rabe)

I recently read somewhere that the reason many of us don’t reach our goals is because we don’t believe our word. We set goals and have good intentions but when we don’t follow through and break promises to ourselves, belief and self-respect diminishes.

Being faithful to ourselves and what we say we are going to do is not always easy by any means. But if we start following through on small goals, believing the words we utter to the world,  it builds momentum to achieve bigger ones we never thought we’d meet. And from that inevitably comes great confidence.

My goal this week: Spend only on the essentials and no eating out from Sunday to Friday.

This week, let’s plan to set small daily, weekly and monthly goals. Let our actions have a purpose and make our time count.  Otherwise we will be looking back at 2017, wondering where the year went , in the same place you swore you’d leave the year before.

YOU CAN DO THIS!

 

 

 

Try Again

 

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As I began to write this , I initially felt silly. Not because I haven’t touched this blog in 3 (almost 4!)years , but because I feel like I talked a good game but not followed through in my LIFE goals. Looking back on my previous writings, I realize that years later I have been struggling with the some of same feelings for FAR too long: self- doubt and diffidence. NO MORE. In the last few months, I’ve decided to do some work on me. The real work. I’ve pinpointed the things that were holding me back and keeping me in a state of uncertainty especially when it comes to livelihood goals. I lost my job earlier this year and it felt like the final blow to my self esteem and self-worth. After a few months I realized that nothing is really final except death. I had to start showing gratitude (and stop the pity party!) and be thankful to my Creator everyday for so many things that were/are happening in my life. Loving parents and family. Good friends. A roof over my head. Food to eat. Relatively good health. The list goes on. I realized that like most people I am my greatest enemy…and my only competition. I realized that escapism through internet surfing , tv watching  and aimlessly walking around my city shopping had become my coping mechanism for not living the life I created in my head.

What is stopping me from fulfilling my real goals? Me. I’ve FINALLY decided to shove myself out of my own way and own and design my life exactly the way I want it. I’ve decided to stop letting people make decisions for me and be my own guiding light. I have nothing to lose. I’m a single 30 something making her way through life and trying to figure it all out without a manual.  I’ve decided to stop beating myself up over the bad decisions and mistakes. And the real tragedy there is not to learn from them! I have to quiet the negative voices in my head that say I am not good enough and remind myself of what is true….that I have limitless potential, smarts, intuition and natural talent. And so do you!

Read books, acquire skills, be kind, be BRAVE, stay humble but don’t take anyone’s mess either. I’m going to continue to share content in line with the original purpose on this blog  but also want to include my life goals and GROWTH on a bigger scale. I write this in hopes that someone sees themselves in my journey and that as long as you have breath in your body, it is NEVER too late to turn things around.

Oils Every Natural Should Have In Their Arsenal

Here at SFS, we extol the wonders of oils. They add much needed shine and seals in moisture to the hair especially in the winter time.  IMHO, these are the top three you should definitely have in your rotation:

Olive Oil

Olive-oil

When I told my cousin that olive oil is not just for cooking and that you can use it on your hair and skin she was amazed. Early usage in skin care application dates back to 2600 BCE in the Eastern Mediterrean. Understandbly so, olive oil is a deep penetrating moisturizer, regenerates cells and softens tissue. I enjoy mixing it with castor oil and massaging into my scalp to stimulate growth. For my strands, it penetrates the hair shaft adding essential fatty acids and vitamin, not to mention shine. Whenever possible, be sure to cop extra virgin olive oil as that is the highest grade.

Jojoba Oil
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I consider this one the mother of all hair oils as it most closely resembles the oils our scalps naturally secrete. It is a lightweight oil that also penetrates the hair shaft,  leaves no residue, will not clog pores and is antibacterial.  It prevents hair loss and thinning  as well as stimulate growth.

Castor Oil

jojoba oil

I have a very special place in my heart for castor oil as it was one of the first oils I used when I started my healthy hair journey. Whenever I use this oil to twist or just seal in moisture, I get NO breakage.  And the biggest benefit is that it prevents hair shedding and actually thickens it. I didn’t believe the hype when I first did my research but it absolutely helped in boosting growth at my thinning temples. It also  conditions the scalp and will assist with dandruff. The only precaution I will mention is that this oil is very thick and is probably best for people with tightly curled dry hair.

Music Spotlight: Eric Roberson

Source: Lastfm

Sorry for the long pause folks… Hurricane Sandy was a beast! Lost power, heat and hot water for a week which was not fun. But it could have been worse as some lost homes and lives and others are struggling to put the pieces back together. But tragedy brings out the best in people at times and relief efforts have been underway. Just wanted to lighten the mood with a music post on one  of my new fave artists..Eric Roberson. I’m ashamed to say I was a bit late to the party as he has been on the scene for years but when I heard “Picture Perfect” it was the perfect jazz neo soul blend in my opinion and I had to know more. He’s worked with some pretty awesome talent either writing or singing background vocals for Jill Scott, Musiq, 112 and Vivian Green just to name a few. His latest album “Mister Nice Guy” was released last year and hopefully he is in the studio to cut another album for our listening pleasure sooner rather than later! Some of my other favorites include ” Still, She, Softest Lips” the list goes on…real music ya’ll music check him out.