With Black History Month comes additional layers of confidence for Black people. Learning about our heritage and celebrating the record breakers and innovators reminds us of the power of determination as it relates to success. It is confirmation of the goals and vision we may have for our future selves — some people even know the steps needed to get there. There are particular habits that greats ones have to maintain motivation, resilience, and ultimately do what they set out to do. And doing so, earns them their crown. And you, too, can be great. There are so many ways to gain your crown while working toward your goals. Here are a few:
- Engage with your higher power: Having a higher power has been found to be extremely beneficial when striving toward your goals and becoming a better version of yourself. Your higher power may not be God so to speak –it could be practicing peace, serving others, or attaining universal wisdom. Having a sense of spirituality and respect for a higher power holds you accountable for your actions, reminds you of what you do not have control over, and helps you unlock the better version of yourself. Participating in consistent practices of spirituality will help you level up and tap into your intrinsic gifts that lead you to your goals.
- Address your trauma: Trauma can be defined as a psychological, emotional response to an event, or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing, and can range from experiencing a death to sexual abuse or even a bad breakup. However, research shows not addressing past trauma negatively affects self image, social interaction , and emotional control. The effects of trauma can be short-term, but is often long-term, and often manifests physically or behaviorally. The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment states that adults who have experienced several incidents of trauma throughout their life may self harm, use drugs, engage in promiscuous behaviors, and often experience flashbacks. The sooner trauma is addressed, the better chance survivors have recovering successfully and fully. In order to be our best selves we must release negative energy that holds us back. This may be achieved with therapy, talking with a trusted person or religious leader who can help with processing the trauma, or implementing healthy coping skills. Once trauma is addressed, communication better, relationships improve, and esteem increases, making us equipped at working toward our goals relentlessly. As Oprah Winfrey says, “Turn your wounds into wisdom.”
- Learn to say ‘no’ (even to yourself): Setting boundaries between yourself and distractions is very important. Understanding that while something may be enticing there is a time and place for everything. When you are elevating and progressing, there are some behaviors, vices, and even people who must be left behind if you’re going to level up as planned. Many times outside entities will test your restraint. Once you create a plan to achieve your goals, it may be necessary to put distance between yourself and all the things that may stop you. At the Obama Foundation Summit this past November, Michelle Obama said “If I’m not protecting my time, if I’m not learning how to say ‘no,’ even to the best things, even to the most worthy things — because I need to sleep or I need to eat or I need to take time out to exercise — then I am no good to my children,” CNBC reported. In that statement, we see the former First Lady’s goal is a commitment to her children, and when that is compromised she musters up a good “no.”
- Work When You’re Working: One habit of success that helped Maya Angelou was separating her work from her life. When she was working, she would only focus on work by removing herself from her personal environment and from any other distractions. Once she was done with work, she would return home and only seldom discuss work at home. This is tougher than it sounds. To completely shut out your personal life when in work mode is a task, but being intentional about ways to increase productivity can allow us to decrease stress and minimize our chances of being workaholics. W.E.B Dubois, the first African American to earn a PhD from Harvard, was a sociologist and civil rights activist who mastered the art of maximizing his time. His approach was to get all big task out of the way because they mentally drained him, then he’d finish the day with easy tasks. Learning your personal approach to productivity is important to securing success –however you do it.
- Prioritize Your Finances:Maggie L. Walker, the first African American woman to be bank president, was an advocate of gaining financial freedom. In the early 1900s, she brought St. Luke’s Penny Savings Bank out of financial crisis as they were near bankruptcy. Originally a teacher, Walker encouraged young Black children to save their money when they started working, and educated the Black community on financial health. She hired black women and would pay them enough to save a portion of their salary. Saving is one of the first ways we learn to create financial stability, but instead of only saving for short-term goals, we should make it a part of our overall lifestyle. Gaining financial freedom is a huge way to level up and reclaim your power to follow your dreams.