Last year, I'd just launched The Level Up right before the new year, and wrote one of my earliest posts reminding us not to let our New Year's resolutions turn into endless revolutions of promises to ourselves that we never keep. Keeping that in mind, I'm sure you already have an extensive goal list of things you wish to accomplish in 2017, but let's not deny ourselves the opportunity to also leave some dead weight in 2016. No, I'm not talking about the reoccurring ex who's asking for his 5th chance to screw you over yet again, or that trifling friend who's the biggest crab in your barrel, but you can't let him or her go because "ya'll grew up together". NOPE. I'm talking about YOUR tired ass habits that will not allow you to pass go and collect your $200 (that you'll hopefully invest) in 2017.
Not being good with technology.
I really shouldn't have to say anything else. It's about to be 2017 and literally everything besides wiping your ass is digital. "Web Developer" is already one of the top 5 most sought after jobs by both employees and employers. I'm not saying that you should go back to school and learn how to code, but you should certainly know how to use a) a smartphone b) a social media platform and c) at least understand the concept of "the cloud". After all, without these skills, how else are you going to subscribe to The Level Up, watch my TED talk and follow me on social media ;).
Oversharing on the internet.
Alright now, for those on the opposite end of the spectrum who spend all of their days and nights scrolling their timelines, this one's for you. Social media is a powerful global tool. If not for Facebook live, we wouldn't have been able to witness an unarmed Philando Castile being gunned down by a very poorly trained police officer in Minnesota, resulting in that officer being charged with 2nd degree manslaughter. This is the power of social media, and we really need to begin to respect it. How do we do this? By not posting every single thought that pops into our head, every single meal we eat, and every single time we break up and get back together with our significant others. Between Snapchat, Insta stories, and FB live, 2016 has offered us a one thousands ways to live stream each time we fart and roll over, and then put a pretty filter over it. Let's get all of the nonsense out of our system and use this platform wisely now. Ask yourself, "is this post making me money, helping me to achieve something meaningful to my life, or making someone else's life better?" If not, I kindly ask you to practice a little self-restraint in the new year. If you really need to vent, therapy sessions are a real thing, and I'm pretty sure they still sell journals at target.
Asking for freebees.
We all know that person who's constantly looking for the hookup. Unfortunately, life is not one giant episode of Martin and that's not really good look in 2017. There are so many young, ambitious entrepreneurs out here trying to make a name for themselves and their business (*ahem* hand raised). They're working really hard to stay ahead of the curve and stand out amongst the pack to produce excellent work or provide stellar services. Respect their craft and let them know that their work is not in vain. After all, if you were getting the same product or service from a Fortune 500 company, you'd pay for it without a second thought because of the name. If you're a close friend or family, let them extend the offer to you, but please don't come to hard-working individuals looking for hand-outs or discounts. Get your bread up.
The idea the racism no longer exists.
Yep. After the election I'm going to go ahead and put the nail in the coffin on this one. In case the NUMEROUS instances of racism, classism, fascism, and xenophobia that have reared their ugly heads over the course of this year haven't spelled it out for you, let me say it one more time. Racism most certainly STILL EXISTS; and this is specifically for my white friends and colleagues, and the unfortunate constituency of Stacey Dashes in this world. No need to dwell on this statement much longer, in fact I'm sure it will show up many more times in different forms now that the pu**y grabber himself is calling the shots. But please be advised: if there was ever time to revisit the works of Frederick Douglass, MLK, and Malcolm X; to remember the ways of Mother Teresa and Mahatma Ghandi; and get to know up and coming brothers like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Trevor Noah - now would be the time. It is up to you to enlighten yourself, know who are you are and what you're capable of. That'll be clutch over the next four years.
I mean, haven't you been doing this long-enough? There's too many extraordinary people doing extraordinary things in 2016 for you to not believe in your own abilities. Two young, black women (both named Simone) won gold medals, one in swimming and the other in gymnastics during this summer's Olympic games. A woman became a Presidential candidate for the first time in history, and Ava Duvernay is the first black female director to helm a $1M film. Boundaries are clearly a thing of the past, and the only one stopping you from achieving your goals is YOU. Keep this in mind as you set your agenda for 2017, if you think it's too big, it's probably not big enough.
Failure to collaborate.
The phrase "no man is an island" comes from the poem by John Donne written in 1624. Wise men knew this to be true many millennia ago, and the same remains true today. Any dream, goal or ambition that cane be achieved alone is not big enough. Whether it's a start-up business, a personal project, getting your dream job, or a charitable endeavor - going the road alone places unnecessary burden on you, AND ultimately the outcome of your pursuit. There's nothing worse than completing a task and realizing it could have been better. Two heads are better than one, team work makes the dream work, it takes a village and.. you get my drift! Collaborate for greatness in 2017!
Not prioritizing your health.
Seems like the Grim Reaper has had the most poppingest 2016 out of all of us. He really came to slay, and NOT in the good way. Muhammad Ali, Prince, dude from Harry Potter - STOP THE MADNESS! Those are who foolish blame the year *side eye* for killing off our icons, but a recent Medium post calls bullshit on that theory, and you know what? The author is right. Drugs, alcohol, and an unhealthy lifestyle are all catching up and claiming the lives of folks left and right. The article goes on to say that for the first time, the life expectancy of the average American has actually declined in 2016. What's really shameful is we have no excuse! There's more than enough warnings and literature abut the dangers of drugs (both illegal and prescription), excessive alcohol and an unhealthy diet. DO better Americans! We want 2017 to be the GOOD kind of "killer year".
Coloring inside the lines.
Lines shmines. 2016 broke ALL the rules, and the more I reflect, the more it feels like rules will be made to be broken in 2017. One thing about my experience giving a TED talk about black natural hair this year (another thing that didn't really fit within the lines) was that there is immense value in ideas and innovation. Advancements in technology, science, and humanity have made it so nearly nothing is impossible. Thinking up something totally new is unlikely, but thinking of a new way to present it is where we hit the jackpot. Playing it safe, however, rarely gets you there. If it (whatever "it" is) feels uncomfortable and unorthodox, that just means no one has normalized it yet. So don't be afraid to color outsides the lines in 2017. In fact, who said you have to color? Who said those are even lines? See what I did there :)
Cover photo by @spiritedpursuit