2016: SCREW IT, JUST DO IT. 5 TIPS TO HELP YOU TACKLE YOUR GOALS IN 2016

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“The most effective way to do it, is to do it,”
—Amelia Earhart

Let’s rewind five years to January 2011… I was working in corporate America as a Financial Analyst, putting in 50-60 hours per week. After working tiring hours, and after my eyes had officially crossed from analyzing thousands of numbers each day, I would then leave work to go put in an additional 2-5 hours of hair styling each evening. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy with my life. In between the chaos and power naps, I knew that I needed more for myself and I also knew I wanted to have a greater impact on the lives of women. I knew that wasn’t going to happen by sitting at a computer analyzing budgets, so I started to think of problems that I could solve that I was actually passionate about. I went through multiple ideas until I had a lightbulb moment when many of my clients would come in wanting to go natural and wanting to use extensions to transition, but were limited to options of hair that didn’t blend with textured hair. I thought of Heat Free Hair, and literally experienced every emotion you can think of from fear, to excitement, to outright confusion. After months of going back and forth with myself on whether or not to pursue my idea, I finally just said to myself … “Screw It, Just Do It.” It wasn’t easy for me initially, but along the way I learned how to get good at “just doing it” by following these five steps:

1. Get Out of Your Head

Have you ever spent time getting really pumped up about something and then you have that “oh crap, am I really about to do this?” moment shortly afterwards? Well, I certainly have, and I can tell you from experience how important it is to get your thoughts in check after that “oh crap” moment. During my early stages of developing the plan for Heat Free Hair, I spent a lot of time thinking about what could go wrong. Looking back, I realize now that I created obstacles for myself and built bridges before I could get around to crossing them. Was I afraid? Yes. Was I doubtful? Yes. But then something happened. As cliche as it may sound, I stopped thinking of all the reasons that things could go wrong, and began to focus on the reasons why they could go right. When you get out of your own head, you allow yourself to fill your mind with positive thoughts and that’s exactly what we need to bring our goals into fruition.

2. Listen Selectively

Someone once told me to “stop taking constructive criticism from someone who hasn’t constructed anything.” These are words I have never forgotten and always keep in the back of my mind when seeking out advice or sharing my ideas and dreams. I remember being so excited to share my idea for Heat Free Hair with all my close friends, family, and colleagues. I thought to myself, “They HAVE to love this! It only makes sense that they do. Right?” Well, I quickly learned that not everyone “gets it” or even gets you for that matter so its so important to monitor who you listen to.I had many friends that I sought advice from whose opinions I genuinely respected, and as good as feedback is for perspective, it didn’t really hit me until ten negative reactions later that I was asking people who had never been in the shoes of the journey I was about to embark on. We can all learn something from the people around us; however, we have to be selective in which advice and criticism we choose to take to heart.

3. What’s the worst that can happen?

Right before I was about to launch Heat Free Hair, I had this gut wrenching feeling of fear that sprung up out of no where. I had gone through the “in my head” phase and was filling myself with positive thoughts and affirmations, so in my mind, I was ready. I remember visiting my mentor and asking her if I was in over my head or crazy for thinking I could pull this off. She looked at me and asked “Well Ngozi, what’s the worst that can happen? If it doesn’t work out, at least you can live life without wondering what could have been or should have been, and you can go back to the normal life you have now. If you don’t try, you’ll still be here living your normal life, so theres no harm in trying.” Since then, “just doing it” has become much easier for me because at the end of the day, the worst that can happen is that I never try, and if there’s one emotion I don’t like feeling, it’s regret. While keeping this in mind, you should still use caution when making decisions surrounding your goals, whether it is as big as starting a business or to simply make better eating choices. Take risks, while still ensuring that you are not placing yourself in a compromising position.

4. Get Excited!
There’s something to say about the emotion you emit when you build your dreams. It’s not enough to think about them, or even believe in them. You HAVE to get excited! That excitement emits a positive emotion, which in turn yields positive outcomes.

5. Don’t Look Back
Once you commit to a goal, give it your all. Nothing is easy about achieving your dreams, so when you constantly look back and compare the hardships you’ll experience along the way to the life you had before you started, you open up room for doubt to creep in. No one needs to believe in you and your capabilities as much as you do, so to be honest, you can’t afford to look back. You are the one with the vision. Trust that vision. Trust the process. Don’t look back, and just do it!

When I first came up with the idea for Heat Free Hair, I had no idea where to begin. I was scared and apprehensive. Nevertheless, these tips really helped propel me into my goal, which is now my lifestyle. With the start of a new year, I really want to encourage you to chase your passions and visions for your life, and begin to make them your reality! We can all “just do it!”

Leave comments and questions for me below! I want to hear your New Year’s Resolutions. How are you planning to “just do it” this year?

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Comments 29

  1. Ray g. 11 JAN, 2016

    I've been battling this for months. But I've been so busy working in other people's dreams that I quickly forget my own. My aha moment happened just last night when I read a reflection paper I wrote 2 years ago for one of my MBA classes. Where I said screw everyone and wanted to embark on an entrepreneurial road. I'm not there yet, but this came right on time as to confirm what I need to do. Thanks for the read.

  2. Ayo 11 JAN, 2016

    Amazing words of encoragement. Just what I needed this morning. "Screw it, Just do it"

  3. Keshia 11 JAN, 2016

    This a great article and truly inspiring! the issue that I have is staying motivated. how did you stay motivated through the whole process? because some days i get in from workd and im so tired and fed-up, so it can be difficult for me to stay motivated.

    • Ngozi Opara
      Ngozi Opara 18 JAN, 2016

      Hi Keshia! I feel you 1000%. Staying motivated is something that I struggle with as well. I surround myself with people, images, and/or words that remind me of what the finish line looks like so that anytime I lose motivation, there is something right there to remind me of why I started. It's sometime feels easier said than done but the most important thing is to not beat yourself up if you get off track. I just wake up the next day and try again :)

  4. Latoyia Smith 11 JAN, 2016

    I must say that I have many dreams and goals that I have in mind for my life that fear over takes me more often than not. My life as whole has been nothing less than overwhelming and with that I want to tell my story; I want others to know that life isn't fair but it doesn't mean you have to be defeated. I want to write a book; I want to encourage others; I want my story to be known. I don't know how to do it; I am a veteran, I am an amazing personal shopper, I am a government employee for 17 years; I am a licensed cosmetologist; I am an amazing woman, but am I a writer? In my mind I am wondering why would they want to read my book; who would want to know Latoyia Smith from Newark, NJ, but why not..right? So just do it!

    • Ngozi Opara
      Ngozi Opara 18 JAN, 2016

      Exactly! I struggled with that as well Lotayia. I knew I had a story to tell, but would often ask myself, "will anyone want to hear this"? I decided that if I was able to help atleast 1 person than it was worth sharing...just do it!

  5. Ije Uzor 11 JAN, 2016

    Hello Ngozi, stories like yours truly inspire me. I restarted my "just do it" journey on my 30th birthday 6 weeks ago, setting up an online boutique selling beautiful clothing, from boutique designers in the US, I am looking to add African designers in a few months. So far it has been going well for a start up. I have been selling to mainly my personal network. Do you have any advice on how to reach a wider audience? What worked for you?

    • Ngozi Opara
      Ngozi Opara 19 JAN, 2016

      Hey Ije! Thats awesome! For me, things grew pretty organically. I think if you have a good product and happy customers then they will naturally spread the word for you. Theres definitely things you can do for more intentional growth, but word of mouth really helped me!

  6. Ariel 11 JAN, 2016

    Hey Ngozi this article really touched me! I follow your work and I've met you while attending A&T when you were miss A&T and I have a dream now that i can't even sleep at night because of thinking about it but it scares me to death to think about going forth with it as much as it scares me to death to think about not going after it but today reading this helped me realize that I need to just do it and take the risk thanks girl! Blessings peace and continued success your way!

    • Ngozi Opara
      Ngozi Opara 19 JAN, 2016

      Hey Ariel! I totally know the feeling! I'm so happy you're ready to take that risk. Good luck and Aggie Pride!

  7. Paula 11 JAN, 2016

    Thank you for this article. Everything you mention is what I have encountered and need to be doing. I hope soon I can see results of the fruitages of my labor which I so want to happen right now.

  8. Vecoya
    Vecoya 11 JAN, 2016

    Very inspiring and motivating article. No good comes from allowing fears to paralyze us.

  9. Chanda 11 JAN, 2016

    Great Read! Thanks for sharing. I have a bunch of ideas, that I continuously get affirmations of but haven't sat down to invest the time to. This month I will accomplish at least one of those goals/ideas.

    • Ngozi Opara
      Ngozi Opara 26 JAN, 2016

      Thanks Chanda! Yes, I'm all about 1 step at a time. Its cliche' to some but I really do believe that "slow and steady wins the race", you just have to get started. Good Luck!

  10. G 11 JAN, 2016

    Thank you so much for this right up, I'm in the process of actual using my dreams and focusing on my startup. I have had moment of extreme excitement and happiness about the plans and vision I have for my business, to extreme sadness and fear. One line that stood out for me in this piece is "stop taking constructive criticism from someone who hasn't constructed anything". I will never forget that like. Thank once again for this write up, I really needed it.

    • Ngozi Opara
      Ngozi Opara 26 JAN, 2016

      Hey G! That quote was a game changer for me. I used to doubt myself so much and would doubt myself even more after talking to people whose opinion I "valued", only to one day realize that they hadn't experienced what I was trying to do. Since then, I have VERY selective hearing lol. Good luck with you startup dreams! Its not easy, but you can do it!

  11. CarateRrell 11 JAN, 2016

    Ngozi, Thank you so much for this blog. Over the last few months I've experienced every emotion possible about launching my line of straw bags and clutches; particularly fear and doubt about its potential and likelihood of being a success. I even quit my job to delve further into it. For whatever reason though, I lost my excitement, I believe still to doubt and fear and recently accepted another "normal job". Your post was very inspiring though and encouraged me to continue to plan and work toward my dream. Maybe I need to find a mentor..... Once again, thanks for sharing.

    • Ngozi Opara
      Ngozi Opara 26 JAN, 2016

      Hey CarateRrell! Thats awesome that you have something brewing that , from what I can tell, keeps you up at night (thats a good sign to me). You might have lost your excitement from being overwhelmed. Trust me, I go through that OFTEN, but then I take a step back and start to focus on the dream again instead of "what has to get done to fulfill the dream" and if that still excites me then I know I need to slow down, breathe, and slowly start back up. I have like a million mentors (in my head lol), I just read their books and surround myself with likeminded people! Thanks for reading. Good luck!

  12. Phyllicia 11 JAN, 2016

    Hi Ngozi!! Just want you to know that I'm super proud of you and all of your accomplishments. You've always been a hard working woman and I have always admired that about you. Everything you described, is everything I'm going through as I prepare to launch a business. Especially the thought of "Am I crazy for doing this?" The doubt and the fear. However, this year will be different. Thank you for sharing your story and vision with us. Continue to be an inspiration! Love, Phy

  13. Nahdej Williams 11 JAN, 2016

    Hello! Thank you for sharing these tips that helped you make your dream a reality. I came across this post right on time. I've been struggling with a lot of the topics you addressed ever since I got the idea to begin working for myself as an international wedding photographer. Currently I've been going back and forth with myself trying to get organized so I can begin working independently. Its been difficult process staying motivated because of the reasons you stated, but also because I don't know anyone personally who has ever stepped out of the box to become self employed. I was wondering if you had any tips on what helped you create an effective business plan and getting the legal/ tax aspects together. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance :)

  14. Erica 11 JAN, 2016

    This came right on time! Thanks for the great words of encouragement! I was feeling all these things about going back to school for my MSN degree and I finally stepped out and said Lord Itrust you. I have dreams and goals and Erica just apply. I am now in the process of just doing it and see what happens!! This just confirmed a lot for me!

  15. Articia T. 11 JAN, 2016

    Excellent Article! Your tips were just what I needed to jump start my week of with positive affirmations...Fear is a liar and 2016 will be my year of action! Walking in my power, keeping the faith, living, and not just existing!

  16. Kea 12 JAN, 2016

    Thank you so much....I saw your "5 Tips" upon opening the email this morning. I knew I needed to focus on the content and give it my undivided attention. So, I saved it for a time when I could RECIEVE the message. Your story resonated with me ; especially when you (and others) temporarily stopped your action. Your journey confirms the uncomfortableness of taking a NEW path, but also the uncomfortableness of doing NOTHING. Thank you for fulfilling your vision which daily makes my life beautiful. I know that if you did it, I, too, can do it!

  17. Daisy finley 12 JAN, 2016

    Thanks for sharing Your story she vision. This is on time .with your store. I was looking to start another business selling hair. How can I go about starting my heatfreehair business? Thanks for the confirmation Be bless!!

  18. jrad 13 JAN, 2016

    Thanks for sharing!!! I needed this😊

  19. AVA rOBINSON 14 JAN, 2016

    I really appreciate your very inspiring message. I can definitely relate to transitioning from one career to your passion. I too am a natural haircare specialist who now wants to pass on the torch. I am wanting to create another path for myself as I am a woman of a certain age. Everything that you said, I have not only told myself and am still telling myself. It takes courage and tenacity to take that big leap of faith. Thank you so much for your wonderful product and I wish you continued success.

  20. Natasha Smith 17 JAN, 2016

    I love love love this post! It's exactly what I needed right now and I know that it's definitely a sign! I have been going back and forth in my mind as to whether I'll be able to do the business that I've started but now that I've seen this its just told me that I can do it and I will do it! What do I really have to lose? Honestly I thank you so much for sharing this and I pray that your business continues to flourish as we are all destined for greatness!

  21. Quanisha 19 JAN, 2016

    This is so my life right now. It feels good to know that I am not in this fight and someone like you have experienced similar feelings . I'm so thankful for this read and I'm ready to tackle my goals for the new year .

  22. Charlene 26 JAN, 2016

    "Stop taking constructive criticism from someone who hasn't constructed anything"....my favorite line! Wow this speaks so many volumes. Loved this post....hope to read more. Thank you for sharing your tips with the world!

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