• MJ Fievre

Do or Do Not. There is No Try.

Those are the words of Master Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. Now that you have a map and know what activities you should focus on, here are some tips to be more efficient when working on a project.


Decide what you want. Use your mind map to express your goals to yourself clearly and in detail. Do not let your negative thoughts or inner critic stop you from working toward what you really want. As soon as you set a goal, your subconscious will wake up and help you reach it. You will then attract the right people, and life will put you in the right situations. Black girl magic! Think about the larger picture—and then work on a series of small steps to get where you want. By planning for the long term, but focusing on one small step at a time, you’ll see that everything becomes much more meaningful. Mari Copeny (a.k.a. Little Miss Flint) was concerned about the quality of water in her hometown of Flint, Michigan, so she wrote to President Obama to make him aware of the problem with the city’s drinking supply. He responded, and in the two years following their correspondence, Mari has donated over a thousand backpacks to school kids filled with supplies. She also became the youngest ever youth ambassador for the Women’s March. Remember to dedicate yourself to one task at a time. Multitasking is taxing on the brain. You are neither a robot nor a computer. Take the time to complete your projects step by step.


Believe in yourself. Be deeply convinced that you have all it takes to achieve your goals—to launch any project close to your heart. Marley Dias was tired of reading children’s books with white boys as protagonists, so she launched the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign, with the aim of finding a thousand books with young Black heroines. Since then, she has worked to donate books and organized with educators to promote diversity in reading. Yeah, you’ll be stressed out, you’ll face trials and tribulations, but don’t let this get you down. Remember that your determination will allow you to make some of your dreams come true. If you are more motivated to do your tasks, there’s a much better chance they’ll be done well.


Stimulate your brain. According to scientists, whatever goal you set, your subconscious mind will work day and night to make it happen, if your goal is measurable. If no concrete criteria exists, it will be difficult for your brain to get to work; it will perceive your dream as a wish, a good idea, but not as something that requires concrete action. Start small—focus on goals that are achievable, and train your brain to respond positively.


Dr. Shirley Jackson always kept her goals in mind. Dr. Jackson became the first Black woman to earn a PhD from MIT in theoretical physics, and only the second Black woman in US History to receive a doctorate in physics. President Barack Obama awarded her the National Medal of Science in 2015. Since then, she was hired on as president at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and became the first Black woman at the helm of a top-tier research university. While at Rensselaer, she’s raised over one billion dollars for philanthropic causes!


Research shows that it takes an average of twenty-one days for our brain to acquire a new habit. Focus on your measurable goal for twenty-one days and you’ll be well on your way to reaching it. Repeat your affirmations twenty-one days in a row and train your brain to respond positively.


Use your peak hours. Friday is often the day of the week when it becomes difficult to be effective. We tend to slack in the afternoon because we’re over the week already. Know how to schedule your work for the hours when you are most productive. Personally, I like to focus on the tedious tasks first thing in the morning, and early in the week too, when my motivation is at its peak.


Get organized. Keep your environment tidy—clutter affects productivity. Get your schedule organized as well: use a planner or a to-do list and plan your day the night before. Suddenly, all the ideas in your head will start making sense; you’ll clearly see the end goal. Now it’s about prioritizing: put the most important tasks at the top of the list, along with those that can be completed quickly. And try not to shy away from this list until every item has been checked off. Being organized will allow you to minimize the time spent on meaningless tasks in favor of meaningful ones.


Take breaks. Breaks are essential for the efficiency of your work. They allow you to relax, even for a moment. When you find that you can no longer focus on your work—take a break! If you don’t, fatigue may take over and you will work more slowly and therefore with less efficiency. It is advisable to take two breaks a day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. We have a limited ability to concentrate: regardless of our involvement in work, our brain tires! Breaks are not a waste of time. On the contrary, they allow you to take a step back and restart by being more productive. Get something to drink, take a walk… Stop working whenever the need arises. Don’t push too hard. Knowing how to stop doesn’t mean taking breaks every ten minutes, though: you also have to be reasonable.


Avoid distractions. So many things call for our attention—pop up notifications, direct messages, phone calls… Turn it off!


Widely regarded as a ballet prodigy, Misty Copeland was dancing en pointe within her first three months of taking a dance class at thirteen. She was performing professionally in just over a year, making her an extreme rarity in the sport. She didn’t allow anything to distract her from her goal: becoming the first Black woman to be the American Ballet Theatre’s principal dancer.


Be like Misty.


Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Your health is linked to your productivity. A healthy and balanced diet, regular exercise, and a good-night sleep remain the keys to success. Exercise is particularly important if you spend a lot of time in front of the screen; it helps with stress and helps you focus better. Sleep deprivation affects the quality of your work; doctors recommend seven or eight hours of sleep each night in order to reorganize your thoughts. Many health experts recommend meditation as well.


Play well with others. Look for people who share your interests and your goals. Take turns working on some of the repetitive and less important tasks so that you have time to focus on innovative solutions. Learn from them as much as they learn from you. What could be more rewarding than sharing knowledge? It is a rewarding experience, explaining something that may seem obvious to you to someone who does not know it—and learning from them at the same time.


London Breed, San Francisco’s first Black female mayor, saw homelessness in San Francisco as a major problem. In response, she declared a shelter crisis and, working with others, came up with plans to add a thousand shelter beds in 2020. She also focuses on mental health, fighting drug addiction and paying high school interns from her city for their work.


If you enjoy what you are doing, and can work on things that interest you, work doesn’t have to feel like a drudge. The good thing about work is that if your first few jobs don’t turn out the way you want them to, you can always try something new and reinvent yourself. The affirmations in this chapter should help you keep focused on your goals and intentions. Be sure to practice saying them every day, and in no time you’ll be on your way to changing the world, one little step at a time.


-- A creator of safe spaces, and an initiator of difficult conversations, M.J. Fievre, B.S. Ed, spent much time building up her Black students, helping them feel comfortable in their skin, and affirming their identities. Her close relationships with parents and students led her to look more closely at how we can balance protecting our child’s innocence with preparing them for the realities of Black life. When―and how―do you approach racism with your children? How do you protect their physical and mental health while also preparing them for a country full of systemic racism? She began to research the issue and speak to school counselors and psychologists to find (and apply!) strategies parents and teachers can use with their children to broach uncomfortable but necessary topics.


M.J. is the author of Badass Black Girl, a daily dose of affirmations for Black Girls


“You'll come away from Badass Black Girl feeling as if you've known the author your entire life, and it's a rare feat for any writer.” ―“Mike, the Poet,” author of Dear Woman and The Boyfriend Book


#1 Gift Idea in Teen & Young Adult Cultural Heritage Biographies, Publishers Weekly Select Title for Young Readers

Affirmations for strong, fearless Black girls. Wisdom from Badass Black female trailblazers who accomplished remarkable things in literature, entertainment, education, STEM, business, military and government services, politics and law, activism, sports, spirituality, and more.

Explore the many facets of your identity through hundreds of big and small questions. In this journal designed for teenage Black girls, MJ Fievre tackles topics such as family and friends, school and careers, body image, and stereotypes. By reflecting on these topics, you will confront the issues that can hold you back from living your best life and discovering your Black girl bliss.


Embrace authenticity and celebrate who you are. Finding the courage to live as you are is not easy, so here’s a journal designed to help you nurture creativity, positive self-awareness and Black girl bliss. This journal honors the strength and spirit of Black girls.


Change the way you view the world. This journal provides words of encouragement that seek to inspire and ignite discussion. You are growing up in a world that tries to tell you how to look and act. MJ Fievre encourages you to fight the flow and determine for yourself who you want to be.


Badass Black Girl helps you to:

  • Build and boost your self-esteem with powerful affirmations

  • Learn more about yourself through insightful journaling

  • Become comfortable and confident in your authentic self