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Overcome Your Fear of Failure: 5 Fail-Proof Tips

The Short Advice Fear of Failure

Understanding Fear of Failure.

Fear of failure is quite common. It’s normal for us to experience this to some extent, although in extreme cases it can become a phobia. More specifically, atychiphobia. Of course, there is a phobia to describe just about every fear imaginable, so don’t throw yourself into that category just yet. A powerful emotion that is a driving force behind fear of failure, is shame. The shame in knowing that you are not good enough if you do fail. The shame in others knowing too. It can drive us to self-sabotage and procrastinate until we give up. So don’t let these feelings mount, combat them by putting some simple strategies in to place…

The 5 Fail-Proof Tips to Overcome Fear of Failure

We all have dreams and aspirations. And they wouldn’t be dreamy, if they weren’t somewhat difficult to achieve. Achieving your dreams is never going to be easy, and sometimes we tend to talk ourselves out of even trying. Because, what if I don’t succeed? Well, the reality is that you won’t always succeed. And yes, failure can be a scary thought. But don’t let that get in the way of trying. Trying leads to opportunity, and with every small step that you take, your chances of success increase. Maybe only slightly, but they do increase. As will your access to more new opportunities. But the closer you get, and the more work you put in, your fear of failure mounts. We’d prefer to believe that the reason we didn’t achieve our goals is that we didn’t try in the first place. Because trying, and not being good enough is terrifying. So, we stop trying. But before you give up, and continue working in a job that doesn’t motivate you, consider our first ‘Fail-Proof Tip’… 

1. Embrace Your Fear.

Are you afraid? Good. You should be. If you aren’t, then you haven’t stepped out of your comfort zone yet. There isn’t a great deal of personal development that happens there, so step number one is to throw yourself into the path of fear, simply by trying. Your fear of failure is necessary in order to balance out the positivity that is associated with courage and bravery. Without fear, these positives could not exist. So be brave enough to try! Yes, you may not succeed your first go, or your second, or your third… But if you can succeed at trying, that is a big step towards achieving something of value, even if that something isn’t what you initially set out for… “Well, Columbus wasn’t looking for America, my man, but that turned out to be pretty okay for everyone.” – Beanie, Oldschool

2. Plan for Success.

Through planning, you allow yourself to visualise your path towards achieving your goals. Breaking down your goals into smaller, more achievable steps will help you to create a pathway towards your long-term goal. In doing this, your approach becomes far more realistic, and your fear of failure will be combatted by the confidence you feel after achieving each step. Don’t expect it to disappear though. It won’t, and it shouldn’t. Rather, use it to remind yourself how you felt before reaching the last small milestone. If you were able to overcome your fear of failure once, you can do it again, and again, and again… 

3. Leverage Your Passion.

Hopefully, it is your desire to succeed in an area that you are passionate about. Don’t let success/failure dictate your level of enjoyment. Your passion should not be dependent on either of those things. If you are doing it because you love to, and not because you have to, then you will immediately have an advantage. Of course, to excel in an area you are passionate about, you’ll have to do some things you may not want to do in order to improve your position. Next time you’re undertaking one of these tasks, just remember it is your passion that will benefit, and give you satisfaction, rather than solely focusing on what you will gain from success. 

4. Manage Your Emotions.

If you’ve just trawled through instagram and seen all the happy, smiling faces earning six figures a month working from home, you might think it looks easy. Firstly, it’s not. Secondly, most of these people are probably liars, and not earning anywhere near what they claim (nor are they helping anybody in the process). Aim to be realistic about your expectations of what your journey towards success will look like. A few months in, after strictly following your plan and seeing little to no reward, you will be upset. Disappointed, angry, dejected, embarrassed… Any combination of negative emotions that stop people from doing what they want to every single day. Emotions will arise without your permission. How you respond though, is completely within your control. 

5. Build Your Resilience. 

Accepting your fears is the first step towards developing mental toughness. But don’t stop there. Be resilient as you face your fear of failure, and keep going. There is much to be gained by embracing the old saying ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. As the negative emotions arise, and try to keep you from realising your dreams, remember that it is action that will make them subside. You will build a resistance to this internal negativity by proving to yourself that you can overcome it through your actions. The road to success shouldn’t be a dark and miserable one. It will be tough, but happiness can (and should) be found in hard work, and not just the end result. 

Final Note…

One step at a time, you will be able to overcome your fear of failure. It won’t disappear forever, but it doesn’t have to for you to achieve success in your chosen field. Never stop trying, and enjoy the trying part too, not just the succeeding part… As always, thanks for reading, and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Finding Internal Happiness: The Happiness Investment Strategy

Internal Happiness The Short Advice

Happiness Starts at Home

Not your literal home, but the figurative one inside of you. You are in charge of your happiness, and solely relying on others to provide it for you is unwise. Whilst you might be able to influence the life choices of the close people in your life, you cannot entirely control them. And nor should you! Rather, consider the things that you can control in your life that bring you happiness. If you haven’t been practicing this, then it’s time to find something that you are passionate about. Something you are so grateful for that no relationship could ever take from you. Hypothetically, if all of your meaningful relationships fell by the wayside, how would you fill your time? Please don’t say ‘cry’, that’s not the answer we’re looking for here… In other words, what would you do that would make you happy if the closest people in your life were no longer around? A difficult question to contemplate, but a necessary one if you are to be a sound investor of happiness…

Purchasing Shares in Happiness

If you are lucky enough to have some strong family bonds, good friendships and a romantic relationship, you are probably not as lucky as you are a good friend, relative and partner. That is to say, you have earned these relationships, and the benefits that come along with them. All of your positive attributes that have helped bring you happiness have put you in a buyers position. The question is, how will you spread your wealth? Too many people make the mistake of investing their life savings of happiness chips into a romantic relationship, and expect to put their feet up and sip cocktails on their figurative island in the sun. When their relationship ends, they can’t even afford to pay the mortgage on their happiness, and so, depression becomes their new form of currency. Continuing with this metaphor, lets consider an investment strategy to better manage our happiness:

1. Diversify Your Happiness Portfolio

Smart investors spread their wealth, so do the same with your happiness. Don’t invest it all in your romantic relationship, and neglect your friendships. Don’t forget to spend time with your family, because your financial success has become an overbearing focus. This point is all about creating balance. Not just between the people in your life, but also the activities you undertake. 

2. Invest in Others Wisely

Every now and then, investors take a leap of faith based on some good information. Sometimes we will over-invest when an opportunity presents that seems almost too good to be true, and sometimes it is. Remember the importance of finding the right balance, and check your insecurities at the door. Try to judge every opportunity on its merits, rather than comparing each to your last investment. This can be said of people, business opportunities or other. 

3. List Your Own Company

Invest in yourself! Happiness shouldn’t all be passive income, so get involved in your growing portfolio. Put time aside to find and develop your passion, and excel in areas of interest. This might be a hobby, business opportunity, or both. Whatever it is, it should add value to your life, and hopefully other lives as well. Two important criteria that will help you generate a strong revenue stream of happiness. Get out there and achieve your goals

4. Ride the Peaks and Troughs

Heres where the analogy gets a bit tricky… You can’t sell at the peak of your happiness, and then reinvest when you hit rock bottom. A financially sound idea, but one that doesn’t translate well in the context of happiness. Instead, the point we’re getting at is that you can’t always be happy. When we invest in our passions, and in people, we’re generally in it for the long-haul. Naturally, we’ll have ups and downs. Relationships experience conflict, and the motivation that drives our passions can waver. This is the leg-work behind ‘happy’ that is necessary for it to be sustainable. So, enjoy the good times, and make the tough times better. 

5. Know When to Buy/Sell

Buy when you have the wealth to buy. That is to say, once you have developed some internal happiness. When we are unhappy within ourselves, our insecurities can have too-strong an influence over who we choose to invest in. And when that person’s stock opens significantly lower than when we invested, it can be difficult to sell. Put simply, unhappiness can land us in unhappy relationships. And the same insecurities that saw us settle for these relationships, has us trapped inside them. If you don’t remember how to be happy alone, and are too heavily invested in a negative relationship, it can be much harder to end it (sell). So get back to focussing on point three, and invest in yourself first! You’ll make a better partner in the long run.

Final Note

Happiness is in infinite supply, just like sadness. It is, however, a little harder to find. With the right motivation, resolve, and a sound happiness investment strategy, you’ll be on your way in no time. So get up off the couch, and get stuck into whatever makes you happy, and adds value to other lives as well. If you’re not sure what that is yet, go and find it! As always, thanks for reading, and we’d love to your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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SMART Goals: What Are They And Why Should I Use Them?

SMART Goals The Short Advice

The Importance of Goal-Setting

Goals give purpose to our actions and are a major consideration of the ‘Success Blueprint‘. They provide the direction and motivation needed to be successful in our endeavours, acting as ‘stepping stones’ to track our progress. Goal-setting should incorporate both long-term and short-term goals, to ensure that we set ourselves realistic and achievable targets. This brings us to the acronym that we’re going to dissect in this article, SMART goals. 

SMART Goals

The term was first coined by George Doran in a 1981 article for Management Review titled ‘There’s a S.M.A.R.T way to write management’s goals and objectives‘. Whilst this article was written for the context of business management, the idea itself is not exclusively for business application. Since 1981, the term has been further developed, and can be presented in a number of ways, according to Robert S Rubin. Below, we’ve chosen what we believe to be the most helpful term for each letter of the acronym, to describe the process of defining realistic goals. 

Specific

Exactly what are you aiming to achieve? Don’t be vague, be precise. This will help you to define the steps that you’ll need to take in order to achieve your goal. The more specific your SMART goal is, the easier it will be to identify the path that will get you there. In previous posts, we have referred to this path as the ‘short term goals’ and ‘regular activities’ necessary for overall success. 

Measurable

How will you measure your progress? Consider the criteria that must be met in order to continue moving towards your end goal, and ensure that these points are clearly defined. Now, consider how you will measure the success of your overall goal. Is your SMART goal specific enough for you to clearly define what your success will look like? As well as setting a specific goal, set specific targets that will allow you to track your progress and encourage you to continue towards the ultimate outcome. 

Achievable

Make sure your goal is a realistic one. It’s okay to reach for the stars, but sometimes you need to focus on making it outside of the Earth’s atmosphere first. That is to say, the achievement of realistic goals, will make those less-attainable goals more attainable. Similar to above, long-term goals need short-term goals, and broken down further, regular activities, in order to be successful. Naturally, your shorter-term goals will be relatively easier to achieve in comparison to your long-term one. 

Relevant

This point encourages you to consider if your goal is relevant to you, your environment, and your needs/wants. Your SMART goals should be aligned with your values and principles. How will they contribute to your overall development, and how do they relate to any other future aspirations/goals? Chasing large goals can affect other areas of your life, so consider whether it is a wise life-choice before embarking on your journey. 

Time-based

Perhaps one of the most important points of the SMART goals acronym. This brings us back to specificity in a way… Exactly how long are you going to allow yourself to achieve your goal? By setting deadlines for each task, you’ll keep yourself on track. This also takes us back to the ‘measurable’ point. Completing tasks within a time frame that you’ve set provides a measurable point of success. Or perhaps you didn’t meet the time frame? That’s okay too, it still provides a measurable benchmark that you can improve on. 

Are SMART Goals Flawless?

Nothing, and no-one is perfect. SMART goals are a fantastic tool to plan and analyse the goals we set for ourselves. But there are other considerations we should make during the goal-setting phase. Because, just like interests, goals can change. Measures of success can change. So, we must be able to adapt throughout our journey in order to achieve our goals. That is why critical self-reflection is so important. If you have been unable to meet the targets outlined by your SMART goals, then you need to understand why. Our mistakes and failures are but invaluable lessons that provide the basis for our success. Absorb these experiences, and use them to refine and re-implement your SMART goals. 

Final Note

If you don’t start today, you’ll wish you had tomorrow. Use the SMART goals acronym to refine and re-implement your current goals, and give yourself the best chance at achieving success. We sure hope you’ve found this article helpful, and we are forever grateful that you’ve taken the time to read it! So, as always, thanks very much, and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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Productivity Vs Procrastination: 5 Pertinent Points

Productivity Fist

Productivity vs Procrastination: Civil War.

Procrastination, ‘The Land of Counter-Productivity’, and civil unrest. Whether you’re studying, working, or developing a project, we’ve all journeyed there at one time or another. A self-destructive government wasting it’s resources, and you’re the President. But it’s time to clean up the streets, and appoint a new Secretary of Defence that isn’t so easily corrupted by fidget spinners and Netflix. The campaign for productivity has begun…

The 5 Pertinent Points of Productivity

Your productivity is measured by your level of quality output. This quality output is what you need to produce in order to achieve your goals. The more efficiently you can do this, the closer you’ll be to success. The first step towards being productive, is actually being there…

1. Be Where You Are.

This is a lesson on managing your internal and external environment, and the things that you can, and cannot control. Are you losing focus whilst writing an essay because you can’t help thinking about the deadline? Stop it. You can’t change the deadline. So put that thought aside, and concentrate on what you can do now, with the resources that you have available now.

2. Consider Your Goals.

Goal setting is an important part of creating direction and motivation that you need to consider. Why are you putting yourself through this? The process of achieving our goals may at times be tedious, but this hard work is what gives value to our goals in the first place. If it were easy and valuable, wouldn’t everyone have already achieved your goals?

3. Consider Your Consequences.

If goal setting is the positivity, then consequences are the negativity. Don’t ignore negativity simply because you fear it will classify you as a pessimist. Be aware of what you could be missing out on if you choose not to do the work required. But, don’t dwell on it. That is the difference between being a realist and a pessimist. Hoping to achieve your goals won’t achieve your goals.

4. Re-Think Your Approach.

This point refers to efficiency, productivity’s dearest relative. If you feel like you’re chasing your tail, perhaps its time to change your process. There will always be improvements and adjustments that can be made to the way you approach any activity. After all, nobody is perfect. So, time spent procrastinating could instead be spent on reviewing how you do things. Is your environment conducive to productivity? What could you change? What distractions could you avoid, and how?These questions will lead to improved efficiency and productivity.

5. Do Something Else.

If all else fails, you can declare a productivity vs procrastination cease-fire. Walk away, and do something different for a little while. That doesn’t mean go off and watch a feature length film. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that you should indulge in the activity that is causing you to procrastinate. If you’re studying, it might mean go for a walk to grab a coffee, and get back to work in ten minutes time. Basically, give yourself short breaks if you become distracted for a period of time, and then return ready to work.

Signing the Peace Treaty.

Learning to work harmoniously alongside the inevitable temptations of procrastination will take some doing. Follow The 5 Pertinent Points, and begin campaigning for a stronger balance of efficiency and productivity today. Like anything, you’ll refine and adjust as you go along… It may not be a perfect process, but with each step you take, you’ll be far closer to where you need to be. Realise your goals, and earn your happiness.

As always, thanks for reading and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Stress Management And Future Uncertainty: The Stress-Less Game Plan

TSA Footballer Soccer Cartoon Stress Management

Who Knows What the Future May Bring?

It’s an exciting thought, but also the source of much stress for many people. We live in an age of opportunity. And, although the socio-economic status of our readers varies greatly, you have internet access, so you’re already at a huge advantage! Vast opportunity is generally seen as being positive, although it can bring with it a degree of uncertainty. Who knows where you’ll end up in 10 years time? What if you haven’t progressed? What if you pursue the wrong opportunity, and it was all for nothing???

Put Your Stress to Rest… But not all of it.

A degree of stress can motivate us towards achieving our goals. It’s normal, and necessary. But if we succumb to it, then it can hinder our ability to capitalise on opportunities when they present. The ability to think clearly in stressful situations, comes from a general understanding of the internal (or micro) and external (macro) environment (a business analogy, where YOU are the organisation). The internal environment includes the things we can control, whereas the external environment covers the things we can’t control. Stress that stems directly from the external environment is generally unnecessary. This will only slow you down. Although it is good to be aware of external environmental factors, so that you can adapt accordingly. Your ability to adapt, refers to how well you manage your internal environment. These are the issues that you have the ability to change. So, exercise your control.

Exercising Your Control.

If there is an issue in the external environment causing you stress, consider what changes you can make internally to better cope with this issue. This is the process of exercising control, or explained simply, putting yourself in the driver’s seat. Lets use this theory in an example. Perhaps your employer has increased your hours, without a pay rise. Definitely a stressful situation. Whilst you can’t decide on your own pay increase, you can control your response. So lets focus on this. Perhaps you (diplomatically) express your disenchantment to your employer. You negotiate, however an agreement is not reached. You could strike, you could wait, you could find a new job. But, you can’t increase your own pay (external environment). Of course, you could take control of your own pay, by starting your own business. A difficult and extreme solution to the original issue, yes. But still within your control (internal environment). The lesson here, is that there is always a course of action that you can take within your internal environment, to influence the external environment.

The Stress of Uncertainty, and Taking Your Opportunities.

It’s easy to get caught up in the stress that is presented by the uncertainty of one’s future. For a student, the question might be “what career will I choose to work in for the rest of my life?”. A scary thought indeed. But the reality is that you don’t have to get it right the first go. Whats more important is your ability to recognise a worthwhile opportunity when it presents itself. Sometimes, you won’t know whether or not it is worthwhile until you give it a try. Whatever doesn’t work out, will serve as a valuable experience for the next opportunity. There is a very solid lesson here also, and that is that opportunity breeds opportunity. That’s not a typo, every opportunity that you engage will present another opportunity. Somewhere, somehow… You just need to be looking for it. It might present as a valuable lesson. Or perhaps be the refinement of your goals. Maybe it’s the career opportunity you’ve been searching so hard for. Eventually, all of these opportunities will lead to something special. Not taking your opportunities, is the only mistake that won’t teach you a lesson.

The Stress-Less Game Plan.

Lets outline what a stress management plan might look like if it were a game of football. At the end of the day, life is but a game. Success and stress go hand in hand. So tag it out of the game early, and reduce it’s negative impact on your life. Remember, there is no ‘I’ in team. The entire field must work together if you (the coach) ever expect to hold the premiership cup.

Offense

The best form of defense is offense! In other words, be proactive. Don’t wait for your stress to mount. By developing a firm understanding of the internal and external environment (what you can control vs what you can’t control) you’ll be well equipped to deal with stress when it does start to impact your game. So, critically analyse your environment, and sort the internal from the external. Beat stress before it makes it’s way into the back half!

Defense

In a football match, there are ebbs and flows. The ball simply cannot stay in your forward half forever. The same can be said of life. So, when stress does get on top, you need to exercise your control, and fight back. Put the external environment aside. Focus on what you can control. Make a positive impact by actioning the areas that can influence the external environment. Send a nice clearing ball into the forward half…

Midfield

Always involved in the play, this line represents the resilience, determination and accountability that will get you through the hard times. The midfield must help out the defense when they are under attack. They also have to create the zone, to make sure the ball doesn’t easily find it’s way out of the offensive half. This is an attitude towards life. A midfielder’s job is never done…

Final Note

The undertone of most of our articles is ‘accountability’. It’s all about self-help, in the direction of self-improvement. Back yourself, it’s never over until you say it’s over. Don’t yield to stress, follow the steps to manage it better, and allow yourself the opportunity to take your opportunities. Thanks again for reading, feel free to leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Financial Stress: 6 Simple Management Strategies.

Monopoly financial stress

The Pressure of Financial Stress.

Pressure and stress can be factors that motivate us to work hard. But, if they’re not properly managed, they can hinder our ability to perform at a high level. Not only can this make it more difficult to appropriately manage our finances, but it can also be the cause of many stress-related health issues. There are a few simple ways that we can better manage financial stress, starting by simply taking a seat, and pulling out a pad and pen… Budgeting is the most obvious strategy, and we’ll discuss that in more depth later. However, one strategy that is often over looked by many people who suffer from financial stress and pressure, is the insatiable desire to compete with their neighbour. That’s why we’ve included this strategy at the top of our list:

6 Simple Management Strategies for Financial Stress

1. Ignore the Competition

Monopoly. Dubbed ‘The Game of Life’. Sadly, it’s a truth that is all too real. Many of us lose track of why we set out to earn in the first place, and tend to measure our financial achievements against those of our friends and family. Do you live to work, or work to live? What are your priorities? Before you start looking at how you will spend your money, or how you can save more money, you need to consider the why. You may not need all of the lovely expensive things that your wealthy friends have. Don’t put yourself under severe financial stress, and over-extend so that you can achieve somebody else’s financial goals. So, before engaging the following 5 strategies, put the competition aside, and focus on what suits your lifestyle. 

2. Set Financial Goals

Goals provide us with the direction and motivation needed to succeed. Of course, it does take a little more than simply setting goals in order to succeed (mental toughness for one). But it certainly is a great place to start. Set a long-term goal, and then a series of short-term goals that will act as ‘stepping stones’ towards achieving that long-term goal. To break it down further, you can brainstorm some daily, and weekly activities that will help you in reaching each goal you set. For example, if your long-term financial goal is to purchase your first home in 2 years, a short-term goal might be to save $10,000 in six months. Your daily/weekly activities might be cooking everyday, instead of eating out, or counting and reviewing your expenditure every week. 

3. Create a Budget

The absolute staple of every financial planning/management article you’ll ever read. Budgeting is important, as it helps you to set realistic financial goals. It’s also a great way to consider how your finances can best serve your lifestyle/priorities. Using the example above, perhaps purchasing a home in 2 years is a goal for you, although you are unwilling to sacrifice regular brunch dates. Thats fine, if thats what fulfils you, although you may need to reconsider the time frame you’ve set to purchase your first home. Depending on your circumstances, you might like to use a budgeting template, or just create a very simple one yourself. Make sure you track your in-goings and outgoings, and ensure that you have a realistic savings goal so that you always put money aside. 

4. Enjoy Without Spending

The advertising industry has you convinced that you can’t have fun without spending money. It’s a lie, but for some reason, we all believe it. Usually, the lies we believe are the ones that are convenient for us to believe… But this lie is extremely inconvenient! So, instead of subscribing to this common misconception, find something fulfilling that you can without spending money. Can you converse with your friend whilst walking in the park and eating a banana, instead of sitting in at a cafe and eating poached eggs with avocado? Probably. We won’t ramble on any longer about all of the great things you can do for free, but to immediately relieve some of that financial stress, go and find something!

5. Live Within Your Means

Living to excess in any facet of life can be dangerous, and a major contributing factor to financial stress is excessive spending. Credit card debt, personal loans, and crippling mortgages won’t make life any easier. Each of these examples of over-spending are usually quite avoidable, simply by exercising some restraint. Once you’ve sat down and budgeted, you’ll have a better idea of what you can and can’t do financially. Your goal will one day be to make a significant outlay in order to satisfy a ‘want’, and that’s fine. But excessive spending in the mean time will not help you to get there any faster. So, be smart, and be disciplined. It will pay off. 

6. Consider New Opportunities

This is a step that might not suit everyone, but it can’t hurt to add it in. Opportunities for new revenue streams are a click away these days… I mean hey, you could start a blog! If it’s something you are passionate about, it might also double as your new ‘free’ hobby. You could be creating a new opportunity to earn, and saving yourself money at the same time. Of course, there are a multitude of opportunities out there for those who are actively seeking them. If supplementing your income is something you’ve always been interested in, why not do a bit of research? But don’t wait until tomorrow, it may never come… 

Final note…

Financial stress is bound to strike at some stage, so be proactive in your approach to stress management. Check out our previous article about managing stress, and get across ‘The Stress-Less Game Plan’. As always, thanks for reading, and we’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below.

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The Success Blueprint: Defining, Planning And Achieving

TSA Success Cartoon

What is Success?

Success can have a number of definitions, depending on who you’re asking. That is an important lesson in it’s self. Success is relative. Relative to your environment, level of ability, and goals. Often, people tend to focus on the success of others, and forget to consider their own achievements. If you’re an actor, don’t belittle your efforts that were recognised by the local theatre’s awards night, simply because Leo has an Oscar. Each small victory is a stepping stone towards your next successful endeavour. The recognition and confidence attained from being crowned the best local actor will translate to personal growth and development. If you have the work-ethic to match, this will expose you to a new environment, with new measures of success. But remember, every good idea needs a plan…

The Success Blueprint.

It doesn’t just happen. You need to make it happen. You can’t wish it’s way into your life, nor can you purchase it. So what is it, exactly? That’s the first thing you need to figure out… What does your success look like? This leads us to step one of the planning process:

1. Defining Your Success (Long-Term Goals).

This is how you will define and measure your own success. Perhaps start with one major goal to begin with. This goal may seem far away, but don’t sell yourself short just yet. If all we did was set long-term goals, we’d almost never reach them. So, we need to map out a path towards achieving these long-term goals, which brings us to step two.

2. Paving the Way (Short-Term Goals).

Your long-term goal probably looks pretty scary right now… Fear of failure is normal, and often a motivating factor towards achieving our goals. However, sometimes it can prevent people from ever embarking on the journey. If you can map out the steps required in order to achieve your goals, you will give yourself a greater shot at success. So, in chronological order, what minor successes will you need to achieve in order to reach your long-term goal?

3. The Daily Grind (Regular Practices)

This step breaks down the goal-setting process even further. What activities, processes and practices will you need to consider on a regular basis in order to achieve each short-term goal that you have set for yourself? Often, these are the activities that require discipline and a strong work-ethic. Ideally, your vision is something you are passionate about, and therefore you should enjoy the process of achieving it. But, reality tells us that you won’t always enjoy it. So, are you willing to endure? This could be the make or break of your overall success.

4. Implementing, Refining and Achieving

You have set yourself long, and short-term goals. You have considered the regular practices and activities that will allow you to achieve those goals. You’ve recognised the level of discipline and mental toughness required to complete these regular activities. Now, you are ready to implement your plan and start achieving. As you achieve each small step, and immerse yourself in ‘The Daily Grind’ activities, your knowledge of what is required in order to achieve your goals will develop. This generally means that you’ll need to rethink some aspects of stages two and three of your ‘Blueprint’. All of this refinement, as a result of engaging your plan, will bring you closer to the success that you’ve been working towards.

Managing Your Expectations (and failures).

It would be nice to see everybody achieving their goals, and being happy, and helping one-another.  But if you’re waiting for that to happen, you’ll be waiting for a very, very long time. The reality is that we won’t all get to achieve the success that we’ve set out for. But that’s what makes success so special; the inevitability of failure. Failure is not the end of success, but rather an important part of achieving our goals. It might even be the reason you navigated your way to this post to read about success in the first place. What better way to describe it’s role in the process of achieving your goals? An understanding of this balance will help you to better respond to the challenges that will present throughout your journey towards success.

The Journey, Not The Destination.

A classic cliche that you’ve no doubt heard before, but one that we all need to constantly remind ourselves. Embarking on the sort of journey outlined in ‘The Success Blueprint’ will create opportunity. And opportunity breeds opportunity. Your idea of success will grow and develop, as you continue to. Your goals will shift, and you’ll be met with many more challenges and opportunities along the way. Most people will opt-out, and choose a far less stressful existence. For those who choose to persist, success will be as inevitable as failure. And that’s as good a ratio as one can ever expect.

Final Note

Setting yourself goals and finding the discipline to achieve them comes with a variety of challenges. You’ll need to understand how to manage pressure and stress, and develop the mental toughness to maintain focus when failure presents. As always, thanks for reading and we wish you all the success in the world! If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, we’d love to see them in the comments section below.

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Managing The Pressure Of Finding A Relationship: 3 Golden Rules

Relationship Easter Bunnies

If the thought of being single has ever worried you, then read on. Today, we explore the origins of our emotions, and the societal pressures that can influence our decisions when it comes to seeking out a life-partner. Following this, we’ll analyse the circumstances and influences of men and women in the various stages of their ‘relationship years’. We’ll also cover the 3 Golden Rules of managing pressures that can influence our decisions.

Men vs Women

Equal? Yes. The same? Absolutely not. Men and women have various strengths and weaknesses that can both compliment one another, and also be the cause of many an argument. It’s reasonable to assume that these complimentary differences were an evolutionary tactic to ensure survival, and reproduction. Were the physically stronger men supposed to protect mother and child? Were the emotionally intelligent women supposed to teach the children how to love, and nurture? It seems a reasonable assumption, but what does it look like in today’s society?..

Homo sapiens (Modern humans) vs Neanderthals

You’re probably not living the survivalist lifestyle that your neanderthal ancestors once did. Emotions, feelings, and relationships served a purpose that was far more transparent – survival. Our feelings still work to ensure our survival, but it looks much different in a society full of rules. You can no longer expect to wield your club, shout “UGG!”, and leave with a suitable mate (although we are told that this does still happen in nightclubs around the world). Times have changed, as have the roles of men and women. But thats not all. The influential pressures that can set us into a mad panic to find ‘the one’ have also evolved. Just as we have considered the origins of our emotions, and the purpose thereof, we can also consider the origins of the societal pressures that evoke these emotions.

Overcoming Societal Relationship Pressures.

Societal relationship pressures can influence people to make rash decisions in order to secure a life-partner. For men and women, our circumstances and influences at particular stages of our lives will vary. The following analysis is quite broad, so it won’t apply to everyone. However, the process of analysing your environmental influences and circumstances is never a bad idea. Hopefully it will provide a point of reference on which to compare your own experiences. Lets start with the late adolescent years:

Teens to Early Twenties.

Boys and girls are beginning to develop feelings for one another, and already our emotions are leading us astray. In the school environment, one of the largest influencing factors will be peer-pressure. This factor will be present in just about every stage of your life, although perhaps never as powerful as now. We are desperately trying to find our purpose in the world, and being somebody’s ‘squeeze’ doesn’t have to be it just because that is what your friends are doing. There has never been a better time to abolish yourself of relationship pressure, and pursue your interests towards becoming a valuable member of society. In summary, peer-pressure and insecurity are the most influential factors of societal relationship pressure at this stage. Recognise it, and don’t fall victim to these new, and sometimes overwhelming emotions.

Mid to Late Twenties.

At this stage, you might have experienced a relationship or two. The smelly teenage boy with acne is now a young man with serious career prospects. The beautiful young female, is now a beautiful young woman pursuing her chosen career path, too. The pressures of finding your way into a committed relationship have eased somewhat, although are still very dependent on your peer group. However, you are beginning to understand your place in the world. Considering all of this, the insecurities of your adolescent years have probably lessened too. But after a couple of failed relationships, you might be left wondering if you’ll ever find ‘the one’… The best piece of advice at this stage would be to let them come to you. Leverage your strengths, indulge your passions, and grow and develop.

Late Twenties to Early Thirties.

Yep, theres a bit of an overlap. This is generally around the time when we throw ourselves back into the midst of school-yard pressures. Our peers have found partners, our insecurities are encouraging us to make poor decisions. There is a stigma that comes with being single past a certain age. And to add to all of that… Time. This is now one of the biggest pressures we place on ourselves – “If I don’t find some one by X years old, I’ll be alone forever!”. Take your hand off the panic button, and ask yourself, “how did I get here?”. If 10/10 people say ‘bad luck’, then some of them are probably mistaken. Perhaps some critical self-reflection is on the menu. This doesn’t mean you should blame yourself, it simply means you should seek understanding. If we accept responsibility for our situation, then we also recognise the responsibility we have to improve it. The advice again, is to focus on personal development, rather than continuing the desperate quest for a life-partner. Don’t de-value yourself, re-find your value.

The 3 Golden Rules of Managing Pressure.

In order to combat any sort of influential pressure, consider the steps below…

1. Deconstruct Your Emotions

When we are pressured, it makes sense that we will experience some negative emotions. Although an influential factor might pressure us to reach a positive outcome, the negative emotions associated with pressure itself, can do the opposite. So, slow down, and think about why you feel the way you do.

2. Critically-Reflect

You’ve considered your emotions. Now examine how you have responded in the past. Did you reach the outcome you’d hoped for? If not, why? The last thing you want to do is continue making the same mistakes. Reflect, so that you may refine.

3. Take Action

This refers to the process of taking steps towards achieving a desired outcome. If the influential factor creating pressure was encouraging a positive outcome, then putting a plan in place to achieve this outcome is a great idea. Goal setting might be an important consideration as part of this step. If the negative emotions of pressure were causing you to make poor decisions, perhaps steps towards improving your decision-making skills would be a good place to start.

Final Note: General Advice Reminder.

Trying to generalise the common relationship experiences of an entire population obviously has it’s limitations. However, it does allow a platform to explore the emotions and experiences that can go hand-in-hand with relationships, and the societal pressures that can influence our decisions. As always, thanks for reading, and we’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below.

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Get Physical With Mental Illness: 5 Mental Toughness Tips

Get Physical with Mental Illness

Mental Illness and Over-Diagnosis.

If you didn’t read our previous article about depression and over-diagnosis, then you may not be aware of the growing epidemic in current psychiatric fads, and the damaging effects they can have on our society. In this article, we will explore the link between mental illness and physical health, and how we can improve both by taking full responsibility for our own wellbeing. In particular, we’ll focus on how exercise and mental toughness can improve our mental health.

Mental and Physical Health are Interdependent.

We rely so heavily on our minds, that we often forget to pay attention to what our bodies need. The stress of ordinary life can distract us from some of the most basic tools we have to combat mental illness – exercise and a healthy diet. Neglecting these basic tools only increases one’s level of unhappiness, leaving us in a state of poor mental and physical health. However, when we do engage in regular exercise (even when we don’t want to) and eat properly (even though doughnuts), studies have indicated that symptoms of anxiety and depression can decrease greatly. The issue remains, that in a society filled with band-aid solutions it can sometimes be tempting to seek out an easier alternative. So, the need to recognise and accept that there is NO ALTERNATIVE for regular, sustainable exercise and a healthy diet is imperative.

Exercise Can Build Confidence and Self-Esteem.

This can have an enormous impact on our overall mental health. These two attributes shouldn’t be solely based on our perceived level of physical attractiveness, but rather on our physical and mental ability. We are all born with a predisposition for various strengths/weaknesses, but much of our mental/physical capabilities can be developed. If we are to be resilient in the fight against mental illness, then we should be building our resilience through exercise too. But what does this mean exactly? Well, exercise presents challenges both physical and mental. Overcoming the physical challenges, is largely attributed to our ability to ‘push ourselves’, which could also be defined as the mental challenges of exercise. The ability to push ourselves encourages the development of ‘mental toughness’. This gives athletes a competitive edge in the sporting arena, but also the confidence to face the challenges presented in their personal lives too. This principle is not exclusive to elite athletes, but rather for anyone willing to learn.

How Can I Be Mentally Tough?

The road to becoming mentally tough is a long and arduous one. In fact, the thought alone will scare most people away. That’s why so many of us are stuck in a loop, looking for the shortcut that isn’t there. So once you have accepted the fact that there is no alternative for hard work, what follows? Being mentally tough is quite an abstract concept. You can be mentally tough during stressful situations, and you be mentally tough when your body is under extreme exertion. However you look at it, your mental toughness is generally in response to performing a physical action. This being the case, let’s explore how we can develop strength of mind through regular, challenging exercise, which can then be applied to situations of mental stress too.

1. Start Exercising.

Regardless of your physical capability and level of experience, you can still challenge yourself with exercise. Everyone has to start somewhere, and the only way to understand what you are truly capable of is to get into it. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, its a good idea to chat with your doctor to understand limitations and precautions.

2. Find Your Mode of Exercise.

Mental illness presents in many forms. In the case of depression and anxiety, exercise is thought to prevent the onset, and possibly even treat symptoms. If you are new to exercise, or just getting back into it, there are an abundance of resources online to get you started. Perhaps you’re interested in functional training programs? Or yoga? Or martial arts? It’s also a great idea to engage in group training sessions, to ensure you are performing exercises correctly. Watching other people push themselves might also encourage you to do the same.

3. Find an Activity You Enjoy.

This is an important one, but it may take some time. As you become more active and aware of your capabilities, you can begin to explore some physical activities that interest you. This is a great way to motivate yourself during training, as it gives purpose to your blood, sweat and tears. When the reason for your physical exertion makes sense to you, it will be far easier to block out the voice in your head that is telling you to stop.

4. Set Yourself a Physical Goal.

This goal might relate to your new-found passion. Or perhaps reconnect you with an old one? Either way, goal setting is a great way to stay motivated. But don’t chase the horizon… Set realistic short-term goals. As you achieve these goals, you’ll begin to recognise the value of your hard work. These short-term goals will be the road to attaining your long-term goal. Keep your goals in the forefront of your mind as you continue to push yourself, both mentally and physically.

5. Positive Self-Talk.

Don’t beat yourself up! When your mind tells you that you can’t do it, shift from this negativity and fight back with positive self-talk. This should be practiced consistently, in order to remodel your self-talk strategy from negative to positive. You may lapse from time to time, but that will only highlight the effectiveness of your positivity. Next time you’re in the dirt, let it be you who picks you back up.

Final Note

Reading and writing about mental toughness is easy. It will be much harder in practice, but don’t let that get you down… All good things take time, so allow yourself some! As always, thanks for reading our article. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Depression: Over-Diagnosis And Management Strategies

The Short Advice Depression Post

Depression and Over-Diagnosis

Depression, along with other mental illnesses like ADD, has been in the media spotlight for some time. According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression, although some experts consider many of these diagnoses to be somewhat inflated. Allen Frances MD states that over-diagnosis of mental illness is making normality an ‘endangered species’, and threatens to increase the already alarming percentage of the population diagnosed as having a mental illness. So, with diagnostic inflation in mind, how can an individual presenting symptoms of depression know for sure whether they are diagnosable, or are simply facing the inevitable challenges of everyday life?

The Dangers of Self-Diagnosis

The internet can be a wonderful place. After all, it did bring you The Short Advice… There are a plethora of helpful resources online that offer support for various conditions, and can assist in making a diagnosis for mental illness. Whilst finding advice online isn’t totally unadvisable, it’s generally a good idea to confer with an expert before concluding that you have a medical condition. As stated above, over-diagnosis is currently considered an ‘epidemic’ by some medical professionals, and self-diagnosis has been highlighted as a contributing factor. So lets say you’ve done some online research, and decide to pay a visit to a psychiatrist. They tell you that, based on your symptoms and behaviours, you likely have depression. Let’s not forget now, that over-diagnosis by medical professionals has also been cited as a contributing factor to the epidemic… So who do we trust? Well, that’s a difficult question, and unfortunately there is no answer. Although, if you do agree that over-diagnosis is real, then anybody diagnosed should not rule out the possibility that perhaps their diagnosis is a stretch.

Depression vs Ordinary Life

So perhaps you are exhibiting some common symptoms of depression. It can be difficult not to be caught up in the hype of psychiatric fads. Yes, it is a mental illness. But, with the over-diagnosis of depression, it could also be considered a fad. Sometimes, trusting a diagnosis as widely-accepted and de-stigmatised as depression, is an easy way to explain, label and justify one’s suffering. Of course, de-stigmitisation is largely viewed as a positive outcome for patients. But it might also encourage others to buy into what is already an epidemic of over-diagnosis. So before you choose to medicate, take the time to engage in some critical self-reflection – at least make the pharmaceutical companies sweat a little… Lets start with 5 simple questions:

  1. Can you identify what exactly is causing you to feel depressed? i.e. Work pressures, bereavement, relationship woes, uncertainty about the future.
  2. When did you begin to feel depressed? (This might help to answer question 1)
  3. What (if any) changes were present in your life when these feelings began?
  4. What changes has your mood/current mental state caused in your life?
  5. Have you taken any steps to improve your situation? What are they?

Making Sense of Our Emotions

Hopefully you’ve been able to pinpoint some of the events in your life that have caused you to feel depressed. In this case, we are using the word ‘depressed’ as a temporary emotional state, rather than an illness. If we allow these issues to go unaddressed, what should be a temporary feeling of depression could turn into something far-less temporary. When we don’t properly deal with our emotions, and allow ourselves to fall into a ‘rut’, we get a snow-ball effect of poor decisions. These decisions only contribute to an elongated period of feeling depressed. And so, the hole gets deeper. A more effective management plan would be to address our emotions as they arise. Consider why you are suddenly feeling depressed. Is it an abstract concept, like fear of the unknown? Or perhaps something more concrete, like a fight with a loved one? Understand when you feel this way, and note other times you have felt the same.

Management Strategies for Building Resilience

Whatever the reason for your negative emotions, you need to develop strategies to counter this. It’s all part of ‘earning happiness‘, and developing resilience. If we immediately succumb to the challenges that are posed by ordinary life, and choose first to seek a diagnosis, it is almost as though we are ducking responsibility for our own emotions. So, the first and most important step is to:

1. Take accountability for your situation, and the improvement thereof.

Now you can start taking positive action to combat your negative emotions. It’s normal to feel depressed from time to time. We can’t always be happy. But falling too deep into self-pity is a trap that almost everyone can relate to. So feel sad, and pay heed to the negative experience. Understand the cause, and consider how you can minimise the effect of this should it happen again. This is a necessary process that helps us better manage our emotions the next time round. But, after you’ve focused on yourself, and improving your situation, the next step is to remind yourself how valuable you are. The best way to pull yourself out from under the blanket of self-pity is to:

2. Do something meaningful for somebody else.

Perhaps a family member, or friend, or maybe even a stranger. Helping others can be a humbling experience, that takes our mind away from our own problems. It is of mutual benefit for both the person helping, and the person in need of assistance. You might even be able to relate to some of the challenges that others are facing, and find that those challenges are indeed a part of ordinary life. Through helping others, you might also be helping yourself to find solutions to your own problems. Our third and final step for today’s article is an important one, which focuses on resilience:

3. Embrace the challenge.

Nothing worth doing is ever going to be easy. Accept the reality that you will not immediately find your happiness again overnight. You will have ups and downs, but the quest for happiness presents amazing opportunities to explore new avenues towards achieving a better balance. Your experiences, both positive and negative will continue to shape you, and your response to such experiences will define you. If you have experienced immense sadness, then moments of euphoric happiness await if you choose to work towards them.

Final Note

Diagnosing clinical depression is difficult. There is no blood test or scan that can give conclusive evidence. Whilst there are many legitimate cases, there are also illegitimate ones. If you are experiencing symptoms, you should consider engaging in professional consultation (counsellor, psychologist, psychiatrist, GP). However, never waive the responsibility that you have over your own wellbeing. If you have been diagnosed, it may be worth seeking multiple opinions, or simply engaging in a management plan (developed by yourself and/or a professional), rather than medicating. The choice to medicate/accept diagnosis must be your own.

As always, thanks for reading and we’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below.