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Effective Teamwork: 5 Teamwork Traits

Effective Teamwork

There’s No ‘I’ in Team

Teamwork describes the actions of a group of individuals who are driven by a common goal. Effective teamwork describes those actions which ultimately end in a successful outcome for the team. Whilst intentions may be genuine, not all teams practice effective teamwork skills, and their successes are often limited as a result. Throughout history however, there have been many highly functioning teams that have shown us what effective teamwork looks like. The Chicago Bulls won 6 championships in the 90’s, The Brisbane Lions won 3 consecutive premierships in the early 00’s, and Leicester City won the Premier League in 2015-16 with odds of 5000-1 at the start of the season. So, why did these teams experience such success? Keep reading…

Effective Teamwork Traits

The following list highlights our top 5 most effective teamwork traits to create a successful team environment. Teamwork of course is not exclusive to sport, but sport can provide great case studies from which to draw inspiration for other team environments, like the workplace. So, throughout the list below, we’ll be drawing some examples from the aforementioned teams as well a few others, to have a look at what drove them along the road to success.

1. Leadership

Michael Jordan is regarded by many as the greatest basketball player of all time. He was a leader in his own right, leading by example through hard work and consistency. But Phil Jackson, the coach of the Chicago Bulls throughout their 90’s success, had the job of ensuring team cohesion. His ability to create an environment that was conducive to teamwork was a major contributing factor to the Bulls’ success. Phil Jackson also happens to be a big believer in the power of teamwork… An important consideration for all leaders. Leadership skills involve conflict resolution, communication, managing personalities, and clearly outlining expectations. So much of a team’s success relies on the effectiveness of it’s leaders, and so it is a crucial part of team success. After all, “the head wags the tail”.

2. Culture

Establishing a successful team culture is a crucial effective teamwork trait that cannot be overlooked. In the early 00’s, the Sydney Swans began creating a ‘The Bloods’ culture that effectively saw them win the AFL premiership in 2005, breaking a 72-year drought. They used a player-driven model, that focused on the values that were most important to the playing group. They highlighted character traits that they found to be most important, and created guidelines and expectations that would drive their future success. One particularly interesting point about the culture they created was a sense of accountability. Former player Luke Ablett describes this principle, stating that “you were answerable to your team-mates first and foremost”. The Swans continue to be a formidable force in AFL today, with their success proof that team culture is indeed an effective teamwork trait.

3. Togetherness

Leicester City made international headlines in 2016, finishing on top of the EPL ladder. And if you do a Google search for ‘Leicester City togetherness’, you’ll see this as being one of the top reasons cited for their victory. Effective teamwork happens when team members care. When the needs of your teammate are greater than your own. When the team environment is more like a closely knit family. This also breeds a team-first mentality that is crucial to success. Every action should be performed with the intention of bettering the team’s interests, never one’s own. It sounds easy, but it’s also easily lost under emotional duress. Zinedine Zidane, a champion of the game, was unable to control his emotions at such a crucial moment in the 2006 World Cup Final. His personal grievances with his opponent were, in that moment, seemingly more important than winning the World Cup for his team.

4. Trust

Your teammates trust that you’re going to play your role effectively, so that they can concentrate on doing the same. The leader, or coach, or manager, trusts that you’re going to do as you’ve been asked. To follow their instruction however, they too must have your trust. In the early 00’s the Brisbane Lions won 3 consecutive AFL premierships, and are often regarded as being one of the greatest teams to have played the game. Of the coach Leigh Matthews, 3-time premiership player Marcus Ashcroft stated that “He puts a lot of faith in people to do a job and he makes you want to do it.” Matthews trusted his players, and his players trusted him. This on-field trust saw the Lions become one of the greatest teams in AFL history. Effective teamwork requires trust.

5. Work Ethic

A story of both leadership and work ethic takes us back to our first example – The Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan was known for putting in hours of additional training away from compulsory team sessions and match-day. His rejection from his college team, and his reaction to that disappointment has often been a talking point to describe Jordan’s determination. But how did this determination, and supreme work ethic affect the team dynamic? Jordan led, the team followed. If arguably the best player of the current time is also working harder than the rest, how could any other player on the team accept less? Jordan inspired a work ethic amongst his teammates that grew into standard practice for the Chicago Bulls. Effective teamwork has always been a part of his recipe for success – “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan.

Final Note

Effective teamwork is not an easy thing to create, nor maintain. It takes a group of like minded individuals, all working together to achieve a common goal. Personalities need to be managed, leaders need to create an environment conducive to teamwork and success. Everybody needs to buy in to the mission of the team for it to work. With all of the variables at play, and the pressure to succeed, there must be a strong work ethic driving all of the aforementioned effective teamwork traits. It’s also important to remember that these traits are not exclusive to the sporting arena, and can be applied to the work and business environment as well. So, be sure to apply them to your next team setting! Good luck on the road to success.

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How To Achieve Your New Years Resolution

New Years Resolution The Short Advice

Whats Your New Years Resolution?

The new year brings hope, but simply hoping does not get things done. Without action, hopes and dreams would forever stay hopes and dreams. This new year, don’t just make empty promises to yourself. It’s too easy to let life get in the way, and repeat the cycle of previous years. So, what is the fantastic new years resolution that you’ve been working on and how will you achieve it? We’ve got a few tips below to help answer that question…

1. Be SMART-R

SMART goals are a major consideration of the planning process. They are specific in defining exactly what you want to achieve, and when you want to achieve it. They encourage you to consider the relevance that the goal has in your life, and to assess just how realistic it is for you to achieve. If your new years resolution meets each point of the ‘SMART’ acronym, being specific, measurable, achievable (attainable), relevant and time-based, you’re already giving yourself a leg up! The SMART process encourages you to plan for success, before you embark on the road to success.

2. Implement Systems

If your new years resolution is the ‘what’, then systems are the ‘how’. Author Scott Adams even argues that they can replace goals altogether. You’ve already defined and justified exactly what your new years resolution is, but what do you need to do in order to achieve it? What time will you wake up? How will you fuel your body and mind? What regular activities can you do to prepare you for the inevitable challenges that you will face? Systems are the regular daily/weekly tasks, rather than the smaller milestones or short-term goals. They’re the good habits that will steer you in the direction of success, and the achievement of your new years resolution.

3. Tell Your Friends

“But if I tell my friends then I will feel pressured to achieve my new years resolution!” Exactly. A degree of pressure can be a good motivator to keep you on track when your motivation is wavering. You might also find a few friends who are interested in achieving a similar goal. This is a great way to encourage accountability, and to share the milestones and frustrations that you’ll no doubt experience on your way to success. In addition, the challenge of achieving a goal together may even strengthen the friendship bond, and offer opportunities for you to be a good friend… Satisfying in itself!

4. Acknowledge Your Progress

Remember to stay positive. It’s easy to beat yourself up every time you make an error, or deviate from the plan. A gentle reminder to stay on track is fine of course, you do need to be disciplined. But celebrating your progress is equally as important. Give yourself a pat on the back from time to time when you’ve earned it, and recognise all of the hard work it has taken. Marvel at the changes in your life, and reflect on how you’re feeling as a result. Hopefully your new years resolution is turning into reality…

5. Have Fun

If you’re not interested in what you’re doing, then it’s going to be that much harder to realise your new years resolution. Maybe you don’t enjoy the process as much, but the feeling of joy you get after putting in the work is just reward – that’s cool too! Finding internal happiness is something that we all long for. It’s something that we have to work towards, but it’s not the gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s the entire rainbow too! That is to say (warning: cliché), the journey is just as important as the destination. 

Final Note

Your new years resolution doesn’t have to become a casualty of the festive season! You’ll probably come out of the gates pretty fast, on track to achieve your dreams, but without a plan you might not get very far. Set a goal, implement some systems that keep you focused and ready, find accountability in a friend. Don’t just do one thing to make it work, do many – as much as you can even! Give yourself every chance to stick to your new years resolution, and the hope of the new year will roll into the next one. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your new years resolution!

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How To Learn Speed Reading Effectively

How to learn speed reading

About the Author

Jimmy from myspeedreading.com has agreed to share some helpful tips to start you on your reading journey – speed reading that is! It’s a great way to acquire new knowledge in an efficient and time effective manner. So, if you’re someone who struggles with time management, then perhaps speed reading is for you! Today we hear from a speed reading pro, so be sure to read slowly, and take it all in ;).

The Benefits of Reading

In any age, information will always be the key element of understanding for every human being. Through information one gains knowledge. And, to acquire information, we must read. There is an almost-infinite amount of information in the world, which can be acquired through regular reading. If a person is not reading, he/she is missing out on current events and a vast array of knowledge on different subjects.

Much like exercise for your brain, reading increases concentration, thinking ability and creativity. It is said that a book can change a person. So, if one book can do that, imagine what will happen if you read a wide variety of books! Now that we know how important reading is, we need to understand how we can read all types of books in a shorter amount of time.

Speed Reading

There are a variety of wonderful books out there and so much information in the world to absorb. How would we absorb all this information in a limited amount of time? We are a busy bunch of people, working 9-5 and looking after our families. So, when we get a chance to read a book, we should make the most out of the time we have. Now, how do we do that? We must resort to reading at a faster pace than we normally do. An average person can read around 200 to 250 words per minute. With practice however, we can train ourselves to read at least 400 to 800 words per minute. When you’re reading information that requires you to absorb and remember facts and figures, you may need to slow down on your reading. Take the time to process and memorize information. 

1. Time your reading speed

There are websites and reading apps that can track your reading speed. Download these apps and get a feel for your reading speed and comprehension. You can also do it yourself by simply reading a page and keeping time manually. The next day, read a paragraph or page more than the previous day in the same amount of time. Repeat this exercise every day by increasing the number of paragraphs or pages, in the same amount of time. This exercise requires a lot of patience and effort in order to speed read, and comprehend what you’re reading. Initially, you may stumble, but don’t give up on practicing.

2. Train your eyes

Sight is the most important sense that you require for reading. You’ll need to train your eyes to read without going back and forth, which our eyes have a natural tendency to do. This is difficult to overcome, but nothing is impossible if we practice. To train your eyes, just focus on one sentence or line at a time. Make a conscious effort to avoid going back to read the same sentence or words again. Initially, take it slow. Read a sentence and then slowly go to the next sentence and then the next. Make sure that you don’t let your eyes go back and forth to read the sentences again. 

3. Sub-vocalization

When reading, we tend to pronounce every word in our heads. This is called sub-vocalization. If you observe yourself, your lips will be moving even though you’re not reading aloud. When you say every word in your head, your reading will slow down. Now, stopping your subconscious mind from reading every word is not easy. You must practice and make an effort to stop sub-vocalizing. One simple tip is to keep a finger on your lips or chew gum to avoid reading in your head. Make a conscious effort to just run your eyes through what you’re reading. Have patience and keep practicing, and you will see the results. 

4. Pointer Method

When we read, we tend to lose track of the sentence we are reading. At times, we might end up re-reading the same line again or even miss a line. To manoeuvre from one line to the next, keep a finger or pen below the line you’re reading and just follow your eyes from left to right. Keep moving the finger or pen to the next line. This will increase your concentration on what you’re reading and your eyes will not go back and forth to read the words or sentences again. This method is easier than the other techniques to practice and will help tremendously in increasing your reading speed.

5. Skimming and Scanning

Not every word in a sentence is as important as the next. So, scan the sentence and just read the important words. For example: If I read this sentence – “this rose is red”. I am reading 4 words. I can ignore “this” and “is” and if I just read “rose red”, I will be reading 2 words. Yet, I will understand the meaning of the sentence even though I have skipped some words. If you read a lesser number of words and read only the important ones, you will see the difference in speed. This technique requires a lot of practice.

Once you acquire the skill of skimming through a sentence, you can skim through a paragraph as well. Read the first and the second line, and then read the last line of the paragraph. Then scan through the important words in between the paragraph and you will gauge what the paragraph is about. Train yourself regularly and eventually, you will be good at skimming through pages without even realising you’re doing it!

Final Note

These 5 techniques are important methods to acquire the skill of speed reading. But, they can only be mastered through practice. Initially you’ll need to have a lot of patience. So don’t be too hard on yourself, and remember, failure is but a stepping stone on the road to success! Also, remind yourself that reading is a wonderful habit. Consider how much knowledge you can gain through reading different books and articles. Reading without understanding however is a total waste of time. It’s only effective when balanced with pace and comprehension. So, while practicing speed reading, don’t compromise on comprehension. As you start to enjoy reading, you will be a good judge of balancing your reading speed. Practice makes perfect, so get over to myspeedreading.com today and begin your speed reading journey!

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Thoughtful Christmas Gifts: A How-To Guide

Thoughtful Christmas Gifts The Short Advice

Thoughtful Christmas Gifts Don’t Grow on Trees

Yet another year has flown by, and you’re faced with the challenging task of finding thoughtful Christmas gifts for your friends and family (again). The good news is, there is any easier way than leaving it all to Christmas Eve, jumping over the crowds of shoppers, and pulling your hair out. If you’re reading this at 11:59am on the 24th of December though, skip straight to point 5, and then checkout our time management tips… Thoughtful Christmas gifts are personalised, and reflective of the unique relationship between ‘gift-er’ and ‘gift-ee’. By putting just a little bit of extra time and thought into a gift idea, you can create a lasting memory of happiness, and really make someone’s day. So, checkout our 5 tips below to make sure your thoughtful Christmas gifts tick all of the boxes this season!

1. Time, Not Money

Don’t be fooled! It’s not all about how much cash you can splash. Thoughtful Christmas gifts require time and effort, not just a Santa-sack full of money. Besides, if you work, study or do a combination of the two, your time is probably limited. And thus, valuable. You can show your loved ones just how much they mean to you, by dedicating the time to create something beautiful for them. Or, if you’re not that way inclined, you can organise a customised gift too. Either way, your time and effort will always be appreciated. After all, true friendship is something that money simply cannot buy.

2. Reflect on the Relationship

What makes your relationship with this person so special? What jokes and experiences have you shared? Think about all of the great things about your friend/family member and build an equally great gift idea. Perhaps they’ve had a rough year, and you’d like to let them know that you’re on their side… Find a gift that represents when you met, and another that represents your relationship now. Remind them that you were there then, you’re here now, and you’ll still be there later. “You can’t get rid of me” – You.

3. Get Them Talking

Finding thoughtful Christmas gifts sometimes involves a healthy and necessary level of deception… If you’re struggling to come up with something, you can try tricking someone into spilling what they want for Christmas! Talk about some of the best gifts you ever received, and some of the things you’d like to receive. Try doing it in front of a group, so as not to raise suspicion… Get them talking about what they really want for Christmas, and then surprise them on the day with everything they ever wanted! A sneaky means to an ends, that might not work two years in a row…

4. Make the Card Count

Cards are an important part of any thoughtful Christmas gift. Pick a card that speaks to the nature of your relationship, but more importantly, write with humour and sincerity! Again, reflect on the relationship. Reference the year passed and congratulate them on any obstacles they overcame that they might have forgotten to acknowledge themselves. Let them know why you appreciated them again this year, and be specific when you can. If humour isn’t your thing, sincerity works equally as well. Make them laugh, make them cry… The art of Christmas card writing – don’t underestimate it!

5. Amazon Gift Finder

If you’re still out of ideas (or time), you can use Amazon’s gift finder tool to browse through a collection of items, filtered by gender, age group and interests. You might just stumble across a whole bunch of thoughtful Christmas gifts in the process! Theres a pretty impressive variety of categories, and you can checkout whats been trending too. This is particularly handy if you’re buying for a child, who’s interests are dependent on channels that you are just not tuned in to anymore!

Final Note

In the true spirit of Christmas, everyone should just be happy that you’ve thought about them. But, if you really want to leave an impression, you can find all of the thoughtful Christmas gifts you need using the tips above. Also, don’t forget to checkout our store too! Our road to success goal map is a great gift idea to help people plan for success in the new year. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your Christmas shopping! Merry Christmas all!

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Positive Thinking: How To Be More Optimistic

Positive Thinking The Short Advice

The Benefits of Positive Thinking

Positive thinking is contagious, the same way negativity is. However, negativity is born with the upper hand… The human brain tends to have a negative bias, and so we need to work particularly hard to overcome this bias and be positive. Introducing positive thinking into our lives must be a focus if we are to overcome our natural relationship with negativity. So, how can you start being more positive? And why should you start being more positive?? The why, is that positivity breeds positivity, and the how has been outlined for you below…

Use Positive Language

It has been suggested that positive language actually has the ability to change the way you think, modifying brain functions and increasing motivational activity. In contrast, negative words may inhibit your ability to manage stress. Positive self-talk is one particular strategy that refers to the language you use, both in thought and verbally, to speak to yourself. Using positive phrases like “I can”, and “I will” can in time increase self-esteem and decrease negative thinking. So, next time you’ve made a mistake, let yourself know that you’re in it together with some positive self-reassurance!

Focus on Positivity

Placing a greater focus on your most positive attributes can in-fact produce improved results. A 1982 study required bowlers to rate their performance, with one group focusing solely on what they did well, and the other group focusing on not making the same mistakes twice. The first group showed significantly greater improvement. The conclusion, is that positivity can be a greater motivator towards success and improvement than negativity, but you probably guessed that already… If positive thinking and reflection will drive you to improve, why not try it?

Dance Your Way to Positivity

Movement and exercise has been linked to happiness, known to release endorphins that can make us feel great. Dr Peter Lovatt, or ‘Dr Dance’, suggests that one can ‘dance themselves happy’, which follows the above principal and builds on the relationship between exercise and positivity. Maybe you’re not a dancer, and that’s fine. The message really is to move, and generate positivity through action. Exercise has a number of other benefits that can contribute to one’s ability to be positive, like building confidence and resilience.

Balance Your Emotions

Negative emotions can’t be ignored if you expect to live with sustained positive thinking and optimism. Whilst there is a fine line between realism and pessimism, it is important to understand the purpose of negativity in order to create an acceptable balance. Our emotions all serve a purpose that can generally be linked to survival and pro-creation (which ultimately is the survival of our species). Fear can stop us from hurting ourselves, guilt can stop us from repeating poor behaviour and love can keep our families safe. So, positive thinking doesn’t mean you should ignore negativity altogether, but rather create a better balance between the two.

Reinforce Positivity

Challenge yourself and achieve a goal by applying an optimistic outlook to your situation. Fear and negativity are the greatest barrier in the way of achieving your goals on the road to success. Incorporate the positive thinking strategies outlined above, and put a plan into place. After all, one of the best ways to reinforce learning is through experience. Reflect on past situations, and consider the different outcomes and level of satisfaction you have achieved through positive thinking, as opposed to a negative bias.

Final Note

With our brains naturally inclined to lean towards negativity as a protective mechanism, it’s any wonder that positive thinking is a challenge. It’s sort of like having great posture. You have to actively think about it. When it leaves the forefront of your mind however, you might start to slouch. But, if you make a conscious effort to pull your shoulders back and stand up straight… Well, it just might become habit. Apply this principle to positive thought, and habitually engage in positive thinking – without even thinking about it! If you’ve got anything to add, please feel free to leave a comment below… Hopefully a positive one ;). As always, thanks for reading.

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Losing A Loved One: 5 Guiding Points

Losing A Loved One The Short Advice

Losing a Loved One is Hard.

The below 5 tips are not a definitive list or professional opinion, but rather a general set of guiding points to help you deal with losing a loved one. The sort of loss we are discussing in this article specifically is death, and if you’ve ever lost somebody you love, then you already know how difficult it can be. Coping with loss, in it’s many forms, is a topic that has been researched thoroughly, as loss has been known to cause illness if not properly dealt with. Medical research suggests that professional advice, or simply a hug, can assist those who are trying to cope with losing a loved one. So, don’t deny yourself a life of happiness… That is the last thing your loved one would want for you!

1. Allow Time to Grieve

Cry. Don’t cry. Be sad, be angry, ponder the future. Everybody will have their own different experience with grieving, and thats okay. Allow yourself to experience the emotions that you need to, in order to rationalise, and make sense of the very difficult and trying circumstances that losing a loved one presents. It takes time, and there are a number of stages in the grieving process that you may need to experience in order to move forward with your life. Also, while you are grieving, make sure you consider your own wellbeing too, as stress can mount during this time.

2. Celebrate Life

Sadness, devastation, shock, grief, despair. All emotions commonly associated with losing a loved one, and rightly so. You don’t have to suppress these emotions, but it’s also important to remember the good. As difficult as it is, these emotions are the perfect example of balance. To be so unfathomably upset in loss, the presence of your loved one must have brought much elation. So don’t be afraid to reflect on this happiness, and speak their name. Smile, laugh, joke and marvel at the priceless memories they’ve created. You’ll have negative emotions surrounding the loss itself, but you can also be thankful for your time together.

3. Honour The Memory

Losing a loved one is hard – but why? What was so fantastic about this person that makes their loss so difficult to bear? Consider their best attributes, and how you can add value to your life, and other lives, by being the embodiment of their great qualities. In doing this, their legacy can live on through you. The impact and influence that your loved one has had on your life, can continue doing good for you, and others, even after they’re gone. Were they strong? Summon this strength when you need it the most. Were they compassionate? Take the time to selflessly help somebody, as they would have.

4. Find Meaning and Purpose

When you lose somebody, particularly earlier than their due time, the common question one asks is “why?” The answer to this question is something we may never find out, similarly to the meaning of life. But we can find meaning and purpose in their passing if we choose to, although easier said than done. Is there something you can do to ensure that your loved one’s passing could save another’s life? Can you raise awareness for a charity, or donate, or simply urge friends and family to have the difficult conversations that so many avoid? Perhaps you can find purpose by embodying their best attributes, as stated above.

5. Accept

Sometimes its hard to believe that it has really happened. Shock and confusion is a normal part of losing a loved one, and often precedes the grieving stage. And, part of the grieving stage is trying to figure out how to move forward, without the presence of your loved one. Acceptance is a hurdle that needs to be overcome in order to move forward with your life, and be happy again. It is also considered to be the final stage of the grieving process. Nobody expects to be happy about what has happened, or even be okay with it. But in order to continue living, and remembering the good, and honouring the memory, one does need to accept the difficult realities of losing a loved one.

Final Note

Loss can take many forms, and each presents its own challenges. Losing a loved one can create a sense of hopelessness, which makes it seemingly impossible to continue your life as you used to know it, and you probably never will. Because the reality is that the experience has changed you forever, but it’s not all bad. Remember your loved one, and all of the great things about that person that caused the pain of loss in the first place. Honour their memory, and celebrate their life. It’s never as easy as it sounds when it’s written, and everybody will have a different experience. Remember that there are people to talk to, and others struggling with similar circumstances. You are not alone.

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Entering The Property Market (Part One): 5 Major Considerations

entering the property market the short advice

About the Author

Stephen Pace is an experienced commercial and residential mortgage broker with BCP Finance in Melbourne’s leafy suburb of Parkville, on the city fringe. He specialises in home and commercial loans, and has agreed to share some general advice when it comes to entering the property market. Today’s article is part one of a two-part series, so be sure to follow posts over the coming months for part two! So, if you’re considering entering the property market and you’re looking for a lender, look no further than the very knowledgable Mr. Pace, and here’s why…

Entering the Property Market

Financing a property is always challenging and as for most in the general public, it is very likely that you will have to think long and hard whether or not you’re ready and capable of making such a financial commitment. Buying a property is usually the single most expensive transaction a person will make in their life, and if done right, entering the property market can be both a smart expense and good investment.

1. Purpose – Owner Occupied Vs. Investment

The first primary factor when considering entering the property market is to determine the purpose of the purchase. Are you looking to purchase this property to live in? Or are you looking for an investment purchase seeking to obtain rental income?

The two key factors above impacts not only the buyers appetite but also the bank’s from a loan point of view, in regards to the minimum contribution, and also servicing factors. Making a decision can be tricky but is should be determined by your current financial and lifestyle position. Looking forward 1-3 years of your goals is a point recommended to help to assist your decision making. If you are seeking an investment purchase, there are 3 underlying factors which would determine if the property will make a good investment, these 3 simple things are; rental yield, capital growth potential and the underlying demand.

2. Analyse and Evaluate the Financial Commitment

Once a buyer has determined the purpose of the purchase, each buyer should evaluate their finances. As mentioned above, entering the property market can be the single most expensive transaction a person can make, so don’t go in blindly! Do some research and educate yourself in regards to property areas, fluctuations in property prices and lender appetite and requirement. It’s also important to know what to look for when prospecting for a property, to ensure you’re not falling into a financial hole of additional costs outside of the purchase price.

a) Buy What You Can Afford

In this current market, with the rise of cost of living, you should buy the house you know you can afford, no point buying a house and then all your pay goes towards the mortgage repayments, you still need money for cost of living. Mapping out a plan of attack by creating a strict budget is a good idea. In the period of seeking a property, try and avoid overspending, as this could jeopardise your financial stability – from here you should only consider the ones that you budget can handle.

b) Understand The Various Expenses of Entering the Property Market

A point that also must be considered when evaluating your finances is working out and getting comfortable with the on-going expenses and commitments post-settlement. A lot of buyers drain their bank account and put their every last dollar into the purchase, but don’t take into account the maintenance costs of the house and insurances. The question then gets asked, is it worthwhile looking into a brand new house or buying an established house in an established area?

c) Inspecting For Potential Costs

If the house is established, when inspecting a house you should inspect it thoroughly, focus on the structural stuff, aging appliances, cracks/chips/mould in the walls any leaks or water damage – you may consider paying an external upfront building report. Enlisting a professional for the building report will cover off on factors mentioned above, as well as:-

  • Ensuring the foundation is solid
  • Is wiring up to code
  • Is the house structurally sound
  • Are you buying a property that has any wood eating pests? How will you know?

This is an important point as maintenance costs can end up eating heavily into your savings and budget, so it is worthwhile saving some money in your bank account for a rainy day.

3. Identifying the Area and Type of Property that suits You

Identifying a property, the underlying area and buying to suit your lifestyle is important. There are some factors that cannot be ignored, such as:

  • Do you actually require a house? Maybe a townhouse or a unit would suit?
  • Is the area close to work? Family? Friends?
  • Is the property close to public transport and schools?
  • How is the condition of real estate in the area?
  • Is your area prone to bush fires? Flooding? Is it in a flight path?

The prices of property tend to vary in different locations and suburbs which is derived from several different factors. For example, a house that is situated in close proximity to infrastructure, walking distances to public transport, shops and schools, will generally cost more than a house located further from such amenities. Each location and suburb will have its own niche advantages; find out what suits your budget and meets all of your needs before making a final decision on which property to purchase or invest in.

4. Obtaining a Pre-Approval

Once you have worked out your potential purpose, created a budget and identified a preferable property type, where to from here? There is no written rule that you require one, but anyone in the financial game in this day and age would advise that obtaining a pre-approval is highly recommended.

Obtaining a pre-approval with a lender or approaching a mortgage broker for a professional opinion and guidance is worthwhile – we deal with this stuff every day and have the ability to guide and educate you throughout the whole process.

A pre-approval is a powerful tool to have up your sleeve; no doubt there will always be some mitigating factors or conditions to meet before going to a final approval, but it provides any buyer the confidence that they have the support from a lender. This will enable a buyer to attend an auction or even a private sale arrangement and confidently bid within their limitations.

5. Representation

Having a pre-approval provides confidence to any buyer entering the property market, as you have a lender in you corner to guide and assist you. So, why not continue to bolster up your team?

a) Real Estate Agents

Having a realtor that works for you and an experienced solicitor round off your trio. The seller pays the commission to the real estate agent, so it makes sense to capitalise on their free service as a buyer! The realtor can:

  • Provide area and property data
  • Identify current and potential properties coming up in the area
  • Share knowledge regarding the area and suburbs you seek to buy
  • Negotiate with the seller
  • Assist in additional inspections

b) Solicitors

Secondly, having a solicitor is beneficial. Each property sale will come with a contract and there will be papers to sign. And more papers to sign… And more! The contract will contain a lot of legal jargon, so who better to review and provide advice than a solicitor? Their role is to ensure that the contract is sound and there aren’t any mitigating conditions popping out that will put their client (you) at risk. The contract is originally drawn up from the seller, so there is room for negotiations. Whether you need additional time to settle, or another inspection of the property, or to waive a condition, your solicitor will act on your behalf to do all of the heavy lifting. This helps to ensure that the contract will meet your requests and obligations.

A contract of sale is typically drawn up and available when a property is advertised; it becomes available from the acting seller’s real estate agent. Before attending an auction, try and obtain the draft version and provide this to your solicitor; they will advise accordingly if everything is in order. This way, you can attend an auction or bid on a private sale with confidence. If there are any clauses which jump out to them, they can be amended on the draft and reviewed by the seller before either party signs.

Final Note

Whether you are an experienced property investor or entering the property market for the first time, buying a property is both an exciting and stressful experience. You may not always find a likeable home and buy it first up; there are people whom have been unsuccessful multiple times at auctions… Just remember to remain calm and positive that there are always many more opportunities. It is important to keep the above mentioned points in mind and all that is involved, including the moving factors and components within it. The more educated you are, fire power you have up your sleeve and stronger team you have to represent you, the better off you will be! The experience will become so much easier and more enjoyable.

Stay tuned for our next guest post in the coming months, detailing the important considerations of finding a home loan.

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How To Be More Assertive At Work: 5 Assertive Actions

More Assertive in The Workplace The Short Advice

Assertive VS Rude

There is a difference. A big difference in fact. But too many people are unwilling to explore this difference, and end up becoming the victim of unmanageable workloads, and sometimes even workplace bullying. From a managerial perspective, it can mean giving instructions firmly, fairly and confidently. Being more assertive isn’t quite jumping on your desk and booting the computer across the room (as pictured above). But then again, your boss probably isn’t a Yeti… Rather, assertiveness is the ability to be heard with confidence and conviction. It’s standing up for yourself, and it’s getting things done that need to be done. In contrast, throwing insults around the workplace when you’re not getting your way would of course be rude!

Why You Need to be More Assertive in the Workplace

The workplace can be a stressful environment, and part of managing this stress is being more assertive. You have a workload to manage, same as the rest of your colleagues. But the reality is that some people manage this better than others. A manager needs to be assertive when giving instruction and ensuring deadlines are met, and protocols are followed. A team member needs to be assertive when their manager and colleagues are trying to handball their unwanted workloads off to somebody else. Whatever your role, it pays to stand up for yourself. Our 5 points below will help you to better understand just what that looks like…

1. Say ‘No’

We’ve started with this for a reason. Too many people feel rude saying ‘no’, when really, they’re helping themselves and others in the long run. If you bear the load of others too frequently, it might not be sustainable. It could cause you to be highly stressed over time, and even lead to burnout. Of course, we all want to help people. But, we need to put ourselves in a position of strength and power in order to be most effective for those we wish to help. Be more assertive, and empower yourself with the ability to say ‘no’ when appropriate, but do it politely. You’ll still be an effective team member, perhaps even more effective now that you’ve got the time to complete all of your tasks to the best of your ability.

2. Know Your Role

Job titles can be quite ambiguous, so it’s worth understanding exactly what roles and responsibilities your title comes with. From a managerial perspective, it’s also worth being explicit when providing these details, so that each team member is aware of the requirements of their role. Simply knowing your role will help you to be more assertive, as you can make better judgements on where you should focus your energy, and when you need to say ‘no’. It will also help you to justify ‘no’ as an appropriate response, when your more pressing responsibilities are clearly outlined for you.

3. Anticipate Problems

This refers to being aware of your environment, and the pressures and issues that can arise. In other words, you shouldn’t be surprised that other people will try to take advantage of the ‘yes’ man as frequently as possible. Sometimes they themselves are so unassertive that their stress and workload has them asking others for help so often. Being aware of this destructiveness will help you to identify it, and rise above it. You don’t want to find yourself stuck in either situation, so have your assertive actions prepared in advance.

4. Value Your Time

If you don’t, nor will anybody else. This is actually a great supporting argument when it comes to saying ‘no’ more often. If you are seen as the ‘yes’ man, people may perceive you to have an exorbitant amount of time on your hands, and respect your time less. Little do they know, your mountain of work is piling up. If however you place value on your time, and agree to help only when you are ‘able’ to, people will respect your time more, and tend to ask for favours less frequently. By placing greater value on your time, you are supporting your ability to be more assertive. If the mountain of work continues piling up however, maybe it’s time to checkout our time management tips!

5. Manage Expectations

If you are doing the right thing at work, and working hard towards your targets, then you have nothing to hide. You produce a high level of output, and are efficient in your duties, although your manager’s deadlines are still near-impossible to meet. In this case, questions need to be asked about your role and responsibilities, realistic deadlines, and breakdown of hours for a given task. If the expectation is that you slave away, take work home, get in early and stay late, and are underpaid, is this an expectation you’d like to continue supporting? Probably not. Being more assertive means negotiating more reasonable and realistic expectations for a sustainable/happier workplace environment. Stand up for yourself!

Final Note

There are many ways in which you can be more assertive and they are all a far-cry from being rude. Assertiveness can help you to be more helpful, manage your time more effectively, and even increase job (and life) satisfaction. Approach situations confidently, knowing you are prepared for the pressures of your environment, and become a more effective member of your organisation in doing so. With the above assertive actions, you’ll be free to get on with your own work. As always, thanks for reading!

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How To Be A Critical Thinker: 5 Critical Thinking Questions

Critical Thinker Critical Thinking The Short Advice

Being a Critical Thinker

Being a critical thinker is less about being right or wrong, and more about deciding what is right and wrong. It’s a skill that is becoming increasingly more important, as more and more fake news and unverified information is being published to the internet every minute. A critical thinker has the ability to form their own views and opinions, and does not blindly follow others. So, next time you’re being fed some new info, consider how likely it is to be true before accepting it as the truth. Sometimes it pays to be skeptical…

Approaching a Theory With Critical Thinking

There are a multitude of conflicting views and opinions in the world. Contradicting evidence and research being used to prove one theory and exclude another makes it very difficult to know what is true, and what isn’t. That’s why we’ve compiled this short list of 5 questions to help you become a critical thinker and better decision-maker. So, give it a try next time you need to approach a situation with critical thinking!

1. What am I being asked to believe?

First, make sure you understand exactly what the person/source is telling you. Build your understanding with further research into the theory and try to decide whether it makes sense to you or not. Sometimes the use of language and vocabulary can make it difficult to understand exactly what is being communicated, so it might be worth finding out if there is another source that is supporting this same theory. This might help you get a better understanding of the theory, or even help you make a decision on whether or not your original source knows what they’re talking about!

2. Who is asking me to believe it?

Considering the source of the information you are analysing is a major part of being a critical thinker. This point raises further questions like ‘why do they want me to believe this theory?’, and ‘what is in it for them?’. This brings us to the point of potential bias. Sometimes, a person/source might stand to benefit from having people believe their theory. Depending on who is telling the story, the presence of bias might exist in persuasive language. Then again, a person can be both persuasive and truthful, no? This is another reason to research other sources who are offering the same/similar information. Is there any variation between different versions of the same theory/information. Has something been lost in translation? Do your research.

3. Is there evidence to support this theory?

Speaking of research, is the source claiming to present evidence-based information? Where and how have they collected their research? The various methods of collecting data can present many challenges in itself, and make way for serious bias. Now it’s time to research the research. If the source of information is claiming to have supporting evidence, you should review this evidence, and decide if you believe it is relevant. There’s always a chance that it’s completely invalid, or that the results of the research have simply been misinterpreted by the source of information. With too many variables that can cause an error in the information offered, it pays to do some independent research of your own.

4. What are the alternatives?

For almost every theory offered, there are conflicting/contradicting ones to match. Some people might still believe that the earth is flat, for example. No matter how certain you may be, it’s likely somebody, somewhere is certain of something else. This doesn’t mean that you’re wrong of course, but in some cases, it might mean that exploring the alternative theories offered is a good idea. You might agree with parts of one theory, and parts of another, forming your own views as a critical thinker. Fill yourself with knowledge, keep on learning, and foster independent thought.

5. What is the most reasonable conclusion?

‘Based on my knowledge, understanding and research, what makes the most sense to me?’ Once you’ve answered all of the above questions, it’s time to draw some conclusions. How reliable is the source? Could the information/data be biased? Does this theory actually make sense to you? A combination of your research, and your opinion based on experience should be considered. Rationality can be used to form theories and opinions, although it does need to be supported by research and experience/observation.

Final Note

The ability to be a competent critical thinker is something that we all need to develop. Critical thinking will help you to make sense of the world, forming your own views and opinions. Don’t blindly accept the truth, and don’t mistake rationalism for certainty. Always do your research, and you’ll be better equipped to start developing some theories of your own… Once again, thanks for reading! If you’ve got a critical thinking question you’d like to add, you can leave it in the comments section below.

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5 Great Songs To Help You Deal With A Break Up

How to deal with a break up The Short Advice

How To Deal With a Break Up

There is no definitive set of guidelines to help you to deal with a break up. Each relationship you have is unique, and you and your partner are both individuals. But you can draw some wisdom from relatable situations. That is to say, you’re not the first to experience a break up, and you won’t be the last. The lyrics we hear in a song can help us to make sense of our own situations, and sometimes encourage critical reflection. It can be comforting to know that other people have felt what you’re feeling, and have still managed to move on and find happiness. You will be sad, and so you should. You may feel guilt, you may feel insecure and vulnerable. These feelings and emotions help us to learn and grow. So don’t ignore them, but rather, try to understand them.

Our ‘Deal With a Break Up Mixtape’

The list of songs below aim to help you make sense of your emotions while you deal with a break up. You’re not the only person in the world feeling the way you are, and sometimes it can help to share your experience with the musicians performing these songs. Some of them are from the perspective of angry, fragile minds. After all, it’s okay to be angry and upset. Others focus on gratitude and moving forward. Notions that we can all benefit from. We’ve tried to include a range of genres, and eras. So be open minded as you share your emotions with the artists listed below. Please note, the title of each song is a clickable link that will redirect you to youtube. Enjoy!

Is This Love by Cake

This track explores the anger and denial that can arise when you are trying to deal with a break up, and it does it quite well. At one point in the song, the artist confesses that they are wishing for their estranged spouse to actually be dead! Immoral, and not recommended, although it certainly paints a picture. The anger, and feelings of hurt and rejection are relatable, and sung over the top of a running bass line that is anything but sad and somber. It’s a great way to reflect on your own situation, without being a tearjerker.

Storms by Fleetwood Mac

In contrast to our first track, this one is sad and somber. Sadness, and self-pity are no stranger during the break up process, and Stevie Nicks definitely feels your pain. The real strength of this song in helping one deal with a break up, is the reflective nature of the lyrics. Stevie notes that whilst she would like to leave the relationship amicably, she’s never been quite so composed. “I’d like to leave you with something more… But never have I been a blue calm sea… I have always been a storm”. So, learn from this line, and don’t act regretfully. You can communicate your emotions, of course. Just try to do it as ‘blue calm sea’, rather than a ‘storm’.

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head by BJ Thomas

Ahhh the good old days… Too corny for some perhaps, but the message is one that can be applied to many of life’s trials and tribulations. Regardless of what negative experience you’re facing, “…Crying’s not for me, ’cause I’m never gonna stop the rain by complaining”. BJ Thomas goes on to sing about how grateful he is to be alive and free, despite facing a challenging circumstance. The same principle can be applied when you deal with a break up. A trying time, yes. But you still have so much to be grateful for, so don’t allow yourself to despair for too long.

Love’s Been Good To Me by Johnny Cash

Originally by Frank Sinatra and Rod McKuen, this song is another reminder about being grateful for the experience. The end of anything good is always going to be difficult to accept, but the truth to remember is that it was good. Johnny Cash’s version is also great as it is performed in his later years, and sung with experience and nostalgic tones. Hopefully it encourages you to accept the end, but still be grateful for the good times that you shared with your old flame. Everything has an end, but hopefully upon reflection, “Once in a while, along the way, loves been good to (you) me”.

Caught Out There by Kelis

Kelis’ ‘Caught out there’ speaks of her hurt, denial and anger towards an unfaithful partner. Sadly, too many people can relate. Like the first track on our list, Kelis doesn’t hold back when addressing these emotions, stating quite plainly “I hate you so much right now!”. Her words are simple and honest, although her path of destruction not advisable. So listen and relate, but try to exhibit slightly more composed and logical behaviour when managing your emotions as you deal with a break up. Theres also a pretty raw and amusing film clip to match, so check it out!

Supplementary List

Song For Mutya by Groove Armada ft. Mutya Buena

Another fun break up song. Up beat and Groove Armada-ry, this track confronts the reality of seeing your ex-partner with a new person. The great part about this track, is that Mutya is being coached by the voice in her head to act responsibly despite her emotional fragile state “don’t panic (panic) Mutya, don’t act erratic”. Good advice inner-self!

Beautiful World by Coldplay

A melancholy tune, this gem by Coldplay encourages reflection on the fact that despite things not being perfect, we still live in a beautiful world. And to exist in it, is grand. When you deal with a break up, this is something that you might forget to remember… So look toward to tomorrow, and the opportunities of this beautiful world!

Final Note

Music heals all wounds. It is a form of communication that can evoke a different response from each listener, as they interpret it in a way that makes sense to them. There is a song for every situation, and the above list is just a few that hopefully you haven’t heard before (or in a while). If you have any songs that have helped you deal with a break up in the past, please share them with us in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!