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Building Resilience in Children: 5 Strategies

Building Resilience in Children The Short Advice

What is Resilience?

Resilience is the ability to find solutions in difficult situations. It can help us to manage stress, deal with change, and work through the harsh realities that life sometimes presents. Building resilience in children is about creating a culture and environment that supports them towards supporting themselves. Creating strong and independent thinkers might even help to reduce the over-diagnosis of mental health conditions, and over-prescribing of potentially damaging/addictive anti-depressants. In the current state of mental health awareness, never has there been a better time to promote the development of resilience in children, in order to support good mental heath in the years to come.

Building Resilience in Children

The 5 strategies for building resilience in children listed below describe some of the ways to improve a child’s ability to manage their emotions, difficult circumstances and challenges they may face. Other strategies for building resilience and self-confidence from a military perspective are listed here in a previous article, which may also be relevant.

1. Encourage Physical Activity

Exercise is an obvious place to begin building resilience/mental toughness in children as it can force individuals to operate, and pursue success, outside of their comfort zone. Physical activity provides challenges that can be equally as (if not more) mentally demanding as they are physically. This crossover between competitive sport and real life challenges can be seen as a valuable tool in the development of resilience. Challenges presented in sport can instil values of hard work and courage, encouraging individuals to overcome positions of (relative) adversity. The analogy that this provides for everyday life and it’s many trials and tribulations is invaluable. In this environment, children can learn to appreciate the value of their own hard work, and their ability to succeed if they are persistent in their approach.

2. Breed Independence

Decision-making, independent thought, critical thinking. All things that should be encouraged when building resilience in children. The ability to problem-solve can be a pre-determining factor of resilience, highlighting the importance of independence. Adults can assist the development of such independence in children by allowing the freedom of trial and error. As adults, we need not solve all of our children’s problems immediately, but rather let them solve them on their own where possible. It also helps to positively reinforce these problem-solving skills by giving praise, highlighting the effective skills that the child has demonstrated. In short, let kids make mistakes (within reason). AND let kids solve the problems arising from their mistakes. The perfect segue for our next point…

3. Teach Accountability

Accountability is pivotal to a resilient mindset. If you are in some way responsible for your decisions, responses and circumstances, than you have the power to change them. On the contrary, if you are led to believe that these things are out of your control, then resilience goes out the window along with accountability. You are powerless, and can only hope for your problems to disappear… Teaching young people to own both their successes and their failures is an important step towards building resilience in children. You did it, now you fix it. If you can’t fix it, you can seek assistance to help fix it. But what you don’t do, is give up and wait for a solution to appear. Mistakes have consequences, the same way inaction has consequences.

4. Talk About the Tough Things

This doesn’t mean that you need to sit your 6 year old down and tell them that you’re going to die one day, just like grandma did. However, there will be times throughout a child’s life when they are faced with some of the more harsh realities of life. It is important that adults help children to make sense of these difficult concepts, like death and dealing with loss, rather than avoiding them. But it’s not just life and death, its everything in between too. Whether you like it or not, children will be competing for jobs, partners, houses and all the rest. And nobody said it better than Mick Jagger… “You can’t always get what you want”. A concept that the toddlers of the world are currently struggling to understand. Stand your ground, parent!

5. Lead by Example

One of the most important considerations of a positive culture and environment is leadership. If you are able to demonstrate the above attributes, than the children who look up to you have a better chance of doing the same. Resilience is the product of many positive attributes. It’s more complicated than it seems, and so developing it takes many experiences and years of good practice. The understanding is developed over time, and solidified by the continued displays of resilience exemplified by the actions of a great leader. Before we begin building resilience in our children, we must first develop it ourselves.

Final Note

Nothing happens overnight. Building resilience in children is something that should be practiced throughout childhood, and hopefully adopted by the child as they transition into adulthood. Creating an environment for your child that is conducive of a resilient mindset is the first step towards fostering a generation of independent and empowered problem-solvers. Be sure to head over to our article on expert fatherhood tips as well, for more info on the importance of parental leadership. Thanks for reading!

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Laziness: How To Overcome It In 4 Simple Steps.

Laziness: How To Overcome It In 4 Simple Steps.

“But exercise is hard!

It’s not laziness, it’s because I have a job… I have friends and a family and a partner – I’m too busy. How will I find the time to take care of myself? And what about all those delicious things that I love to eat? And all of those really easy things that I love to do?”

It’s true, it is easy to do easy things.

But they’re often the things we need to do less of. But why should we stop doing these easy things if they make us happy? Because they deliver short term happiness. Quite often, these easy things can simply be a form of escapism, helping us to avoid our responsibilities. It’s unsustainable, and will not bring you long-term happiness.

To give you the short story…

People are lazy because it is easy to be lazy. If fit, healthy and respected were the steamed broccoli, then laziness is the chocolate bar. We all WANT to eat the chocolate bar, but the broccoli is what we truly NEED. There is no shortcut, you can’t take a pill to fix the problem. So now, let’s have a look at our 4 simple steps to defeat laziness…

The 4 Simple Steps to Overcome Laziness

1. Identify Areas to Change

Be honest with yourself. You know the ways in which you can be lazy. List these bad habits, and short-term plays for happiness. Then, set yourself some goals, some things you would like to achieve, or simply ‘get done’. As with any process of change, the first move is to identify where we have gone wrong, and accept that there is need for change. If you are not willing to commit to the idea, your change will be unsustainable and simply will not work.

2. Create Good Habits

We are creatures of habit. Now that you have identified areas to improve, you need to implement a plan to kick these bad habits, and exchange them for positive ones. Maybe you sit on the couch every night watching reality tv and eating ice cream… We’re not saying give it up for good, but exchange some of this time for a positive habit. Perhaps some exercise? Schedule this into your week, as a way of countering your bad habit. Do this for each short-term play for happiness that you have listed above… Maybe you could learn a language? Clean your apartment? Visit your grandparents? Sometimes the things that seem the most tiresome and difficult are things worth doing (We didn’t mean it like that, grandparents). But don’t give up after a few days, studies suggest making/breaking a habit takes approximately 66 days.

3. Don’t excuse yourself

You will be too tired. You will be too busy. You will be any number of things that will stop you from engaging in your new good habits and leaving your negative ones behind. Simply being aware of these excuses will help you recognise when you are falling into old habits of laziness. So now that you are aware, the next time you hear yourself excuse your laziness, push yourself (see mental toughness) in the right direction, rather than giving in to the easy option. It sounds simple enough, but thats not always the case. This means the level of satisfaction you will get when you are strong enough to challenge yourself will be even greater.

4. Evaluate and Refine

Success will look different for everyone. Measuring your success will depend on your initial reflection, and goals that you set for yourself. An evaluation of your success means an honest reflection of how you have been working towards these goals, and how well you have been able to commit to the action of breaking your bad habits, and forming new ones. This step should be happening throughout the process of change, with constant evaluation. It’s also good to formally sit down after a period of time (maybe a few weeks), to note how you’re tracking. You should also take note of how your change is making you feel (better, we hope!).

Final note…

Nothing happens overnight (thanks Dad). Give it some time, you may lapse, but don’t use that as an excuse to quit. Commend yourself for each small victory, and marvel in your ability to create positive change… Also, if you feel so inclined, we’d love to hear what you think in the comments below. Thank-you, and good luck!

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How To Change Your Job: 5-Point Check

Change Your Job Sunset

So You Want to Change Your Job…

The sun is setting on your current job. Maybe you’ve been working in the same role, and in the same industry for ten years. Maybe you feel trapped in your role, and need to make a change. Well, there’s good and bad news for you… Change is very possible – that’s the good news. The bad? Well, change is often very difficult, too. So the most important variable to consider now, is how bad you want it, and how hard you are prepared to work in order to create sustainable change. If you really want to change your job, and make it work, there are a few important points to consider before you jump ship…

The 5-Point Check List to Change Your Job.

Leaving your job can be an incredibly difficult thought, especially when you’ve worked tirelessly to develop a good reputation for yourself within your workplace and industry. If you’ve been in your job long enough, you may even have ‘climbed the ladder’ somewhat, and be earning decent money. So, how do you give it all up and start again? This is what makes change so challenging…

1. The ‘Want/Need’ Variable

How bad do you want to change your job? Do you want it so bad that you need it? Maybe your role is actually so physically demanding that your body can only manage for so long in your current field of employment, and thus, this is change that is sorely needed. Or perhaps the mental strain is so much so that it is affecting life outside of work too. Is it time and repetition that has got you down? That can happen in any job. The point here, is that there are degrees of want and need. It can help to write down a pros and cons list of both staying in your job, and seeking out a new one. Write down your reasons for wanting to change your job. Are these reasons exclusive to your career choice, or could they arise in any future position? Understand your motives, and make an informed decision.

2. Goals and Systems

A much discussed topic on this blog, and rightly so. Now that you’ve understood the reasons for, and degree that you ‘want/need’ to change your job, it’s time to plan for the future. Goal-setting is a great way to track your progress and motivate yourself towards achieving your desired career outcome. You might have one long-term goal, preceded by a series of short term goals, or ‘stepping stones’, to keep you on track. These short-term goals will be the product of your ‘systems’, which are the things that you do regularly like studying, exercising, and learning, in order to continue achieving your goals. Sometimes, the systems you employ to be successful are even more important than the goals themselves. Goals may change as your interests do, but it doesn’t mean that you’ve given up, nor does it make your systems redundant.

3. Time Commitment

Now that you have created some goals and thought about the process, you need to think about time. How long will this change take to be in affect? Is it a matter of simply applying for a new role until you get one? Or will it take training and learning new skills in order to be competent? Consider both the duration of the entire process and the weekly time commitment. It is unaffordable for most people to quit their job and then look for another one without any source of income. So it is likely that you would have to take on a greater workload, on top of your already trying working week. You may have to sacrifice some activities that you enjoy for a period of time. Are these all things that you are willing to do? Short-term pain, long-term gain.

4. Work Ethic

An important attribute that is valued in every workplace. Job satisfaction has been known to have a positive relationship with work ethic, creating increased productivity. But does it work the other way around? Consider a scenario where a strong work ethic generates recognition for an employee amongst their superiors. This could lead to promotions, bonuses, and increased job satisfaction. Here, hard work is the independent variable, and job satisfaction the dependent. Now it’s time to reflect on your current situation… Have you become lost in the monotony of your job and dropped the ball? It might pay to become a social scientist of sorts, and test the hypothesis that an increased work ethic could increase job satisfaction. Because if this is a factor that you could improve, it may still be one after you change your job…

5. Happiness

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again… Life is too short to be unhappy. Especially from something as trivial as your job (in the big scheme of things). Work can feel like it is consuming your life, when really it is supposed to be enriching it. In a perfect world, your employment should be meaningful and full of purpose. But the reality is that we don’t all get to fulfil our childhood dreams. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find a work environment with good people and prospects. Overcome the fear of failure, and make a positive change if you believe it is right for you. Go through your checklist, exhaust your options at your current job and leave no stone unturned. If you still decide that you need to change your job, then do it! Allow yourself a life of happiness now, because time is the most valuable currency – not money.

Final Note

Nothing is ever easy! But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. The challenge of starting again after you change your job can seem daunting. But the rewarding feeling of overcoming your fears and inhibitions might drive you to continue growing into the person that you want to become. Keep trying, keep pushing, don’t settle until you’ve found your own piece of sustainable happiness. Invest in yourself, and create the world that you want to live in. Thanks for reading, and good luck in your new career path!

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5 Ways To Have Fun For Free

Fun For Free The Short Advice

The Simple Things in Life…

If you ask the minimalists, they’ll tell you that there is freedom in simplicity. And they’re right. You can live without the extreme excess that is being sold to us as necessity, and still achieve your own state of internal happiness and have fun for free! In fact, thats about the only way you can do it sustainably. Concepts like fun and happiness can’t always come from material items and things with monetary value, because then we’d be submitting our fun-having abilities to the dollar! Rather, it comes from experience and relationships. Relationships with people, relationships with places and relationships with the environment.

How to Have Fun For Free (Mostly).

Our ‘Fun For Free’ list consists of some activities that may require financial outlay… BUT they do not include directly paying for a ‘fun activity’, but rather rely on one’s own ability to create their own fun. In the land of technology, gadgets, and short attention spans, fun has sadly become a term that is commonly associated with staring at screens. It’s not all bad of course, but you can’t sit around reading The Short Advice all day… That’s why most of the items on our list include some degree of physical exertion too. After all, exercise has been linked to happiness and positivity. So, read on, but don’t do it all day – Get out there and have some fun for free!

1. Roadtrips

So obviously, you need to have a car and some petrol… but if you’ve already got these things it’s sort of a free activity right!? Roadtripping is a fantastic way to build relationships, and develop a fondness for your surroundings. Bring a pillow and a blanket and all of a sudden you’ve got accomodation on wheels. Its a sense of freedom that you’ll learn to appreciate, and one that you may have forgotten about. It’s too easy to get caught up with work saving for expensive holidays that you forget how easy it can be to just jump in the car and go exploring.

2. Hit the Beach

Hot, cold, freezing – who cares! Sometimes a bit of discomfort can make for a fun and memorable experience when shared with people you love. “Remember that time we swam in the middle of winter, and then we had to thaw out in the shower for 15 minutes?” Run, play ball sports, swim, lie on a towel, listen to music – the beach has it all and it’s entirely fun for free. Remember, fun is what you make it to be. If you approach the situation with a positive mindset, you will inevitably have fun. But, if you’re hesitant you might talk yourself out of a good time before you even get there! The beach is great, the beach is great, the beach is great… Go have a great time!

3. Learn an Instrument

Sure, you’ll need to purchase an instrument. That does cost money… But learning it doesn’t cost a thing! There are countless online tutorials to help you along the way. You can follow along at your own pace, and choose to dedicate as much time as you like. And if you don’t want to fork out to buy an instrument, you can sing instead using your very own built-in voice instrument (a.k.a your voice box). Music is a fantastic creative outlet that can be solely driven by your own passion and interests. As any creative outlet does, it also allows you to express yourself, and may even provide a therapeutic element to ease stress.

4. Read a Book

The age-old way to have fun for free that grandma has been trying to tell you about. If you’re not into reading books, there are too many reasons why you should start… The first being, it will make you smarter. Reading improves your vocabulary, but it also gets you thinking and using your imagination. Books require you to visualise people, places and things, which also means that your experience with a book can be quite different to the next person’s. With endless genres available, your options are vast. Take yourself to another world, and have fun for free with a good old fashioned novel.

5. Invent a Game

Exercise your imagination and get creative! It might actually be the best way to have fun for free. Wherever you are in the world, this is a fail safe way to enjoy yourself. You just need a bit of creativity. As you play, you can refine your new game with your friends. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or where you are. Use what is available to you and make something cool, just because you can! Thats part of the fun. The more you do this, the more you’ll realise that fun is a tool that you will always have at your disposal, whenever and wherever you go.

Final Note

Fun seems to have become a by-product of money, but it doesn’t need to be the case. You can have fun for free in a variety of ways, if you’re open to it. Its an important part of being happy and it shouldn’t stop when you reach a certain age. Use your imagination, get outside, get active. Do it with the people that you care about the most. You can have fun for free if you choose to, so don’t always believe what the TV is telling you…

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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.