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Depression: Over-Diagnosis And Management Strategies

The Short Advice Depression Post

Depression and Over-Diagnosis

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

The Dangers of Self-Diagnosis

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

Depression vs Ordinary Life

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

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

Making Sense of Our Emotions

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

Management Strategies for Building Resilience

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

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

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

2. Do something meaningful for somebody else.

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

3. Embrace the challenge.

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

Final Note

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

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

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Decision-Making Skills: Influential Factors And The 5 Decision-Making Markers

Decision Making Skills The Short Advice

What Influences Our Decisions?

Your entire life you have been influenced by your environment, circumstances and the people surrounding you. Your genetics may have pre-disposed you to developing particular traits and tendencies, but ultimately, your personality, views and opinions have been moulded by that place you call ‘home’. Each decision you make is influenced by these factors. Consider how damaging this could be for someone who has been placed in a negative environment. The main factors influencing their behaviour and ideals may be particularly misleading. The further ingrained these ideals become, the less likely they are to change. That is why it is important to consider how we have been influenced over the course of our lives, and by whom/what. Arguably, the strongest influence in the life of a developing young mind is our parents.

BREAKING: Your Parents Are Not Always Right.

What we want for our lives might be significantly different to our parents’ expectations. So, we begin to question things that they’ve had us believe, and attempt to recount influential childhood moments. This is all part of developing our independence, and a sense of self-worth. It doesn’t mean that your parents are wrong as such, nor does it mean that they have tried to mislead you. But much like yourself, your parents are not perfect. Maybe it’s time to consider if some of the opinions/views that you’ve adopted from your parents are right for you? We’re not saying you should trash every piece of advice they’ve ever offered. We’re just saying that they’re not the masters and commanders of the universe. So as with any advice you are given, you should consider whether or not it is right for you. Ultimately, each decision you make should be your own.

Take Control of Your Decisions.

You won’t always make the right decision. That’s okay. Accept your mistakes and learn from them. You are responsible for your failures, as much as you are for your successes. You cannot have one without the other. This is how you will navigate your own experiences, and re-program the way that you develop your views and opinions. For example, perhaps you’ve acted in a manner that you have been taught to act in, with a negative result. This negative result might encourage you to reconsider that behaviour, or perhaps change your point of view. Through this process, we develop independent thought, that can often challenge the influential factors of our past. The next decision you make will be better informed. Not only will it be based on a lifetime of various influences, but also on your own personal experience. This should be a regular process of endless refinement.

The Independent Thinker.

You’ve begun the process of deconstructing your ideas and past decisions. Some are relevant, and everlasting. Maybe some are outdated? Others might be plainly wrong. This is a constructive process that further develops your sense of self, and ability to be an independent thinker. You will still be influenced by your environment, and the opinions of people you respect. That is totally fine. In fact, it is a good thing. But rather than simply believing/adopting these opinions, you now have your own process of weighing each thought against the values and principles that you’ve developed over time. These values and principles can then be applied each time you are faced with making an important decision.

The 5 Decision-Making Markers.

It sounds simple, although in reality, most of us will be faced with a multitude of difficult decisions in our lifetime. So, lets summarise some important elements in the process of making sound-decisions:

1. List the Pro’s and Con’s.

Take your time (where possible) and consider the various outcomes of each decision. What are the possible positive and negative impacts?

2. Apply Your Values and Principles.

A principle should be black and white, and unwavering. Your decisions should not compromise them. Apply your values and principles to every decision you make. Ask yourself, “is it the right thing to do?”

3. Commit to Your Decisions.

Once you’ve made up your mind, trust your good judgement and see your decision through. You won’t always get it right, but that’s okay – keep reading!

4. Manage the Outcomes.

Prepare for the various outcomes of your decision, and manage these accordingly. If you make mistakes, understand why, and learn from them. If you’ve reached a positive outcome, you can apply this to future decisions too.

5. Review the Process.

Re-evaluate the values and principles by which you measure your decisions. Do these need adjusting? Is there a principle that you have overlooked that might be contributing to a pattern of poor decisions? What factors motivate your decisions? Reflect on the process and refine where necessary.

Again, even following the above thought process, you may not always make the correct decision. Whatever situation you find yourself in, trust the process. If you are unhappy with your decision making process, you may need to refine some of the above elements. Reassessing the values and principles against which you are measuring your decisions is a great place to start. Perhaps you skipped some important steps in the process? Be less certain when approaching important decisions.

Final note…

Like any area of self-improvement, developing sound decision-making skills will be an ongoing process. Mistakes provide us with valuable opportunities to learn and re-evaluate. Our successes provide a benchmark on which to weigh our next decision. If you have any questions or comments, about this post we’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading!

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Conflict Resolution: The 5 Essential Skills

The Short Advice Conflict Resolution

Conflict management is an extremely important consideration for the well-rounded individual.

Simply avoiding conflict is not a viable solution in many circumstances, and certainly not one that is recommended. The longer we let our problems stew, the less likely we are to manage them in a rational, and solution-focused manner. And that brings us to our first essential conflict resolution skill:

1. Address the issue early.

Nobody is perfect. People will make mistakes and they will inevitably upset you. But communicating your feelings earlier, rather than later, can save you (and others involved) much heartache. A dangerous assumption that people often make is that their feelings are known, without them ever having communicated those feelings. “She knows what she’s doing, and she knows its upsetting me.” Hmmm, this may be so, but then again, it is equally as likely that the person is unaware of the stress they are causing. Or maybe there is an underlying issue contributing to their behaviour that you are unaware of. Either way, if you raise the issue early you allow the chance for everyone to better understand the full scale of the situation, and people’s emotions towards it.

2. Stick to the point.

Perhaps someone that you are not particularly fond of is doing something that you are also not stoked about. Always remember that the issue is with what the individual is doing, not who they are. It’s still okay not to like someone. There are a lot of people in this world, and we can’t be expected to get along swimmingly with everybody. But, we do owe all of these people a certain degree of respect, that is ultimately theirs to lose. So, set the example and treat the person with dignity as you address the actions that you have taken exception to. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be stern, or direct. Each situation will have to be judged on its merits of course, but you should always be mindful of presenting a factual, and less-subjective argument where possible.

3. Mind your delivery.

To ‘stick to the point’, is to focus on the actions and facts, not the individual’s personality with whom your qualm is with. To ‘mind your delivery’ is to be conscious of the way in which you communicate this message. Now, there are a thousand ways to deliver the same message, but only a few ways to deliver it well. Even the right message can be counter-productive if not delivered tactfully, so always bear this in mind when making your point. Whilst sarcasm can be heaps of fun, it’s generally not a good way to let someone know that they are in the wrong. Nor is yelling and berating. Rather, you should aim to take an informative, and educational tone (without being condescending). You are not assuming knowledge, but rather, informing them of the situation as you see it, and your emotions towards said situation. This is information that would be reasonable to assume this person does not know. Your calm and informative tone will hopefully encourage them to respond in a similar manner. We do all of this with the aim of creating a constructive conversation, rather than an emotion-fuelled argument.

4. Stay rational under emotional duress.

When we are trying to manage situations of conflict, we must also manage our emotions at the same time. It can be difficult to think clearly and make rational decisions when we are under such pressure, and so it is important to recognise that there is a tendency for people to become irrational during times of conflict. Unless you are made of stone, you have experienced this phenomenon before. You’ve said things you wished you hadn’t. You’ve done things you wished you hadn’t. So, as stated in a previous post about sustainable change, learn from your mistakes. Take a breath, and refer back to skills one, two and three. It’s okay to slow down and take your time. You don’t need to rush to a solution, because it may not be the right one. Next time you feel yourself becoming a bit agitated, change your tact, and remind yourself to be solution-focused.

5. Know when to walk away.

You can’t win them all. Well, it’s really not about winning or losing, is it? The right outcome for a situation of conflict might see you having to take responsibility for some wrong-doing. That is perfectly reasonable. But every now and then, we may find ourselves butting heads with an individual who is not as well-versed in conflict resolution as ourselves. Some people may simply be unwilling to allow you the chance to address your issue properly. Or maybe you are unable to appropriately manage your emotions in order to remain rational. Whatever the case, it is important to recognise when you are figuratively ‘banging your head against a brick wall’. In other words, you need to recognise when an argument is no longer constructive. Walking away might mean suggesting that the conversation be continued another time, after both parties have had a chance to consider the situation. This all depends on your relationship with the person in question, and the weight of the issue. If it is someone close, and likely to bother you in the future, it needs to be revisited. Don’t leave the matter unresolved.

Final note…

We hope you enjoyed reading about our 5 Essential Conflict Resolution Skills. If you have a specific matter of conflict you’d like some help with, head over to the homepage and give us the short story, and we’ll reply within 24 hours with the short advice. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

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Change Dynamics: Creating Sustainable Change

Change dynamics

Firstly, don’t change for anyone else.

Change must come from within. Sure, someone or something might prompt you to make a change, but unless you truly believe that there is need for change then it won’t be sustainable. Perhaps someone you care about is particularly disenchanted with something you’ve said or done. Maybe they have highlighted this as being a recurring issue that you need to address. If this encourages you to reflect on your behaviour, and you conclude that there is indeed need for change, great. But ultimately, it must be your decision. Just remember, you may not be the only one that stands to gain from your positive change. So be wary of who you allow to influence your decisions, and make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

So, you’ve established the need for change.

Good start. Critical self-reflection is indeed a sign of intelligence. And as a contrast, one of the biggest cop-outs is “everyone should love me for me!”. Well, that may be true in many cases, but not if you’re a selfish, nasty individual. So anyway, you’ve highlighted an area of your life that you believe could use some improving. Is it an area that you have direct control over? Hopefully. Relying on other people’s change in order for yours to be successful is not a wise move. This should be a consideration before you embark on your important and life-changing journey. Okay, you’ve established that your change is necessary and in your direct control. Now you need to develop a course of action that will help guide your change.

What does your area of change physically look like?

That is to say, what actions are you trying to change? Your area of change will likely relate to a particular pattern of behaviour, so you need to understand specifically what actions you need to change. You should also consider the situations in which you are likely to perform these actions, so that you can be aware of when these negative behaviours are most likely to strike. Once you’ve considered that, you then need to consider those actions that will embody your new and positive change. Consider why these actions are important to your overall success, and the resulting positivity that will come of them. Now all you need to do (in a nutshell) is sub-out the bad actions for the good ones…

Is sustainable change really that simple?

You probably already know the answer to that question, so we won’t patronise you by saying ‘no’. In our article about laziness, we noted that creating a new habit can take some time. Changing or breaking a pattern of behaviour can also be challenging, and won’t happen overnight. It will take hours of critical self-reflection, and possibly some foreign and uncomfortable situations. Whilst we are speaking quite broadly, these feelings of discomfort/uncertainty are generally a pretty good sign that you’re on the right track. After all, it can be quite confronting to reflect on a situation from your past and realise just how far you once were from the person that you are trying to become. There may even be times when you once again find yourself making the same poor choices that you have been consciously trying to avoid. Absorb the negative emotions that come with this, and accept the consequences. Remember the disappointment and use it to motivate you. There is an element of trial and error in most things we do in life. So, do not judge yourself on your mistakes, but rather on the way in which you respond.

Accepting past mistakes (and their consequences).

Again, our mistakes do not have to define us. But whilst you’ve been on your journey towards enlightenment (good for you), your mistakes of the past have not been erased. Nor will they. Ever. Whilst it would certainly be convenient to simply say ‘I’ve changed, therefore I should not face consequences’, it may not seem particularly fair to the person/persons that you once wronged. Imagine a system where inmates could be paroled on account of their personal belief that they had changed (Australia circa 2050 if our justice system continues to head in the current direction). If you are truly committed to positive and sustainable change, you need to understand the following dynamics of control: The control that you have over your actions, and the control that you do not have over the consequences of your actions. Take responsibility for your mistakes, and rectify them/seek forgiveness where possible, but never deny them. This is an important learning mechanism that can be a major driver for sustainable change.

A final thought…

Be the change that you want to see in society. Lead from the front, and don’t be afraid to stand up for what you know to be right and true. Absorb the negative emotions that come with each of your inevitable failures. This must happen before you can experience true success, just ask MJ. Have the strength to be accountable for your actions, and remember that it is okay to adjust your behaviour and your views, as you learn more about the world and your environment. And, whilst you embark on your journey of change, your idea of what success looks like might also change too. Finally, you will make mistakes, so pride yourself on how you respond to them.

Thank-you again for reading! We really hope that some of today’s post was of benefit to you. Perhaps you’d like to leave us a comment below? Until next time…

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How To Live A Happy Life Starting Today

Being happy

Is being happy a basic human right?

No. Although, it would be fantastic if we were all inherently happy by nature, and could live happily ever after in our pineapples under the sea. But unfortunately (and fortunately) happiness is something to be earned, much like anything worth having. So where does the ‘fortunately’ part come into it? Good question. We are fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to earn our happiness. Some people have greater opportunity to achieve a state of relatively steady happiness, whereas others may have to work much harder to find this…

So, how do I find my happiness?

Another great question. It is easy to dwell on the aspects of your life that you may deem to be unfair. It is also easy to consider the trials and tribulations you’ve had to face as a result of being born in the time, place and environment that you have found yourself in. Naturally, we tend to compare our situation to that of others who are quite privileged and well-off. A much harder thing to do though, is to be grateful for the opportunities that we have been given. If you choose to focus on this, then you’ll be one step closer to earning that relatively steady happiness that we mentioned earlier.

Okay, so to be happy, I need to be grateful… Then what?

When we choose to focus on the opportunities that are accessible to us, we begin to realise just how vast the possibilities are. What is it that you want? And don’t say money. Woops, you already said money, didn’t you? Okay, let’s back track then… What is it that you need? If you’re accessing the internet to read this article, then it’s likely your primary needs as a human being have already been met. Fantastic! That is definitely something to be happy about. So now lets pretend that all you have is the bare minimum to survive. Food, water, shelter. What is the next thing that you want? (Probably some clothes) But as you start to acquire more of the things that we as human beings want, rather than need, your priorities begin to change. And so, your list of wants becomes greater… Now lets throw the internet into the mix. All of a sudden, you can Google P-Diddy’s yacht party or some exotic travel destination, or every other amazing thing in the world that you don’t have/haven’t done. What a disaster! Now you have become an absolute beast of wants with an insatiable appetite for more, and the happiness that was waiting just around the corner seems miles away. What you need readers, is a reference point to gauge your happiness. These reference points are more commonly referred to as goals.

You need to set goals and have clear priorities.

How you choose to do this is entirely up to you. You can write them down (recommended) or you can simply verbalise them. Your goals can relate to any aspect of your life, so try not to focus solely on financial goals. Perhaps friendship is an area of importance to you? Maybe you would like to spend more time with your family? These may be your priorities, and a specific goal may be to visit your grandparents every week for dinner. Our relationships with those we love are a good place to start. This is something we have direct access to, to make a positive impact right away. The next step is to separate your goals into two categories; short and long term. For example, if your goal is to be a rockstar, then you might be sorely disappointed at the end of the year, when you are still blogging about rockstars in your parents’ basement (we do not blog in anyone’s parents’ basement). So instead, it is a good idea to have smaller goals like ‘become proficient on the guitar‘. Now you have the ‘what‘, so all you need is the ‘how‘. Using our guitar proficiency as an example goal again, we might break it down into tasks like ‘learn the major scale‘ and ‘practice fingering exercises‘. These tasks are realistic, yet challenging. They will provide the motivation needed to progress towards the ultimate goal of becoming a rockstar.

When should I begin my quest for happiness?

Today! Happiness is waiting just around the corner for those who choose to get out there and earn it. That is to say, happiness is a choice. Your friends will probably tell you that you deserve to be happy, and you might want to believe them. But if you’re not willing to take action, despite the vast opportunities that you have been gifted, do you really deserve to be happy? Don’t answer that question. Instead, start building your happiness now, brick by brick…

As always, thanks for reading. If you have any comments about this article, we’d love to hear your say in the comments section below.

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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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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!