Posted on Leave a comment

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

SMART Goals The Short Advice

The Importance of Goal-Setting

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

SMART Goals

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

Specific

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

Measurable

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

Achievable

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

Relevant

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

Time-based

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

Are SMART Goals Flawless?

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

Final Note

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

Posted on Leave a comment

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Compare Yourself To Others

Don't Compare Yourself to Others The Short Advice

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

… Especially on social media! There are a number of obvious reasons why you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, and these are just a few. Well, four, if you want to get technical. The big message to take away from this article however, is not how many reasons there are… It’s do not gauge your happiness on the perceived happiness of others. Happiness is something to be earned. So, the next time you find yourself setting unrealistic expectations after marvelling at the magical lives of Instagrammers, remember these four reasons:

1. Success isn’t a Conversation

We’re not saying you can’t share your success stories and achievements with others, but there is a right way and a wrong way. Some people will even tell you all about how successful they are, even when they’re not successful at all. But don’t get upset at them. This is a success strategy that they’ve been taught by our society’s most influential people, like reality tv stars. Shameless self-promotion might help these people sometimes, but it’s not how true success is bred. It also doesn’t tend to help the people who have to put up with it. Promoting something of value rather, is a much better strategy. If you explore how you can enrich lives, rather than enrich your pocket, you’re probably a better chance of achieving both goals. So, don’t get down on yourself if your best friend tells you that they’re earning X, and you’re still earning Y. Because it’s not a competition, and they’re probably not earning X anyway!

2. Social Media Professional Liars

Don’t compare yourself to others that don’t even exist in the real world! If everyone on Instagram were a successful entrepreneur, then there would be more Ferraris on the road than Toyotas. This is simply not the case. There are however more liars on social media than there are Toyotas on the road. We’re not sure what it all means, but one thing is for certain… Don’t believe everything you read, see or hear, especially on social media. Lying has proved a viable business model for many social media ‘influencers’. It might even be a way to make some money, but it certainly won’t earn you respect. If you measure your value in the world based on all of the brilliant things these people are doing on social media than you are setting yourself up for disappointment. The reality that we live in is very different to the reality that we see on social media. Learn how to make the distinction between the two, and you’ll live happily ever after…

3. Helpful Internet Bloggers Are Wrong

This is a very negative outlook. There are an abundance of brilliant and helpful blogs out there, of course. But, many blog websites would have you believe that achieving success in just about any field is fast and easy. Nothing worth attaining is fast and easy. Understand this. There are lots of successful people who make it look easy. But generally, that’s because of how hard they work when nobody is looking at all. Lets look at blogging, for example. Hours, and hours of work must be put in before you can expect anybody to take you seriously. You need to build credibility, and trust. Build a network and a community. This quite often takes years to do. And yet, every pop-up ad you’ve ever seen is offering you a 6-figure income working online from anywhere in the world. Even though we know it’s too good to be true, part of us wants to believe it’s that easy. It’s not, there are no shortcuts. So whatever you do, enjoy it now, and keep working towards achieving your goals.

4. Unsuccessful People Can Look Successful

So many people are brilliant at looking successful. They drive nice cars, live in nice places, and holiday at exotic destinations. But when they’re not doing the work required behind the scenes, sometimes they file for bankruptcy too. This would definitely have to be on the list of ‘less-enjoyable’ activities in which these flamboyant self-proclaimed success stories partake… Now, we’ve all heard the saying ‘perception is reality’. And yes, if you want the part, you do need to look the part. But once you’ve got the part, there is work that must be done. If you’re not willing to put in, and you opt to live outside of your means, you will lose the part. So, don’t envy what others have, be grateful for the things you’ve earned, and continue to earn more (if it pleases you).

Final Note

You can research what works for successful people in your field, but don’t compare yourself to others. You are what you do, not what you say. So, stop listening to what everyone else has to say about themselves, and start doing the things that will put you back on the road to success. As always, thanks for reading and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Posted on Leave a comment

5 Simple Ways To Increase Your Energy Levels

Energy levels The Short Advice

Why is Energy Important?

An oversight for many people, energy is something that needs to be generated. We often expect that our mind/body will give us a particular amount of output, but neglect the process of energising ourselves to perform. Consider the work that goes into an F1 race car. In order to perform at staggering speeds, it needs constant maintenance. It performs best on a bitumen track, and in low humidity. It doesn’t take regular unleaded petrol… It needs the right fuel. Just as a race car has particular needs in order to perform at it’s best, so too do our minds and bodies. Below, we’ve outlined five considerations for getting the most out of yourself, by energising yourself. It might take a bit of trial and error to get systems in place that work for you, so be patient. Now that you’ve set your goals, and you’re on the ‘Road to Success‘, you need to implement strategies that allow you to perform at your best and increase your energy levels.

1. Location

Never work where you relax, and vice versa. A great tip that cartoonist and author Scott Adams, shares in his book How to Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big. The reason for this, is that people tend to associate particular places, with particular activities. Your couch, for example, might be a place for relaxing, or even sleeping. So, working on the couch may not be the best way to motivate you, and increase your energy levels. Instead, you should find a place that is conducive to hard work, and encourages you to focus on the task that you’ve set for yourself.

2. Energising Tasks

Identify which tasks drain your energy, and which tasks energise you. If reading helps you to regain focus and gives you the motivation to continue being creative, do more of it. Maybe hangovers sap your energy and are particularly challenging for you to manage… Drink less, and less frequently. Basically, do more of the things that give you energy, and less of the things that drain your energy. This will help to optimise your output when it comes to putting in work.

3. Give and Receive Energy

We’ve all heard instapreneurs bang on about ‘finding your tribe’, and ‘surrounding yourself with positivity’. Well, it’s sort of true. But it doesn’t mean burn everyone you’ve ever cared about in order to reach your goals, as too many people do. It’s not solely about absorbing the energy of others either. It’s about giving, too. Maybe you’ve got a friend who loves hearing your new ideas, and contributing to them. Call them! Tell them all about it. Your excitement might also inspire them to start working harder.

4. Sustenance

It almost seems cruel that cake is not considered to be healthy. But, at the end of the day, most of us have a fair idea of what we need to fuel our mind and body. Whilst there are many delicious options these days, whole foods like fruit and vegetables are what we really need. And water is probably the only liquid that our bodies actually want. So, be smart about your choices. Sugar highs and lows are very real, and much of your daily energy is reliant on what you put into your body. Don’t diet, just find a healthy eating plan that is sustainable for you.

5. Exercise

Regular exercise, teamed with a sustainable healthy diet, is a tried and tested way to increase your energy levels. Sometimes, just taking a walk can be a more effective strategy to reenergise your drowsy-self than having a nap. Exercise releases endorphins that give you energy, and it sort of makes sense right? “Hey Brain, I’m engaging in some exercise here, can you give me a little something extra?”, “Sure Body, here are some endorphins that will make you a bit happier, and give you the energy to sustain that activity for a bit longer.”… True story.

Final Note

When it comes to developing systems and strategies for improvement, one size doesn’t fit all. You’ll need to do some field research to find out what works best for you, and makes you feel more energised. The good news however, is that it does work. If you are willing to put in the effort, you will get more out of your mind and body, and give yourself a better chance at achieving your goals. If you’ve already found some strategies that have worked for you, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Posted on Leave a comment

Top 10 Time Management Tips

Time Management The Short Advice

Time Management Tips

In the spirit of effective time management, we’ve created a top ten list to save you time researching. So, if there had to be an eleventh tip it would probably be ‘Make The Short Advice Your Homepage’… Time management goes hand in hand with productivity and efficiency, and in our article on SMART goals, we stress the importance of being time-based. So if your goals are to be completed within a particular time frame, then you’ll need to be able to manage your time effectively. Give these ten tips a try and find out what works for you!

1. Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

The overwhelming pressure of a fast-approaching deadline can kill productivity. But, the less time you spend worrying about all of the things you’ll never get done, the more time you leave yourself to get those things done. Time management 101. Of course, it’s not always as simple as it sounds – some tasks are harder than others. But the big message here, is to utilise the time that you do have. Even if it seems impossible, negativity won’t get the job done.

2. Set Goals

Goal-setting is an important consideration on the ‘Road to Success‘. It allows you to create pathways towards achieving your desired outcome, and prompts you to develop systems in which to get there. Goals also help to motivate you. And, when it comes to time management, motivation can be the difference between productivity and procrastination. So, ask yourself the questions – “Why am I doing all of this? Where do I want it to lead?”

3. Plan

For each goal you set, there will be a series of actions that you must take in order to achieve that goal. Consider each of these actions/tasks, and schedule them into your calendar. You don’t need to be too regimented, unless you’re in a highly regimented role. For each task that you identify, consider whether they could be broken down further. In doing this, you’ll be able to create smaller, more achievable tasks. All of a sudden, your goals will become less daunting.

4. Prioritise

Not all tasks are created equal… Identify the most important tasks at the beginning of each week/day. In doing this, you will allow yourself some extra time just incase you need to bump some of the ‘less-important’ tasks. You might even consider using a ‘traffic lights’ rating system when you are creating your schedule. Your ‘red’ high-priority tasks should be scheduled for completion first, and your ‘green’ low-priority tasks can be completed towards the end of the day/week. Managing for the best outcome, with the time you have been allocated = good time management.

5. Be Realistic

Planning is important. But an unrealistic plan is useless. Well, not completely… It would provide the basis for a few hard lessons, thats for sure. When you’re setting goals, you need to consider whether your goals are achievable. Now, anything is possible of course. But difficulty, time-allowance, discipline, motivation… These things are all variable factors that must be considered. So, what is it that you want? What do you need to do to get there? What are you willing to do to get there? When do you expect to get there? These are just a few important questions to ponder before settling on a plan.

6. Focus on the Present

Similar to the first point, this tip simply means to operate in the ‘now’. You are no good to anybody when you’re stressing about the future. Instead, focus on creating the future that you want to live in. Time management is all about being where you are, and utilising whatever time you do have. So, be grateful that you do have the power to impact your future, and put your skills to work now. This will ensure that you’ve given yourself the best chance at achieving your outcomes in the time-frame allowed.

7. Set Timings

For each task that you undertake, give yourself a time-frame in which to complete it. It doesn’t have to be a strict deadline a such, but it’s a great way to manage your expectations. You’ll start to learn more about the duration of particular tasks, and your set-times will become more realistic and achievable. It can also help to improve your efficiency. If a task that you expect to have completed has not been completed in the time you’ve set, re-think and refine your process.

8. Don’t Procrastinate

Procrastination is the enemy of productivity and good time management. It’s super fun though! Who doesn’t want to practice their signature on the back of a scrap piece of paper for hours, or scan instagram until their eyeballs turn red!? On that note, turn off your social media notifications right now. Or at least when you’re working. For more strategies to avoid procrastination, checkout our article ‘Procrastination vs Productivity‘.

9. Eliminate Distractions

It’s easy to become distracted. Thats why you need to remove yourself from distraction as best you can. Firstly, consider the location of your work space. Is it a place that is conducive to hard work and productivity? If you’re trying to get work done in your bed, and you keep falling asleep… well, need we say anymore? Secondly, consider your work space itself. Clean and minimal is generally a good strategy, free from anti-time management gadgets and gizmos. Of course, everyone is different, so find what works best for you.

10. Re-Focus

Perhaps you’ve tried all of our tips to stay on task, and have still found yourself distracted and wasting time. Well… go away. That’s right! Give yourself a 5 minute break to do something that energises you, and helps you to regain your focus. Maybe reading, maybe crosswords, maybe a quick bit of exercise. Whatever it is, go and do it for a short, timed period. Hopefully, you’ll return to work task-focused and motivated to achieve success.

Final Note

Everyone is different, and there is no one solution to help you become an efficient time manager. In fact, there isn’t ten solutions! The only way these tips will be effective is if you have the discipline and desire to improve… As always, thanks for reading and we’d love to hear what you’ve got to add in the comments section below.

Posted on 5 Comments

DIY Woodworking: 6 Essential Tips To Get You Started

Melbourne Timberworks The Short Advice

About the Author

Melbourne Timberworks was founded by Tristan as a result of his many successful DIY woodworking projects. Entirely self-taught, Tristan sources his timber from local suppliers and has built just about every piece of furniture you can think of, for both commercial and domestic clients (you can check some out some of his work here). Today, he is here to share his advice on ‘starting your own workshop’, and some considerations and challenges of the DIY woodworking environment. So, please give it up for Melbourne Timberworks and woodworking guru, Tristan!

Starting a DIY Woodworking Venture

Aside from the mental health benefits of pursuing a hobby, woodworking is just great fun! But, when you’ve got a new and exciting idea in your head, it can often infect your bank account too… It’s tempting to want to spend every last cent in your wallet on the best and fanciest new tool or piece of equipment. That new tool feel is great, don’t get me wrong, but what you really need is the right balance of value and reliability (without living out of a cardboard box). So, aim for mid-range priced equipment for your humble DIY woodworking beginnings. Generally, you do get what you pay for, so whilst you can’t yet afford the best, don’t cheap out and get the worst either! Either way you’re bound to make mistakes, and there will be a few breakages along the way. But slowly, as you get better, you can update your tools to match your capabilities. You never know, you might even be able to start selling your work… But before we get too far along, here are my ‘6 Essential DIY Woodworking Tips’.

1. Gumtree is Your Best Friend.

You’ll probably need a work table for your garage or home workshop. But there’s just no need for a brand new, polished bench. Check the likes of Gumtree and eBay before you take the trip to a department store. Theres a heap of perfectly good used tables that you can use for your projects here. You might also be able to pick up a few tools. However, be wary of buying second-hand power-tools. For a beginner, it can be difficult to know the condition they’re in, and if they’ve been cared for correctly.

2. Test Things First.

Don’t rush. Trust me, there’s time for some testing before you rip into the ‘good copy’. Whether you love to paint, or building furniture is your passion, never try something new on the actual project itself. You wouldn’t serve your cooking before you’ve tasted it, right? So, take the time to develop your skills first. This way, you’ll avoid making mistakes with expensive materials, and possibly destroying hours of your hard work. Yes, practice can be a bit tedious… But remember, ‘if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly’.

3. It’s Your Space.

Set up a space dedicated to your DIY interests. It’s a good idea to have all the equipment in one area and in the same room. Everything within a few steps will work, especially if you need to get things in a hurry. Setting up a space also allows you to “close a door” on your work. It’s important to switch off for a moment and to be away from your projects so you don’t over exhaust yourself, and lose motivation. In doing this, you’ll train yourself to be productive as soon as you step into your DIY woodworking space.

4. Be Safe.

There’s nothing worse than starting a DIY project only to end up injuring yourself. Those ads on TV are not for your comedic relief. Be smart. Make sure you have the required safety equipment. Gloves, glasses, proper footwear and clothing can be the difference between coming out unscathed or making a trip to the hospital!

5. Youtube is Your Second Best Friend.

A very close second I might add… Your DIY woodworking doesn’t have to be an entirely solo project. You can invite the help of professionals from all around the globe to be your personal instructor, on your mobile phone! You can pause them, rewind them and fast forward through all the boring parts! It’s like school, except you only have to turn up for the bits you need, and only when you need them.

6. Have Fun.

This is probably the most important tip of them all. Sometimes projects start off really fun, but then as you progress through them you start to feel frustrated and tired. You start to rush to finish your masterpiece, and it doesn’t always turn out as you’d hoped. Take a step back and remember that you started because of your passion for woodworking, and that frustration is because you care. If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to put the tools and equipment down for a while.

Final Note…

Trying new things can be challenging! But that doesn’t mean you should quit… I’m grateful that I persisted through the early stages of the DIY woodworking process. The skills that I have developed now give me the freedom to create whatever I want.

Thanks very much for taking the time to read my guest post for The Short Advice. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to respond to them in the comments section below. Don’t forget to check out Melbourne Timberworks here.