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The Success Blueprint: Defining, Planning And Achieving

TSA Success Cartoon

What is Success?

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

The Success Blueprint.

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

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

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

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

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

3. The Daily Grind (Regular Practices)

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

4. Implementing, Refining and Achieving

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

Managing Your Expectations (and failures).

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

The Journey, Not The Destination.

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

Final Note

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

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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!

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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.

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Overcome Your Fear of Failure: 5 Fail-Proof Tips

The Short Advice Fear of Failure

Understanding Fear of Failure.

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

The 5 Fail-Proof Tips to Overcome Fear of Failure

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

1. Embrace Your Fear.

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

2. Plan for Success.

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

3. Leverage Your Passion.

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

4. Manage Your Emotions.

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

5. Build Your Resilience. 

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

Final Note…

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

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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.