Personal Development en-US You CAN Learn a New Language — Just Use One of These 3 Apps <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/you-can-learn-a-new-language-just-use-one-of-these-3-apps" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="languages" title="languages" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Learning a new language used to mean taking years of classes in high school. When you graduated, you knew enough Spanish, French, or German to buy a sandwich, find a bathroom, or ask if anyone speaks English &mdash; should you travel to another country. Learning a new language outside of school meant buying expensive CD sets that you listen to while you were driving or sitting around your home. You could go at your own pace but didn't have anyone to converse with or practice your new skills. (See also: <a href="">5 Ways to Learn a Language</a>)</p> <p>Thanks to the growth in technology and the development of language learning apps, you can acquire new language skills in a short amount of time and from the comfort of anywhere. Great apps can range from free to a small monthly fee to the purchase of a $25 app. The best apps offer a range of features for various learning preferences. Here are three great ones to consider.</p> <h2>Duolingo</h2> <p><a href="">Duolingo</a> is a free app available for IOS and Android devices. It is an easy-to-use program that will leave you feeling successful after the first lesson and has been highly regarded as one of the best language learning models available. One independent research study found that Duolingo works as well as one semester of college level language classes in just 34 hours of time on the app. Imagine spending one hour a day for one month working on learning a language and acquiring the same skills you would have had you paid thousands of dollars and many weeks attending a university course! (See also: <a href="">Learning Without the High Cost of Higher Ed</a>)</p> <p>Duolingo works by asking its language learners to translate real sentences that have been uploaded to their software. Users can vote on whether translations are correct. Once a document is fully translated, the one who uploaded it pays Duolingo. This keeps it free for the language learner.</p> <p>Lessons are broken up into small chunks which offer repeated practice of the same five or six words in isolation, in phrases, and in complete sentences. It pairs audio and text to teach you the phrases and then uses your microphone to verify your pronunciation. There are a number of languages available to learn but not as many as other apps. (Available at this time are Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese.) The app has a simple layout and is easy to navigate. (A friend's child was learning Spanish within seconds of loading the app onto a phone, making it worth a download by everyone.)</p> <h2>Memrise</h2> <p>Another free app that is available on both IOS and Android devices is <a href="">Memrise</a>. This app allows users to learn all of the languages that Duolingo does plus Russian, Japanese, Arabic, and many more. (There is a premium feature in the works that may change what is free and what is not in the future.)</p> <p>Memrise provides a combination of text, audio, and pictures to help you learn words and phrases. It offers the learner repeated exposure with the same phrase, which may or may not feel repetitive to a user. There is an option to listen to a phrase as many times as you need to hear and practice pronouncing it.</p> <p>One unique feature of Memrise is that it doesn't focus solely on language learning. You can use the lessons to learn about classical works of art, geography, science, or entertainment. Using the science behind how the brain learns, Memrise offers short, easy-to-complete lessons, repeated practice, and regular review to ensure that you have learned the information for good. It should definitely be used if you are looking to acquire a new language or learn something new about the world. (See also: <a href="">Learn Something New Every Day</a>)</p> <h2>Anki</h2> <p><a href="">Anki</a> is a free desktop program that you can download to your computer. It uses a flashcard model to help you remember languages and other information. Anki has developed software that incorporates active recall testing (asking you questions just after you learned the information rather than waiting a period of time to ask) and spaced repetition (spreading out review of the information over time). The combination of the two means you are answering questions about the information you just learned and then answering questions on that same answer over time. For example, you may be reviewing the same information every day for three days. If you get it right every time, then you will start reviewing it every week. As you continue to answer correctly, the review questions are spaced out further and further apart.</p> <p>Anki takes time to master. You are not going to be diving into lessons immediately upon download. However, there is a large community that is developing and sharing flashcards for you to use. If you are trying to learn a common language, you may be able to use a &quot;deck&quot; (what Anki calls a set of flashcards) that someone else has already developed. If you are trying to learn something rare, you may have to create your own deck, which can take a lot of time. (See also: <a href="">10 Great Self-Improvement Apps</a>)</p> <p>Anki is available for use with Android devices for free, but the IOS app is $24.99. Many users find this a small price to pay for mastering a language.</p> <h2>Other Options</h2> <p>If these three apps do not meet your needs, check out <a href="">LingQ</a> and <a href="">Busuu</a>. Both apps have free lessons available but require a purchase (or monthly fee) to progress beyond that. They are worth checking out if you are serious about learning a new language and don't mind investing money in the process.</p> <p>Whether you are hoping to brush up on what you learned in high school, looking to travel in the future, or need to master a new language, any of the apps mentioned here will bring you closer to your goal.</p> <p><em>Have you tried a master a new language? What worked for you?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="You CAN Learn a New Language — Just Use One of These 3 Apps" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Personal Development apps language learn a language learning smartphone apps Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:48:24 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1136592 at You're Blocking Your Own Success — Here's How to Stop <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/youre-blocking-your-own-success-heres-how-to-stop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="man" title="man" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Much has been written about the concept of success&hellip; <em>oodles</em>, in fact, all claiming to deliver the proverbial key that will help you get from here to there.</p> <p>Proper planning is apparently crucial for example, as is unyielding determination. Setting goals that are measurable is also said to be important, as it allows you to monitor your progress and celebrate your milestones. (See also: <a href="">Build on Your Strengths to Succeed</a>)</p> <p>And all of this is good, sound advice; so good, in fact, that I've given it myself on more than one occasion. But sometimes, even the best laid plans and the most dedicated dispositions have trouble standing up to the obstacles we ourselves create.</p> <p>You heard me&hellip; sometimes, what keeps you from success is <em>you</em> &mdash; your beliefs, your fears, your inability to &quot;go with the flow.&quot;</p> <p>So, here's how to stop standing in your own way.</p> <h2>Let Go of Expectations</h2> <p>When we decided we wanted to move out of the city, we spent months looking for just the right house. The one we wanted &mdash; <em>the one we thought was perfect</em> &mdash; sat on three acres just twenty minutes outside of town.</p> <p>We submitted an offer, the seller accepted, and we thought we had found our new home.</p> <p>The Universe it seems didn't agree, because we encountered one obstacle after another. The roof would have to be replaced, the septic hadn't been properly installed, and, if you can believe it, our refrigerator was too big for the allotted space in the kitchen.</p> <p>And that was just the tip of the iceberg. Physical repairs aside, our mortgage company suddenly got cold feet. They wanted more inspections. They didn't like the zoning. Our previously approved application now needed more employment history and bank statements.</p> <p>We pushed and pushed to make the deal work but for every problem we solved, two more popped up in its place until we finally had to admit defeat. It was, I believed at the time, one of my biggest disappointments, <em>ever</em>.</p> <p>Until the next day, that is, when we found the house we're living in now.</p> <p>The roof and plumbing were all good, our refrigerator fit just fine, and we even had more land. Interestingly, there were no obstacles to buying this house, no delays, no roadblocks to our success. We submitted an offer and closed within 30 days.</p> <p>And I've been &quot;home&quot; ever since.</p> <p>The point is, we spend quite a bit of time deciding what we want, right down to the last detail. But sometimes, we need to let all those requirements go. Having such a rigid definition of success means that we're attached to a specific outcome. And if there's one constant in the Universe, it's that life is full of surprises. (See also: <a href="">What Financial Success Means to You</a>)</p> <p>So, while you're working diligently toward a particular goal by following your detailed plan of action, you risk missing a whole host of other opportunities that might actually be better than what you had in mind.</p> <p>Does this mean that you can't dream of a bigger salary or a flashy, red car or that perfect house in the country?</p> <p>Absolutely not&hellip; but don't be so quick to dismiss it as a failure when things don't go as planned. Instead, take a step back and get a more objective point of view. You might find something new and wonderful waiting around the corner.</p> <h2>Let Go of Entitlement</h2> <p>And while we're talking about things we want, let's go one step further and talk about the things we're owed. Why? Because we're preoccupied with those things and it's keeping us from becoming all that we can be.</p> <p>We went to college, therefore we should have a job. We worked hard, therefore we should get a raise. We tried our best, therefore our best should be good enough to get whatever it is we covet.</p> <p>But sometimes, it isn't. We don't always win, and we won't always get what we want. The sooner we can come to grips with that fact, the sooner we can start to move forward.</p> <p>Entitlement breeds anger. It fosters jealousy, contempt, and distrust. When we feel entitled, we also generally feel betrayed because we didn't get what was somehow rightfully ours. <em>We got screwed</em>&hellip; and someone, somewhere is to blame.</p> <p>The result is the world as we see it now: people obsessed with an endless game of &quot;mine&quot; and paranoid about who might be plotting to usurp them. We'll quickly join forces with others we believe share our desire to protect those entitlements, but only insofar as their right to something doesn't interfere with our own.</p> <p>In fact, if it comes down to a question of whose entitlement takes precedence, you can bet that the other guy is going to lose, and we become so consumed by what <em>should be ours</em>, that we lose sight of what <em>could be ours</em>.</p> <p>Bottom line: You'll never have what you want if your life is built around what you don't.</p> <h2>Let Go of the Need for Approval</h2> <p>When I left high school, I did so with the belief that I needed to go out and find a job that would pay well and offer me opportunities for advancement.</p> <p>I had this belief because that's what my mom did and that's what my counselors told me to do, and according to all my well-meaning relatives ready to offer advice, <em>that's what I was supposed to do</em>. (See also: <a href="">Success Secrets You Should&rsquo;ve Learned in High School</a>)</p> <p>And back then, I was all about gaining the approval of others.</p> <p>As a result, I went into respectable fields like insurance and banking. I wore power suits every day, so others would take me seriously, and I had myself convinced that I'd find the happiness I was looking for once I had climbed that corporate ladder.</p> <p>The funny thing is, my happiness wasn't on that ladder. I'm much happier now that I've permanently thrown away the pantyhose and started following a path that's more <em>me</em>, instead of doing what everyone else said I should do.</p> <p>And you should try doing the same.</p> <p>You have a choice. You've always had a choice. It's OK <em>not</em> to fit in. It's OK to follow your own path and see where it leads rather than arranging your life to fit someone else's concept of success.</p> <p>Figure that out, and you'll find the adventure you're looking for. Figure that out, and you'll find happiness.</p> <h2>Let Go of the Past</h2> <p>Author Steve Maraboli once wrote, &quot;Letting go means to come to the realization that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny,&quot; and yet, as true as that is, letting go of the past is often one of the hardest things to do.</p> <p>As a result, we come with a lot of baggage. All those skeletons in our closet, all those preconceived beliefs about how the world works and what we can expect from the future. That's the baggage we've accumulated over the years, and we're determined to carry it around with us, no matter how much it weighs us down.</p> <p>The past holds all of our regrets, the things we didn't do and wish we had, the things we did do and wish we hadn't. It reminds us of our limitations, our shortcomings, and all the opportunities that we allowed to pass us by.</p> <p>Of course, clinging to this pool of disappointments only serves to limit us further, by reinforcing the idea that we &quot;can't&quot; do something or that we're doomed to &quot;bad luck,&quot; but we tote it around anyway because somewhere deep down inside, we're hoping to one day atone for those sins and perhaps even get a do-over. Eventually, however, we begin to build our reality around all of that baggage and it becomes our self-fulfilling prophecy. We can't because we believe we can't, and we believe we can't because we never have.</p> <p>So, break the cycle.</p> <p>Start by reminding yourself that the past does not define you or your future. You get to choose how you want to apply those lessons from the past to your current life and move on.</p> <p>My favorite mantra &mdash; <em>it is what it is</em> &mdash; works perfectly here. You can't change what happened, but you can decide what you take from the experience and more importantly, how you want to go forward. Getting to this place of acceptance allows you to weigh the pros and cons, determine your best course of action, and get on with your life. That alone will make you feel loads better.</p> <p>Perhaps that's the real mark of winning: acceptance. Taking the bad with the good, the happy as well as the sad and accepting it for what it is &mdash; <em>life</em>. It isn't perfect and it's not always easy. But it's yours.</p> <p>And you can choose to make it whatever you want it to be.</p> <h2>Let Go of Fear</h2> <p>Much of my life as a freelance writer is spent creating copy for other people. I write blogs and ebooks, sales pages and emails, web copy, marketing copy, and everything else in between. I've created entire courses for my clients &mdash; from scratch &mdash; and then marketed them with great success, making my clients a nice chunk of change in the process.</p> <p>You'd think then, wouldn't you, that I could do the same for me.</p> <p>But funny story&hellip; when I try to create my own products and services, all my creative juices just magically disappear. Oh, I have tons of ideas, complete with outlines and marketing plans, but they sit in my office, incomplete and collecting dust.</p> <p>And as much as I want to see them come to life, I have this sinking feeling that's where they'll stay.</p> <p>Why don't I finish one of those babies and retire as a self-made entrepreneur? Simple. I'm afraid.</p> <p>When I'm writing for someone else, when I'm brainstorming and marketing and analyzing, I have all the confidence in the world. I know my stuff, and I know that I know it.</p> <p>But when I try to branch out on my own, something strange happens. That unwavering confidence fades and is replaced with a whole host of nagging little voices telling me to revise, rethink, and regroup.</p> <p>I'm afraid of failing &mdash; and I'm afraid of succeeding. I'm afraid that people won't like what I write or someone will prove my idea wrong or, I don't know, that I'll make too much money and I won't know how to handle the taxes.</p> <p>Crazy, right?</p> <p>Which is why we need to let it go. Fear serves no purpose. It pins us down, it holds us back, but not because there's danger nearby. That kind of fear at least, would be useful, forcing us to proceed with caution lest we fall prey to something unfortunate or unsavory. (See also: <a href="">Techniques to Conquer Any Fear</a>)</p> <p>But this kind of fear is different. This is the fear that keeps you from asking for a promotion. It stops you from speaking your mind, standing up against injustice, and saying hello to that cute guy or girl that lives down the hall.</p> <p>This kind of fear doesn't keep you safe. No, this kind of fear causes you to act irrationally, miss opportunities, and settle for something less than the life you want to live.</p> <p>This fear would have you believe that you don't deserve success, that you're not good enough, smart enough, strong enough to win, and that you'll never be anything more than you are now.</p> <p>But don't you believe it. You do, you are, and you will.</p> <h2>Let Go of Negative Thinking</h2> <p>Now, despite all that fear I'm lugging around, I'm also an eternal optimist, and it is that trait that allows me to keep trying to create that first million-dollar idea.</p> <p>Yes, I'm well aware that my fear may yet win out, and I might never achieve the goals that I've set. The minute I stop believing is the minute those possibilities disappear.</p> <p>In other words, what you think &mdash; <em>how you think</em> &mdash; has much to do with your success.</p> <p>Between feeling afraid of what might happen and feeling angry about what should have happened but didn't, there's a lot of negative thinking floating around out there, and it's quite likely that it's keeping you from where you want to go.</p> <p>In his book, &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1401923127&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">The Biology of Belief</a>,&quot; cell biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton writes at length about the profound effects that thought has on our physical being. According to Dr. Lipton, it is not DNA that controls our body; instead, our DNA is controlled by signals <em>outside the cell</em>, including the energy that emanates from our thoughts.</p> <p>&quot;There is no doubt that human beings have a great capacity for sticking to false beliefs with a great passion and tenacity,&quot; he writes. And if that passion for false beliefs can affect our DNA at a cellular level, then what do you suppose it can do to your ability to succeed?</p> <p>So, shake the voice that says &quot;you can't&quot; and prove it wrong. You may not always get what you want. You might stumble, fall and fail more often than not, but you can always try again.</p> <p>And again. And again. Because giving up is worse than facing all your fears.</p> <p><em>Now, it's your turn to fess up. What's holding you back? What do you need to let go?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="You&#039;re Blocking Your Own Success — Here&#039;s How to Stop" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kate Luther</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development fear motivation optimism productivity Fri, 18 Apr 2014 08:36:17 +0000 Kate Luther 1135854 at 5 Great Ways to Network That Don't Feel Sleazy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-great-ways-to-network-that-dont-feel-sleazy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="talking" title="talking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>While some seasoned professionals can market and network in a natural way, too many can come off as pick-up artists. Whether they are pitching a new health shake multi-level-marketing plan, their child's Girl Scout cookies, or their new tech startup, when someone you encounter has you in their sights to close a business deal, it can feel very, very uncomfortable. (See also: <a href="">Networking Mistakes to Avoid</a>)</p> <p>So what if you're not a natural networker? Most business experts agree that your body language, tone, and ability to put your contact at ease are more important than the where and when of networking. With that in mind, here are some of the best strategies to getting a foot in the door of opportunity with people you see every day.</p> <h2>1. Make the Wait Great</h2> <p>There are so many instances of &quot;hurry up and wait&quot; in today's society, that it may feel like you spend more time in line or in a chair waiting for your turn than actually getting anything done.</p> <p>Since places like airports, physicians' waiting rooms, and bus stops are meccas of professionals who are just like you (trying to get things done), there is an instant emotional connection that can become a genuine starting point for conversation. While tact is key (you would never want to approach someone who appears bereaved at an airport or in very poor health at the Doc's office), someone who is willing to make eye contact and ask you about your profession is giving you permission to at least make small talk. Use your brief chat to exchange a business card, if there isn't time for anything else. (See also: <a href="">Simple Networking Tricks</a>)</p> <h2>2. Network Around the Kids</h2> <p>I have met more like-minded professionals in the bleachers of my kids' sporting events than any high-dollar business conference I've attended. The team atmosphere and a sense of &quot;belonging&quot; to a group of people that you may never have bonded with otherwise also brings out opportunities to market. Whether you're paired up with another mom for snack duty or you happen to overhear a frank discussion during overtime, it's generally OK to follow-up with questions about business if they are brief and not overbearing. Close any shop talk convos with compliments or questions about the other's son or daughter, however. It is all about the kids, after all. (See also: <a href="">Hidden Networks to Help You Land Jobs</a>)</p> <h2>3. Share Your Skills</h2> <p>Do you blog, paint, write, or repair? Are people always asking &quot;how do you do that&quot;? Offering a skills class or workshop to the public is a legitimate way to meet others with similar interests, establish yourself as an expert in your trade, and possibly get some media exposure. Coupon bloggers are known for their initiative in holding &quot;savings workshops&quot; in their local churches and schools &mdash; sometimes for free. The result of these gratis offerings have resulted in book deals, consulting gigs, and a lifetime of goodwill that all the direct postcard mailers in the world can't generate.</p> <h2>4. Request a Referral</h2> <p>I am always amazed whenever I meet with a small business owner who tells me that they have hit a wall with getting new clients, and they admit that they rarely ask for referrals. The simple phrase, &quot;I'd be delighted if you'd let your friends know about my services,&quot; is a golden key to bigger and better things, and it costs nothing to say. Referrals lend themselves to some of the easiest networking of all; you and the new lead have at least one friend in common. Use your shared experiences as a jumping off point for discussing business in a way that's neither harsh nor out of place. (See also: <a href="">Bad Networking Habits</a>)</p> <h2>5. Ask Your Fellow Alumni</h2> <p>I hadn't talked to a friend of mine from school in over 20 years. That didn't stop me from sending a LinkedIn message asking permission to refer a business associate to him for a sales pitch. He was happy to help, and it led to some great trips down memory lane. If I wanted to do some business with someone who starred in the 4th grade play with me or shared a marching band awards victory, I would find it easy to do. People whom you've created childhood experiences with are a special class of contacts that you can continue to check in with, no matter how much time has passed. (This is reserved for people who you were on good terms with, however. I wouldn't recommend networking with ex-prom dates or the class bully unless you've worked things out in the meantime.)</p> <p>I have made some of the best business contacts in the most ordinary places. The key isn't to think of some untapped market to sell your wares; it is to maximize the time with those you know and meet to be respectful of their busy lives and offer them something of value. Even if they aren't a good fit for what you have to offer, they should walk away feeling like they are better off from having talked with you.</p> <p><em>Where do you network? Why not try some networking in comments below? </em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Great Ways to Network That Don&#039;t Feel Sleazy" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Career Building Personal Development job search networking referrals Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:24:14 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1135773 at Do You "Want" to Be Happy? Then Here's What You Need to Do. <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/do-you-want-to-be-happy-then-heres-what-you-need-to-do" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman with umbrella" title="woman with umbrella" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking, &quot;I'll be happy when...&quot;</p> <p>You know, &quot;I'll be happy when I can own my own home,&quot; or &quot;I'll be happy when I can buy a new car/afford nicer clothes/replace this cludgy old desktop.&quot; Even people who aren't focused on gaining possessions tend to fall into this kind of thinking, only for them it can sound like, &quot;I'll be happy when I get a promotion,&quot; or &quot;I'll be happy when I have kids/feel better/have more free time.&quot; (See also: <a href="">Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Happier</a>)</p> <p>Whether the thinking focuses on possessions or more abstract desires, it all comes back to one thing: wanting more. Most of us live this way because it's the life we've been taught. Wanting more is endemic to our culture.</p> <p>However, <a href="">having more does not necessarily make us happier</a>. As it turns out, wanting less and happiness are connected in some interesting ways, and there are a few steps we can take that will help us achieve both goals.</p> <h2>Cultivate Gratitude</h2> <p>Gratitude leads us to want less because it <a href="">reduces our feelings of insecurity</a>. When we intentionally look around and see all of the good things in our lives, we feel more secure with who we are, what we've accomplished, and what we have. When we are secure in what we already have, we are happier.</p> <p>In fact, <a href="">gratefulness is tied to a higher sense of wellbeing</a>. When we take the time to notice and feel appreciation for the things in our life that we value, we feel better about who we are and how our lives are going. We feel a higher sense of achievement, and we realize that we have more of the things that are truly important to us than we might have thought before we took the time to be grateful.</p> <p>Put those two effects together &mdash; security in our achievements and overall wellbeing &mdash; and we lose some of that urge to want.</p> <h3>Steps to Take</h3> <p>You can write down the things you're thankful for or share them over dinner every night. Choose what works for you to get gratitude going. (See also: <a href="">20+ Ways to Say Thanks</a>)</p> <h2>Let Your Values Rule</h2> <p>In order to step back from the cultural drive for more, you need to know what your life is about and then set your goals accordingly.</p> <p>Start by spending some time pondering your answers to the following questions:</p> <ul> <li> <p>What do you value?</p> </li> <li> <p>What do you want out of life?</p> </li> <li> <p>What are your overarching goals?</p> </li> </ul> <p>Once you have your answers, take some time to let them guide your goals. For instance, if you discovered that you value new experiences, you can begin saving for a trip rather than for a new vehicle. When I went through this process, I realized that truth and honesty are driving forces in my life. These values helped me make it a goal to only take jobs that allow me to keep my integrity, even when they don't pay as well or aren't as plentiful.</p> <p>Answering these questions and forming your goals based upon them will help you gain the self-understanding necessary to step back from &quot;more&quot; as a way of life and to cultivate a life that better aligns with your values. When our lives and our values don't align, we can feel empty and then we often try to fill that emptiness with more stuff.</p> <p>When our values and our lives do align, we stop trying to fill those empty places with stuff and ambitions, because we are already full to overflowing. (See also: <a href="">Trading Goals for Values</a>)</p> <p>Defining what our lives are about also gives us the chance to define what happiness looks like in our lives and to pursue it. When we do this, we turn happiness into something measurable and achievable, rather than abstract and kinda hazy, and then we can work step-by-step to become happier.</p> <h3>Steps to Take</h3> <p>It takes time and intention to figure out what you want out of life. Give yourself regular chances to journal about it and to talk with like-minded people, and you may discover values you didn't even know you had.</p> <h2>Focus on the Present</h2> <p>Focusing in the present means paying attention to what is in front of you, instead of running from one thing to the next on the hamster wheel of life until exhaustion sets in. You can do this no matter what your daily tasks include. If you need to wash your dishes, just wash the dishes. Notice how the light refracts through the suds and the way the warm water feels on your hands. If you are entering data on a spreadsheet, you can focus on the way your hands feel on the keyboard or what your work means &mdash; for you and for everybody else on your team.</p> <p>When we take the time to focus on the present, we learn to see when things go right instead of focusing on when they go wrong. When we are stressed and acting without thinking, <a href="">daily events often only stand out when they are negative</a>. Being present, then, allows us to not only see and celebrate the small times when life is good, but also allows us to acknowledge our baby steps and value them, no matter how small. Sometimes, the distance between where we are and where we want to be seems insurmountable, but focusing on these small steps in the present helps us see that we are moving forward, even when the goal line isn't quite in sight. This <a href="">makes us happier</a>.</p> <p>Seeing life as it is &mdash; with both the good and the bad &mdash; gives us a tool to evaluate our lives based on what we value. We won't simply do things because they are there or because we usually do them. Instead, we will be able to determine which of our actions bring good, even if that good feels small. This aids us in evaluating which of the things we do helps us achieve our overarching goals, and which ones are extraneous to those purposes.</p> <p>This can lead us to wanting less, because we will no longer want the things that don't fall into our overall view of life. We will be living in closer alignment with our values, so our daily actions will be valuable and we won't need extraneous things.</p> <p>Focusing on the present also helps us to see that we already have many of the things that we want, especially when it comes to things like relationships with family and friends and neighbors and colleagues.</p> <h3>Steps to Take</h3> <p>Many people find it easier to focus on the present when they practice regular meditation, or when they take some time to sit in nature every day. This sort of practice often allows people to better focus on the present through the whole day. If that feels intimidating or difficult, start by simply stepping away from your electronic devices for a few minutes. Just disconnect and be where you are. (See also: <a href="">The Joy of Disconnecting</a>)</p> <p>And if you don't have the time or energy to add something new, start focusing on what is in front of you, whatever it is. Focus on the physical sensations and the reasons behind your actions. Even the most mundane tasks &mdash; like cleaning the kitchen &mdash; are rich with sensation and meaning, if we allow ourselves to sense them and to consider them.</p> <p><em>Have you found that wanting less and happiness are tied together in your own life? I'd love to hear more about your journey!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Do You &quot;Want&quot; to Be Happy? Then Here&#039;s What You Need to Do." rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Sarah Winfrey</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle Personal Development happiness living simply more wanting less Mon, 14 Apr 2014 09:36:23 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1135140 at How to Improve Your Life by Becoming a Better Quitter <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-improve-your-life-by-becoming-a-better-quitter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="I quit!!!" title="I quit!!!" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&quot;Quitter.&quot;</p> <p>If you're at all like me, that word brings up all sorts of negative childhood memories. I was a particularly tenacious kid, but I remember cringing when kids used that word to describe each other. I even remember a friend getting chewed out by her dad when she wanted to stop playing soccer mid season.</p> <p>With all of these negative associations, it's no wonder Americans are working longer hours with <a href="">less vacation than ever before</a>. Add to this the pressure to make more money so we can consume more stuff, and our busy, busy behavior makes a lot of sense. (See also: <a href="">You're Too Busy: Stop!</a>)</p> <p>In recent years, though, some people have begun to see the value of doing less, of quitting some of the nonessential activities in their lives so that they can focus on what really matters. There are lots of reasons why this might make for a better life, even if the idea seems counterintuitive at first.</p> <h2>Why Quit?</h2> <p>Whether the idea of doing less resonates deeply within you or you're still skeptical, there are several compelling reasons to consider applying these ideas to your life.</p> <h3>1. You're Not as Important as You Think You Are</h3> <p>When you quit some things so that you can do less, you will see that your presence isn't absolutely <em>necessary</em> for everything. In fact, you may even come to realize that many of the tasks you thought you had to do can easily be done by someone else. (See also: <a href="">How to Delegate in 4 Steps</a>)</p> <p>While this may seem threatening at first, the truth is that it opens the door for you to take better care of yourself and your family. If you aren't essential for every single project, there's more motivation to delegate the ones that aren't close to your passions or your heart, and instead focus on the people and the things that matter more to you.</p> <h3>2. Quitting Helps You Focus on Quality</h3> <p>It's easy to focus on producing as much as you can, as fast as you can. However, higher quality work has a greater impact, gives you the time and space to enter a state of <a href="">Flow</a> as you work, and produces a greater sense of pride, which motivates you to do more good work in the future.</p> <p>Quality is often harder to measure than quantity, which is why we take on so much and try to produce so much, so that, at the end of the day, we feel like we have done a lot. However, quitting things that aren't essential will give us the space to determine what, exactly, determines quality in our line of work, and then allows us to pursue that. (See also: <a href="">Work Smarter, Not Harder</a>)</p> <h3>3. You Need the Rest</h3> <p>When we feel like quitting, when we are tired and strung out and anxious, it usually means that we need to rest. Instead of shutting this down, we can listen to our bodies and our hearts and give ourselves what we need, but we can only do that if we are willing to quit some of the things we're doing. (See also: <a href="">Simple Ways to Fight Burnout</a>)</p> <p>So many people right now struggle to rest. We struggle because we know that there are emails to answer, texts to respond to, and items that desperately need checking off on our to-do lists. If we quit many of the projects that are producing those tasks, then we will find ourselves much more disposed towards rest. In addition, if we know that we work better when we are rested and we feel passionate about everything we're doing, we'll have more motivation to figure this rest thing out.</p> <h2>How to Become a Quitter</h2> <p>If quitting some of what you're doing sounds like a good idea, here are a few steps you can start implementing today to get more space in your life.</p> <h3>1. Single-Task</h3> <p>Multitasking is almost ubiquitous in our work culture, and many people find that trying to walk away from it feels like trying to break an addiction. However, <a href="">our brains aren't good at multitasking</a>. They aren't good at focusing on more than one thing at a time, and when we do that we aren't doing the hard work of training ourselves to focus well.</p> <p>Quitting our multitasking ways is hard because it means breaking habits. However, focusing on mindfulness can help. Being mindful means keeping your mind centered in the present. When you do this, you are more likely to focus on one task at a time. You are also likely to notice when you fall back into your multitasking ways. (See also: <a href="">How to Make Multitasking Actually Work</a>)</p> <h3>2. Savor Everything You Do</h3> <p>Mindfulness is also central to this step. When you are doing a task, be all there. Be present with the things you love about the task and the things you hate. Pay attention to the way your body feels when you do the task and to the ways your mind is (or is not) working.</p> <p>Finding the richness in the tasks that you do will help you determine which ones you want to quit. If there's a nonessential task that doesn't make you feel good, that causes stress in your body and anxiety in your mind, then don't do it anymore. If, on the other hand, you find yourself engaging with a task on a deep level, try to do more of that.</p> <p>Once you've chosen the tasks to keep in your schedule, the practice of savoring will help you focus on those tasks and relish every moment that you spend doing them.</p> <h3>3. Put Boundaries on Communication</h3> <p>With communication as easy as sending an email or a text message, it's usually necessary to put boundaries on the ways that people communicate with you and the times that they do it, if you want to do less. Quitting constant communication often opens up a lot of space for you to do quality work that you love.</p> <p>This is an area where the boundaries you set will be determined by your job, the ways in which you prefer to be contacted, and the logistics of your situation. Some people choose not to use email, while others reserve texts for their friends. Some only answer email a couple of times a day, while others reserve particular email addresses for particular types of communications. Figure out what works for you, and then communicate that to the relevant people.</p> <p><em>Have you found freedom and rest in quitting? What was the most important step you've taken towards doing less?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Improve Your Life by Becoming a Better Quitter" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Sarah Winfrey</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle Personal Development productivity quitting simplifying Tue, 08 Apr 2014 09:24:28 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1134346 at 20 Free and Fun Ways to Reward Yourself <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/20-free-and-fun-ways-to-reward-yourself" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="cupcake" title="cupcake" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I don't know about you, but I'm big on setting goals. I have fitness goals (run a 1:40 half marathon), professional goals (establish myself as a solid freelance writer), personal goals (join the local community orchestra), and financial goals (pay off my hefty student loans). Thing is, a lot of my goals involve incentives for motivation purposes. I'd love to give myself all sorts of treats, but I have to keep my budget in mind if I want to accomplish everything on my list. (See also: <a href="">Frugal Ways to Reward Yourself</a>)</p> <p>Getting things done takes hard work, so at the heart of these rewards is our own need for some TLC and a mental or emotional break. Thankfully, there are many ways we can get those fuzzy feelings without heading to the store or spa. Here are 20 wonderful things you can do for yourself &mdash; today &mdash; for free.</p> <h2>1. Take a Day Off</h2> <p>Though we don't all have the luxury, one of my favorite rewards for a job well done is giving myself time. Even if it isn't an entire day, clearing my schedule and leaving chores to the next day can be such an indulgence. I spend my time reading, enjoying my favorite hobbies, and just relaxing. Now, I'm not suggesting you skip out on work; however, if you have some extra vacation time, a random day or two can be an excellent gift to give yourself.</p> <h2>2. Enjoy a Bath</h2> <p>During the week, my bathing routine is, well, very routine. I love turning off the bathroom lights, arranging a few candles around my bathtub, and using whatever suds I have around. I recently found this great tutorial for making <a href="">thrifty bath bombs</a> at home using simple, natural ingredients.</p> <h2>3. Create an At-Home Spa Treatment</h2> <p>A lot of my friends reward themselves with trips to the salon or spa for pedicures and other treatments. Instead of breaking the bank, I delve into my bathroom cabinets to find face masks, body scrubs, nail polish, etc., and give myself some pampering at home on the cheap. (See also: <a href="">10 DIY Spa Treatments</a>)</p> <h2>4. Have a Movie Date</h2> <p>I subscribe to Netflix instead of paying an expensive cable bill each month, and I have quite a list of must-see movies. They aren't the same flicks I compromise on with my husband either. Instead, they're pure guilty pleasures. So, when I meet a goal, I like to pop some popcorn on my stovetop and cross my movies off my list.</p> <h2>5. Release Some Endorphins</h2> <p>This one might not work if you're rewarding yourself for, well, working out. However, if you actually enjoy exercise (I do!) you can make a morning of it. Head out on a long run or go to your gym for an extra long sweat session &mdash; and be sure to use all the amenities available to you.</p> <h2>6. Cook or Bake Something</h2> <p>I'm an avid at-home baker, so I usually have some basic ingredients on hand. When I complete some big task, I love to pull out my cookbooks or bookmarked recipes from blogs and bake something I've been wanting to try. It can even be as simple as baking the cookie recipe printed on the back of the bag of chocolate chips.</p> <h2>7. Host a No-Frills Game Night</h2> <p>Invite a few friends over for a low-key round of Monopoly, Scrabble, or basic cards. I'm sure we all have these games collecting dust in our attics or hallways closets &mdash; and spending time with friends can be an excellent boost and reward. Hosting need not be expensive. You can make some sort of snack using whatever you find in your kitchen and ask your friend to bring an inexpensive drink (boxed wine, anyone?). (See also: <a href="">Quick Pantry Snacks</a>)</p> <h2>8. Pay It Forward</h2> <p>If you've met some major milestone and want to keep those good vibes buzzing, consider volunteering. Sites like <a href="">Volunteer Match</a> and <a href="">GiveGab</a> are meant to match people up with great opportunities in their home areas. Not only will you make a difference, but you'll likely have fun and meet new friends while you're at it.</p> <h2>9. Start Saving</h2> <p>Though not technically free, if you reward yourself by placing anywhere from $1, $5, $10, and so on into a jar (or bank account) when you meet a goal, you may find yourself with some extra cash for a bigger award. Or perhaps you could take this whole thing a step farther and use that stashed money to pay off credit card or other debt you might have. Two birds with one stone!</p> <h2>10. Experience Something New</h2> <p>A lot of yoga studios, gyms, dance studios, and other establishments offer free trials or passes to try things out. If you're looking for a fun way to reward yourself, seeking out these freebies is a great idea. You may even find a new passion in the process. Many places have information about free trials and other promotions on their websites &mdash; so happy hunting! (See also: <a href="">25 New Things to Do</a>)</p> <h2>11. Take a Hike</h2> <p>I don't know about you, but I never truly feel disconnected unless I'm in nature. Of course, it's always smart to bring your phone with you if you're planning to deviate from your normal daily activities, but consider heading into the great outdoors. Or at least take some baby steps by spending the bulk of your day soaking in some rays at a local park. You'll get some much-needed stress release and feel lifted quite naturally.</p> <h2>12. Use Your Perks</h2> <p>Have a few things coming to you? Why not enjoy them all at once? Cash in those loyalty cards or other coupons/freebies all in one day. I was surprised once to get a free coffee, free frozen yogurt, and free round of beer last July (my birthday month). If you're looking for freebies, check out our <a href="">handy list</a>.</p> <h2>13. Take a Nap</h2> <p>Do something great? Give your body and mind a total break! You might consider incorporating this hour or two of midday rest into a day off (as suggested above). Be sure to plan ahead &mdash; there's a science to <a href="">taking perfect naps</a>, and you deserve the very best.</p> <h2>14. Organize and Rearrange</h2> <p>Sometimes a reward can take the shape of more work to gain an even bigger reward. For example, a few extra hours spent cleaning up your apartment or house and moving around furniture can make your space feel brand new. This spring cleaning can be incredibly relaxing and possibly inspire you to do more great stuff. Anything to keep the positivity flowing. (See also: <a href="">Spring Cleaning on a Budget</a>)</p> <h2>15. Visit the Library</h2> <p>Need new reading material? Before you drive to the bookstore, reward yourself for free by using your library card instead. You can check out books, magazines, DVDs, and more. Most libraries keep current and have copies of brand new books, too, and you can check out multiple works if a few interest you. Don't yet have a library card? Call ahead. Some libraries require you bring ID and even mail addressed to your residence before issuing cards.</p> <h2>16. Ask for a Massage</h2> <p>Ask a friend or your significant other to work out the kinks in your back or knead those knots in your feet. It's incredible how even a short and simple massage can work wonders at melting the day's stress away. And be nice and return the favor!</p> <h2>17. Listen to or Make Music</h2> <p>When I've done something big, I love to crank the tunes. Sometimes I go a step further and look up chords to my favorite songs so I can jam along on my guitar. I sing unapologetically to anyone who will listen, even if it's just my cats. Dancing is optional, but highly recommended.</p> <h2>18. Sip Something Warm</h2> <p>Instead of going all out and getting the most expensive item on the menu, order a simple tea or coffee and sit at your favorite cafe for a while. To make this reward truly free, make your own beverage at home and then people-watch at your favorite beach or park or invite a friend along for a stroll.</p> <h2>19. Learn a New Craft</h2> <p>I'm sure many of you &mdash; like me &mdash; have thought of starting crafting or other hobbies from time to time. We have all the supplies, but the time just didn't present itself. Dig deep into your closets and grab those knitting needles or oil paints. You can find tutorials on YouTube or elsewhere online and slowly chip away at a new craft. (See also: <a href="">Practically Free Upcycled Craft Projects</a>)</p> <h2>20. Connect With Someone You Love</h2> <p>Life surely gets away from us when we're busy crossing off items from our to-do lists. Write down the names of the people you love and &mdash; when you are in need of a boost &mdash; make a plan with one of these people. You can chat on the phone, connect via FaceTime, or otherwise do something together. I guarantee giving yourself the gift of time spent with loved ones will have you smiling for days.</p> <p><em>How do you reward yourself when you accomplish something big or small? Please share in comments.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="20 Free and Fun Ways to Reward Yourself" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Personal Development gamify goals productivity rewards Mon, 07 Apr 2014 09:36:30 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1134465 at 12 Things You're Doing Wrong Before Noon (and How to Fix Them) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-things-youre-doing-wrong-before-noon-and-how-to-fix-them" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="breakfast" title="breakfast" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Did you know that what you may be doing during the hours from the time you wake to noon could be sabotaging your whole day? Turns out this time of day can set the tone for how productive, happy, and satisfied you feel overall. Learn about some common missteps that may be derailing your day and what moves you can make to fix them right now. (See also: <a href="">What Successful People Do Every Morning</a>)</p> <h2>1. Hitting Snooze</h2> <p>It may seem like hitting the snooze button lets you sneak in that extra 10 minutes of vital sleep, but think again. According to <a href="">sleep experts</a>, snoozing only provides fragmented, low-quality sleep and starts another sleep cycle that you can't complete. This leaves you feeling groggier and with less energy later on. Cut the habit, and be diligent about getting up when your initial alarm goes off. This will actually help you feel more awake later in the morning than if you snooze.</p> <h2>2. Not Investing in Personal Appearance and Hygiene</h2> <p>Taking pride in your personal appearance can pay dividends throughout your day. First of all, when you look put together and enjoy what you're wearing, you feel more confident and in control. Secondly, an orderly and clean appearance projects positively on you when dealing with others. Even for those at home all day, getting out of the jammies or sweats (at least on some days) can greatly improve your productivity and make you feel more alert.</p> <h2>3. Eating No Breakfast or a Bad Breakfast</h2> <p>You've probably heard it a thousand times by now, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast, or fueling yourself with a bad one, can set you up for disaster in terms of low energy, headaches, and overeating later on. Similar to mid-morning snack options, <a href="">choose wisely for breakfast</a>, with high protein, low sugar, and good carbs (like oatmeal) that will help you feel good until noon and beyond.</p> <h2>4. Rushing Out the Door</h2> <p>A hectic morning routine can zap your energy and leave you feeling frazzled before the day even starts. Reduce morning stress by being prepared the night before with clothing choices, lunches, and other plan-ahead items. If your mornings are always a rush, it's definitely time to budget in extra time by getting up slightly earlier, which will benefit you more in the long run. (See also: <a href="">Change Your Life With a Better Nighttime Routine</a>)</p> <h2>5. Squandering Your Alert Time</h2> <p>It's been said that working memory, alertness, and concentration tend to peak before noon, which means this a great time for <a href="">cognitive work</a>. But many of us waste this precious time with our least pressing items or let distractions in. So skip the office gossip session, stop responding to non-essential emails, and don't get sucked into social media during this productive time. Save these less crucial items for later on when you need a break or have lower energy, and instead, take advantage of your morning brain clarity to knock out some of your analytical work or most energy-demanding tasks.</p> <h2>6. Failing to Reward Yourself</h2> <p>The morning is tough enough, and feeling deprived can only add to grumpiness and lack of motivation. It's important, therefore, to have that little something to look forward to, which can boost your day and improve mood. Whether it's 10 minutes of your favorite morning show, a delicious coffee, favorite music, or a few minutes of reading the paper in quiet, do it and enjoy it, so that you can start your day on a good note. (See also: <a href="">21 Frugal Rewards</a>)</p> <h2>7. Never Stretching</h2> <p>The <a href="">benefits of regular morning stretching</a> have been lauded for many reasons. Stretching helps increase blood flow and energy, improves posture, reduces pain, and can stave off injury. It also can be easily incorporated into a morning routine with a small time commitment.</p> <h2>8. Setting Yourself Up For a Crash</h2> <p>A mid-morning pick-me-up is key to keeping your energy levels high, but snacking on a candy bar or a fourth cup of coffee can wreak havoc on your body. Sugary snacks will set you up for a blood sugar crash later on, not to mention can run up calorie counts. Hitting the caffeine too hard also runs you the risk of big time jitters, followed by withdrawal and headaches come afternoon. Aim for <a href="">beneficial mid-morning snacks</a>, which have some protein, fiber, or other nutritional benefits to keep your energy and mood going strong.</p> <h2>9. Procrastinating</h2> <p>If you hit noon and feel like there is still a mountain of work to do, you're likely to feel overwhelmed and less productive for the rest of the day. Procrastinating during the morning means a harder workload later in the day when your energy is lower. Completing at least one main task in the morning can give you a sense of accomplishment and allow you to feel like you are making progress. (See also: <a href="">How to Stop Procrastinating</a>)</p> <h2>10. Failing to Hydrate</h2> <p>By now, we all have heard that drinking <a href="">plenty of water is part of good health</a>. But most of us don't realize that we go off track early in the day when we miss out on hydrating during the critical morning hours. It's been shown that <a href="">drinking water after waking up</a> can help boost metabolism and digestion. Also, be sure not to skimp during the course of the morning, in order to make hitting your eight-glass goal for the day a lot easier.</p> <h2>11. Not Planning</h2> <p>You don't need to micromanage your schedule, but having a plan of attack for the morning hours can align your focus, give you more control, and help get more done. Spend a few minutes the night before organizing your schedule or to-do list for what you will be doing before noon, so that you can easily hit the ground running and not feel scattered in the morning. (See also: <a href="">Change Your Bedtime Routine, Change Your Life</a>)</p> <h2>12. Putting Off Exercise</h2> <p>Some folks have a good afternoon or evening exercise routine going for them. But if you find yourself skipping exercise or, like many people, just feel exhausted at the end of the day, then doing your exercise routine in the morning is key. Even 20 minutes is beneficial in the morning, not to mention a morning commitment guarantees exercise always gets done.</p> <p><em>Tell us about some of your helpful a.m. actions that make for a better day.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="12 Things You&#039;re Doing Wrong Before Noon (and How to Fix Them)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kelly Medeiros</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle Personal Development mornings routine Wed, 02 Apr 2014 09:36:18 +0000 Kelly Medeiros 1133533 at Improve Every Conversation With One Simple Tactic <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/improve-every-conversation-with-one-simple-tactic" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="conversation" title="conversation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Conversation is an important part of everyone's life. Whether you make your living conversing with people or have a job better suited to an introvert and only converse with others a few times a week, it's important to make the most of each interaction that you have with another person. (See also: <a href="">How to Spice Up Conversation</a>)</p> <p>Even the conversations that take place outside of work are important. After all, your friends and family need to know that you love them and care about them, even in the middle of a disagreement, and no matter how heated it gets.</p> <p>If you want to improve the quality of all of these conversations, no matter the type or with whom, there's one simple thing that you can do: <a href="">Simply repeat the last two or three words</a> that your conversation partner says. Do this early and strategically, and you'll find all of your conversations improving.</p> <h2>Why Does It Work?</h2> <p>Empathy is widely recognized as fundamental to treating people well, understanding their needs, and learning how to motivate them. And listening is one of the <a href="">best ways to communicate your empathy</a>. (See also: <a href="">How to Be a More Positive Person</a>)</p> <p>At its most basic, listening is a pretty straightforward concept. You hear the words that someone else says, and you process them for meaning.</p> <p>However, good listeners do a lot more than that. They also listen to <a href="">what is behind the words</a>. This means that, when they are hearing another person's words, and especially when they are processing them for meaning, they also take into account the other person's tone of voice, body language, and what they know to be true about the person's current circumstances &mdash; physically, emotionally, and spiritually.</p> <p>Taking all of this into account adds to the meaning of the words a person has spoken. It contextualizes it, and can even change it, depending on the situation.</p> <p>In addition to actually listening, it's important to <em>show</em> that you are listening. That way, the other person knows that you are processing all of the information they are giving you, and therefore, that you care about them and the conversation. There are <a href="">many ways to do this</a>, but repeating the last few words that they say is one great (and unusual) method for showing that you are listening.</p> <p>It might even make you listen better, because in order to repeat those words, you have to actually hear them.</p> <h2>How Does It Work?</h2> <p>Sometimes, people feel silly trying to repeat what others have said. It feels...well, repetitive. How could something so simple ever possibly produce good results? It encourages the other person to continue. (See also: <a href="">25 Ways to Communicate Better</a>)</p> <p>So if your friend says, &quot;I feel really stressed,&quot; you can respond, &quot;Really stressed?&quot; This invites your friend to explain why they are stressed, or to continue on with telling you any other things that they might be feeling.</p> <p>You do have to be a bit careful when and how you use this technique. After all, if you repeat the last two or three words every single time someone stops talking, it will get obvious &mdash; and annoying &mdash; pretty quickly.</p> <h2>When Does It Work?</h2> <p>This technique works in any conversation because it shows your conversation partners that you are listening and helps build a rapport with them. In fact, <a href="">hostage negotiators incorporate this technique</a> into their repertoire for that very reason. They want the hostage taker to feel like the negotiator is on his side, or at least understanding where he is coming from. (See also: <a href="">Negotiate With Confidence</a>)</p> <p>Obviously, this sort of rapport is not necessary in very practical conversations. If your friend says, &quot;I'm going for coffee,&quot; you don't need to say, &quot;For coffee?&quot; Instead, use the technique when you're trying to take a conversation deeper, when you're trying to prolong a conversation but you don't know what else to say, or when you particularly need someone to trust you &mdash; like when you want them to confide in your or confess to something.</p> <p>This technique has been shown to help in other types of stressful conversations, like negotiations, especially when you <a href="">use parroting <em>early</em> in your interaction</a>. If you want a positive, peaceful result, letting the other party know early on that you are on their side makes them more amenable to giving you the things that you want.</p> <p>If you feel skeptical, try this for a day or so and let us know how it goes. That's what I did, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much faster I was able to get to the heart of the matter in a couple of difficult situations, and how much more open a difficult person was to having a conversation at all.</p> <p><em>Have you tried this conversation technique? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Improve Every Conversation With One Simple Tactic" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Sarah Winfrey</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development conversation empathy persuasion Tue, 01 Apr 2014 08:48:24 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1133537 at 6 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-surprisingly-simple-ways-to-motivate-yourself" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman working" title="woman working" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Motivation is the better part of getting things done. You can be the most organized person in the world and keep all the lists that you want, but if you can't motivate yourself, you're not going to get anything done. The reverse is also true. Increase your ability to motivate yourself, and you're going to get a metric tonne of things done, from the small tasks that crop up every day to the big ones that make you a superstar on the job and around the house. (See also: <a href="">Go From Busy to Getting Things Done</a>)</p> <p>So if all you need is some motivation, where do you find it?</p> <h2>1. Talk to Yourself in the Second Person</h2> <p>For anyone who wasn't that great at grammar, that means calling yourself &quot;you.&quot; Researchers at the University of Michigan found this to be a powerful means of motivation. Rather than telling yourself &quot;I need to&quot; do something, <a href="">tell yourself &quot;You can do&quot; something</a>. This was true across groups, helping even people with a lot of stress and anxiety about their tasks to get things done.</p> <h2>2. Learn to Love the Unpleasant Parts</h2> <p>One thing that just about anyone who has ever done resistance training will tell you is that you need to learn to <em>love the burn</em> or you're going to give up. The pain of getting tasks complete is, in a certain sense, inevitable. What's not is the suffering. If you embrace feelings such as stress and pressure, you're going to be able to turn them into advantages. Start looking forward to them, the way that a bodybuilder looks forward to the ache that comes from a tough workout. (See also: <a href="">Fitness for People Who Hate Exercise</a>)</p> <h2>3. Reward Yourself</h2> <p>It doesn't have to be anything big. It might be a trip to the water cooler, a cup of coffee, or a couple minutes messing around on Facebook. Little bribes, however, can help you to close the gap between what you &quot;should get around to&quot; and what's actually done. Use these little rewards to help you get through the day, while using bigger rewards (treating yourself to a decadent dessert, for example) to get the more Herculean tasks done. (See also: <a href="">21 Frugal Rewards</a>)</p> <h2>4. Break Down Bigger Tasks Into Smaller Tasks</h2> <p>Often, people with severe depression have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. So what do their therapists have them do? Try to imagine pulling off the covers. From there, put one foot on the ground. Then another. It's a truism that the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. So too do the hardest and most unpleasant tasks start with very simple steps. If you can't motivate yourself to clean out the garage and put everything on eBay, motivate yourself to walk down to the garage and take it from there.</p> <h2>5. Do Something Else</h2> <p>Maybe you can't even get down to the garage. OK. Instead of just sitting there watching TV avoiding what you know you should be doing, do something else. Clean the kitchen, pick up the dry cleaning, make yourself a pot of tea. When it comes to getting motivated, inertia is the enemy. Get moving, and you'll find it easier to transition from one task to another. Sit around and you're just going to continue to sit around. (See also: <a href="">How to Break Bad Habits</a>)</p> <h2>6. Take a Break</h2> <p>Ever been sitting at your desk at work, in the middle of doing a particularly arduous task? You're getting little bits and pieces done, but for the most part, it's just not happening. You're spending more time trying to motivate yourself than actually getting stuff done. The solution? Walk away. Take five. Don't stare into space. Don't mess around on Facebook. Stand up, walk away, take a break. Come back to the problem with a fresh set of eyes.</p> <p>The <em>ur</em> trick? To make all of these as automatic as finding reasons to not get anything done. Make motivation automatic. You'll be glad you did when there's more stuff crossed out than not on your &quot;to-do&quot; list.</p> <p><em>How do you stay motivated in the face of unpleasant tasks? Motivate yourself to share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="6 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Nicholas Pell</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development Productivity motivation productivity Mon, 31 Mar 2014 10:24:35 +0000 Nicholas Pell 1133232 at 9 Ways to Stop Procrastinating — NOW! <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-ways-to-stop-procrastinating-now" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="to do list" title="to do list" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Postponing until tomorrow what you could do today might be your way of coping when you're overwhelmed or simply not interested in a particular task. However, the fact that you don't want to tackle an assignment doesn't change the fact that you have to. (See also: <a href="">Secrets to Self-Motivation</a>)</p> <p>We all deal with procrastination from time-to-time &mdash; it's a common action (or inaction). Even so, procrastination can gradually become a chronic problem, ultimately impacting your ability to reach goals and get things done.</p> <p>Fortunately, this behavior doesn't have to take over your life. Here are nine ways to stop procrastinating.</p> <h2>1. Break Down Projects</h2> <p>Some people procrastinate starting a project &mdash; any project, whether at work or around the house &mdash; because they don't know where to begin. However, it might help to break your assignments into smaller, manageable pieces.</p> <p>As a whole, a task or assignment might seem too big to handle, which can be overwhelming at best. But if you take a task and divide it into three of four smaller tasks, the assignment might not seem as scary. This can allay any fears and motivate you to get started.</p> <h2>2. Write a To-Do List</h2> <p>I know how hard it is to stay focused during the day. And for me, procrastination is more common on the days that I don't have a set schedule. Mentally I know what needs to get done. But if I don't assign each task to an hour block, I often start my day later than I should. However, planning each day in advance helps. (See also: <a href="">How to Create a Reasonable To-Do List</a>)</p> <p>This advice is helpful whether you need to complete things around the house or at the office. Each night, list each task that has to be accomplished the next day. For example, your list might include items like laundry, cleaning out the refrigerator, paying bills, or running errands. Along with this written to-do list, decide when to complete each item. For example, you might pay bills at 10 a.m. and go to the post office at 11 a.m. Additionally, establish a time limit for completing each item, so you won't spend too much time on one task.</p> <h2>3. Prioritize</h2> <p>Personally, if I complete my most dreaded or difficult tasks first (such as cleaning the bathroom or going grocery shopping), I can get through the rest of the day with ease. However, the opposite might be true for you, and you may procrastinate with simpler tasks.</p> <p>Whatever your preference, it helps to prioritize items from urgent to least urgent, or vice versa. By moving tasks that you would normally put off to the top of your to-do list, you're able to tackle procrastination head-on.</p> <h2>4. Change Up Where You Work</h2> <p>This option might not be available to you. However, if you work from home and find that you're unable to stay on task, a change of scenery can make a world of difference.</p> <p>I complete the majority of my work in a home office, but some days my creative juices aren't flowing, and I spend more time putting off work or surfing the Internet. I'll procrastinate as long as I stay in the same place. Yet, if I change my location and work from the couch, the dining room table, or even away from the house, this is usually all it takes to find my focus and get back into the swing of things. (See also: <a href="">How to Stay Focused at Work</a>)</p> <h2>5. Avoid Distractions</h2> <p>The more distractions you have, the easier it is to procrastinate. For example, it's harder to work during the day when you're constantly pulled into conversations via Facebook and other social media. Likewise, if you sit down to study or work on homework, you might get off track if you're unable to ignore text messages, game notification from friends, or breaking news stories that appear on your newsfeed.</p> <p>By keeping social media in its place and only checking in with friends after you've completed your tasks, you can limit distractions that trigger procrastination. (See also: <a href="">Ways to Break Your Social Media Habit</a>)</p> <h2>6. Don't Accept Invitations</h2> <p>You might be determined to complete projects around the home or office within a given timeframe, but your inability to decline invitations might inadvertently encourage procrastination.</p> <p>For example, your daily plans may already include preparing your taxes or starting a home improvement project. It's tempting to cancel these plans if you receive a last-minute invitation from a friend. Understandably, going to lunch or the movies is more exciting than adding up tax receipts. It's OK to be flexible with your schedule, but if you constantly let others interfere with your plans, you won't get anything done. (See also: <a href="">How to Say &quot;No&quot; to Friends and Family</a>)</p> <h2>7. Be Accountable</h2> <p>Dealing with procrastination might require support from a friend or relative. After you establish a to-do list and a schedule for the day, share your plans with someone.</p> <p>When it's all said and done, this person is there to offer encouragement. Schedule regular check-ins with your support person. It's easier to stay on target when you're held accountable for your actions.</p> <h2>8. Reward Yourself</h2> <p>For each task that you complete on your list, give yourself a small reward. This can be something as simple as spending five minutes playing a few rounds of your favorite online game, or maybe you can treat yourself to a cup of coffee or tea before moving to the next item on your list. A reward system is an excellent self-motivation tool since it gives you something to look forward to. (See also: <a href="">21 Frugal Rewards</a>)</p> <h2>9. Take a Break</h2> <p>Procrastination doesn't always suggest laziness. If you're overworked, overly busy, and overly tired, putting off things might be a way to maintain your sanity. Maybe you're not in the right frame of mind to deal with certain tasks now.</p> <p>It's OK to take breaks to rejuvenate your mental state. These don't have to be long breaks. If you can't take a day off, perhaps you can take 10- or 20-minute breaks throughout the day. Rest your eyes, call a friend, or go outside for some fresh air.</p> <p><em>Do you have other tricks to stop procrastinating? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="9 Ways to Stop Procrastinating — NOW!" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development Productivity procrastination productivity Fri, 28 Mar 2014 09:36:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 1133372 at 10 Ways to Stop Being Impatient and Live a More Satisfied Life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-to-stop-being-impatient-and-live-a-more-satisfied-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="man waiting" title="man waiting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you recognize this scenario?</p> <p>You're running late for work on a Monday morning; you've been stuck in traffic with a steady stream of emails coming in; and now you find yourself mired in a long, glacially-slow line at the grocery store? Scenes like these are all too common in modern life and they test the outermost limits of our patience. Fortunately, even in a world that's as rushed and demanding as ours, you can still cultivate the virtue of patience over time. Here are 10 simple techniques that will help you increase your patience and find your Zen. (See also: <a href="">Easy Ways to Banish Stress</a>)</p> <h2>1. Meditate Daily</h2> <p>There's mounting evidence that practicing meditation provides a <a href="">broad range of benefits</a>. If you practice meditation regularly over time, you'll reap the rewards of an inner calmness that won't be easily shaken by minor mishaps in daily life. Best of all, you can start meditating today for free with no special equipment.</p> <h2>2. Unpack Huge Tasks</h2> <p>Find a way to break down your larger goals into smaller and more manageable tasks that feed your mood with a sense of steady accomplishment. For example, if you want to lose weight, you can celebrate a small victory with each workout you complete or every healthy meal you eat. When you remember that little wins add up to big successes, you won't get as impatient with yourself for losing a battle every now and then. (See also: <a href="">How to Achieve All Your Goals</a>)</p> <h2>3. Focus on What You Can Control</h2> <p>When you feel like you're about to boil over, try putting that feeling into words. If one of the words that comes to mind is &quot;should&quot; or &quot;ought to,&quot; you may be demanding too much from the situation or placing the blame on someone else. Rather than test your patience by defining situations with &quot;should&quot; or &quot;ought to,&quot; try building patience by thinking in terms of &quot;could.&quot; Consider the other possibilities you <em>could</em> pursue in an effort to solve the problem or work through a challenge. In other words, focus on the things you can control rather than on the things or people you can't.</p> <h2>4. Don't React &mdash; Distract</h2> <p>Sometimes the best way to deal with frustrating situations is to focus on something other than your brewing irritation. Play a game of mental scavenger hunt using your surroundings. For example, if you're bumper-to-bumper in a traffic jam, rearrange the letters and numbers of the license plates around you to make funny words or phrases (this game also helps distract irritable kids). If you're stuck in a long line at the grocery store, discretely review the food selections of the person in front of you. Can you tell what's on their dinner menu? What could you make with the same ingredients?</p> <h2>5. Eat Slowly</h2> <p>Charles Courtemanche is an economist whose research shows that <a href="">eating slowly</a> is a way to reduce impulsive behavior, thereby making you a more patient person. To reap the most rewards, practice eating slowly with a simple, healthy meal you prepare yourself. (See also: <a href="">25 Simple and Easy Meals</a>)</p> <h2>6. Sleep Tight</h2> <p>Not getting enough good quality sleep keeps us on edge and makes us more susceptible to losing our cool. Fortify your patience by giving yourself the advantage of a good night's rest that is built around at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep.</p> <h2>7. Practice Gratitude</h2> <p>Since <a href="">gratitude can improve our health</a>, practice thankfulness to counter negative moods and impatience. The next time something isn't going your way, try to recall and be thankful for all the times things have gone right in the past. You might even find yourself being grateful for the opportunity to meet the challenge at hand!</p> <h2>8. Find a Slow Hobby</h2> <p>Exercise your patience muscles with hobbies that build results over time. Knitting, painting, sculpture, and bonsai are relatively inexpensive ways to explore your creative side and build patience and mindfulness. As a bonus, practicing these crafts will likely result in beautiful object or two. You might even make a family heirloom in the process of becoming more patient.</p> <p>Need to de-stress now and don't have a slow hobby at the ready? Try these <a href="">20 inexpensive ways to relieve stress</a> and live in the moment.</p> <h2>9. Know When to Hold 'Em</h2> <p>It's easier to live with feelings of discomfort if you can convince yourself that it's for a good cause. When you get impatient, reconnect yourself with the motives that put you in the situation. If you think those motives are worthy enough, then try embracing the discomfort as a small price to pay for a larger reward.</p> <h2>10. Know When to Fold 'Em</h2> <p>When possible, draw a clear boundary around chaotic situations and decide when it's time to call it quits. Knowing where the finish line is (or what your limits are, if no finish line presents itself) can help you better deal with challenges. It also gives you some control over perceived losses &mdash; you can feel satisfied in conceding defeat when you're certain that you've given it your very best shot. (See also: <a href="">How to Know When to Quit</a>)</p> <p>Cultivating patience is a process &mdash; one that isn't reinforced very often by our hectic world and 24/7/365 lifestyles. But even though patience may be hard to come by these days, it's certainly worth pursuing. And the rewards couldn't be sweeter: less stress, fewer sleepless nights, better health, and an attitude of peace that will be a natural draw to the curious frazzled people around you.</p> <p><em>How do you cope with frustrating situations that challenge your patience? How do you teach patience to your children?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Ways to Stop Being Impatient and Live a More Satisfied Life" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Life Hacks Personal Development patience self-improvement waiting Wed, 26 Mar 2014 09:48:20 +0000 Kentin Waits 1132809 at Change Your Life by Learning How to Admit You're Wrong <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/change-your-life-by-learning-how-to-admit-youre-wrong" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="sorry sign" title="sorry sign" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all know the uncomfortable feeling of suddenly realizing that mistakes have been made, and the mistakes were our own. That feeling is almost always followed by the realization that there's a choice to make. You can admit the mistake, and take whatever consequences might be forthcoming, or you can try to hide your culpability and hope that no one notices. (See also: <a href="">Ways to Improve Your Decision-Making Skills</a>)</p> <p>It usually feels a lot easier to hide the truth. There's something about being human that makes us hesitate to admit fault, even when it's obvious to us and to everyone else that we screwed up.</p> <p>However, what is easy isn't always right. In fact, admitting you are wrong can change the way others relate to you, and can make you a stronger leader than you've ever been before.</p> <h2>Build Relationships</h2> <p>Why in the world would telling the truth, even when it means saying you're wrong, make your life better?</p> <p>Trust is basic to any relationship, and you engender trust when you admit you're wrong. Think about it. When you know that someone is wrong but they won't admit it, that relationship doesn't feel very good. In fact, it feels like being right is more important to that person than having an honest, open relationship with you.</p> <p>Don't be that person.</p> <p>When you can admit that you're wrong, you show others that you value truth and having good relationships over never being wrong. That not only makes you trustworthy, but also makes you approachable, because others know that they can admit their mistakes to you. (See also: <a href="">Make Friends and Be Happy</a>)</p> <p>When you admit that you're wrong, you also prove wrong the common belief that admitting mistakes makes you weak. In fact, it's <em>not</em> admitting your mistakes that weakens you as a leader, and weakens your entire organization (whether that is a business, a country, or a family).</p> <p>Not acknowledging your mistakes means that you have to find someone else to blame for whatever goes wrong. This means that you end up playing a blame game with employees, family members, neighbors, and this undermines your relationships with them. When someone knows that whatever happened wasn't their fault and you persist in blaming them anyway, you are the one who looks like an uncaring fool.</p> <h2>Learn From Your Mistakes</h2> <p>Making mistakes is human. Since we aren't all-knowing or all-powerful, sometimes we just don't have either the insight or the ability (or both!) to avoid misjudging a situation and, therefore, taking it on from the wrong direction.</p> <p>However, there's a difference between letting yourself make mistakes and doing the same wrong thing over and over again. Mistakes are human, but they are also learning experiences, and we can improve our responses the next time.</p> <p>When we admit that we are wrong, that we have actually made a mistake, we state out loud the problem that we have created and we take responsibility for it. Both of these things make it less likely that we will make that mistake next time. Articulating it helps us define what actually went wrong, and taking responsibility motivates us to do better next time. (See also: <a href="">How to Learn From Your Mistakes</a>)</p> <h2>Gain Respect</h2> <p>When people see you being honest and learning from your mistakes, they will gain new respect for you. We all know that everyone makes mistakes, and that sinking feeling when we realize that we are responsible for tanking a particular situation. And so we all know how much courage it takes to say, &quot;I was wrong. I'm sorry.&quot;</p> <p>Think about other people who you have seen admit their fault. I remember a couple of situations. They are vivid in my mind, even though they happened years ago, and I deeply admire the people who I saw stand up, admit they were wrong, and then work to make changes.</p> <p>If you want to stand out, whether it's at work, among friends, or at home, you won't do it by putting on a veneer of perfection. Instead, admit it when you're wrong. Ask for forgiveness. Let others see you working to change. If you are sincere in your apology and diligent in your efforts to improve for the future, the people around you will notice and they will esteem you for it.</p> <p>Saying that you're wrong means that you are willing to earn the respect of the people around you, rather than demanding it along with demanding that they live in your alternate version of reality.</p> <h2>How to Admit You're Wrong</h2> <p>Now that you have a few solid reasons to think that admitting it when you're wrong might be a good idea, it's time to think about how you might go about doing that. After all, even when you can say that it is GOOD to admit that you're wrong, it's still a HARD thing to do. (See also: <a href="">7 Steps to Fix Any Mistake</a>)</p> <h3>1. Admit the Truth to Yourself</h3> <p>Always start by telling yourself the truth. If you can't say, in your own heart, that you were wrong, then any apology you give will feel insincere to the recipient. In addition, working this out for yourself first gives you time to work through any issues you might have with apologizing. You have a chance to tell yourself the truth, that it's human to be wrong, and you are no more and no less than human. There's not something wrong with you just because you made a mistake.</p> <h3>2. Be Simple and Clear</h3> <p>The easiest way to admit you're wrong is to say, &quot;I was wrong, and I'm sorry.&quot; However, it's best to go beyond this and add specifics about what you're sorry for, so that both parties know exactly what is being discussed. Sometimes, what you're sorry for isn't where someone else thought you went wrong, and so the situation will need more thought and discussion before it can be resolved.</p> <p>Some people like to try to admit that they are wrong without actually saying, &quot;I'm sorry.&quot; This can still be effective, but the easiest way to make it clear that you are admitting you are wrong is to actually say those two, difficult words.</p> <h3>3. Discuss What Will Be Different</h3> <p>Once you've admitted your fault, talk about how you plan to do things differently in the future. This shows that you have taken your mistake seriously and that you have thought through how things need to be different in the future.</p> <p>This holds true no matter what kind of mistake you have made. If you hurt someone with your words, talk about how you will speak differently next time. If you made a mistake at work, talk about the checks you have put in place so that the same thing doesn't happen again. No matter how big of a mistake you've made, there are always steps you can take to make sure it doesn't happen again.</p> <p>You might think that there is more to it than these three steps, but the truth is that the actual act of admitting you are wrong is pretty easy. It's the emotional processes behind it that can make it feel like such a monumental task. The more you practice this, though, the easier it will get to know when you are wrong, acknowledge it to yourself, apologize, and make changes for the future.</p> <p><em>How do you admit you're wrong? Do the right thing and let us know in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Change Your Life by Learning How to Admit You&#039;re Wrong" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Sarah Winfrey</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Personal Development error meal culpa Mistakes Mon, 24 Mar 2014 10:36:17 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1132317 at 25 Ways to Be a Better, Happier Person <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-ways-to-be-a-better-happier-person" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="hands" title="hands" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="197" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We're already well into the New Year, and maybe your diets have already slipped. Your dinner plates are going from green to progressively more light brown. Your crispers are emptying as the pantries are filling. You don't need to slip back into the same old routine as the last year, though. There are endless ways to bring you fulfillment that don't cost money or make you feel defeated if you're not perfect. Here are 25 ways to be a better person. Many of these you may already do, and others you might not have considered as ways that could greatly shape you and your daily experience with others. (See also: <a href="">Get Back on Track With Mid-Year Resolutions</a>)</p> <h2>1. Be a Role Model</h2> <p>How do you want to be viewed? What would you want others to model from you? Be the person that inspires others, even if it's just having good table manners or opening the door for people.</p> <h2>2. Be a Better Child to Your Parents</h2> <p>As if the guilt could ever wear off! How would you want your children to appreciate you? Remember all those things you said you'd do differently as you were growing up? Now's the time to start realizing them.</p> <h2>3. Be Accepting</h2> <p>This doesn't mean you have to agree or understand. But if you're accepting, people will be more open and honest with you.</p> <h2>4. Be Adaptable</h2> <p>Life throws curveballs, and your busiest days rarely turn out exactly how you would like. If you let go of your expectations, being adaptable is incredibly freeing and gives you great perspective.</p> <h2>5. Assume Good Intentions</h2> <p>This is key. If you can assume the best intention in people's words and actions, you will get hurt less, be let down less, and become less defensive.</p> <h2>6. Volunteer</h2> <p>Obvious, of course, but it doesn't have to be some huge commitment. Volunteer to drive your kids home from the bus stop on a rainy day (or other neighborhood kids). You've taken something off of someone's shoulders, and hey, they just might be there for you when you need one less thing. (See also: <a href="">Unexpected Benefits of Volunteering</a>)</p> <h2>7. Be Attentive</h2> <p>It feels so nice to be on the receiving end of someone's attention. When it's your turn to receive, you'll be glad. Karma&hellip;what goes around really does come around.</p> <h2>8. Be Coachable</h2> <p>Every single adult you come across knows something you do not, guaranteed. Be coachable and learn, and in return you are paying respect to someone else and making them feel valued. Both sides win.</p> <h2>9. Be Cooperative</h2> <p>Learn to get along with others, or no one will want to work with you. You should be open to new ideas and should not snarl at the word compromise.</p> <h2>10. Be Curious</h2> <p>Not only could you discover something you love, but looking at the world with such wonder again&hellip;oh, what a feeling.</p> <h2>11. Be on Time</h2> <p>Show respect for someone else's time. It will make them think highly of you, and by organizing your day you'll be less stressed yourself. Start by setting your clocks and watches 10 minutes fast. (See also: <a href="">How to Always Be on Time</a>)</p> <h2>12. Be Empathetic</h2> <p>Empathy can validate someone else's experience and establish a connection that sympathy may not. Learn to empathize, even if you have completely different opinions. The paradigm shift will do you good.</p> <h2>13. Be Enthusiastic</h2> <p>Enthusiasm can raise your mood and anyone around you within a 10-foot radius. Wouldn't you rather accomplish goals with enthusiastic people? You don't have to be keen as mustard, but don't be a too-cool-for-school curmudgeon either.</p> <h2>14. Put Your Past Behind You</h2> <p>Stop reading the chapters of your past. Whatever you did &mdash; or whatever was done to you &mdash; is done. It's not you today, and it's not who you want to be tomorrow. (See also: <a href="">8 Steps to Forgiveness</a>)</p> <h2>15. Be Present</h2> <p>Don't only play for the future with grand ideas of &quot;One day I will&hellip;&quot; This is it; the moment is now, and there's no better time to take it.</p> <h2>16. Compliment Others (and Yourself)</h2> <p>It looks good on you. If others feel good around you, you reap rewards, too. Even the simplest things, like a nice comment on a shirt or blouse, can help. It starts with you. Be good to yourself so you can give to others. After all, you deserve it as much as anyone else. (See also: <a href="">How to Give Better Compliments</a>)</p> <h2>17. Be Gentle</h2> <p>To sugarcoat doesn't mean lie; it means being honest without being harsh or causing defensiveness, which will only shut people down. Being gentle assures that people are more able to receive your advice.</p> <h2>18. Look Up</h2> <p>You are missing out on connections and the way it feels to hold your head up high. Looking up also raises your mood. Looking down makes you feel down. Try it; it really works.</p> <h2>19. Be Quiet</h2> <p>Listen. See what happens. Hear what you might otherwise miss.</p> <h2>20. Sing Out Loud</h2> <p>Because it feels good, and it's a release, and whether you're a good singer or not, someone will be amused in some way, even if it's just you.</p> <h2>21. Be Purposeful</h2> <p>Pursue a cause that's higher than yourself. Broadening your scope will make you so much more grateful about your life as it is.</p> <h2>22. Be Resilient</h2> <p>It is not normal to be good at something as soon as you start. So don't give up, be resilient, and be impressed with how far you can come in a short amount of time.</p> <h2>23. Take Responsibility</h2> <p>What a different place the world would be if we each took more responsibility.</p> <h2>24. Don't Victimize</h2> <p>Observe yourself and see what you can learn and how you can be better. The buck stops with you.</p> <h2>25. Be Self-Reflective</h2> <p>Be gentle with yourself. Observe your behavior and thoughts objectively. In this way, so much is possible to change our experience.</p> <p><em>What are you doing to become a better person? Tell us about it in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="25 Ways to Be a Better, Happier Person" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Personal Development being nice ethics self improvement Thu, 20 Mar 2014 10:18:50 +0000 Paul Michael 1131540 at How to Accept Criticism and Become an Awesome Person <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-accept-criticism-and-become-an-awesome-person" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="critic" title="critic" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I like to think I take criticism pretty well. Unless it comes from my husband. If he complains about my cooking, well, let's just say that we won't be sharing polite conversation over dinner. (See also: <a href="">How to Stay Married for 20+ Years</a>)</p> <p>The truth is that criticism is very hard for just about anyone to deal with, never mind accept it gracefully or actually, you know, <em>learn</em> something from it. But despite my tendency to get my hackles up in the kitchen, I'm actually pretty good at accepting comments and criticisms in my professional life. In fact, for the most part, hearing the negative things people have to say about me has helped me get a lot better at what I do.</p> <p>Want to learn to accept criticism better &mdash; or at all? Here are a few things to keep in mind.</p> <h2>Run a Self-Esteem Check</h2> <p>A<a href=""> Sensitivity to Criticism Test</a> conducted by PsychTests in 2013 found that people who tended to be most defensive in response to criticism tended to have the lowest self-esteem. That's the thing about criticism; even when it's constructive, it tends to hit us where it hurts.</p> <p>Maybe you're already worrying that you aren't getting enough done at work. When you hear it from your boss, it confirms your worst fears about yourself, which can make it feel like you're being attacked &mdash; both from the outside and within. In many cases, however, criticism isn't offered as an attack, but as an opportunity to improve. So, instead of beating yourself up about what you're doing wrong, adjust your self image by looking at what you can do better. And be sure to congratulate yourself when you succeed. (See also: <a href="">Learning From Your Mistakes</a>)</p> <h2>Don't Overreact in the Moment</h2> <p>When it comes to taking criticism, I'm fortunate: I have a great poker face and a slow-burning temper. So, while I may not like the criticism I get, it's easy for me to avoid freaking out about it and saying something I'll regret later. (See also: <a href="">How to Manage Powerful Emotions</a>)</p> <p>Being calm in the moment of delivery has also made it possible for me to notice a few things you might not see if you're, say, jumping up and down and yelling at whoever just criticized you. The first &mdash; and this is especially true in a professional setting &mdash; is that people tend to be pretty hesitant and afraid to deliver criticism. Maybe your boss needs to address some important issues with you but doesn't want to hurt your feelings, or maybe your partner wants to bring up a problem without starting a big fight. The key thing to note here is that criticism is probably at least as hard to voice as it is to hear. Yes, some criticism is intended to be mean and nasty, but next time someone criticizes you, watch for the cues. If the criticism's fair and honest, they're probably having a hard time telling you what <em>they think you need to hear</em>. Looking at a critical comment that way can change the whole interaction from one of attack and defense, to one of two equals having a difficult conversation.</p> <h2>Say, &quot;You're Right.&quot;</h2> <p>If you do react to criticism in the moment, consider doing something unexpected by thanking the person who gave it or telling them that they're right. I've done this. The shock on the person's face tends to be palpable. And again, it changes the whole conversation.</p> <p>So, if we go back to the scenario where you're worrying about getting enough work done when your boss brings it up, why not say, &quot;You know, you're right. I've been really worried about that too.&quot; That puts both of you on the same page, and allows you to discuss what can be done to help you do your work better. And that makes both you and your boss look (and feel) awesome. So everyone wins. In fact, the PsychTests survey found that those who tended to be most defensive about criticism were less happy at their jobs, had lower performance ratings, and may even have been less likely to advance. Go figure. (See also: <a href="">25 Ways to Communicate Better</a>)</p> <h2>Think It Over</h2> <p>If you're getting annoyed because I've been siding with the critics, I hear you. Some criticism isn't constructive, useful, or even true. I've received comments and criticisms that I felt were unfounded. I've received criticisms that were just plain mean. I've even received emails from articles I've written in which I've been sexually harassed and personally denigrated. (Seriously, I had no idea people could get so worked up about things like savings accounts and interest rates.)</p> <p>I think the key here is to avoid an immediate reaction to criticism so that you can take the time to cool off, decide whether the criticism has merit, and, if it doesn't, decide whether to address it with the person or let it go. Depending on the situation, either approach can work, as long as whatever you do doesn't deteriorate into you and your critic hurling insults and abuse at each other. (Hey, it happens, especially online.)</p> <h2>Know the Difference Between Constructive and Destructive Criticism</h2> <p>So, how can you decide whether criticism is something you should accept and consider working on or something you should toss aside? The first step is to understand that there are two types of criticism. The first is constructive criticism. This is criticism delivered in a friendly, helpful way with the intent of helping you to do something better. It goes something like this:</p> <p><em>&quot;Hey Tara, this article's OK, but I think you overlooked a key point in your argument.&quot;</em></p> <p>When I hear criticism like that, I am given something to think about, something to work on, and something to respond to in an intelligent way.</p> <p>Destructive criticism, on the other hand, looks like this:</p> <p><em>&quot;This article SUCKS!!!! You're arrogant and ugly and people hate you. Also, you're ugly.&quot;</em></p> <p>Notice how one set of comments includes useful, insightful information about something I've done, while the other is just a personal attack? The key to accepting criticism well, using it to get better at things, and avoiding having it drive you crazy is to learn to accept one kind and ignore the other. Your success at work &mdash; and even in life &mdash; might depend on it.</p> <h2>Are You a More Awesome Person Yet? Am I?</h2> <p>Can learning to accept criticism help you become a more awesome person? It can't hurt, and it's a whole lot more pleasant than perpetually being on the defensive with others. That said, I could be wrong about that.</p> <p><em>If you think so, feel free to send me an email or tell me so in the comments. Go ahead. I can take it. Just be nice about it, will ya?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Accept Criticism and Become an Awesome Person" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tara Struyk</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Personal Development constructive criticism criticism improvement Wed, 19 Mar 2014 10:36:15 +0000 Tara Struyk 1130829 at How to Stop Being Afraid and Live Your Dreams <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-stop-being-afraid-and-live-your-dreams" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="fear" title="fear" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Babe Ruth once said, &quot;It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.&quot; To achieve our dreams, we have to be committed and determined. The twin fears of failure and rejection keep many people from pursuing what they want &mdash; dream careers, loving relationships, passion projects, and even moving to a new city. Fear is a powerful deterrent, although we can also turn it into an ally and motivator. Fear is just energy; it can either hold us back or propel us forward. Below are six ways to make it work for you. (See also: <a href="">How to Do Things That Scare You</a>)</p> <h2>1. Take Small, Low-Risk Steps</h2> <p>Sometimes a big change can feel like an overwhelming risk. We run what-if scenarios over and over in our minds. Try breaking down your big goal into as many small pieces as possible. For example, let's assume you dream about making a move to a city far from where you live now, and you don't know anyone there. Some small steps might be to get a guidebook about the city, read local blogs authored by people who live there, connect with friends of friends who live there to get their perspective, and take a long weekend trip to visit. These small steps will give you information and experience, build excitement about the possibility of making the move, and reduce the risk you feel about taking such a big step.</p> <h2>2. Get Inspiration From Others</h2> <p>One of the best ways to reduce fear is to hear the stories of others who have done what you want to do, particularly if they went through rejection and challenging times to make it. Seek out books, inspirational blog posts and news articles, and people in your network who have done things you want to do. Learn from their experiences, and if possible, connect directly to find out how they kept up their courage while pursuing their dreams despite rejection. When you see someone who's made his or her dreams come true, it's easier to imagine yourself in that same position. Those inspirational stories will also keep you motivated and strong if your plans don't unfold exactly the way you want. (See also: <a href="">How I Erased $70,000 of Debt</a>)</p> <h2>3. Become Informed</h2> <p>Knowledge is power. It's also a surefire way to fight fear. Many times what we don't know is what scares us. If you're thinking about a new career path, take a beginner's class related to your dream job. Volunteer or get an internship with someone who can show you the ropes. Go to networking and other industry-related events where you can meet people who share your passion.</p> <p>For example, I started my career in theater, although most of my work was on the business and production side. When I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing an original full-length play, I connected with a dear friend of mine who is a theater professor and told him my idea. That was a frightening admission for me; the goal felt so big and I had never tried to write a play before. My friend coached me through the process and suggested playwrights that I should read to see how they structured their plays. I also did a lot of research on correct formatting, plot and character development, and the process of getting a play produced from scratch. Once my play was written, I then did another batch of research to discover what companies and contests I should approach to get my work read and possibly accepted for production. All of this research and information really helped me put aside my fear and accomplish this personal and professional goal.</p> <h2>4. Practice Rejection</h2> <p>Just like fear of the unknown, fear of rejection is scariest the first couple of times it happens. At this point, I've been rejected and disappointed so many times that it's honestly no big deal to me anymore. Over the years, I've submitted for many writing and consulting opportunities that never worked out. Many times I never even heard if my submission was received and reviewed. I see all of these rejections as part of the path to achieving my dreams. Just as we can practice our skills to improve them, we can also practice rejection. Imagine the worst-case scenario. What would you do if you tried something and it didn't work out the way you wanted? Sit with those emotions for a few minutes. Then, take a deep breath and imagine yourself moving on. Rejection may set you back, but it doesn't have to break you. (See also: <a href="">Staying Motivated When the Going Gets Tough</a>)</p> <h2>5. Create Your Success</h2> <p>We can create our own success rather than waiting for others to provide us with opportunities to be successful. This is especially true for writers and content creators. Traditional media used to own communication channels. Now with blogs, social media, and self-publishing, all of us are mini-media companies. We can quickly, easily, and cheaply get our writing, videos, and creative work in front of others and immediately get feedback. That feedback will teach us something and make us better if we give ourselves the chance to try. (See also: <a href="">Build on Your Strengths to Find Success</a>)</p> <h2>6. Give Your Disappointment Somewhere to Go</h2> <p>The worst part of rejection is the fear of how we'll feel if it happens. Rather than worrying about that, make a commitment about what you'll do if rejection comes your way. Have an outlet to help you get rid of your disappointment. This could be exercise or a support network of friends and family. When I was first starting out as a writer, I faced a lot of rejection. I decided that every time I got rejected, I would do something nice for someone. That could be sending a note to a friend I hadn't spoken to in a while to say I was thinking of him or her or taking the extra time to smile and ask the cashier at my local drugstore how their day is going. This way the rejection was transformed into a positive action and it made me feel good to do these nice things for people. I also would remind myself that getting a rejection put me one step closer to finding the right opportunity.</p> <p>Rejection, failure, and disappointment are natural parts of life. As the great Dolly Parton said, &quot;If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.&quot; Use these tips to manage your fear and then go get exactly the life you want.</p> <p><em>How do you deal with fear of rejection? Don't be afraid, share your experience in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Stop Being Afraid and Live Your Dreams" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Christa Avampato</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Personal Development confidence fear rejection Mon, 17 Mar 2014 10:24:46 +0000 Christa Avampato 1130642 at