It's natural to resist change. But that doesn't have to be the case. Far from it. Change is actually good for us in both our personal and professional lives since it makes us more flexible, exposes us to new experiences and people, and opens up the doors to more opportunities.
However, if you want to make a change in your life, you can to do so positively by following these seven tips.
1. Identify and understand what you want to change.
Whenever you decide to make a change, you must first understand why you're making the change in the first place. Associate Professor Anthony Grant, from the University of Sydney's Coaching Psychology Unit, says that you should start by defining your core values and identify what is important to you.
"You need to be able to identify what it is about your goal that adds to you as a person, that makes you feel better and more expansive," Grant says.
If your goal aligns with your core values, then "the thought of it will trigger a positive gut feeling."
2. Rid your life of negativity.
This is not as simple as it may sound. If you're surrounded by negativity, then how can you expect to have a positive and joyful life?
In fact, those who are negative or surrounded by negativity are more stressed, get sick more often, and have less opportunities than those who are positive. Chris Talambas says on Lifehacker, says "When we make a decision to become positive, and follow that decision up with action, we will begin to encounter situations and people that are also positive."
Of course, that's easier said than done. That's why he suggests that you can accomplish this goal by doing the following:
- Be grateful for everything.
- Laugh more often, especially at yourself.
- Help others.
- Change how you think.
- Surround yourself with positive people.
- Approach problems with positive actions and solutions.
- Take full responsibility and stop playing the victim.
You'll find when you complete these steps, you'll become more confident in your life.
3. Exercise more often.
You may be getting tired of hearing everyone telling you that you need more exercise. Sure. Exercising is great for you physically. But, it's also an excellent way to become more positive in life. Exercise can change the direction of most situations in your life. As Nike says, "Just Do It." The benefits of exercise are immeasurable. You gain purpose, drive, but most of all it teaches you a discipline.
For starters, when you exercise, you feel better about yourself, which leads to having more confidence. Exercise also reduces anxiety and stress and releases euphoric chemicals in the brain like endorphins and dopamine.
4. Be kind to others.
Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor at the University of California, Riverside, says, "People who engage in kind acts become happier over time." The reason? "When you're kind to others, you feel good as a person--more moral, optimistic, and positive."
There numerous ways that you can be kind to others that don't take that much time and effort. For example, you could purchase coffee for a co-worker. Pay the toll for the person in line behind you. Visit a family member or friend or drive them to the airport. Smile at cashiers or servers. Or, you could volunteer whenever you have free time.
5. Build a support network.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a "strong social support network can be critical to help you through the stress of tough times, whether you've had a bad day at work or a year filled with loss or chronic illness." This group of friends, family, and peers is also important because they provide additional benefits like providing a sense of belonging, an increase in self-worth, and a feeling of security whenever you need advice, information, or guidance.
6. Eliminate the nonessentials.
After identifying the things that are most important in your life, it's time to start eliminating everything else. This is all about simplifying your life, so that you can focus on the things that matter most to you and prevents you from getting distracted.
As Leo Babauta explains on Zen Habits:
We have so much stuff in our lives, from possessions to things we need to do to information coming in to visual and emotional clutter, that we are overloaded. The result? We end up doing a lot of things that aren't really important to us, because we have so much other stuff to do that has crept into our lives and that we leave in our lives, unexamined.
I also find this true in the business world that when I eliminate unneeded expenses, you can become much less stressed.
7. Take baby steps.
"The one primary motivator that leads us to persevere is baby steps," says John Brubaker on Entrepreneur. That's because when we look at the big picture we can get overwhelmed with all of the steps involved in achieving a goal.
Instead, break the "big picture goal down into systematic, manageable baby steps." Then, document and celebrate your wins daily.
This will help you achieve that change that you've been seeking in a positive way and meaningful way.
As the government begins its crackdown on essay mill websites, it’s easy to see just how much pressure students are under to get top grades for their coursework these days. But writing a high-scoring paper doesn’t need to be complicated. We spoke to experts to get some simple techniques that will raise your writing game.
Tim Squirrell is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, and is teaching for the first time this year. When he was asked to deliver sessions on the art of essay-writing, he decided to publish a comprehensive (and brilliant) blog on the topic, offering wisdom gleaned from turning out two or three essays a week for his own undergraduate degree.
“There is a knack to it,” he says. “It took me until my second or third year at Cambridge to work it out. No one tells you how to put together an argument and push yourself from a 60 to a 70, but once you to get grips with how you’re meant to construct them, it’s simple.”
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The goal of writing any essay is to show that you can think critically about the material at hand (whatever it may be). This means going beyond regurgitating what you’ve read; if you’re just repeating other people’s arguments, you’re never going to trouble the upper end of the marking scale.
“You need to be using your higher cognitive abilities,” says Bryan Greetham, author of the bestselling How to Write Better Essays. “You’re not just showing understanding and recall, but analysing and synthesising ideas from different sources, then critically evaluating them. That’s where the marks lie.”
But what does critical evaluation actually look like? According to Squirrell, it’s simple: you need to “poke holes” in the texts you’re exploring and work out the ways in which “the authors aren’t perfect”.
“That can be an intimidating idea,” he says. “You’re reading something that someone has probably spent their career studying, so how can you, as an undergraduate, critique it?
“The answer is that you’re not going to discover some gaping flaw in Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume 3, but you are going to be able to say: ‘There are issues with these certain accounts, here is how you might resolve those’. That’s the difference between a 60-something essay and a 70-something essay.”
Critique your own arguments
Once you’ve cast a critical eye over the texts, you should turn it back on your own arguments. This may feel like going against the grain of what you’ve learned about writing academic essays, but it’s the key to drawing out developed points.
“We’re taught at an early age to present both sides of the argument,” Squirrell continues. “Then you get to university and you’re told to present one side of the argument and sustain it throughout the piece. But that’s not quite it: you need to figure out what the strongest objections to your own argument would be. Write them and try to respond to them, so you become aware of flaws in your reasoning. Every argument has its limits and if you can try and explore those, the markers will often reward that.”
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Fine, use Wikipedia then
The use of Wikipedia for research is a controversial topic among academics, with many advising their students to stay away from the site altogether.
“I genuinely disagree,” says Squirrell. “Those on the other side say that you can’t know who has written it, what they had in mind, what their biases are. But if you’re just trying to get a handle on a subject, or you want to find a scattering of secondary sources, it can be quite useful. I would only recommend it as either a primer or a last resort, but it does have its place.”
Focus your reading
Reading lists can be a hindrance as well as a help. They should be your first port of call for guidance, but they aren’t to-do lists. A book may be listed, but that doesn’t mean you need to absorb the whole thing.
Squirrell advises reading the introduction and conclusion and a relevant chapter but no more. “Otherwise you won’t actually get anything out of it because you’re trying to plough your way through a 300-page monograph,” he says.
You also need to store the information you’re gathering in a helpful, systematic way. Bryan Greetham recommends a digital update of his old-school “project box” approach.
“I have a box to catch all of those small things – a figure, a quotation, something interesting someone says – I’ll write them down and put them in the box so I don’t lose them. Then when I come to write, I have all of my material.”
There are a plenty of online offerings to help with this, such as the project management app Scrivener and referencing tool Zotero, and, for the procrastinators, there are productivity programmes like Self Control, which allow users to block certain websites from their computers for a set period.
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Look beyond the reading list
“This is comparatively easy to do,” says Squirrell. “Look at the citations used in the text, put them in Google Scholar, read the abstracts and decide whether they’re worth reading. Then you can look on Google Scholar at other papers that have cited the work you’re writing about – some of those will be useful. But quality matters more than quantity.”
And finally, the introduction
The old trick of dealing with your introduction last is common knowledge, but it seems few have really mastered the art of writing an effective opener.
“Introductions are the easiest things in the world to get right and nobody does it properly,” Squirrel says. “It should be ‘Here is the argument I am going to make, I am going to substantiate this with three or four strands of argumentation, drawing upon these theorists, who say these things, and I will conclude with some thoughts on this area and how it might clarify our understanding of this phenomenon.’ You should be able to encapsulate it in 100 words or so. That’s literally it.”
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