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It’s time to advance your career!

“It’s not what you achieve; it’s what you overcome. That’s what defines your career.” —Carlton Fisk.

It is essential to develop your career plan as it gives you the much-needed direction and makes it clear where you see yourself in the future. It makes you aware of your strengths and weaknesses and the skills and knowledge required to achieve your goals in the future.

A large proportion of our lives is spent achieving our career goals; thus, it is crucial to ensure proper steps are taken and correct planning is done.

So, let’s check six things you can do to take control of your career development.

 

1- Self-reflect

Are you happy with the path you’ve taken so far? Are you in the right industry and role? Knowing that is the first step to creating a way to get there.

Set aside some time to reflect on who you are, where you’ve been, and what you ultimately want from your working life.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is to talk about things loosely and not establish clear next steps. Without clearly defined steps and ownership, it’s easy for plans to fail and progress to be lacking.

Writing it down provides a record to reflect on over time and will help you stay on top of making progress.

 

2- Break your goal into small pieces

Getting a promotion, a big raise, or reaching an important goal at work does not happen overnight. Take the time to think about your career growth and break down your goal into the steps you can take to get there. Set goals and create a plan to achieve them.

Brainstorming ways to learn new skills, future projects to get involved in specifically, and mentorship opportunities can build a healthy list of bite-size steps to reach your goals. You can then pick them off one by one as they make sense to achieve regular, incremental progress.

 

3- Check-in at a high level how you’re doing

Top performers constantly learn and adjust and routinely seek feedback from their boss, peers, and subordinates. If your boss doesn’t proactively give you feedback, start the conversation yourself. After a presentation or big meeting, state one thing you think went well and then ask for advice on one thing you could improve. 

Ask your manager things like:

Do you feel my skills are improving in the areas we identified as weaknesses?

What are the most significant barriers I still have to the next promotion, raise, etc.?

How have I performed on recent projects we’ve identified as necessary to my growth?

 

4- Focus on continual learning

You live, and you learn. No matter how old or wise you get, there are always lessons you can understand.

Multiple ways to experience career growth by investing in your career development and progress are available. Check these examples.

Job shadowing can provide enough information about the different jobs. In job shadowing, the participant also sees and experiences the nuances of how the service is provided and the job performed. 

A lateral move is an opportunity for an employee to expand their career path opportunities because it gives them a chance to develop their skills and network with a new circle of employees and customers. 

Also, the lateral move provides a career path for employees through additional training and new experiences or responsibilities. It may help the employee overcome boredom and dissatisfaction they may have had with the previous position.

Hold book clubs at work to develop knowledge, and share terminology, concepts, and team-building with coworkers.

 

5- Enlist your manager as an ally

Your boss can be a great asset to you. They can help pave the way for getting training money, create opportunities for job shadowing or lateral moves, know about future openings and hiring plans that may fit your goals. They also can spot upcoming projects to get you on to gain experience.

 

6- Find a mentor who can help guide you

One of the most effective ways to advance your career is to consult someone whose career path you admire. Seek a mentor from a different department that you’d like to explore. Leaning on someone else’s experience is a great way to gain knowledge and introduce yourself to other opportunities. But pouncing on someone — “Will you be my mentor?” — is likely to scare them off. So, try to meet informally: in the coffee shop in your company’s lobby, or at the company picnic. Know the person’s bio, and be prepared to ask a few good questions related to their area of expertise. If things go well, you’ll hear, “If I can help you, let me know.” In time, a mentor relationship may develop organically.

 

WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣

Aspiration: a hope or ambition of achieving something.

Career growth: is the process of climbing the ladder during your working life. 

Working life: the part of a person’s life when they do a job or are at work.

Optional: available to be chosen but not obligatory.

Ally: someone that aligns with and supports a cause with another individual or group of people.

 

 

PHRASAL VERBS

Take (someone) on

“When the boss first took me on, he filled me in on what the job involved, but he didn’t tell me I would have to do so much traveling.”

 Pull together

“It’s amazing how much we can get done when we all pull together, isn’t it?”

 Step down / hand over

“I’m 70 years old now, so I think it’s time for me to step down and hand over my company to my son.”

Get ahead

”She wants to get ahead in her career.”

 

 

IDIOMS 📒 

Chief cook and bottle washer: to be the person who is responsible for everything.

 A big cheese: an important person, a leader (usually about business).

 To crack the whip: to make someone work harder by threatening them.

To bring home the bacon: to earn a living for the family.

 Have a lot on your plate: you have a lot of work and responsibilities at the moment.


Want to practice even more? 

 

Types of Motivation to Achieve your Goals

Types of Motivation to Achieve your Goals

 

Motivation is the key to everything, and that’s something almost no one tells you when you first begin working towards your dreams.

Using motivation to achieve goals and complete tasks is most impactful when you can identify the type that works for you the best. Most types of motivation fall into one of these categories: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Everything that makes you feel good within yourself is fueled by intrinsic motivation—for example, learning to play guitar or going to the gym.

Extrinsic motivation comes from someone or something else outside of the person being motivated, for example, an employee that gets fairly paid after doing a good job. At the same time, he comes to work on time because he knows he will lose money or even be fired if he comes late.

Now, let’s learn about 6 types of motivation that can definitely help you to reach your goals.

 

1- Attitude Motivation

A problem with our attitude, perspectives, and beliefs is an issue that many of us face. It can become a problem regarding how we flow through life, to the point that we begin to lose our happiness and miss out on our dreams.

Attitude-motivated people seek to enhance their interactions with others by improving social engagements. It focuses on making people around you feel better about you and themselves.

This type of motivation is based on the willingness to change the world, make something good, or help people. Of course, it also comes from culture, education, and other aspects of one’s personality.

An example of the aforementioned is helping an older woman to carry her shop bags way back home regardless of the day’s stress and tiredness. There is no tangible reward to it, but an attitude motivation sponsors the feeling of helping someone.

 

2- Incentive motivation

People who are incentive-motivated typically don’t focus on the process of achieving a goal so long as they get the reward. In other words, they are motivated to perform a task because of the potential reward.

For example, you want a raise. Why? Because you want a higher living standard that you can acquire with the extra pay. So, thinking about the desired pay raise can energize you to meet your production or sales quotas. 

 

3- Achievement motivation

This motivation entails performing tasks to achieve specific objectives, just for personal development.

In other words, those who use achievement-based motivation focus on reaching a goal for the sake of the achievement and the feeling of accomplishment attached to it —and they likely care more about committing themselves to a vision and accomplishing an objective than attaining awards. Also, this motivation propels the motivated person to feel worthy when the feat is achieved.

The best example of achievement motivation is found in sports. The Olympic athletes are passionate about what they do. They want to be the best and write their names in history.

For a scientist whose work is to create a vaccine, his fulfillment is in creating a life-saving product rather than the potential commercial value of the discovery. 

In an organization, it can be a desire to be the best in the department. It is often used in sales departments, like a leaderboard or the wall of fame. Also, a fair bonus is usually included.

Another common example is certification. An employee wants to get a certificate to prove their skills.

 

4- Power-based motivation

Those who find happiness in becoming more powerful or creating massive change will definitely be fueled by power-based motivation.

If you’re looking to make changes, power-based motivation may just be the way to go. It can be a positive way of developing your career, but it can also lead to challenges.

For example, you would like to advance to a more senior managerial position in your company to be in charge of a team. A great leader will inspire people to overcome challenges and will help them organize their work. He will take this responsibility for them and will lead. So, to make yourself more eligible for a promotion, you complete a management training course and apply for an open position in your company.

 

5- Fear-based motivation

It is a motivational type that drives people to achieve something they otherwise won’t have been able to. It is not based on any monetary reward but on the fear of pain or loss.

When you become accountable either to someone you care about or to the general public, you create a motivation for yourself rooted in fear of failure or disappointing others. This fear helps you carry out your vision so that you do not fail in front of those aware of your goal.

A good example is trying to be at work on time because your manager has promised that anybody that comes late more than once will not just be fined but fired. To avoid this, you wake up early every morning to beat traffic and be at work. This sudden change will be fear-based, not because of the love of the work.

 

6- Competence motivation

This type of motivation is beneficial for learning new skills and figuring out ways around obstacles that one faces within different areas of life. 

This competence pushes people to become highly proficient at what they do, becoming subject matter specialists in critical aspects of their jobs. Such professionals include neurosurgeons, aeronautics engineers, and other specialists who use their problem-solving skills to respond to unique problems. For this set of people, their motivation comes from using their competence, where it will make the most significant difference.

 

WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣

Motivation: the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

Ambition: desire and determination to achieve success.

Objective: (of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.

Determination: firmness of purpose; resoluteness.

Willpower: control exerted to do something or restrain impulses.



PHRASAL VERBS

Make it

“Keep putting in the work, and you’re going to make it to the pros.”

Make out

“How are you making out with the new job?”

Catch on

“I didn’t catch on to what was going on.”

Get there

“Edward wants to be an Olympic athlete and is prepared to change himself to get there.”

Get on

“You’ve got to put it behind you and get on with your life.”

 

IDIOMS 📒

A dream come true: making something you really wanted has come true.

To turn over a new leaf: to start behaving in a better way.

The sky’s the limit: nothing is impossible.

Blood, sweat, and tears: extremely hard work.

Move heaven and earth: to do everything you can.

 

Want to practice even more?…

How to Improve your English Pronunciation

How to Improve your English Pronunciation

 

Many English learners feel overwhelmed when they start learning the language. English comes with its set of challenges, especially related to pronunciation. But don’t worry, there are some great ways to make sure this doesn’t hold you back. 

 

1- Notice how your mouth and lips move

Pronunciation is a physical skill. You’re teaching your mouth a new way to move and using different muscles. So, when you practice speaking, notice how your mouth, lips, and tongue move and how they affect how you pronounce a word.

Watch native English people and notice the shape their mouth and lips make when they talk and try to mimic them in front of the mirror.

Close your eyes and think about making a sound before saying it, then practice by repeating the facial shapes and words. For example, to make the “th” sound, put your tongue between your top and bottom teeth and push the air out of your mouth. Once you know this, it’s easier to say words like “thanks”.

To make the “L” sound, your tongue should touch the back of your front teeth and the top of your mouth. Try it now: Say the word “love.” Say it a few times. Feel where your tongue is in your mouth. Make sure it touches the top of your mouth.

Now, for the “R” sound, your tongue should not touch the top of your mouth. Pull your tongue back to the middle of your mouth, near where it naturally rests if you weren’t saying anything. As you say the sound, your lips should be a little rounded. Try it now: Say the word “rocket” a few times. You should feel air blowing between your tongue and the top of your mouth as you speak. You should also feel your lips get a little rounder when you make the sound. Be aware that there are two different positions for the “R” sound; this is just one of them.

 

2- Break down big words into syllables

Rather than trying to pronounce the whole word all at once, try speaking the syllables first. 

For example:

  • Sunset: sun/set.
  • Bathtub: bath/tub.
  • Attention: at/tent/tion.
  • Incomprehensible: in/com/pre/hen/si/ble.

3- Learn when and where to stress words and sounds

Stress and emphasis are often tricky for non-native speakers to pick up because you can’t tell by looking at the word where the stress will be. 

When it comes to pronouncing words, sometimes it makes a difference if you emphasize a certain syllable within that word. For example, the stress in the word ‘product’ is always on the first syllable. Many non-native speakers mispronounce it and say ‘proDUCT.’ Errors like this make your English unclear to listeners.

Start to listen specifically for stress and emphasis in a native speaker’s speech. Then, pay attention to stress and emphasis in your speech; correct it and repeat until it comes naturally.

Sentences get stress, too; some words are more important and are said with more clarity and strength than the rest of the sentence. Try reading this sentence aloud (the bold words are the stressed ones): “He ate some toast with jam in the morning.”

Notice how you slow down every time you get to an important word and quickly pass over the less important ones?

So, how can you be sure which words to stress? You need to know the difference between function and content words.

Function words are those you use for everyday grammar. They include pronouns, articles, prepositions, conjunctions, auxiliary verbs like be, have, and do. 

Content words are adjectives, adverbs, verbs, and nouns. 

When determining whether to stress function or content words, it’s usually content words. 

 

4- Speak Slowly

Speaking fast tends to slur their speech and reinforce bad habits. On the other hand, speaking slowly will give you time to think about what you are saying and how you are saying it. 

Pay special attention to the words you have trouble pronouncing. It’s always a good idea to exaggerate your sounds at the beginning. This may seem a little strange to you at first, but don’t worry. It’s an excellent exercise for improving your pronunciation.

 

5- Try some tongue twisters 

Tongue twisters are a time-tested method of improving pronunciation due to giving your mouth and tongue muscles a workout.

 

6- Read aloud and record yourself

When you’re concentrating on communicating, it’s sometimes challenging to hear errors in your pronunciation. One way to do this is to find a recording that you like –a podcast or audio of people speaking naturally– record yourself speaking samples of the same audio. That way, you can listen to both of them and see how your pronunciation compares.  

Listen back and note any sounds that you have problems with, practice these words/sounds slowly, and re-record yourself. Shadowing is a powerful technique.

 

7- Get to know your minimal pairs

Minimal pairs are words that have almost the same pronunciation but with one sound that is different, for example, ship and sheep; berry and very; bus and buzz.

 

8- Speak as much as you can

English pronunciation practice alone is not enough; you need to get over your nerves to feel comfortable speaking in front of others. Nerves can lead to a lot of mistakes, especially regarding pronunciation.

You must speak English to yourself at home. To start, try just narrating what you’re doing when you’re cooking dinner or getting ready for bed.

Find someone to practice with, either in person or through online communities. Getting feedback from an outside observer is crucial.

 

WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣

Accent: a distinctive mode of pronunciation of a language, especially one associated with a particular nation, locality, or social class.

 

Tongue: the fleshy muscular organ in the mouth, used for tasting, licking, swallowing, and (in humans) articulating speech.

 

Incomprehensible: not able to be understood; not intelligible.

 

Misapprehension: a mistaken belief about or interpretation of something.

 

Self-consciousness: nervous or uncomfortable because you are worried about what people think about you or your actions.

 

PHRASAL VERBS ✍

Cope with

“You have to cope with good communication skills, as it’s a primary condition of the corporate world.”

 

Dawn on

“It began to dawn on him just what he had said.”

 

Sound off

“He always sounds off about how he thinks Chinese people should pronounce English.”

 

Throw light on

“Please throw light on specific details rather than generalized statements.”

 

Come up

“Opportunities like studying abroad don’t come up every day.”

 

TONGUE TWISTERS 🤪👅

She sells seashells by the seashore.

 

A big black bug bit a big black dog on his big black nose.

 

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

 

The thirty-three thieves thought that they thrilled the throne throughout Thursday.

 

Denise sees the fleece,

Denise sees the fleas.

At least Denise could sneeze

and feed and freeze the fleas.

 

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers

A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers

Where’s the peck of pickled peppers that Peter Piper picked?

 

 

How to be an Active Listener

How to be an Active Listener

 

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” — Bernard Baruch, American financier, and presidential advisor

 

 Active listening is the process by which an individual secures information from another individual or group, observing the speaker’s non-verbal behavior and body language.

Active listening builds solid relationships and, while it may not come naturally to many of us, it’s an invaluable communication skill that can help you improve your workplace productivity and develop better relationships.

Let’s check these five essential techniques you can use to develop your active listening skills.

1- Pay attention to the speaker

Devote your full attention to the speaker. Pay attention to what is happening and observe the speaker while they are sharing their story. Acknowledge the non-verbal message.

Be aware of subtle changes in their voice, the way they mimic you, the words they use, and the emotions they are experiencing. Try to understand the thought process of your conversation partner truly.

Put aside distracting things, and demonstrate concentration. Refrain from fidgeting, looking at a clock, doodling, playing with their hair, or fingernails picking.

Shut down your internal dialogue while listening. It is impossible to attentively listen to someone else and your inner voice at the same time.  

2- Show correct nonverbal communication

It is vital to use appropriate body language. We read and instantly believe what body language tells us, whereas we may take more persuading with verbal communication. If there is a mismatch between what we are saying and our body language, the interlocutor will believe the body language, not the words.

It’s crucial to use nonverbal cues which show understanding, such as nodding, eye contact, and leaning forward. You can also use your posture, facial expressions, and hand gestures in a positive way to add strength to your verbal messages.

If you pay attention, body language will also help you to pick up on unspoken issues or negative feelings in others.

3- Respond Appropriately

Active listening is designed to encourage respect and understanding. 

Personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. Avoid criticism, be polite and offer compliments.

Assert your opinions respectfully. When in agreement with the other person, openly say so and say why. If you have to disagree with the other person, give the reason first, then tell them you disagree.

Let your interlocutor know you are listening. Use brief verbal affirmations like “I see,” “I know,” “Sure,” or “I understand.” 

As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.

Don’t interrupt with counterarguments.

When you finally do respond, try not to hammer your point simply. Refuse the impulse to tell your story on the topic. Ask open questions such as “How do you interpret this?” 

Paraphrasing is another powerful communication tool. Starting with sentences such as “So you are saying that…” or repeating in your own words what you believe the other person said are ways to show that you followed the conversation and understand.

4- Practice Non-Judgment

There is no need to agree or disagree with what is being said or evaluate the statements being made.

Remember that offering your active presence is more important than having your more profound question answered.

Be open, neutral, and patient while you listen.

Judgments are merely based on our personal opinions and experiences, neither of which are great measuring tools. 

5- Building trust and establishing rapport

Creating rapport at the beginning of a conversation with somebody new will often make the conversation more positive.

Listen to what the other person is saying and look for shared experiences or circumstances. This will give you more to talk about in the initial stages of communication.

Look at your interlocutors for approximately 60% of the time. Give plenty of eye contact but be careful not to make them feel uncomfortable.

Admit when you don’t know the answer or have made a mistake. Being honest is always the best tactic, and acknowledging mistakes will help to build trust.

 

WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣

Dialogue: A conversation between two or more people as a book, play, or movie feature.

Misunderstood: incorrectly interpreted or understood.

Patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Polite: having or showing behavior that is respectful and considerate of other people.

Purpose: the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

 

PHRASAL VERBS ✍

Listen up

“I’m only going to say this once, so listen up.”

Listen in on

“Richard was listening in on our conversation.”

Listen out for

“We saw lightning and listened out for the thunder.”

Point something out/to somebody

“I didn’t realize I’d make a mistake until somebody pointed it out to me.”

Engage in

Caroline refused to engage in a dialogue with Charles.

 

IDIOMS 📒

Prick up your ears: listen carefully.

In a nutshell: very briefly, giving only the main points, using a few words.

Listening with half an ear: not giving one’s full attention; listening to someone or something intermittently or with only partial attention.

Speak with a forked tongue: to tell lies, to make false promises.

Have a bone to pick with someone: to want to talk to someone about something annoying they have done,

Want to practice even more?…

Starting & Running

a Successful Business

Starting and Running a Successful Business

 

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

What do you need to do to start a business? 

What should you keep in mind while you strive for business success?

Let’s check these 7 tips that will help you start and successfully run your own business.

 

1- Understand the market

Don’t underestimate the importance of conducting careful, detailed market research.

Be sure there really is a market for what you want to sell. One of the most common mistakes is to assume a lot of people will want to buy a particular product or service because the business owner likes the ideas.

You need concrete data on your customers, expected growth and demand, market trends, the existing competition, etc.

Remember, research is an ongoing process. Continuing to monitor your consumers’ behavior and what your competitors are doing will allow you to manage your business positively and minimize your risk for loss.

 

2- Focusing on customers

Customer service and customer experience are the major focus for most successful businesses. So, the first step is creating products and services that customers want.

The second step is knowing who they are and how to get it to them.

Remember, becoming a customer-focused business doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice and continuous adjustment to get it right.

Once you have achieved clientele loyalty, don’t lose your focus on them. Always figure out the problem your customer has and solve it as soon as possible. 

So, the next question is what is your client retention rate?

If old customers leave as you bring new ones in, then you are not building a stable company. Track individual customer revenue, and monitor how it changes. Customers pay for value.

 

3- Have a written plan

Without a plan, it is merely a dream.  You need to outline specific objectives, strategies, financing, a sales, and marketing plan, and a determination of the cash you need to get things done. But, don’t marry your plan. Even the greatest plan sometimes has to be changed when things heat up. 

So, leave your ego at the door and listen to others. You need people to bounce ideas off, inspect what you’re doing, and push you to bigger accomplishments, holding you accountable for what you are committing to do.  

 

4- Understand the risks and rewards

Regardless of the type of investment, there will always be some risk involved. A good question to ask is “What’s the downside?” If you can answer this question, then you know what the worst-case scenario is.

Taking risks is natural when investing in your own business. You should find their comfort level, and build their project and expectations accordingly. There is no right or wrong amount of investment/risk; it is a very personal decision for each entrepreneur.

Understanding the relationship between risk and reward is a crucial piece to help your business grow. You must learn to weigh the potential reward against the risk to decide if it’s worth putting your money on the line.

 

5- Hire the right people

The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is trying to do too much. Don’t try and do everything yourself. As budget and demand allow, surround yourself with experts in things that you are not. Ask for input and feedback from them. 

Outsource to experts and pay by the hour when you can’t afford or don’t need full-time staffing for a skill set.

Remember, hiring the wrong employee is expensive. On the other hand, hiring the right employee pays you back in employee productivity, a successful employment relationship, and a positive impact on your total work environment.

So, how do we ensure we let the good ones in and keep the bad ones out?

Collect information regarding the responsibilities, duties, necessary skill set, working environment, and outcome of the particular position you’re looking to fill. Determine the criteria a potential candidate needs to meet and create a job description for any new employees.

The more you systemize the hiring process, the more efficiently it will go.

Offering an initial short-term contract can be a smart way to test if the right person for a long-term job.

 

6- Spread your message

It’s all about getting the right message to the right people at the right time.

For example, ask yourself, where are your customers? Online. So, how do they prefer communicating and engaging with businesses and others? Digitally. Great! It’s time to build your digital platform.

– Use channels such as Facebook, Instagram, email, digital ads, and search engines to attract new customers.

– Establish a monthly budget and schedule.

– Use digital tools to boost visibility and track conversions.

 

7- Prioritize customer support

With new businesses popping up literally overnight, price and product aren’t enough to differentiate you from the competition. 

Prioritizing customer support will give your business the chance to turn potential (or unhappy) customers into loyal ones.

Customer experience has a domino effect. If you do it well, you will see a boost in positive brand awareness, traffic, and loyal customers to your business. People will return to your brand because of exemplary customer service, even if you don’t have the lowest price. 

Optimize your answers to the customer and the solutions to their problems. Even if you start small, provide good customer service and you’ll keep people coming back.

Remember, a fast and high-quality social media response is vital for building brand trust.

 

WEEKLY VOCABULARY

 

Focus: the center of interest or activity.

 

Niche: a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service.

 

Project: an individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim.

 

Opportunity: a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.

 

Optimize: make the best or most effective use of (a situation, opportunity, or resource).

 

PHRASAL VERBS

Deal with 

“You dealt with that situation very well. The customer left the store really happy.”

 

Cut back

“We don’t have much money in our budget, so we are going to have to cut back on our spending.”

 

Take on

“We will need to take on new workers over the holiday season.”

 

Get behind with

“After taking on this extra responsibility, I have got behind with sales reports.”

 

Get across

“One of the key messages we try to get across is the importance of managing social media professionally.”

 

IDIOMS

Third time lucky / Third time’s the charm: the hope that, after twice failing to accomplish something, one may succeed in the third attempt.

 

Win-win situation: guaranteeing a favorable outcome for everyone involved.

 

Where there’s a will, there’s a way: if you are determined enough, you can find a way to achieve what you want, even if it is very difficult.

 

You’ve got nothing to lose: you should take a risk because things can’t get any worse.

 

Throw in the towel: stopping and admitting you are defeated.

Want to practice even more?…

 

5 tips to become an Independent Learner

Independent learning is when you, as a learner, set goals, monitor, and evaluate your own academic development, so you can manage your own motivation towards learning.

In other words, independent learners take responsibility for their own learning. They are self-motivated and accept that hard work in the present is worthwhile to achieve future success.

Let’s check these 5 tips you can use to become an independent learner.

1- Read actively

You will need to be an active reader, paying close attention to the words you are reading and their meaning.

Sometimes you’ll come across a concept in the textbooks that you don’t understand. Don’t be afraid to read outside the course material. Search for the full reference and research the theory online until you fully understand the concepts.

When doing research, try to draw from a variety of different sources. Note that you learn something new by finding mismatches between a statement you evaluate and your current inner understanding.

2- Find a balance between making time for studying and having a life

Procrastination is natural and everyone does it, but an independent learner knows they need to build studying into an everyday habit. Don’t fall behind by not spending enough time studying.

Look closely at how you’re spending your time for a week. Then decide if you’re committing enough time to study. When you’ve got a big deadline coming up, adjust your schedule to make studying more of a priority.

3- Try new study techniques

Don’t get stuck with the same methods. But an independent learner understands that certain techniques may be a better fit for different subjects and modules. 

You must be willing to try new study techniques, and regularly re-evaluate what you are doing for effectiveness.

4- Work out a study-plan

Analyze your strengths, weaknesses, and special interests.

For example, think: what is your weak area? Is it vocabulary, speaking, writing, reading, listening, broadly grammar? 

Suppose you realize that grammar is your problematic area. Now you need to break this down further to decide what aspects cause problems: relative clauses, past tenses of verbs, word order in a sentence?

Once you’ve decided what your specific problems are, you can draw up a list: 

  1. A) Which needs to be addressed urgently? 
  2. B) Is there a natural, logical order in which to tackle them?
  3. C) What goals could you realistically set yourself?
  4. D) How will you know when you’ve achieved them?

Don’t be afraid to return to the basics if necessary. It may give you more confidence, in the long run, to ensure you have a firm understanding of basic concepts and techniques.

Don’t make a study plan too ambitious but set smaller consecutive goals you know you will be able to achieve in the short term, and keep a record of what you have done.

Once you’ve achieved the target, the process of planning can start again. Your needs and priorities may have changed, so think about them and then set yourself the next target.

5- Ask for help and share your knowledge

Knowledge retention and reuse can effectively exercise overall positive cognitive development.

Cooperative learning is a well-established technique for enhancing learning. Students often understand what other students misunderstand better than instructors for one thing, and the act of teaching itself becomes a learning experience. 

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain

_________________________________________

WEEKLY VOCABULARY

Weaknesses: a quality or feature regarded as a disadvantage or fault.

“You must recognize your product’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Effective: successful in producing a desired or intended result.

“Here are four strategies that proved to be extremely effective in my classroom.”

Schooling: education or training received, especially at school.

“He was naturally studious, however, and supplemented his scant schooling by night study.”

 

PHRASAL VERBS

Get by

My french isn’t very good, but it’s enough to get by.

Join in 

We’re studying English grammar. Why don’t you join in?

Point something out (to somebody)

I didn’t realise I’d make a mistake until Charles pointed it out to me.

Turn round 

When I touched him on the shoulder, he turned round.

Sort something out 

There are a few problems we need to sort out.

IDIOMS

Chicken and egg situation: It is impossible to decide which of the two came first and caused the other one.

Run around in circles: To be active without achieving any worthwhile result.

Back against the wall: Be in a difficult situation where escape is difficult.

Scrape the barrel: You’re using something you do not want to but you’ve no option.

Separate the wheat from the chaff: You separate valuable from worthless.

Want to practice even more?…

Self-awareness

Are there certain behaviors or attitudes that you repeat over and over again despite it leading to negative outcomes?

Self-awareness is a skill that anyone can learn to improve with the right exercises and habits, but building self-awareness is a life-long effort because it means being the responsible leader of your own life.

By knowing and understanding ourselves better, we can have more information about the way we act —to make necessary changes— and therefore improve our lives. 

 

1- Pay attention to what bothers you about other people

Often the things that irritate us the most in other people are a reflection of some quality we dislike in ourselves. Whether conscious or not, we recognize our own flaws and deficiencies, and that in turn makes it easier to identify those traits in others

So, whenever someone does something that seems to particularly annoy or irritate you, ask yourself: 

Do I do some version of that? 

Could this be a reflection of something in me that I dislike? 

Am I exhibiting the same behaviors? 

What could I be doing better?

Am I making the changes in myself that I’d like to see in my relationships?

 

2- Ask trusted friends and co-workers

Self-awareness is not solely lonely work. That means understanding how others see us, and what they value in us. 

Ask your peers and friends for feedback. Use their opinion to improve and to get to know yourself better. Choose a solid relationship in your life: parent, spouse, best friend, etc, someone you know would be willing to point out something negative.

Start small.

Don’t take criticism personally. 

Avoid defensiveness at all costs. 

In addition to informally and periodically asking friends, use the formal processes and mechanisms at your workplace. Provided well, constructive, formalized feedback at work allows us to better see our own strengths and weaknesses.

Try your best to simply acknowledge their feedback and thank them for giving it. 

 

3- Identify cognitive distortions

Cognitive distortions are inaccurate thoughts and beliefs that warp how we see things, including ourselves.

Here are some examples to analyze.

– If you’ve developed a mental habit of name-calling other drivers, anytime you get upset on the road, you miss the opportunity to see your own behavior and self-correct, because even though other drivers do make mistakes, sometimes you make mistakes too.

– If you’re convinced that you’re either destined for success or doomed to failure, that the people in your life are either angelic or evil, you’re probably engaging in cognitive distortion.. We use to consider things as binary, either on one extreme or on the other, without realizing the full scale in between.

– If you have a negative experience in one relationship, and you immediately develop a belief that you just aren’t good at relationships at all, you’re probably engaging in cognitive distortion. 

When people overgeneralize, conclude about one event, and then incorrectly apply that conclusion across the board.

We must learn to identify these patterns of inaccurate thinking, then we can become more self-aware.

 

4- Build the courage to face your problems

Facing our problems is probably the most challenging task in our lives.

Normally “our problems” are either hard to identify and, in the worst-case, stem from unhealed, aching traumas.

Do it anyway. Identify your emotional kryptonite.

Learning to tolerate the discomfort of our problems can unlock a wealth of insight about ourselves and our world if we’re willing to work on it.

 

5- Create a long-term plan

Write down your key plans and priorities. 

One of the best ways to increase self-awareness is to write down what you want to do and track your progress. 

Before making your desired plan, consider whether you can actually do it. 

Be sure to create smart, specific, realistic, achievable, measurable, and timely goals, to eventually reach your desire.

Being able to think developmentally and in context is key to self-awareness.

 

“The most important conversations you’ll ever have are the ones you’ll have with yourself.” — David Goggins

 

WEEKLY VOCABULARY

Impulsivity: the tendency to act without thinking, for example, when you run across the street without looking.

Constructive: serving a useful purpose.

Bond: a relationship between people or groups based on shared feelings, interests, or experiences.

Decision-making: the process of making choices by identifying a decision, gathering information, and assessing alternative resolutions.

Self-esteem: is an individual’s subjective evaluation of their own worth.

 

PHRASAL VERBS

Lash out at (someone)

“My friend Erik always lashes out at people when he’s under a lot of stress.”

Calm down

“I’m staying away from my wife until she calms down.”

Bottle up

“It’s not healthy to bottle up your feelings like that.”

Lighten up

“Mom, you really need to lighten up!”

Goof off 

“Hey, you! Pay attention and stop goofing off!”

 

IDIOMS

On pins and needles: feeling anxious or nervous.

Fed up: bored, annoyed, or disappointed, especially by something that you have experienced for too long.

Bent out of shape: angry or agitated.

On cloud nine: feeling extremely happy.

Head over heels: being completely in love with someone.

 

 

 

 

Learner Autonomy

Learner autonomy is when students take control and responsibility for their own learning, both in terms of what they learn and how they learn it.

It means learners have to invest the time, energy and focus to develop understanding. They have to define the purpose of their learning and determine how they will wield it in their relationships with themselves and the world. They have to struggle with and overcome the obstacles to learning that exist within themselves and are imposed by society.

Every learner needs support. Learning is fundamentally a social process. We need the emotional and intellectual support of others to help us overcome the barriers that prevent or limit learning. This is where educators come in. Whether a teacher or relative or friend, educators are responsible to support others in their learning.

Learning success is always the result of the work of the learner. The role of the educator is to help create a space, community, and process that supports the learner’s particular needs.

As a student, you can be autonomous, dynamic, and have the potential to learn far more than a passive, reactive learner. If you are self-reliant, you can address your own individual needs and make ongoing progress.

Autonomy involves students having a range of learning strategies which they are able to apply flexibly in different contexts.

Amazing things can happen when we step into the driver’s seat in our lives:

  • We gain wisdom through experience.
  • We gain confidence.
  • We feel more comfortable with our present AND our future.
  • We become leaders.
 

Share your ideas with us on Saturday

📍 Are you taking the driver’s sit in your learning process?

📍 What will you do differently?

 

 

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Mastering Emotional Balance

Emotional balance is the ability to find ways to manage our impulses and emotions, even in stressful situations. Emotional balance also promotes physical health, and is a prerequisite for personal wellbeing and growth.

It is a practice that requires time and skill. However, if you manage to master it, it will help you deal with the day-to-day difficulties and problems. Not only will it improve your relationship with yourself, but with others as well.

1. Become consciously aware that you are experiencing an emotion. 

Identify the particular emotion. Put the emotion into words (“I’m feeling anxious,” “I’m feeling powerless.”). Identifying and putting the emotions you experience into words will help you to react much better and consciously.

Next, observe which situation or situations might trigger that emotion. Is it a specific person, or maybe a thought? Or a memory that you have? The key is to figure out the origin of the emotion and observe all its related aspects.

2- Take the specific actions that move you back to balance.

Act, don’t react. If you’re stuck in the middle of intense emotions, you won’t see clearly and you will be reacting based on past patterns, on previous scenarios that may not be the same as the current one.

A) Take a deep breath —as many times as necessary— don’t let your emotions get the better of you.

B) Ask yourself, is it a situation that I can fix, or is it beyond my possibilities?

In case you can fix it, ask yourself: Do I need to fix it, or is it just a whim / manipulation / exerting control?

Let’s look at this example.

Susan’s husband always leaves the wet towel on the bed.

Susan is extremely frustrated and upset.

She can react in two ways:

a) Yell at him. Lock herself in the bathroom and cry. Call John’s work and apologize to him, because she feels so bad about the morning fight.

b) Think, “John is a bit clueless, I know he doesn’t do it on purpose. A towel is not worth fighting for and I just need to express that it bothers me even when I realize that is not too much of a thing for him.”

Do you notice the difference?

In Example #1, even though the problem was easy to fix, Susan was carried away by her emotions. One bad reaction led to another (yelling, crying, apologizing). 

Instead, in example #2, despite feeling frustrated and upset, Susan chose to solve the problem using a different approach, in a balanced and peaceful way.

The more habituated you are to this awareness of the rising of emotion, the easiest it becomes to realize that it is you who are in charge and not your emotion, that you are not your emotion, and that you can calibrate the emotion to a proper intensity. This creates room for choosing how we respond. 

C) Don’t try to avoid emotional or physical pain. Ironically, the harder someone works to avoid pain, the greater his or her suffering tends to be.

Be prepared to let go of your attachments to any particular outcome so that you can be open to striking an emotional balance bigger.

D) Choose your battles. Not everything is important. Some things simply don’t matter in the long run. Fight for the most important battles and let it go of the rest.

3- Open yourself up to the thought of distress tolerance.

Distress tolerance enhances coping capacity by strengthening resiliency—the ability to adjust to change. 

Distress tolerance skills involve the ability to nonjudgmentally accept both oneself and the current situation in spite of the emotional or physical pain it may bring.

It is important to clarify that acceptance does not equal approval. We can learn to accept discomfort, and learn and co-exist with uncomfortable, distressing emotions when we don’t like them at all, and even when we dislike them intensely.

4- Accept the experience, allow the emotion, and let it go

This step consists of accepting the emotion without judgment. Not only that but allowing the emotion to be, without repressing it or putting up resistance.

Let the emotion express itself, just as it is. That way, you give the emotion space and recognize it as part of you (only a portion of you) to find emotional balance.

It is important to realize that you will only be able to let go of your emotion if you leave it out of your internal dialogue. You can’t force the emotion to disappear. You have to let it dissolve on its own. In that sense, a key strategy to limit the emotion’s power is to recognize that you are not the emotion.

Remember, the emotion is not you, you are just housing it for a while.

“An emotion which is a passion ceases to be a passion, as soon as we form a clear and distinct idea of it.” — The Dutch philosopher Spinoza

 

🔊 VOCABULARY

 

WORDS

 

Wellbeing: The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.

“People doing yoga benefit from an increased feeling of wellbeing.”

 

Weakness: A quality or feature regarded as a disadvantage or fault.

“I believe weaknesses can become strengths.”

 

Strategy: A plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.

“We are convinced that our strategy will enable us to achieve these objectives.”

 

PHRASAL VERBS

 

Ask somebody out

“Have you finally decided to ask out that cute girl in your English class?”

 

Break up with

“Why did you break up with your boyfriend?”

 

Calm down

“You are still mad. You need to calm down before you drive the car.”

 

Cheer somebody up

“I brought you some chocolates to cheer you up.”

 

Get along

Frank and I will never get along. We’re chalk and cheese.

 

IDIOMS

 

Chalk and cheese: The two are very different from each other; they have nothing in common.

 

Break a leg: Good luck.

 

Hang in there: Don’t give up

 

No pain, no gain: You have to work for what you want.

 

To get bent out of shape: To get upset.

 

DISCUSSION

 

1- How could you create more balance in your life?

 

2- How do you deal with a bad day?

 

3- Has there ever been a time when you felt you needed to change your emotional behavior at work? How did you do it?

 

4- What’s your greatest weakness?

 

5- How good are you at asking for help?

 

6- Speaking of emotional balance, how do you think you are doing?

 

7- What makes you angry?

 

8- How do you maintain a healthy balance of positive and negative emotions?

 

9- How do you find emotional balance in your life?

10- Tell me about a time you received negative feedback that you did not deserve from your best friend. How did that make you feel?

 

Improving our Networking Skills

Networking skills are the competencies you need to maintain professional or social contacts, as well as provide you with learning opportunities, promotional opportunities, jobs, and more.

Networking is a critical skill in sales, business development, and several other industries. The wrong connections, on the other hand, can drag your career down to mediocrity levels. 

Building contacts and maintaining relationships with others is an important part of networking. Also, it can be an invaluable skill if you’re searching for a new job, starting your own business, or looking for inspiration. 

 

1– The ability to build relationships

The key to business, and a successful job hunt, is building strong relationships with people over time. 

The first thing you need to do is shift your mindset to focus on people, not opportunities. Ask insightful questions; better questions receive better answers.

Over time you’re going to come across people who become power contacts as you become more connected with those in your industry. These people will be the ones who are constantly introducing you to new and interesting further contacts, referring you to others for more work, and just generally pushing your business forward.

Remember, you don’t need to know the most people, just the right people.

 

 

2- The ability to listen attentively

Another important networking skill is active listening. If you want people to get excited about your business and what you’re sharing with them, you need to listen to and understand their needs. 

The practice of active listening can be broken down into 5 steps:

A- Show genuine interest. Pay attention to every single word/phrase, and to the body language.

B- Show that you’re listening. Maintain eye contact nodding your head to show you understand what they’re saying.

C- Ask the right questions to keep the conversation moving forward, and resist the impulse to prepare your response while the other person is still speaking.

D- Don’t interrupt with rebuttals. Consciously push away your default assumptions. Wait until the other person has finished speaking before you form judgments. 

E- Always respond appropriately. Be honest, respectful, and open.

 

3– The ability to effective communication

Good communication skills are the most important factor in differentiating successful individuals in business. We all know of people that are incredibly smart but cannot communicate effectively, limiting their career progression. It is therefore very important for our communication to be as effective as possible.

Let’s compare these two similar sentences:

“I recently discovered your work in WordPress. I want to interview you on your new project by this Saturday, we have very identical audiences.” vs. “Hi, I would be honored if we could do a quick interview sometime soon on your new project. I am a huge fan, and my audience loves your work.”.

While both saying the same thing, you likely realized that #2 was more inviting and using positive language to get the same message across, but without the frankness —which can be misinterpreted for arrogance or rudeness— of the #1 example.

 

4- The ability to frame things in a positive way

This skill is one of the most important of all because with the right mindset you can usually avoid many of the big networking mistakes or misunderstandings out there.

By remaining positive, you will ensure that when you do finally meet someone that can help you, you will be able to give both a great first impression and a strong reason why they should collaborate in your job hunt/collaborators/investors, due to people seeing you as a positive person, always ready to tackle new challenges.

Focusing on taking the positive bits first instead of saying “no” right off the bat is a strategy for framing things positively. 

From a neuroscience perspective, we are absolutely what we pay attention to.

If what we practice in our thoughts and our speech is a positive slant on the world, that will become the default lens through which we process what happens to us. 

Remember, negative thoughts take us to negative places. If you can’t have a good attitude, act as if you do and it will come eventually.

 

5- The ability to be credible

Trust often comes down to a matter of credibility, specifically yours. If people like you they will trust you, and if they trust you they will do business with you.

So, take a look into these 5 specific qualities that help you to earn credibility:

A- Be accountable for your actions: If you make a mistake, own it, fix it, and move on. Do not try to blame others.

B- Be respectful: Treat everyone with respect —not because you expect something, but because you know they deserve it. A leader is never respected because of his power but the righteous utilization of that power.

C- Focus on your goals: People follow only those who have a clear goal in their mind, a destination. Therefore, you must focus on what you need to achieve in the long run and how you should take your work to the next level.

D- Be an expert at what you do: Keep Learning. Be aware of new trends but don’t buy them blindly, become someone with the ability to analyze a situation, and develop several potential solutions.

E- Be honest: Transparency is a keystone to business and the core source of credibility. A credible person is one that relies on honesty and does not lie to get some incentive or upper hand in the game. If you are dishonest, sooner or later, everything falls apart.

“Networking is an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly can yield great results for years to come.” — Diane Helbig

 

How good at you at networking?

Are you using #linkedin effectively?