Saturday, March 19, 2011

Surviving the March blues

It's finally March, a month that most students have been dreading. Not only is it a month full of presentations, essays, reports and creating media kits in my public relations program, it is also the month before placement.

March is also a common time for college students to be "down in the dumps" as people call it. Staying motivated to complete all of these upcoming assignments can be a struggle, but if you are in need of some ideas, I have compiled a list.

  1. Indulge

You just finished that essay you've been working on for weeks. Before going onto the next assignment or reading, reward yourself for a job well done. Go to Starbucks and get that macchiato you've been craving all afternoon or spend a few hours at the park. You received a great mark on that midterm you've been stressing over. Go and buy the dress you've been eying for weeks. The couple hours you spend on you will revitalize your whole mindset.

Of course, doing this for everything you do is not healthy. There is only so much Starbucks intake that can be healthy and clothes buying that your wallet can handle; everything in moderation.

  1. Buy an agenda

It being this late into the semester, I would hope you already own one. However, there is a difference between owning one and actually using it. Knowing when assignments are due is half the battle to time management. In your agenda, be sure to map out an attack plan to getting all of these assignments done on time. Whether you are more of a couple hours on each per day or completely finishing an assignment at a time, write it down. You are more likely to stick to the plan if it is in writing.

  1. Maintain your health

With the stress of assignments and work, sometimes your dietary needs are pushed to the side. Whether it's during midterms or exam times, students often spend their nights cramming. I know this may sound obvious, but a healthy diet and sleeping schedule will give you more energy to complete your tasks.

In case you are not aware of the Canadian Food Guide, check out their website for the recommended nutrition you should intake.

From my perspective, I feel that students get bogged down at this time of year because they lose perspective. You will survive these next few weeks. I will end with the dreaded cliché, but I truly believe that the best is yet to come.

Monday, March 14, 2011

No Support Team Needed

While discussing my blog at work, I was quite astounded with the answers I received when I asked, "what should my next blog post be about?"
It was brought to my attention that an obstacle many people face is not having a source of support. Not having anyone believe in them.

To be honest, it wasn't something I really thought was an obstacle until this afternoon. An even stranger coincidence was that I found an old "Touched by an Angel" CD with the song I Believe in You by Amanda Marshall on it, I suppose it was a sign that I must write this topic.

In previous posts, I have focused a lot of time saying you need to support yourself. The negative thoughts will get you nowhere and you need to stop self-sabotaging your endeavours.

Having someone you love or someone you admire say that you are on the right path can mean the world to a person. For most people, having their family's approval trumps all other opinions.

Sara Paddison, Hidden Power of the Heart, offers an interesting take on the idea of family. "We are one big family of people, trying to make our way through the unfolding puzzle of life. We are all connected to one another in the heart. Connecting with the ultimate source of love is possible through discovering the hidden power in your heart."

Connecting with people, whether it be friends, family, boyfriends/girlfriends, is a crucial aspect in human development. The relationships you maintain will differ greatly from when you are a child to when you are an adult. As I learned in a sociology course, most people are not friends with the people they were in kindergarten.

Why is this? Well, people change. You need to find people who you connect with. These people should be going in the same direction you are and people who share similar life goals. Let's be honest, the things we were interested in as a toddler are vastly different from the things we are interested in now.

Imagine the one thing you have wanted your entire life. Whether it is a trip, your rock star dream or a political career, without the support of your family and friends you probably won't go after it.

According to a blog entitled "How to have Great Self Confidence," this need for approval stems from self-confidence and self-esteem issues.

There is probably a reason why one persons opinion matters most to you. Take a minute to think about whose opinion that is.

Now ask yourself, why am I leaving myself vulnerable to their opinions?

Before you take what anyone says to heart, it is important to note that most people are rather self-centred. Like you, when they are thinking about other people, it is mainly in relation to their lives, their experiences and their current mood. Their opinions and thoughts are based on how they see the world, which could be completely different than you do.

If you want something badly enough, you can attain it. You just need to filter the negative thoughts and opinions of others from entering your thought process.
Mark Twain has been quoted as saying, "A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval."
I am, in no means saying that I have never sought approval, but I am learning that maintaining an air of self-confidence and self-approval is the first step in reaching any of my goals.

After all, if you do not believe in yourself, why would anyone else.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It’s true...You are your own worst enemy

Throughout the process of writing the blogs, I have realized that people are their own worst enemies. YOU are probably the reason you are not going after your goals. It is not your over protective mother or your fear of public speaking, instead it is you using those as reasons not to go after your goals.

Many people know what they want, but sabotage their efforts by acting in conflict with their goals. You probably know the person who wants a promotion but is constantly late, or the person who wants to fit into her skinny jeans but eats donuts every morning. To the world it is clear that their actions violate their vision, but they are clueless.

According to an article published in the Harvard Review, people sabotage themselves by entertaining thoughts of denial, brooding, jealousy, fear of feedback, and procrastination. Now that you have realized that you are harshest critic, how are you going to fix it? There are many theories of how to counter this behaviour.

The first step to change is realizing what you are doing.

Make a list of five specific things you are doing to sabotage yourself. Allow yourself to be brutally honest. As you do this exercise, keep in mind that to have your dream life you will have to do the exact opposite of what you have been doing.

This self-observation will guide you to then identify the five things you can do to counter the behaviour patterns that are detrimental your success. For example, if you find yourself wanting a donut in the afternoon, counter it by having fruit first. Do you routinely spend more money than you put into the bank? You can counter this habit by putting 10 percent of what you earn in a savings account each week.

Finally, as you make a list of each of these five new action steps, practices or tasks, choose the one that you can accomplish today. And then do it with great passion. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Find your inspiration, go after your goals

Lately, I have become quite the fan of quotes. Inspirational quotes, biblical quotes, famous quotes: I like them all. In fact, I share most of them on my social networking accounts. You can find these quotes quite easily on Google or any search engine. 

Many people find solace by taping words of wisdom to their mirrors, lockers and even placing them in their binders. Constantly seeing the positive affirmations will lead to a positive outlook.

Motivational quotes can help a person through a tough time. If you need help staying on course, these quotes may give you exactly what you need. 

Another great source of motivation comes from the music that we listen to. It is said that music is the 'ultimate mood enhancer.' A good song can change your perspective on any situation. There are a lot of theories regarding music effecting people. Music affects our mood. It has the power to make you feel motivated or depressed. We may not understand how powerful the lyrics are, but instead recognize the expression of emotion and its power to de-stress.

Here are a few songs to listen to if you are having a hard time believing in yourself. 

If you are looking for inspiration to keep you motivated to achieve your goals, I hope these help you. Or if these do not reflect your life, search for your own quotes, tape them up and read them daily. You will be surprised what you can achieve with a positive attitude.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The spotlight is on you

 The lights go down, you walk onto the stage. A spotlight hits you. Suddenly, your mind goes blank.

Whether you are on the stage to sing, act or give a presentation, stage fright hits everyone at one point or another. Conquering that fear is hard to do. Even the most seasoned performers have their bouts with stage fright. According to entertainmentwise, even Lady Gaga gets nervous before a show.

To some people, speaking in front of crowds comes easy. I have always been jealous of those people. Singing for crowds comes naturally; speaking for them is not as easy.

I share this with legendary singer Carly Simon. She still cannot read aloud but claims that singing has helped conquer stuttering. It is a fact that anyone who stutters will sing fluently. Despite her Grammy and many hits, Carly shares she has "legendary stage fright." She attributes the fear to her "stammer."

Singing in front of the world and doing live interviews would scare most people. It astounds me that anyone with a stutter could face those fears.

For the other 99 per cent of the world's population who do not stutter, if you are afraid of public speaking you have what is known as Glossophobia. Yes, there is a term for the fear of public speaking. According to the Glossophobia website, "Public speaking is considered the greatest fear a person can have, even greater than the fear of death."

If you have a fear of public speaking, there are many options to conquer it. Toastmasters is a club that focuses on public speaking and becoming the best presenter you can be. There is also that tried and tested "practice makes perfect" theory. You will never become better at something if you don't practice. 

Or, if you are like me, you may try the Carly Simon method. Nothing makes you feel better than rocking out to your favourite song. Whichever one you chose, know that a positive attitude can change your perspective on the situation. Stay positive and practice. Oh, and break a leg!

Self-doubt leads no where

A chance meeting at a restaurant gave me the inspiration for this blog. The young waitress had been at her job for too long for her liking. In her words, she was "stuck." She had been there "long enough" and wanted a change.

In this case, her obstacle was self doubt. She knew what she wanted and that she wanted "to get out of here." She wanted to be an airline attendant, but didn't know how to get there. Unsure of her abilities, she was scared to make the next step.

For most of us, fear plays a huge role in the decisions we make. Self doubt can steer even the most confident of people off of their paths. Throughout my reading of multiple blogs and websites, there were many reoccurring pieces of advice. If self doubt is your obstacle, here are 5 ways to overcome it.

  1. Let go of the need to know how you will create your vision of what you want.

    It is unlikely that you will know the path to achieving your goals. That is something that you will figure out as you go. People start to doubt themselves when they cannot see how to create their goals.
  2. Remind yourself of how important your goal is to you.

    Set aside time during your day to imagine where you would like to be five or ten years. Imagine how you would feel if it happened and what it looks like. Allow yourself to be immersed in the image; getting excited about it will drive your desire to attain it.

  3. Realize it when the voice of self doubt is talking.

    This voice largely appears because people are afraid of change. If you know when the voice is speaking, you will be able to gain perspective and look past it.

  4. Get the doubts and fears down on paper and out of your mind.

    Instead of allowing your negative thoughts to play on repeat, write them down. Then take a blank sheet of paper, write down positive words of why you can reach your goal. Reading the positive words over and over again will create a sense of confidence to go after your goals.
  5. Repeat a personalized affirmation to yourself.

    This will instil positive beliefs around your ability to create your vision. You can use the positive words that you created in four, or sayings that resignate with you. Such as, "I believe in myself, I deserve to have what I want, I am safe," or whatever feels right.
And the sixth I would add is just do it! Being tired of the status quo is what finally pushed her to "do it." She called a school and will begin taking classes next week. If you want something in life, you just need to do it. Sitting around thinking about it gets you nowhere. I guess Nike said it best, Just Do It.