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Embracing You

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Confidence and Self-Perception

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One of my friends constantly repeats this famous Marcus Garvey quote to me whenever I begin to wallow in self-pity. It portrays a very powerful message that I'm only now beginning to embrace. If suffering from a severe lack of confidence was a recognized psychological condition, I would be diagnosed with it. Lacking self-confidence only produces defeat and causes you to see every challenge as an insurmountable obstacle. Don't get it twisted though. Having confidence doesn't mean being narcissistic or full of too much pride. Confidence requires having a healthy view of one's self and abilities while humbly accepting the fact that there will always be others out there who are better than you. So, how can someone who has a negative self-image develop this healthy sense of confidence? This is a question that I constantly ask myself and I think I have finally discovered some possible answers.

Find What You Love

There is something magical about finding something that you're truly passionate about. I have found that I truly enjoy writing and I function at my best when I am sitting in front of my laptop pouring my thoughts onto the computer screen. When you realize that something really comes to you naturally, you begin to truly believe that you have something to offer to the world. Finding a passion is more difficult for some people than others. However, it isn't impossible. Keep dabbling in things that interest you and one day you'll truly discover what really makes your heart sing.

Constantly Look for Learning Opportunities

Oftentimes the areas where we lack confidence are the areas where we have the most inadequacies. It's easy to be confident in something you're naturally gifted at, but it's much harder to feel that same level of confidence in something you feel you lack the ability to do. I fervently believe that each of us can do anything that we set out minds to. I know the areas in which I feel most inadequate and I have decided that, instead of lamenting on how incapable I feel, I am going to constantly look for advice from those who are gifted in the area and do my own research. Once I do these things and implement what I've learnt, I am sure improvement will follow.

Believe in Yourself

No one else is going to feel as strongly about your dreams as you do. You are the master of your happiness and emotions. It is amazing how simply saying the words "I can" with great conviction can change the way you perceive and act on things. The word can't should not be in your vocabulary. Believe in the beautiful person you are and have the potential to become.

Don't be defeated by your lack of confidence. Make a decision today to truly believe in who you are so that you can move forward into your destiny.

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Creating Your Own Happiness

lklklk The past few months have been difficult for me. In this small time frame I have felt more like a failure than any other time in my life (and there have been several times in my life when I've felt like a failure). Every aspect of my life has EPIC FAIL written all over it- my lackluster love life, my career, and my spirituality. My friends keep telling me that I'm an over-thinker, I'm not aggressive enough, I'm not observant enough, I need to let loose. You know what, they're right. I am not enough. However, there is one thing that I have come to realize. I am in charge of my own happiness. I can't control my fate or the outcomes of my actions, but I can control my attitude and my happiness.

This morning I came up with four keys to happiness. I want to start using these keys to open doors to a better a more fulfilling life. Maybe this strategy will work, maybe it won't. At least I would know that I've tried.

Key #1: Let Go

In order to move forward you have to let go of the hurt of the past. I know that I will be perpetually unhappy if I keep holding on to bad memories and constant hurt. There comes a time when we all just have to shake the dust off, forgive, forget, and move on. The others who have harmed you have already moved on so what are you really holding on to?

Key #2: Discover Yourself

Because of how I was raised I don't think I had the opportunity to fully discover who I am and what I really want out of life. Granted, I was raised well by my beautiful mother who taught me strong values and principles. However, I think I've gotten to a point in my life where I don't want to feel like I have to be afraid to explore and learn more about me. I have lived under an umbrella of people's expectations. Those expectations are meaningless to me now. Now, I want to come from under the umbrella and feel the beauty of the rain.

Key #3: Realize that No one Else Can Make You Happy But You

If we depend on other people to make us happy then we will continuously be disappointed. People will always disappoint us simply because they are imperfect beings. However, when you know what you enjoy doing then you can just go out and do it. If you enjoy karaoke, why not treat yourself to a karaoke evening? If you enjoy going to the beach, why don't you drive there one evening and enjoy the beautiful sand and surf? When you enjoy your own company and truly understand who you are, you attract and exude happiness.

Key #4: Finding Love Isn't Necessarily the Answer

Some of us accept the notion that finding our soul mates will answer our happiness issues. That's a lie. If you can't be happy on your own, how do you expect someone else to make you happy? Also, as I said in key #3, we can't depend on others to make us happy because we will continuously be disappointed. Love has its limits. There is hardly any human being who would go out of his or her way to keep a perpetually depressed person happy. In all honesty, perpetually depressed people are a pain to be around and hard to commit to. Don't be one of those people.

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Dare to Be by Steve Maraboli

When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully. When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light.

When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it.

When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway.

When life seems to beat you down, dare to fight back.

When there seems to be no hope, dare to find some.

When you’re feeling tired, dare to keep going.

When times are tough, dare to be tougher.

When love hurts you, dare to love again.

When someone is hurting, dare to help them heal.

When another is lost, dare to help them find the way.

When a friend falls, dare to be the first to extend a hand.

When you cross paths with another, dare to make them smile.

When you feel great, dare to help someone else feel great too.

When the day has ended, dare to feel as you’ve done your best.

Dare to be the best you can –

At all times, Dare to be!” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

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Living a Balanced Life

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Balance is a word that is commonly associated with equity and justice. However, many of us often fail to realize how crucial balance is for our survival. The vestibular (balance) system in the body is used to keep us balanced so that we're not toppling over ourselves. We also balance our cheque books so that we don't end up wallowing in debt. There is night to balance out the day and sun to brighten the rain. Balance is a crucial aspect of life. Many people, however, neglect this point when considering how they live their lives. Some people work continuously and make no time for fun while others make time for fun but no time for work. When your life is imbalanced there can be several social and physical repercussions. You may "burn out" from being overworked or you may never be able to hold a job because you're having too much fun. So, how can you start to live a more balanced life?

Determine Where There is an Imbalance

The first step in creating a balanced life is determining where there is imbalance. There are three key areas that you should assess in order to measure imbalance. These areas are shown in the table below along with the questions you should ask yourself in order to assess how deeply involved you are in these areas.

Professional Life Relationships Social Life
  1. Am I working beyond the normal work hours more than once per week?
  2. Is my focus solely on earning more money?
  3. Do I never have time for my family because I am so caught up with work?
  4. If anyone wants to find me they know they can look for me in my office?

 

  1. Is your partner the only person you focus on?
  2. Do you and your partner have time to explore individual hobbies or are you always together?
  3. Do you depend on your partner for all of your needs?
1.  Do you spend too much time with your friends?

2. Are you going out more than twice per week?

3. Does your social life affect your professional life?

Let's discuss each category.

Professional Life

Your job requires you to work for a certain number of hours each day. Some people work a 40 hour work week while others may work for longer periods. The smartest people are those who use their time at work to complete all their work tasks. They know that nothing is going to be coming home with them and if something can't be completed today it will have to be completed when they get to work the following work day. People who do this are better able to spend quality time with their families and tend to be healthier because they're not overworked.

Your life goals cannot solely be about making money. Money is fleeting and can be taken away in an instant. The most important things in life are the relationships you build with the people around you. Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with being ambitious and attempting to rise to the top through hard work. However, this should not be at the expense of your friends and family.

Relationships

Sometimes we can become so consumed with our relationships that we don't have time for anyone else. Relationships like these are usually unhealthy. Yes, it is important to spend time with your partner and enjoy being together. However, you both need some space sometimes to explore your hobbies and bond with your friends. You also need to be able to stand on your own two feet. You can't depend on your partner to be and do every single thing for you.

Social Life

Now, there's nothing wrong with having a little fun. However, everything should be done in moderation. Think about all of the time that you spend lyming. Is it taking up too much of your time?

Make the Necessary Changes

When you have identified the area of imbalance, it is time for you to make some life altering changes. If you spend you spend too much time working then it's time for you to be wiser in how you spend your work hours. If you are too absorbed in your relationship it's time to step back and reflect. If your social life is compromising your professional life, it's time for you to think about how you spend your time. If you don't think that you can make these changes alone, ask one of your friends to be your accountability partner.

Living a balanced life is important. Do what you need to do in order to create balance in your life.

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Dealing With Difficult Situations

Today I accidentally locked myself out of my home. I was pissed, anxious and frustrated. For about half an hour I was screaming in frustration and walking around the house, with my damaged shoulder, trying to see if I could climb in through a window at the back. When I realized that wasn’t going to work, I stood at the door, took a deep breath and began to think. Within seconds I had a solution- walk to a neighbor’s house and call my mom to see if she could find someone to help me. She told me to borrow a knife and pick the lock which is what I did. Voila! I was back into my home. So often in life we become easily frustrated when we encounter difficult situations. I have a tendency to become easily overwhelmed and frustrated. However, my experience today has caused me to realize some tips that we can all use to help us through difficult situations.

Count to Three and Breathe

At one point, I found that I was getting so upset that I was beginning to hyperventilate. When I paused and forced myself to breathe calmly, I realized that I was better able to think. In moments of anger and frustration we tend to make the worst decisions. The next time you find that you are getting upset and anxious, count to three and take a deep breath. Close your eyes if you have to. Just ensure that you give yourself a few seconds to focus so that you can think clearly.

Carefully Consider Your Decision

Regardless of how upset you are, you must ask yourself if your decision makes sense. In my case, it really never made sense for me to lift a ladder with my hurt shoulder to try to climb through a window. Firstly, I was just making my pain worse. Secondly, I am too short to reach the window anyways. So, whenever you find yourself in a difficult situation ensure that you carefully consider your decisions.

Don’t Become Vindictive

When we are hurt by someone we tend to lash out in anger. All forms of sensibility leave our bodies and we do such vindictive things as slandering the person or causing him or her emotional or physical harm.  The funny thing is that sometimes the person isn’t even aware that what they did caused hurt. Instead of becoming vindictive, talk to the person about the problem. If talking doesn’t help, leave it to karma. The wrong that has been done will eventually come back to haunt him or her.

Pray

I know that there are several non-religious people reading this article. However, I can’t neglect the power of prayer.  Prayer has done a lot to change my life. A classic example is the way God redeemed me from a job I was struggling in. I would often come home exhausted and feeling worthless. I would get sick often and I believe I was suffering from depression. God saw my struggles and heard my prayers and he has provided me with a job that I believe I can flourish in. Prayer works.

 

When difficult situations arise don’t let them overwhelm you. Pause, count to three, take deep breaths, make rational decisions and pray. A solution is on the horizon.  

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Procrastination

khjkkh You have an important meeting next week Tuesday and you have to make an excellent presentation. The more you think about it is the more you know you have to get cracking. But, there's this amazing concert that's happening tonight. All of your friends are going. Besides, you'll have all weekend to prepare. So, you go to the concert and have an awesome time. On Saturday, your girlfriend wants your help with fixing her dilapidated kitchen cupboards. Who knew that would take the whole day?  When you got home you were too tired to do anything. Most definitely you'll start working on the presentation on Sunday. On Sunday morning your mom invites you for a spontaneous family get together at your old home. She vows to disown you if you don't go. So you give in. You can work on the presentation on Monday. Before you know it, Monday night comes and you have nothing prepared. So, you have to stay up till the crack of dawn putting something together for Tuesday's presentation. You walk into the meeting tired as hell, but you deliver something. Your boss liked it, but you know you could have done much better and truly gained his respect if you had started working on the presentation sooner.

Does this scenario sound like something that would happen to you?  If it does then you are a true procrastinator. Some people produce their best work under pressure. If you know that you don't fit this description, procrastination is definitely something you should avoid. Here are some tips to help you break free from this bad habit.

Create a Scheduled Checklist

When you have a task to complete, list all of the steps that are required to complete it and the date by which you should complete each step.  The best place for you to put your checklist is on your smartphone or tablet since you use those devices frequently. On these devices you can also create alerts that will tell you that it's time to start a particular task. The following is an example of a checklist that  I had created for my GRE preparation a few months ago.

Task                                                                                  Date to be Completed

Practice the Verbal Component                           January 10, 2014

Practice the Quantitative Portion                        January 17,2014

Complete a Full Practice Test                                January 25, 2014

Strengthen Weak Areas                                            February 1, 2014

I had very little time to prepare for the exam because of when I registered. This is the reason for the timeline being so short. However, I hope you get a general idea of how to create a scheduled checklist for your task.

Learn to Say No

We all would much rather have fun than do work. However, there are times when work has to take precedence over fun. The better you are at your job is also the more likely you'll be promoted. So, if you really don't have the time to meet the demands of your friends and family, explain your situation and tell them no. They may initially be hurt but they'll get over it after awhile. It's also possible that the sooner you start is the sooner you'll be able to finish. So, you may not even have to tell a lot of people no.

Focus

When you say no you may begin to think about how much fun you could be having with your friends or family.  This can be counterproductive since you won't be able to focus to complete the task before you. Learn to train your mind to focus. Block everything else out and pour your energy into getting the assignment done. When it's done you can go and have fun.

 

Procrastination is something you can overcome. Just do what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do it. It'll reduce your stress and probably give you even more time to do what you really want to do.

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The Unemployment Conundrum

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It is hardly inspiring for a recent graduate to spend months trying to find a job. Why spend 3 to 4 years at university racking up an enormous students loan only to end up with a piece of paper? Even if you want to pursue your passion, you have no money to even make the first step. So, what should you do?
Volunteer
This may sound cliche, but volunteering actually does give you valuable work expereience. However, you have to be strategic about how you volunteer. Make your choices using the following steps.
1. Think about the sector you want to work in.
2. Search for companies or organizations within that sector.
3. Narrow down your search to companies or organizations that offer internships or who are seeking volunteers.
4. Send a letter expressing your desire to volunteer.
5. Give your best. You may not be getting paid, but several people will be watching you. One of those people could be the person who will employ you.
Start Freelancing
Sometimes, it may be better for you to set up a small business. There are countless resources on the internet that can help you to hit the ground running. Freelance websites, such as Elance and oDesk, offer several jobs in various fields. There are also several companies that offer free websites. Wordpress is a good place to start. Who knows, your business could blossom into something that is able to provide you substantial income.
Embrace Opportunities
Don't be afraid to take opportunities that take you out of your comfort zone. If a job takes you to another country, take the bold step and make the move. If you are being offered a job that is outside your comfort zone, take it. You may never know what other opportunities could arise.
Being unemployed doesn't mean that all hope is lost. Start volunteering, start freelancing, or embrace opportunities so that you can transform your situation.

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Following Your Dreams

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Dreams make the world come alive. They provide us with hope and give us a reason to live. It was Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream to see his children live in a society of racial equality that ultimately resulted in greater freedom for blacks in America. It was Steve Jobs' dream to create a high quality product the world could enjoy that resulted in the creation of the technological giant, Apple. It was God's dream to create a species in His image that resulted in you being here today to read this article. However, our dreams can often seem like fantasies that are far beyond our reach. The more we think about the obstacles in our path is the more our dreams seem more like fantasies. If you are realizing that your dreams are slowly becoming mere fantasies, hold on to the following tips that can give you the courage to move forward.

Your Contribution is Valuable

The central principle from Dr. Myles Monroe's book Understanding Your Potential that has stayed with me from the first day I read it over 5 years ago is the fact that the richest place in the world is the graveyard. In graveyards worldwide there are thousands of people who have died not realizing who they were truly meant to be. Some of their ideas could have been the things that changed the world. Similarly, your idea could be something that greatly impacts the lives of others. Never give up on your dream because you never know the difference you could make.

Obstacles are Only Temporary

Think about an athlete who competes in the 400m hurdles. Each of those hurdles is an obstacle between her and the finish line. She knows that if she does not clear the hurdles correctly, they can cause her to stumble. Nevertheless, she doesn't let this deter her because her eyes are on the finish line. Eventually, those hurdles become surmountable obstacles that take her towards her ultimate goal. Similarly, every obstacle you face is a challenge you can overcome. My major obstacle is finances. I want to do an MBA in Strategic Human Resource Management at the University of Wisconsin, but the tuition fee is something I could never afford in my lifetime. However, I am determined to find a way to source those finances and enter that program. I will not allow finances to prevent me from becoming who I know I am meant to be. When faced with the challenges of finances, fear, health, or lack of support, develop the courage to find a way to leap over those hurdles and make it to the finish line.

View Your Dream as a Reality

If you view your dream as unattainable, you will never achieve it. Instead, view it as your present circumstance. Claim it and believe that it is yours. For instance, if you want to be a doctor, begin calling yourself Dr. [insert name here] and read books and articles related to medicine. I am not suggesting that saying these things means that they must happen.  After all, if you don't put in the work you  won't be able to achieve much. However, when you begin to believe that it is possible, it is more likely that your dream will become a reality.

 

If we all failed to dream, there would be no hope in the world. Everything would lack meaning and life wouldn't be worth living. Don't allow fear to squash your dreams. Instead, follow the tips I have outlined to keep your dream alive. One day, it will become a reality.

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The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.” ― Kent M. KeithThe Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council

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When It All Is Just Too Much

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“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ~Albert Einstein

Life is a journey that is riddled with several disappointments, failures, good times, and triumphs. However, how we choose to approach life can make or break us. If we view it as a gift we will spend every waking moment making the most of it, but if we view it as a curse then we will spend all of our time focusing on the negatives and depleting our mental energy. Over the past few years, I have viewed life as a curse. What really is my purpose here? What value do I add to this world? Why do I do the things I do? However, this week the pressure became so great that I really felt like giving up.  Financial responsibilities, life choices and the immense stress at work were all becoming too much.  Today, I was reflecting during the ride home from work and I realized that I can change how I approach my life by practicing the following steps.

Just Breathe

When everything seems to be tumbling down around you just close your eyes, take a deep breath, hold it for ten seconds and release it. You would be surprised by how this simple exercise can grant you relief. It helps you to let go of the negative energy that is consuming your thoughts. Personally, it helps me to stop worrying and just let go. The next time when you feel like there are too many things coming at you at once, just breathe, let go of the negative energy, and move on.

Be Realistic

One of the things that affects me greatly is my job and, although I had made the decision to approach what I do with a different attitude for this term, I find it so difficult to enjoy what I do. Nevertheless, the reality is that I have a job and I need the job in order to earn an income. So, the best thing for me to do is suck it up and give it my best shot. I have to make the choice to conquer my reality so that better opportunities can present themselves.

Pray

There is no one who understands your thoughts and heart's desires better than God. He knows when you feel depressed or overwhelmed or pressured. As a result, He is the best person to pour your heart out to. Place all your burdens at His feet and you will be amazed by how well He handles them.

 

These three steps are helping me to come out of this negative space that I have been in and I hope they will also help you. When you become overwhelmed just breathe, accept your reality, and pray. Everything will fall into place eventually.

 

 

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Developing Your Inner Peace

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Developing Your Inner Peace

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Loud noises. Honking horns. Loud people. Difficult bosses. Blinding lights. Screaming children. STOP!!!! The hustle and bustle of life can oftentimes create feelings of great trepidation that lead us to seek comfort in a person, food or object that we believe relieves our stress and sets our minds at ease.  It also causes us to lose sight of our dreams as we get lost in the pandemonium of life. However, have you ever stopped to consider what would happen when your source of comfort is suddenly removed from your life? What will you do? How will you cope? Also, what will happen if your dreams become a fading memory? 72960764.pHFTVdYZ

Many of us have a dependency complex. In order for us to feel passion and exuberance to do anything, we depend on others to push us and propel us forward. In theory, nothing is inherently wrong with seeking the support and encouragement of family and friends but, in order for you to truly advance in life and become the best (and most successful version of yourself) you have to learn to develop self-motivation. With self-motivation, you can conquer any challenge or obstacle you face and make great strides towards attaining your goals. The real question is...how do you develop self-motivation?

Change Your Thought Patterns

Alvin Day in his book "If Caterpillars Can Fly So Can I" states "Every aspect of your life today results from words- words you think, say to yourself, utter with your tongue, express in writing, plus words you absorb from others...".  H. Norman Wright in his book "A Better Way to Think" further states that how we think affects what we do and how we feel. I have first-hand experience with this as my outlook on my job has resulted in depression and substandard performance. For years I have been caught up in the disappointment of not going to med school that I have missed out on so much of what my present circumstances have to offer me. Most days when I go to work I would tell myself that I hate my job, I hate these students and I am not capable of being a good teacher. Consequently, my energy in the classroom was non-existent and I was just going through the motions. This holiday season, I have begun working about how I think about my job and it has resulted in my mind opening up to new ideas that I can use to impart my lessons. Although I have not put these thoughts into practice yet, I know that I am going to see much better results in my classroom. No matter what people said, I had to develop this mindset on my own in order to truly step into another phase of my life-journey. Negative thoughts produce negative outcomes....positive thoughts produce positive outcomes. It really is that simple.

Speak In the Affirmative

After being negative for so many years, you mind becomes conditioned to negative thoughts. So, no matter how much you want to be positive, your mind is telling you otherwise. Nevertheless, it is possible to transform your thinking into positive energy. Personally, I am developing the habit of saying "I am an excellent teacher" regardless of what my mind may be saying. I will continue to speak this affirmative both verbally and in my thoughts until it becomes a reality. You would be surprised by how just speaking positively can give you renewed energy and cause a dramatic shift in your circumstances overtime.

Put Pen to Paper

It is one thing to have your thoughts in your head but when you begin to write them down, you have a visual representation of your ideas. This can help you to develop the plans needed to put your thoughts to action and will also bring you joy and comfort from the stresses and negativity that surrounded your life. I have many ideas, plans and dreams and I know that they will come to fruition because I have developed a plan of action for each and I am doing what I need to in order to execute these plans. don't let financial constraints or lack of emotional support prevent you from moving forward. You know where you want to go so do what you need to do to get there.

I would suggest that each morning, you write five goals that you want to achieve for that that will propel you towards your dreams. Throughout the day, work towards accomplishing each of those goals and at the end of the day, perform a mental evaluation of your success. this will give you a renewed sense of purpose and help you not to become distracted by the noise of life.

The only person who can move you one step closer to your dreams is you. Don't depend on people or things to provide you with comfort or support. Instead, find your inner strength and use that to climb to the peak of your mountain.

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5 Things to Learn From Tessanne

lilililili So many articles are now being written about Tessanne and so many people are sharing their thoughts about what we can learn from Tessanne's journey. However, Tessanne's success has made such a huge  impact on me and has given me a new drive to pursue my dreams that I had to ensure that I penned my thoughts. Each person's life story is unique but I believe that there are five things that we all can learn from Tessanne's success that can help us to make our dreams come to life.

Believe

This is such a simple word that we often take for granted but it has the power to help us change the world or contribute to the wealth of potential in the graveyard. Although Shaggy was the one who suggested the idea of auditioning for the Voice to Tessanne, she still had to believe in her talent and use this belief to capitalise on this amazing opportunity. It must be noted, however, that her belief did not equate to arrogance or over-confidence. Despite the resounding praises from coaces and fans alike, Tessanne remained gracious and humble. Her warmth as a human being shows that it is not enough to believe in your abilities. Instead, that belief must be coupled with an appreciation for others and an ability to show love and compassion to supporters and naysayer's alike.

Get Up and Get Moving

Imagine if Tessanne had listened to Shaggy's advice but allowed the fear of rejection to overcome her. Where would she be now? Tessanne had a dream and she was determined to do what she needed to in order to make that dream a reality. However, auditioning for the competition was just the first phase of the journey. Week after week she had to put in several hours of rehearsals and coaching sessions to ensure that each night she delivered a stellar performance. As the old Jamaican saying goes "If yuh waan good yuh nose haffi run" which simply means that you have to be willing to work hard for what you desire. Dreams don't become reality overnight...they take weeks, months or years of persistent work and dedication.

Be Open to All Possible Outcomes

Tessanne was never over-confident. Each week there was always a look of great relief on her face when Carson stated that she was one of the people America saved.  Tessanne knew that her journey to the finish line was not guaranteed and she was willing to use the knowledge she had garnered from this experience to take her one step closer to her dreams. Thankfully, she did not have to go the latter route but sometimes the latter route is the reality. If the latter route becomes your reality then always remember that failure is never final and use your experiences to propel you even closer to your dreams.

Surround Yourself With Good People

In her inner circle, Tessanne had the support of well wishing friends and family who had been there with her from the very beginning. She didn't surround herself with people who told her she can't...she surrounded herself with people who told her she can. The people we allow into our inner circles can make or break our dreams so we need to be wise about who we allow to enter.

Never Give Up

After so many years of being a back up singer and performing her and there at concerts, Tessanne was becoming frustrated. She was nearing the point of giving up but, this opportunity came ans she is now reaping the rewards. Imagine if she had given up a year or two years ago. Never give up on your dreams regardless of how long it takes for them to become reality.

I have always loved Tessanne's song "Hideaway" and I knew she far surpassed her competition on the Voice. She is one of my heroes and I will use these guiding principles to propel me into a bigger and brighter future.

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Overcoming Your Addiction

flames Like an all-consuming fire ready to devour everything in its path, our addictions threaten to take over every facet of our lives. Every second of the day we think about our next "fix" and will move heaven and earth to ensure that we satisfy our voracious appetites. Many people associate addictions exclusively with drugs, alcohol and other substances but the truth is that there are so many other addictions that plague our lives that we may even fail to realise. Some of us have addictions to food, others to sex, and others to people. My addiction is to a person...someone who consumes my thoughts and who I care about deeply and I have come to realise that this is an addiction I need to overcome.  My thoughts led me to the formulate the following tips for overcoming my strong addiction to the man who presently has my heart.

Understand His Desire

Let's face it, if a man doesn't want to be with you he simply just doesn't want to be with you. Nothing you can do or say can change that so, it would be best for you to come out of denial and accept the fact that his desire is to only be your friend. This doesn't make you any less attractive or appealing and should not send you into a state of self-pity. I am slowly understanding the desire of this man as well as the fact that I need to continue valuing and cherishing his friendship. I need to allow him to move on with his life in the same way that I need to move on with mine.

Gradually Eliminate the Addiction's Source

People who want to stop smoking cigarettes don't begin the process by stopping smoking completely. Instead, they gradually train themselves to smoke 1 pack of cigarettes per day instead of 2 until they get to the stage where they no longer need to smoke any at all. The same is true with an addiction to a person. In order for the addiction to fade, you need to gradually train yourself to spend less time with him or her and call him or her less. Overtime your desire to have him or her as an important part of your life will lessen. This doesn't mean that you have to get rid of the person altogether (though this may be necessary in some cases). Instead, it means that you lessen your dependency on him or her.

Acquire a Good Addiction

Not all addictions are bad. Some people, for example, are addicted to playing music...they have to play a note at least once per day or they feel as though their day is incomplete. Find an addiction that will uplift you and allow you to use your talents. As you immerse yourself in this new addiction, you will find that your 'bad addiction' diminishes.

 

Once you recognise your addiction you should do whatever you can to overcome it and, as you overcome it, you will truly be able to become the person you were meant to be. Learn to let go.

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Five Tips to Overcome the "Speech Jitters"

Image Public speaking is something many of us dread. Although there are some people who are masters of the craft, the vast majority of us either begin to get sweaty palms or develop the sudden compulsion to use the bathroom whenever we have to speak in front of a group of people. Is there hope for those of us with the “speech jitters”?   Franklin D. Roosevelt once said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and, if we are to accept his statement, we will realize that we can overcome our fears of public speaking by following these five tips.

Tip No. 1: Know Your Audience

If we truly get to understand who our audience is, we will truly be able to craft a speech that will appeal to their interests. When the audience is interested, our fear gradually diminishes. For example, if you are making a presentation to students at a high school about following their dreams, then it may be a good idea for you to develop a highly entertaining speech involving audio and visual references. Young people love excitement and once you are able to grab and maintain their interest, you will be able to have confidence in your presentation.

Tip No. 2: Practice

One of the key concepts the Toastmasters program teaches its participants is the importance of practicing your speech. Stand up in front of a mirror and time yourself as you make your speech. As you look at your reflection, take note of your gestures and facial expressions and ensure that you are not overdoing either of them. Additionally, you can practice in front of your friends or relatives and allow them to give you feedback so that you can make improvements if necessary. Being fully prepared to make your speech will give you some of the confidence you need to overcome your fear of public speaking.

Tip No.3: Research

In order to write the best possible speech, it is important for you to research your topic. Instead of just presenting your own thoughts and opinions, find articles or books that support your claims. People have more respect for someone who takes the time to properly craft his or her speech.

Tip No. 4: Focus on Something or Someone in the Room

If you are still extremely nervous, it may be helpful for you to pick someone from the audience to focus on while you are presenting your speech. This may help you to feel as though you are having a conversation with someone instead of an entire auditorium full of people. As you build more confidence, you can maintain eye contact with more than one person in the room and therefore better engage the audience.

 

 

Tip No. 5: Walk Around

When I am extremely nervous I tend to pace around a room because it has somewhat of a calming effect. I am not saying that you should pace when making your speech, but you can change your position at instances where you feel the nerves kicking in. Many people stay behind a lectern or podium and speak to the audience but changing that routine a bit can help to alleviate some of the fears you have.

Public speaking seems like a daunting task for many but it is something that we all can do once we overcome our fears. I believe that if you follow these tips you will be able to become the confident public speaker you want to be.

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Be....

To live a truly fulfilling life, I believe that there are certain attributes we should all aspire to attain. I believe that we should be.... Bold

bold

Fear can be our worst enemy and hold us back from some amazing opportunities.  Being bold doesn't mean that fear is absent. Instead, it means that you look fear in the eyes and say "I'm stronger than you". Be bold enough to not succuum to peer pressure and to stand up for what you believe in. Be bold enough to explore new frontiers and go outside of your comfort zone. When you do something that you truly thought you could never do is when you begin to realise your true potential.

Unique

thinker

Each of us has a unique personality and unique interests that help to make us the people we are. However, some of us succumb to peer pressure and allow those around us to change who we truly are. Always remember to be true to yourself and appreciate who you are. When you truly love yourself and your individuality is when you can truly begin to make a meaningful impact in other people's lives.

Extraordinary

extraordinary-pyramids

Never settle for mediocrity. In everything that you do, be the best that you can be.  Even if you hate your job, give it 110% of your effort...you never know who is watching you and could provide you with the opportunity of a lifetime. Be the best that you can be in all that you do.

Humble

humility

The Bible speaks many times about humility. For example, in Romans 12:3 it speaks about us not thinking that we are better than we are but to instead think of ourselves in "sober judgement". Also, in Proverbs 16:8 it says that "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall". Live a life of humility and people will respect you for it. No one is better than anyone else and we are each blessed with our own gifts and abilities.

Loving

helping-hand

In our society, we tend to view love as a feeling of intimacy between two people. However, love is far more than that and extends to everyone we interact with. Love means being helpful and understanding other people's circumstances. It means not being disrespectful to those around us and offering a smile to those who pass our way. If there were more of this type of love in the world, violence and crime would be virtually non-existent.

 

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You Are Never Alone

lonely person In this complex and hectic world it is so easy to get lost...so easy to feel like you're alone. Loneliness forces us to enter into the wrong relationships, develop a negative self image, and can lead to depression. So, if we know all of the negative consequences of loneliness, why do we allow our minds to encourage it? Regardless of the reasons we allow loneliness to take over our lives, I believe that the following tips can help all of us to realise that we truly are never alone.

Become Time Efficient

Not everyone in the world can be outgoing and surrounded by a multitude of friends. Some of us are more reclusive and have a harder time creating genuine friendships. This often results in us having many hours and days to ourselves. However, what do we do with that time? Do we over think, worry and allow negative thoughts to flood our brains? Or do we use that time to think of what we can do to bring more joy and happiness into our lives? Use your time alone to develop useful skills, read a good novel, watch a good movie, find some freelance jobs, or plan a vacation with your friends or family. Don't walk around feeling sorry for yourself.

Don't Be Person Dependent

If you are depending on someone to make you happy then you are bound to constantly be disappointed. your friends won't always be available to go out and if you are always asking the same person to go out with you, he or she is bound to get fed up with you at some point. Learn to create your own happiness and to discover your interests.

Spend Time With Your Creator

When I was in my teens I spent alot of time talking to God and reading His word. I think through the changes in my life and my disappointment with the way things have turned out, I have neglected my relationship with God. I am still actively involved in church and I read my Bible but that deep connection with God is not there and I find that I am sadder and more bothered with life. Your spiritual health is important and when your relationship with your Creator is excellent, you will truly know that you are never alone because He is always with you.

Don't let loneliness consume you. Create your own happiness, discover your interests and spend time with you Creator so that you can make the best use of your life.

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The Cross Roads

Image Have you ever stood at an intersection and been confused by the choices you have? If you have no idea where you're going you're bound to get lost or go down the wrong path. On the journey of life we encounter many intersections that compel us to make difficult choices. Some of those choices take us on the right path while others lead us onto roads we would rather not have traversed.  So how can we make the right choices that lead us along the right paths?

Understand What You Want to Accomplish With Your Life

When you know where you want to be in life, your life begins to have direction. You will ensure that your journey takes you on paths that will help you to realise your dreams. If you have no idea what you want to accomplish with your life then now is the time to sit and think about it. We were created to do more than exist and we should therefore think about how we can live impactful lives.

Have a Connection With Your Creator

We all have different beliefs and serve different gods but I fervently believe that we all were created by a Supreme Being regardless of what we call Him. If this being took the time to create us, He must have a special purpose for us. Think of a craftsman who labours for hours to create an exquisite dining table. His aim is to create something that can serve a purpose in someone's home and he ensures that he takes the time and effort to make it perfect. Our Creator took similar time and effort to create us and He therefore wants us to have a relationship with Him so that we can understand what He created us to do. Life is meaningless without this connection to our Creator.

Be Able to Identify Detractors

Sometimes, something along a particular path attracts us and like a horse being led by a carrot, we follow blindly so focused on getting what we see along that path. Little do we realise that this path is not the one created for us and what we were drawn to was only a distraction from what is meant for us. Oftentimes, we know deep down that something isn't right with what we're doing or allowing to control us. If you have this feeling, then you are on the wrong path and you need to find your way back to where you should be.

Be Patient

Some journeys are longer than others. You may be at a point in your life where you're frustrated with your current situation. However, don't let that frustration cause you to make rash decisions. Patience yields good results. Think about Bill Gates and Microsoft. His success did not happen overnight. It took many years of hard work and dedication and patience. Good things will happen for you in the right time.

Life is all about learning and growing and we have to make bad choices as a part of the growing process. However, if you follow the tips I've outlined, I believe that you will stay on the path that is right for you.

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Embracing Your Career

black working woman  

Hard work, sweat, hardships and failures are a common feature of most of our lives. We go to school for roughly 18 years and leave with a qualification that enables us to get employment. For some of us, what we do makes us so unhappy and unfulfilled that we dread waking up and going to work each day. However, there is something that a friend of mine said to me last week that is constantly in my head. I was telling him that I want a job in which I could see myself advancing which I don't see possible in teaching since I have no desire to be in educational leadership. He said to me, "Don't worry about advancing your career. Focus on advancing by becoming the best teacher you can be."

Those words caused me to change my outlook because I realised that I was looking at what  I do as a job instead of a career. When we view what we do as a job it becomes laborious, time consuming, and joyless. However, when we change our perspective and view what we do as a career we begin to see opportunities and ways in which we can make what we do something we enjoy. So, with this new found perspective, I began to ask myself how do I begin to enjoy what I do?

Do What You Are

The first step for choosing the right career is to understand your personality type and the jobs that would best suit your strengths and weaknesses. The Myers-Briggs personality profile is commonly used and provides an excellent, in-depth description of who you are and what you can do based on some questions you answer. The first time I did this assessment was with the JobBank which is owned and operated by Dr. Leachim Semaj. The profile I was given was that of an INFJ and the jobs that were listed as suiting my personality were doctor, teacher, pshychologist, social worker, human resource manager etc. Since I was in no position to do medicine, I decided to do teaching and throughout my teaching practice and first eight months of work I HATED it. I was so unhappy and wondered if that profile was really for me so I redid it online and guess what? I got the same result. Nevertheless,  I was adamant that I needed to change careers and so I began to look into doing a masters in finance and applying for jobs in the financial sector. I went to interviews and thought I would get jobs but didn't and the tuition fees for the degree I wanted to do were exorbitant. So, I was once more in a predicament. This is when my mother said to me that she believes that I would be miserable in finance because that career just does not fit my personality. I'm not analytical and aggressive and therefore really would not fit into the financial world. Consequently, I decided to change how I look at my job and that change in perspective has led me to believe that education is where I should be. If I do what I am then I will excel at it and become passionate about it. The same is true for you...understand who you are and choose the right career.

Be Open Minded

Every teacher dreams of having the perfect class where students sit, listen and fully understand what is being taught. Very rarely does a teacher have such a class and it is therefore important for me to be realistic about my expectations. Doing this has helped me to be less disappointed and enjoy my students more. Take the same approach to your career...be realistic about your expectations and you will find that you enjoy what you do more.

Look For Opportunities

In every career, there is always an opportunity to get a better job or advance in some way. You just have to be patient and keep your eyes and ears open and while you are doing that, you should put 110% percent into what you do. You may never know who is watching you not only at work but when you are out in a social atmosphere. Make the right impressions and the right opportunities will come along.

The majority of our lives is spent working hard and earning money so that we can provide for our families and enjoy retirement.  It is therefore critical for you to choose the right career from the get go and learn to embrace it.

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Learning to Grow

I have found myself in somewhat of a conundrum. At this stage in my life I want to advance in my career but I have absolutely no idea what career path I really want to embark on. It has always been said that you should do what fits your personality but what happens when all of the career paths that fit your personality are not what you necessarily want to do? I have always been interested in finance but I find it tedious and cumbersome to focus on details. I prefer to make an impact on people's lives which is why I figured that the career I want to embark on is that of a financial advisor. I am now realising, however, that the route to get there is one that I am nether qualified for nor willing to take.  I know that I do not wish to stay in education but what else can I really do? I have NO money to waste doing a masters degree that will result in me ending up in a job that I will be miserable in. So, what should I really do?

I know that I am not the only one faced with the deafening sounds of confusion as it relates to career choices. Although I do not have all the answers and I am also still confused, I believe that the following tips can help us all to make the right decisions for our futures.

Know Who You Are

Oftentimes the root of our problem is that we don't understand what makes us who we are and appreciate all the facets of our beings. We are all embarking on a lifelong journey of self discovery but at each stage of the journey there are some core aspects of ourselves that never change. Years ago I decided that I needed to understand who I am because I seemed like such an outcast amongst my friends and peers. This resulted in me doing the Myers-Briggs personality profile and the result of that profile showed that I have an INFJ personality. Knowing this about myself helped me to understand and appreciate that I value organisation, structure, internal thought, and situations where I can make a positive impact on people's lives. Understanding this has helped me to narrow down my career choices and I therefore believe that doing this test is a good place for anyone to start.

Understand Your Passion

I am still trying to figure out what my passion is but I believe that when you are passionate about the work you do, your work experience becomes much more enjoyable. The key to finding the right career is to do something that will make you eager to go to work each day. Many of us enter careers because they pay well and waste 40 to 50 years of our lives being unhappy with what we do. A career should be about much more than money, it should be about doing what we love to do.

Seek Advice

Most of us know people who have been through and seen it all. Seeking the advice of those older and wiser than us can be very helpful. Those who have been through it all can give us tips concerning what not to do and can help us to make the right career choices based on the potential they see in us. Although this advice can sometimes prove to do more harm than good, it never hurts to garner some nuggets of wisdom from those who have been through the storm.

Make the Sacrifices 

Advancing in your career or making a career shift is going to require tremendous sacrifice. Your savings will be depleted as you seek to further your education and the time that you used to have to spend freely with your friends will vanish. When the pressure becomes unbearable, however, never forget that it will all be worth it in the end. Make the sacrifices and keep your eyes on the prize.

Choosing the right career that will allow you to grow is important since most of your life is spent working. Make the best use of the prime years of your life and do what you need to do to make the right career choices.

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Setting Life Goals

How often have you gone to a workshop or a leadership training session and heard about setting SMART goals? We know that our goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timebound but what happens when we unexpected things happen in life that prevent us from achieving our SMART goals? I have three tips that I believe can help us all deal with the disappointments life will throw in our paths.

never-give-upNever give up. Life will ALWAYS be challenging; it's how you choose to deal with it that matters.

no limits

Don't be limited by your present constraints. The average person never has enough financial resources or support to achieve some of the positive things he or she wants to accomplish in life. Embrace your adversity and work hard to overcome it.

right people

Avoid things and people that will affect your ability to attain your goals. The right people, habits, and attitude go a long way.

Never give up on your dreams and the goals you have set for your life. Keep focused and work hard and you will accomplish great things.

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