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The New Year & One Hundred Blog Posts

2016 has rolled around and given half the world a sense of a fresh start and the other half of the world an excuse. An excuse to complain about the people who think of it as a fresh start. Here’s a thought, time is linear but we as a society segment it for a number of reasons. A revolution of the earth on its own axis is a day, a revolution around the sun is a year and we just go up from there. A new year is a new segment and we measure a great portion of long term events in years. We do this globally, it’s something nearly every society celebrates or acknowledges. I’m talking to the non-believers out there when I say this but why not set yourself a goal or a challenge for the New Year? Also, if you do, why not actually make it effective?

So what’s ineffective?  Think about the resolutions that are quite broad, immeasurable and seldom worth the inaccurate and miniscule amount of effort that ends up going into them. “I want to be more accepting and get in shape” said Emily as she looked at me, a look of accomplishment was sprung across her face like she had already completed her resolution. What the fictional character Emily doesn’t seem to realise is that her goal isn’t going to be effective. Why? Because it isn’t specific enough to inspire action. A good goal would be very specific and have clear cut steps to completing it. Her goal could be immediately improved by saying “I’m going to go to the gym for 1 hour every second day and follow a gym/diet plan that I researched prior.” As for being more accepting, you would have to define what being more accepting is for you and again, come up with specific goals to do those things. Make it specific people, make it specific and you’ll be more likely to complete it.

This somehow relates to being specific, just go with it.

This somehow relates to being specific, just go with it.

What about me? I have several serious goals that are all very specific and will improve my life if I achieve them or even make a good attempt to. One of these goals as you may or may not have guessed from the title of this post, is to write 100 blog posts.  I made this one of my goals because I like to mentally spew what’s on my mind regularly but I just need that extra push sometimes. I also want to improve upon my writing skills but here’s the thing. If I said that my goal was to improve upon my writing skills, I’m 99% sure that it wouldn’t have happened. By writing 100 blog posts, I will (hopefully) indirectly increase my writing skills. It’s just up to me to do that now.

I hope this post helped some of you, it was definitely a mental bucket of paint that I splashed across this page. I hope you can achieve your goals this year. Have a great new year people!

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7 Tips For Travelling Japan As A 20 Something Year Old

Between late November and mid December (2015) I went on a 16 day trip to Japan with my 4 friends. We had planned this trip for a while and needless to say, after the trip was concluded, I wrote it down as one of the best experiences of my life to date. We travelled Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima and the Seto Islands near Onomichi. I whole heartedly believe that I could write 20 blog posts about the different places, activities, foods and experiences. However, I thought I should start off with some useful tips for future or present travellers. Note that I’ll definitely be posting specifics in the future, as well as a nice after movie of what we did while we were there.

These tips are broad in relation to Japan as a whole and aren’t limited to a specific city and I’m sure they’ll come in handy while you’re over there. This list is hitting points such as travel, food, accommodation, money, things to do and socialising. Things to note about this article.

  • These tips are quite broad but they’re primarily intended for young people around the age 20 (like myself)
  • My friends and myself are quite interested in travel and put experiences over tourist-y things (even though we did do a ton of them)
  • This list is based on my own experiences over the course of my 16 day trip and research I had done prior

If you have any specific questions about any of this, or even if it’s not about this. Hit me up on Twitter.

Tip # 1 – Get a JR Pass

If you’ve done any research on Japan, you know that you need this pass and you know that you need it before you get to Japan. A JR Pass is a rail pass that lets you have access to Japan Rail and associated lines. It will allow you to travel all around Japan after you’ve acquired it. Now you can get 7-Day passes, 14-Day passes or 21-Day passes.

But where do I get them? How much do they cost? Do they cover all lines/metros and inner city stations? I heard there were different ones, do they work the same?

Fear not young traveller as I’ll tell you. First of all, you have to get them from Travel Agents. Now, you could get them online for slightly cheaper but even though we were on a budget, we got them from an agent so we could keep that line of communication open and secure, there were a few problems that were sorted because of that. We paid ~$350 (AUD) each for 7-day passes. By travelling from Tokyo to Osaka to Kyoto to Hiroshima to Onomichi and back, we almost tripled the our investment in terms of value. It would have costed a ludicrous amount otherwise. Now the JR Pass doesn’t cover all lines, yes you do get to ride bullet trains but inner city is a little bit of a different story. There are privately owned lines that don’t accept the JR Pass as its only meant for JR lines. That being said, there are a lot of JR stations and you can definitely save some money using it. In other situations, you’ll have to get a ticket (which is fine because they’re really cheap ~200 yen).

When you order the JR Passes from the agent, make sure you ask for all of Japan. There are JR passes such as east/west etc. Don’t bother with them, you want to see all of Japan, its definitely worth it. For more information about this, this is the best resource. Any specific questions, ask me on Twitter.

Tip #2 – Try a Wide Variety of Food, Even if it Looks Unpleasant

Food is the reason I travel. You can see all of the tourist locations you want but you’ve never truly experienced the culture of Japan until you fully indulge in the local cuisine. Eat at small restaurants or street food stalls. Some of the best and cheapest food we had in Japan were tucked away in some alley that looked isolated. Try the different, try the weird, try the thing you wouldn’t try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. A good tip is to do this during lunch time as it’s much cheaper than dinner time. So get the good stuff during the day people.

A brilliant surprise while we were travelling was the amount of convenience stores we came across. Convenience store food… was some of the best and most frequent cheap food we ate… They had tons of different sandwiches, rice balls, ramen, chicken curry, the list goes on. At first I was a bit worried that we weren’t experiencing the best that Japan had to offer but in reality we went to so many restaurants and this just had its own place in our hearts… and stomachs.

Just a bonus tip would be to enjoy Osaka. The very best food we had was in Osaka as it is indeed dubbed the “nation’s kitchen.” Here is one of the favourite things I ate while in Osaka. Chicken Katsu.

I'm sorry for the slightly blurry image, I was too excited to eat it...

I’m sorry for the slightly blurry image, I was too excited to eat it…

Tip #3 – Buy Most of Your Alcohol Outside of The Bar

The drinking age in Japan is 20 and alcohol is cheap if you aren’t in a bar. Did I mention that public drinking (unlike Australia) is legal? Did I also mention that every convenience store has a great selection of it? There are convenience stores everywhere and I mean everywhere in Japan. We would be strolling around some of the best places to have drinks and socialise with the locals and there would be convenience stores selling beer/vodka for 150-250 yen a can (a big can). There would be bottles of whiskey for 700 yen a bottle. Now I don’t know where you live, but in Australia (where I live) that is unheard of.

Save your money and don’t bother with pre-drinks. Go out to those busy fun areas and buy the alcohol while you’re there, have a stroll while you enjoy your drinks, chatting to your friends, as well as the funny, unusual and eccentric characters you meet right there on the street. Save a ton of money, feel amazing before you head into a bar/club with your newly made Japanese friends who were doing the same thing.

Tip #4 – Don’t Get a Hotel, Use Airbnb

If you don’t know what Airbnb is, it’s Uber but for houses. If you don’t know what Uber is, this is how Airbnb works. A host i.e. house owner lists their house/room like a hotel on an app called Airbnb. Many people do this, you as the person looking for accommodation go on Airbnb and find a house you like, in an are you like with the features you want and you book this house. Not only do you get to experience cheap housing, but you get to experience Japanese hospitality and proper Japanese housing. This of course depends on your choices of accommodation.

Do the hosts stay with me? Is it exactly like a hotel? Is it Safe?

It depends on what you want, you could book a very cheap room in someone house  where they are still living, you could book a house completely, you could book big, you could book small. It all depends on what you want and all the information as to whether they’ll be there or not will be mentioned in the actual listing. Airbnb is definitely different to a hotel, but it’s more of a mix between that and house sitting. And yes its 100% safe, there are real people that give reviews after staying there, you will as well. Always go for thoroughly reviewed listings. Sign up link is here, it’ll get you a discount on your first stay, it’ll also give me that much credit (I think). Not interested in getting a discount? Here is the direct link for you to check out.

I’ll make a video/post about my experience with Airbnb in the future.

Tip #5 – Don’t Bring a Wheeled Suitcase, Get a Travel/Hiking Back Pack

You can get a great travel back pack for the price of a great wheeled suitcase, if you do a little research. The difference is, the suitcase is going to be a gigantic pain if you plan on travelling a certain way. If you’re planning on staying in one city at one location the whole time, a suitcase is a great choice but this list isn’t for those types of travellers. If you’re going to go to many cities, stay at many locations and be constantly travelling, you should definitely invest in one. They’re easier to carry, easier to move and just overall easier to deal with.

The only reason people seem torn with this choice is the fact that big wheeled suitcases have much more room. Everyone seems of underestimate the amount of room that these back packs have. I might do a video to show you all how much you can actually fit into them. It’s true that they aren’t as spacious but it will rarely cause a problem for you. I had a pair of jeans, 2 chinos, 3 sweat pants, a pair of shorts, a pair of shoes, 4 long sleeved shirts, 7 t-shirts, 2 singlets, 6 pairs of underwear, 8 pairs of socks, 2 Jackets, a toiletry bag, a set of thermals and various other bits and pieces in my back pack. I had enough room for souvenirs as well. This was all under 15kgs in weight. It works people. It absolutely works.

Tip #6 – Strive to Meet People and Mingle With The Locals

Some of the best experiences I had in Japan were solely because we made new friends and spent time with the locals. As soon as you meet a few people that don’t mind having a laugh and hanging out, you’re in for an extremely good time. It’s as simple as being in a busy area like Dotonbori (Osaka) or Shibuya (Tokyo) on a Friday night and high-fiving people; saying hello, asking them if they know some English and then chatting to them regardless.

Sites like Trip Advisor are exceedingly helpful for research. You can find a lot restaurants and entertainment locations but nothing beats the locals. We were lucky to run into some friends in Dotonbori one night and it became one of the most memorable nights of the whole trip. Ramen for dinner followed by table tennis, darts, pool, a couple of long island ice teas at a bar, making new friends, bowling with new friends and finishing up second dinner in the middle of the night. All the while being surrounded by hundreds of flashing lights from hundreds of entertainment, food and shopping outlets around us. It’s an experience you never forget.

Having all the fun

Having all the fun, I’m the handsome one…

Tip #7 – Don’t Have an Intensive Plan, Have a Rough Plan

If you’re going to Japan, you already have an idea of what you want to do. trust me when I say, you don’t need to have a detailed plan outlining everything you want to do for every hour of every day. Sure You’re on a budget and you want to do as much as possible but so did I and so did my friends. Having an intense plan to cover everything is going to end up making you stressed and in the end, it’s just going to devalue the whole experience.

Instead, you should have a few goals for each area you visit and a goal for the day. Even if the goal is just relaxing, you can then find things to do to achieve that goal. For instance, my 3 goals for Tokyo included going to see the Meiji Shrine, going up Tokyo Skytree and exploring Shibuya. As long as I did those things and ate a lot of food while I was at it, my trip would be a success in my eyes. What really happened was, we got side tracked and had an amazing time doing way more than that.

It’s not going to be the things you planned that are going to make your trip memorable, it’s going to be the screw ups, the unexpected, the coincidences and the pure excitement you’ll have every day. I hope you have a great time in Japan :)

Bonus Tip – Tinder is Your Friend

You’re 20-Something, you know what Tinder is but for some reason if you don’t, here you go. Now, you’re a young foreign guy/girl in Japan, what does that mean? It means that you stand out and when you use Tinder it blows up incredibly. We were all guys and the amount of attention you received was much more than in any other country. This was a great way to interact with ladies and actually meet up and socialise. The locals know more than you and it can be great fun to spend time with them and let them show you around. A lot of them are interested in talking and meeting people that speak English, if you’re reading this, you just checked some of the most relevant boxes. Good luck, go get em tiger 😉

 

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The Power Of Embarrassment

If you’re human, I’m guessing that you’ve probably been embarrassed before. I’m guessing that some nights, just before you were finally going to fall asleep, you remembered that one time you said something stupid in class back in high school; or that nonsensical social interaction you had, or that one time at work. Then you do what I like to call a ‘self-cringe’, and say something like “god damn it, why did I have to do that” while semi screaming/sighing into your pillow. We’ve all been there and we all strive to mask/hide our embarrassment or just not get into embarrassing situations. We avoid embarrassing situations like the plague and this has to be the most detrimental occurrence for individuals in modern day life.

Have you ever seen an attractive lady/gentleman that you’ve wanted to ask out for a coffee, but didn’t for fear of rejection and the embarrassment that follows? Have you ever not asked a question during a class for fear of looking like a fool? By avoiding embarrassing situations in your day-to-day life, you miss countless opportunities to improve upon your life. You miss interactions that could lead to intimate relationships, you could miss career opportunities, you could miss out on vital information that will ultimately help you achieve your goals. Though the worst thing, the absolute worst thing, is that you let this feeling have power over you. You’re letting this emotion hinder your personal development and your goals in life. Imagine being able to shut off embarrassment. Really. Just stop reading for a minute and really think about how your life would change if you could turn embarrassment levels down a notch. Among other things, your confidence would shoot to the moon. But the feeling of embarrassment is in every human, its a trait that we’ve had for generations and it evolved like that because we are social beings and we need something to keep us in check socially, right? Sure, but we are so afraid of being socially ‘normal’ that we become these bundle of nerves and go a bright red colour when something happens that breaks up our misrepresentation of our true selves/feelings/choices.  So how do we over come this? This is the theory behind the method, and the method for you to hopefully practice.

You're going to have to reorganise some of these cogs and create a new way of thinking and doing.

You’re going to have to reorganise some of these cogs and create a new way of thinking and doing.

To master the power of embarrassment you have to commit to changing your perspective on it. Embarrassment is its own executioner. 99% of you won’t like this method of dealing with it, but it’s the most effective way, so it’s your call. The theory is to desensitize yourself to the embarrassment you may feel in certain social or day-to-day activities/scenarios. How do we do this? Think of it like alcohol. When you first drank it, you would probably be feeling it with a beer or two. However, when it became a regular/common thing, you built a tolerance to it. You become desensitised to alcohol and now you only feel it after you have more than what you were used to. You may be seeing where I’m going with this.

You have to put yourself into embarrassing situations. It will be hard initially but it will 100% desensitise you to embarrassment. Wear some overtly comedic glasses and walk through a shopping centre alone. Wear the funniest clothes you can find and go around asking people for high fives. These will immediately improve your confidence and desensitise you to embarrassment. People will look at you, some people will have a “oh my god why is that weirdo doing that” face or they may even say that to their friend and start laughing. Does that terrify you? It won’t after you do it, there will be a ton of people calling you awesome and high-fiving you as well as giving you hugs. It shows a different character to other people, a nice change. It’s the most effective way to overcome your problem. You don’t even have to go to that extent. There is a great TED Talk about increasing confidence by a similar method and all it is, is laying down in public for 30 seconds.

You have to develop a care free attitude to peoples’ reactions, especially if they are negative. You have to say weird things or speak your mind often and when people react to it, you shouldn’t have a reaction. because the next thing you say or do, should be independent of what they think. It has to be an action, not a reaction. It shouldn’t be a result from the opinion of the person/group you directly or indirectly interacted with. If you slip and fall in front of 20 people. don’t try to quickly get up and have a red face like everyone else. Stick your thumb in the air and loudly proclaim “I’m all good people!” or just have a laugh. Who cares if its a little weird? If you forget someone’s name just after you met them, instead of being embarrassed just point blank tell them “hey, I did that thing where you immediately forget the persons name, can you tell me your name again *laugh*.” It isn’t rude and everyone does it.

By doing some of the bigger social stunts, practising these little things and embracing this embarrassment; you will build a tolerance and it will never have power over you. You’ll be able to do more and cash in on all those missed opportunities. You’ll develop a stronger level of confidence and have a strong character for everyone to be in awe over. It’s just up to you to embrace this method and use the power of embarrassment to your advantage.

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4 Productivity Apps That Every University Student Should Use

If you’re a functioning up-to-date 1st world human, you probably use a smartphone, and like most of us, you’re probably overwhelmed with the amount of apps you can download. The ridiculously saturated market for productivity apps just ends up hindering productivity for the end user. I don’t know about you but at one point I had 4-5 different to-do list style apps on my phone, and that’s just one kind of app.  Think of all the fitness tracking, goal setting, calorie counting and productivity/lifestyle based applications in existence, which ones are worth having? Which ones are the best?

This is my list of apps that I use on a daily basis that have boosted my productivity and improved my life as a university student. They’re quite popular but its astonishing how many students I know that have never heard of them. these aren’t in any particular order, but trust me when I say that they’re must have apps.

1 – Evernote

Price: Free

Evernote is the modern workspace that syncs between all of your devices. Work everywhere and stay productive.

Evernote is something I use daily for every aspect of my life. It’s an enhanced notepad that’s cloud based, meaning that all of your notes are saved immediately and you can access them from any machine, anywhere. This in itself is reason enough to download it but it’s so much more than that. You can share and collaborate with friends. Meaning, you can simultaneously work on the same notes just like Google Docs (but more mobile friendly and lightweight). You can share certain notes with people and keep certain notes private, this is perfect for jotting down ideas, keeping track of assignments or making group work a little less painful.

My favourite aspect of Evernote is the extended formatting functions. For example, I can make check boxes in notes that I can later check or un-check. I can write pages and pages of paragraphs, highlight, underline or even make thing bold or in italics.

Evernote Screen Shot

So many possibilities…

It’s super light-weight and really beats opening a Google Doc or a Microsoft Word document to plan things. Evernote really hits that sweat spot between a full equipped document creation tool and your average lacking to-do list application. If you download one of the apps in this list, make it this one.

Google Play Download

iTunes Download

2 – Feedly

Price: Free

A single place to easily read all the news you rely on to think, learn, and keep ahead.

Feedly lets you organize all your favorite publications, podcasts and YouTube channels into collections and receive updates when new stories and videos are publishes.

The biggest problem I used to run into before Feedly was wasting time trying to get my daily digest of news/entertainment or just content in general. For example, I’d check my YouTube subscription page and sort through what YouTube thinks I want to watch versus what I actually want to watch. Then I’d go on Time, Fortune, Tech Crunch etc. Just to see what’s trending and find some relevant content that I want to consume. Half of my time was spent finding content, but then I ran into Feedly.

Feedly is so perfect because it’s 100% customisable to your interests. If you like a certain Youtuber or you like the articles from a certain website, all you have to do is add it to your feed. It doesn’t even have to be specific, you can add whole topics such as fitness or entertainment. After you do this, Feedly will give you a daily summary of articles, videos and related content to that topic. It makes browsing and consuming information so much easier and much more streamlined.

Some of my favourite features include; being able to save articles for future reading, organizing groups of content by making folders or tags and being able to read summaries without going straight to the main article.

Easily Organised

Easily Organised

Streamlined Content

Streamlined Content

Some criticism I have is the fact that a lot of articles aren’t summarised completely and only include the first paragraph, this forces me to go to the actual article which is an inconvenience sometimes. A small price to pay for the great improvement to my content consumption though, and a great improvement to yours if you decide to download it :)

Google Play Download

iTunes Download

3 – IF by IFTTT (If That Then This)

Price: Free

Create simple connections between apps like Facebook, Dropbox, Instagram, Twitter, and Gmail, as well as devices like your Nest Thermostat, Fitbit, and Philips Hue lightbulbs.

IF is truly the most unique app I’ve seen in a very long time. It’s uses are endless and you can be as creative as you want. So what is it? The whole idea behind IF is about making rules/recipes/reactions to other apps on your phone. For example, I go into IF and I make a Recipe like this: IF I post a photo on Facebook, THEN post the same photo to my Twitter. Then boom, any time I post a photo to my facebook, IF will save me time and just post it to my twitter as well. Now this is just an example, there are so many possibilities.

Some of the best recipes for students or anyone trying to be more productive, at least in my opinion, include the following; saving all incoming attachments from my Gmail to my Google Drive/Dropbox , copying Google Calendar entries into Evernote, Starred emails get saved to Evernote etc. These recipes are so easy to make and the best part is that the popular and most useful recipes are always shown to you. There is a large community of publishers that come up with unique and useful recipes everyday.

Some Suggested Recipes

Some Suggested Recipes

Google Play Download

iTunes Download

4 – Slack

Price: Free

All your team communication in one place, instantly searchable, available wherever you go. That’s Slack.

This video will explain it much better than me…

Have a group project? Need to manage a community? Do you need a platform for a class, cohort, the entire university? Slack has to be the best thing that has happened in the history of community management and collaboration. Slacks the whole package, if you download the mobile app, you should definitely download the desktop app.

Slack allows users to build communities for discussion, collaboration and much more. It connects with everything, yes everything. All of your cloud storage, image hosting, social media, management software and other applications. Full list here. Users can create channels for their community, private message other users, write posts in complete markdown, share images/audio/video with other members of the channel. It’s a fully fledged platform that can be used for almost anything.

My favourite thing about slack is that you can create a new domain for any team. So you can have a team/community for a group project, a student society or in one of my experiences, a whole course of around 250 students, all simultaneously. The phone app allows you to keep up to date with what’s going on in the team and is even great on its own but the real meat is in the desktop application. So definitely give it a try.

Sign Up Link

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I’m Going To Japan

I’ve always been that guy that wants to travel the world, talks about travelling the world and dreams about travelling the world, but never actually comes through with those aspirations. There’s always been excuses like education, work, time, money… The list goes on and on and on. I’m at least 105% sure that you’ve been there as well, even if it’s something else that you’ve been putting off. You’ve probably heard the quote “If you want something and haven’t got it yet, you don’t want it enough.” I think this is very true and I realised that I really wanted to travel.

I currently live in Australia and I was born here but I’ve also lived in Turkey for extended periods of time. I’m no first-timer when it comes to being immersed in different cultures and even though globalization of culture is increasing rapidly; there are still countless cultures to experience before your time is up. You know your time is valuable and chances are, if you’re reading this, you agree that travelling is one of the best ways to spend this time. The experience of different lands, social norms, foods and people are what drives you to pursue this. The fact that this is one of the things you want to do, only proves that you understand the value of travel but why Japan? Why am I going to Japan and not another country? What makes it so special?

To be honest, Japan was never on my list. I wanted to travel through Europe as my first adventure. I say adventure because that would mean (in my mind) not being a kid with their parents i.e. the times I was living in Turkey. I wanted Europe for a lot of reasons, mainly because there was so many cultures to experience, so close to each other. It wasn’t until my friend Ricky had a chat with me about how much he wanted to go to Japan that I started looking into why he wanted to go, I mean he liked anime so maybe it was that? Well it was my first thought, that’s for sure but I was very very mistaken.

After scouring forums like TripAdvisor and watching countless videos from food blogger Mark Weins, as well as countless videos from Abroad in Japan; I was hooked. The culture seemed unique to the point where culture shock would be an understatement. TV commercials that can accurately be described as crazy, ludicrous marketing of common groceries such as “Happy Chicken” flavoured chips, vending machines with soup in them, cafes with cats roaming around in them… and that’s just the ‘normal’ part of Japan…

Besides these things, there was one reason in particular that sold me on the idea. You see, I love food. Now you may be thinking, “everyone loves food Sah, it’s what keeps us alive.” Well yes, but if you love food as much as I do, you would travel to Japan for the sole reason of eating there as your vacation plan.

Japan is renowned for its food culture to the point where UNESCO listed Japanese cuisine as part of the ‘World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.’ Looking at Japanese food is like looking at art; the dishes that you may see with a quick Google search are the product of sometimes a lifetime of commitment from a Master Chef to perfect his/her craft. Regardless of the experience of the chef and regardless of where you get your food; you will undoubtedly be in for a pleasant surprise.

Sushi

I mean don’t get me wrong, even though I said I would just go for the food that certainly isn’t the only reason. There are amazing culture packed markets, gardens, buildings, events and activities. You could get lost in Tokyo for the entire duration of your trip and it would be one of the most amazing experiences in your life. Though as you’ve probably realised, my thoughts on Japan are just a product of what I’ve seen through other people as I haven’t gone yet. This post is solely the reasons behind why I am going, so I could be completely wrong… I’ll however take that risk, if it’s half as good as what I think, then I’m in for a treat.

I’m going to blog/vlog the whole experience and upload everything after I return! I’ll compile a list of things to do, places to go, cheap flights/accommodation and a guide for other people that want to go. I hope some of you’ll find it useful, even if it’s useful to just one person, my work here would be done :)

Sah out.

 

 

 

 

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5 Ways To Get Motivated

If you are anything like me (and I think you might be) you struggle to get stuff done. Am I wrong when I say that you want to be productive, you truly want it more than anything but your brain would argue that… oh that YouTube video looks quite nice, the Reddit front page seems interesting tonight and I wonder if  Facebook has any notifications for me? Sounds familiar? Next thing you know it’s time to sleep and you have done nothing productive.

A lot of people struggle to build motivation in all areas of their lives. Hell I was even struggling to get the motivation to write this article but because of some of the things I’m writing about, I ended up finishing it. We all need motivation, we all have goals that need to be completed and I’m going out on a limb and saying that most of our goals won’t be achieved by sitting around doing nothing.  I bet we have similar goals, me and you; get fit/healthy, complete that essay, study for that thing, make a start on that project, make some money etc. Throw in some confidence/relationship aspects in and that basically sums up our goals.

These “ways of getting motivated” are my gift to you but this is the kind of gift that is like a book from the series “For Dummies”: It will help you a lot but you have to build on it and see what works for you. Its some advice and tricks that I’ve collected from a lot of places, as well as a few that I’ve come up with myself.

1- Internal Tug of War (Logical Reasoning)

You’re a smart person am I right? I mean maybe not a genius but you most definitely know that if you don’t hand in that assessment item or you don’t study for that exam, it is going to bend you over and have its way with you in the future. You know this. You are going to fail the course, lose money, prolong your degree, feel bad and move one step away from your goals. You are 100% aware of this, however you are still willing to play games or party for another week before you even think about studying, that is of course assuming the exam isn’t the next day.

The Internal Tug of War is basically realising this. I know you know this already, you’re already aware of all of this stuff that I just mentioned but your brain hasn’t realised it fully. We are intelligent creatures yet we can’t seem to see what’s  in front of us. In your mind you have to drag that lazy ass-hole over the line. How? That lazy half of you is also smart, he/she understands that it’s bad to be lazy but he/she is looking in the other direction. Get their attention, talk to yourself. It’s not crazy to set up a dialogue with yourself and yes a dialogue, not a monologue. Talk to yourself like you are talking to someone else, try to sway them. You have become so good at persuading yourself not to do something productive that if you try to use those persuading skills on yourself in a positive way, you may just be able to get that project done. Lay down the negatives (logical reasoning) and concentrate on these things. Think about freedom and the good feeling you’re going to get, that sense of satisfaction after you’ve done whatever it is you need to do. The key is to realise these points and acknowledge them.

2- The 3 Second Rule

This rule is one of the best, especially straight after playing that tug of war game internally. I can say I use this one everyday but there is a catch to this rule. If you fail using this rule even once, you will most likely never use it again. So make sure you always go along with it. Here it is:

If you have something to do and you know you need to do it but you aren’t motivated, you count to 3 and you do it. Yeah that’s it. You literally count to 3 and then you do it. However you HAVE to do it. After you count to 3, its done. Don’t try to talk yourself out of it, don’t try to re think it. You get your ass in there and do whatever it was. This technique puts you in panic mode. Imagine you are in the jungle and some vicious baboon drops in front of you screaming… you run. You don’t think about it, hell it probably takes you less than 3 seconds to start running. Pretty much the same thing. You need to work out but can’t be bothered you literally count to 3 and now you have to do it or this rule will never work for you again. You avoid any other thought and you go pump some iron. You see the girl of your dreams, count to 3 and go ask her out, don’t think about it just do it. Trust me when I say this, it works. After you’ve done this a few times you’ll see.

Just Do It

3- Environment Alteration

The last 2 tricks were about the mentality of motivation but this one is physically altering your workspace for the better. So I want you to do a little exercise with me now, think about what these places make you feel like doing; you are in a library with students studying around you, you are in your room with your Xbox and computer, you are at the gym with people working out around you, you have Microsoft Word open in front of you, you have Facebook open in front of you. In each of these environments or situations you are swayed to do whatever the function of the location is. You can use this to your advantage.

If you need to study you will be much more productive if you go to the library, if you need to eat healthier your environment shouldn’t contain unhealthy food, if you want to talk to more people (confidence aside) leave the damn room and go out in public. You can also alter your workplace at home. If you have space, dedicate a portion to productivity, this means no distractions. When you enter the room your brain has to say to itself “work time”. If you don’t have space you can remove some distractions, close some tabs on your computer and you are good to go. Once you start using the environment like this, you will become motivated.

4- Remember your Goals

What is one of your major goals? It doesn’t have to be your life goal but it has to be a major goal. For example, when I work out and I think of stopping half way because of some bullshit excuse I always remind my self of why I’m doing this. I talk to myself while I’m beat and ready to give up. I say something along the lines of “I bet that guy you saw at the beach talking to that cute girl didn’t stop half way”.  Or when I stop a series of coding tutorials because they’re “too hard”, I remind myself again; “Do I want to develop apps, because I can’t if I skip this”. Reminding yourself of your goals really challenges you to achieve them.  It forces you to become motivated.

Goals

Remember them, they should be your daily driver.

5- Group Mentality

We live in a society where we all follow a group mentality. This is widely considered bad in the sense of peer pressure, buying material things we don’t need, using another social platform because everyone else is using it or saying meaningless phrases because its the new “thing”. People call it being a ‘sheep’, as I’m sure you’ve herd many times… (sorry I had to put that pun in there). Our brains are wired this way for survival and contrary to popular belief, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. We can take advantage of this for motivational purposes. How do we do this? Don’t be alarmed, I’ll tell you.

It’s simple really and I’m sure you’ve already figured it out. You do the things you need to do within a group; work out with a group, study with a group, practice playing piano with a group etc. Don’t be under the impression that you have to literally do all of these things in a group 100% of the time though. The reality is that even if you don’t interact with these people in your network explicitly, the fact that they are a part of your network will implicitly motivate you to keep up with them. I can’t stress this point enough. You must surround yourself with like minded and motivated  individuals, it’s imperative to your success. This will pressure you into achieving your goals and not only that, it will come easier with time.  The con for this would be making sure those people aren’t the distractions. So be careful with this one.