6 ways to promote professional growth during the pandemic

In times like these, it can be easy to feel as though you’ve run out of options for furthering your career. The economic fallout from COVID-19 has forced many young entrepreneurs to feel as though they need to slam the breaks on their journeys, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Today, many business people are simply looking for ways to make ends meet, but those that have managed to gain their footing should be looking one step further. Developing the right professional skills now can help you fend off against potential downturns later on — an invaluable opportunity for many.

Kickstarting professional growth, however, is always easier said than done. If you’re looking for a way to take your career to the next level, try starting with these tips:

1. Find a mentor or a group

Even in the calmest of times, it takes a village to raise an executive — nowadays, you’ll want as much support as you can get. Your drive and skills play a major role in determining whether you succeed, but so does the support of the people around you. Cultivate relationships with mentors and join professional groups to find like-minded people who can help you get through the bad times and celebrate the good. Deliberately growing your network puts you in contact with a variety of smart people who can provide you with advice and recommendations at different stages of your career.

“Support from a network is one of the most critical aspects of professional success,” says Ritch Wood, CEO of Nu Skin. “You might make it on your own, but your chances of success increase dramatically with a network of support at your back.” People are more active online than ever, so simply reaching out on LinkedIn or shooting someone an email is a great place to start.

2. Read stories of successful people

“When I was in my early 20s, leadership development was not a blip on my radar,” says Marcel Schwantes, founder of Leadership from the Core. “It wasn’t until much later that I realized how much transformation could come from reading.”

People are always saying they’d read more if they had the time, and now more people have the time than ever. Get yourself in the right mindset by reading books written by people who have achieved the same goals you have set for yourself. Don’t be fooled into thinking business books only feature enterprise CEOs — you can find books written by and for all kinds of people, from retail frontline workers to executives and everyone in between. Set a reading goal for yourself, grab a few works by people who inspire you, and start with chapter one.

3. Talk to your boss about your vision

“Your boss may know you do a great job, but her plate is probably completely full with her own obligations,” says Job Success Lab founder Lea McLeod. “If you’re interested in a new promotion or assignment, ask!”

As many businesses find their very foundations in flux, consider this an opportunity to carve out a new opportunity for yourself. Take some time to prepare materials that back up your case for a promotion, then schedule a conversation with your boss to make it happen. If you haven’t quite earned a shot at the next level, have a talk with your boss about what you need to do in the upcoming months to make your case. Check-in regularly to ensure your progress does not go unnoticed.

4. Start an active hobby

Endless commuting from the couch may sound good on paper, but your brain needs more activity in order to function properly. Give it the fuel it requires by staying active, outdoors if possible. If you aren’t naturally inclined toward athletics, try something less competitive, such as hiking or yoga. Whether you want to join a digital fitness group or go at it solo, it’s the activity that matters. Remember, your goal is to become a more well-rounded person.

Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip, found scuba diving to be the perfect escape from his everyday grind. “Learning something entirely new, without the pressure of it being directly correlated to my career, refreshed my mind and helped me think of things differently,” says Wong.

5. Learn when to unplug

As the lines between home and office become more blurred than ever before, unplugging has become an absolute must. “Time spent away from work should be time to unwind and recharge,” says psychologist Kurt Smith. “But if you’re constantly checking work emails on your cell phone, you never let your brain turn off and you risk getting burned out.”

To achieve your professional goals, you must be ready to give 100% when you’re on stage. That means you can’t maintain a slow burn of semi-work status when you’re off the clock. Be fully present when you’re on the job, but unplug completely when it’s time to punch out. Your performance will improve thanks to your more effective, more sustainable schedule.

6. Attend a digital conference

“Networking is only awkward and difficult when you approach it entirely cold without any shared context, values, or ways of entering a conversation,” says Zak Slayback, networking advisor and author. “Choose an event with a shared, value-driven context and you’ll find that networking and connecting with new people becomes considerably less awkward.”

As conferences the world over are canceled or postponed, some organizations are filling the gaps with exciting digital events. Those who take the time to attend these conferences will be those most dedicated to their paths in life, so they pose a great opportunity to connect with people who can help you along your journey.

Just because the world seems to have stopped turning doesn’t mean that your career has to as well. By honing in on the aspects of your life that could use the most attention, you’ll emerge from the pandemic a more well-rounded professional than ever before.

10 Signs You’re Being True to Yourself

“The most confused we ever get is when we try to convince our heads of something that we know in our hearts is a lie.” ~Karen Moning

It’s painful and stressful to feel like you’re living a lie. Like you’re hiding how you really feel, saying what you think other people want to hear, and doing things you don’t actually want to do—just because you think you’re supposed to.

But sometimes we don’t recognize we’re doing this. We just know we feel off, or something feels wrong, and we’re not sure how to change it.

It makes sense that a lot of us struggle with being true to ourselves.

From a young age, we’re taught to be good, fall in line, and avoid making any waves—to lower our voices, do as we’re told, and quit our crying (or they’ll give us something to cry about).

And most of us don’t get the opportunity to foster or follow our curiosity. Instead, we learn all the same things as our peers, at the exact same time; and we live a life consumed by the mastery of these things, our bodies restless from long hours of seated study and our minds overwhelmed with memorized facts that leave very little room for free thinking.

To make things even worse, we learn to compare our accomplishments and progress—often, at things we don’t even really care about—to those of everyone around us. So we learn it’s more important to appear successful in relation to others than to feel excited or fulfilled within ourselves.

This was my experience both growing up and in my twenties. A people-pleaser who was always looking to prove that I mattered, I was like a chameleon, and I constantly felt paralyzed about which choices to make because all I knew was that they needed to be impressive.

I never knew what I really thought or felt because I was too busy suffocating my mind with fears and numbing my emotions to develop even a modicum of self-awareness.

This meant I had no idea what I needed. I only knew I didn’t feel seen or heard. I felt like no one really knew me. But how could they when I didn’t even know myself?

I know I’ve made a lot of progress with this over the years, and I have a mile-long list of unconventional choices to back that up, as well as a number of authentic, fulfilling relationships. But I’ve recently recognized some areas where I’ve shape-shifted in an attempt to please others, and in some cases, without even realizing it.

I don’t want to be the kind of person who panders to popular opinion or lets other people dictate my choices. I don’t want to waste even one minute trying to be good enough for others instead of doing what feels good to me.

I want to make my own rules, live on my own terms, and be bold, wild, and free.

This means peeling away the layers of fear and conditioning and being true to what I believe is right. But it’s hard to do this, because sometimes those layers are pretty heavy, or so transparent we don’t even realize they’re there.

With this in mind, I decided to create this reminder of what it looks and feels like to be true to myself so I can refer back to it if ever I think I’ve lost my way.

If you also value authenticity and freedom over conformity and approval, perhaps this will be useful to you too.

You know you’re being true to yourself if….

1. You’re honest with yourself about what you think, feel, want, and need.

You understand that you have to be honest with yourself before you can be honest with anyone else. This means you make space in your life to connect with yourself, perhaps through meditation, journaling, or time in nature.

This also means you face the harsh realities you may be tempted to avoid. You’re self-aware when faced with hard choices—like whether or not to leave a relationship that doesn’t feel right—so you can get to the root of your fear.

You might not always do this right away, or easily, but you’re willing to ask yourself the tough questions most of us spend our lives avoiding: Why am I doing this? What am I getting from this? And what would serve me better?

2. You freely share your thoughts and feelings.

Even if you’re afraid of judgment or tempted to lie just to keep the peace, you push yourself to speak up when you have something that needs to be said.

And you refuse to stuff your feelings down just to make other people feel comfortable. You’re willing to risk feeling vulnerable and embarrassed because you know that your feelings are valid, and that sharing them is the key to healing what’s hurting or fixing what isn’t working.

3. You honor your needs and say no to requests that conflict with them.

You know what you need to feel physically, mentally, and emotionally balanced, and you prioritize those things, even if this means saying no to other people.

Sure, you might sometimes make sacrifices, but you understand it’s not selfish to honor your needs and make them a priority.

You also know your needs don’t have to look like anyone else’s. It’s irrelevant to you if someone else can function on four hours of sleep, work around the clock, or pack their schedule with social engagements. You do what’s right for you and take care good care of yourself because you recognize you’re the only one who can.

4. Some people like you, some people don’t, and you’re okay with that.

Though you may wish, at times, you could please everyone—because it feels a lot safer to receive validation than disapproval—you understand that being disliked by some is a natural byproduct of being genuine.

This doesn’t mean you justify being rude and disrespectful because hey, you’re just being yourself! It just means you know you’re not for everyone; you’d rather be disliked for who you are than liked for who you’re not; and you understand the only way to find “your tribe” is to weed out the ones who belong in someone else’s.

5. You surround yourself with people who respect and support you just as you are.

You understand that the people around you affect you, so you surround yourself with people who respect and support you, which motivates you to continue being true to yourself.

You may have people in your life who don’t do these things, but if you do, you understand their issues with you are just that—their issues. And you set boundaries with them so that they don’t get in your head and convince you there’s something wrong with you or your choices.

6. You focus more on your own values than what society deems acceptable.

You’ve read the script for a socially acceptable life—climb the corporate ladder, have a lavish wedding, buy a big house, and make some babies—but you’ve seriously questioned whether this is right for you. Maybe it is, but if you go this route, it’s because this plan aligns with your own values, not because it’s what you’re supposed to do.

You know your values are your compass in life, and that they change over time. So you check in with yourself regularly to be sure you’re living a life that doesn’t just look good on paper but also feels good in your heart.

7. You listen to your intuition and trust that you know what’s best for yourself.

You not only hear the voice inside that says, “Nope, not right for you,” you trust it. Because you’ve spent a lot of time learning to distinguish between the voice of truth and fear, you recognize the difference between holding yourself back and waiting for what feels right.

You might not always make this distinction immediately, and you might sometimes be swayed by well-meaning people who want to protect you from the risks of thinking outside the box. But eventually, you tune out the noise and hone in on the only voice that truly knows what’s best for you.

8. You do what feels right for you, even if that means risking approval from the people around you.

Not only do you trust that you know what’s best for you, you do it. Even if it’s not a popular choice. Even if people question your judgment, vision, or sanity. You recognize that no one else is living your life, and no one else has to live with the consequences of your choices, so you make them for you and let the chips fall where they may when it comes to public perception.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have everything you want in life. It just means you hear the beat of your own drum, even if it’s silent like a dog whistle to everyone else, and you march to it—maybe slowly or awkwardly, but with your freak flag raised nice and high.

9. You allow yourself to change your mind if you recognize you made a choice that wasn’t right for you.

You may feel embarrassed to admit you’re changing directions, but you do it anyway because you’d rather risk being judged than accept a reality that just plain feels wrong for you.

Whether it’s a move that you realize you made for the wrong reasons, a job that isn’t what you expected, or a commitment you know you can’t honor in good conscience, you find the courage to say, “This isn’t right, so I’m going to make another change.”

10. You allow yourself to evolve and let go of what you’ve outgrown.

This is probably the hardest one of all because it’s not just about being true to yourself; it’s also about letting go. It’s about recognizing when something has run its course and being brave enough to end the chapter, even if you don’t know yet what’s coming next. Even if the void feels dark and scary.

But you, you recognize that the void can also feel light and thrilling. That empty space isn’t always a bad thing because it’s the breeding ground for new possibilities—for fulfillment, excitement, passion, and joy. And you’re more interested in seeing who else you can be and what else you can do than languishing forever in a comfortable life that now feels like someone else’s.

As with all things in life, we each exist on a spectrum. Every last one of us lives in the grey area, so odds are you do some of these things, some of the time, and probably never perfectly. And you may go through periods when you do few or none of these things, without even realizing you’ve slipped.

That’s how it’s been for me. I’ve gone through phases when I’ve felt completely in alignment and other times when I’ve gotten lost. I’ve had times when I’ve felt so overwhelmed by conflicting wants, needs, and beliefs—my own and other people’s—that I’ve shut down and lost touch with myself.

It happens to all of us. And that’s okay. The important thing is that we keep coming home to ourselves and we eventually ask ourselves the hard questions that decide the kind of lives we lead: What am I hiding? What am I lying about? And what truth would set me free?

 

6 Things You Should Never Do First Thing in the Morning. The perfect morning routine–for you–should also include a ‘not to do’ list.

The perfect morning routine–for you–should also include a ‘not to do’ list.

 

Morning routines. Everyone has them. Everyone wants a better one.

But instead of adding items to your morning in hopes of starting your day more productively, consider eliminating a few things from your routine. Consider it addition by subtraction.

What should go on your not to do list for first thing in the morning?

1. Don’t plan out your day.

Instead, make a to-do list the night before. That accomplishes a number of things.
One, you’ll sleep better. As David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, says, “Your head is for having ideas, not holding ideas, and it’s certainly not for filing things away. Without exception, you will feel better if you get stuff out of your head.” Deciding what you’ll do tomorrow — especially deciding what you’ll do first — instantly relieves a little stress and anxiety.

And ensures you don’t waste time deciding what to tackle first. Or mistaking the seemingly urgent for the truly important. Or wasting time gathering up whatever you need to actually work on what you want to tackle first.

Try it.

Before you end your workday, list what you need to get done tomorrow. Then determine the single most important thing you need to get done tomorrow.

Then, before you step away, set up your workspace (which, if like mine, is simply your computer’s desktop) so you can hit the ground running first thing in the morning. Have the reports you need open. Have the notes you need handy. Make sure you have answers to your questions.

Starting your day with a productive bang creates natural momentum — and provides the motivation you need to move on to whatever is next on your to-do list.

So, yeah: Don’t make a plan. Have a plan.

2. Don’t make unimportant decisions.

Malcolm Gladwell only drinks five kinds of liquids: water, tea, red wine, espresso, and milk. Why?

As Gladwell says, “There are so many other things I would rather do with my time than agonize endlessly about those kinds of trivial decisions.”

Plus, we all have a finite store of mental energy for exercising self-control. Some of us have less, some have more, but eventually we all run out of willpower steam.

That’s why the more choices you need to make during the day, the harder each one is on your brain — and the more you start to look for shortcuts. That’s when you get impulsive. That’s when you make decisions you know you shouldn’t make.

The fewer decisions you have to make, the better the decisions you will make when you do have to make a decision.

Maybe you’ll start having the same thing for breakfast. Or always working out before you start work. (More on that in a moment.) Or scanning the same key metrics.

Or, as President Obama once told Vanity Fair, “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Automate as many decisions you have to make in the morning as possible, especially when they don’t improve your efficiency and effectiveness.

3. Don’t forget to exercise.

Research shows that as little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise boosts your mood for the next 12 hours. (Keep in mind “moderate” means an average heart rate of between 110  and 120 beats a minute. So, no: You don’t have to go all HIIT on yourself.)

Not only will a short workout increase your energy level afterward, it will also put you in a better mood for up to 12 hours.

Which means exercising first thing lets you take full advantage of the “happier” 12 hours that science says follow.

4. Don’t forget to include protein in your first meal.

In The 4-Hour Body, Tim Ferriss recommends consuming 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. At least one nutrition professor recommends consuming at least 30 grams of protein for breakfast.

Why? Protein tends to keep blood-sugar levels steadier. Protein tends to help prevent hunger spikes. Most important, research shows dopamine regulates motivation, helping you to “initiate and persevere.”

Which is exactly what you need to do first thing in the morning: get started and keep going.

Granted, knocking out 30 grams of protein might sound daunting, so try a protein bar or protein shake. That’s what I do: My first meal is always a protein bar and a glass of water.

Decision already made, protein consumed. Win-win.

5. Don’t forget to take the right breaks.

Generally speaking, we can only focus on any given task for 90 to 120 minutes. After that, we need a 15- to 20-minute break so we can recharge and be ready to perform at a high level on the next task.

So do this: Split your day into 90-minute windows. Instead of thinking an 6-, 8-, or 10-hour workday, split your day into four or five 90-minute windows. That way, you will have, say, four or five tasks — or chunks of tasks — you will get done a lot more efficiently.

Just make sure you take the right kind of break. Sitting and chilling is fine, but taking a break to knock out a few relatively mindless tasks could be just as useful (and leave you feeling a little more productive).

Think of it this way: Momentum is everything. Breaks should reinforce your sense of activity and accomplishment. So take a quick walk. Grab a drink or a snack.

Or, if you feel the urge to stay Type A, pick a few productive tasks you like to perform — and gain a sense of accomplishment from — and use those for your “breaks.”

6. Don’t stick blindly to the same morning routine.

Maybe you’ll need to wake up a little earlier to take advantage of “quiet time” to complete your first task. Maybe you’ll need to wake up a little later so you’ll feel more rested.

Maybe you’ll need to exercise later in the day after all, or adjust what you eat, or change a few of your other “automatic” decisions.

To be more productive, you can’t do what you’ve always done.

Nor should you slavishly stick to the new routine you create. Every once in a while, take a few minutes to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. And adjust as necessary.

Because the key is to do what makes you most successful.

Which, over time, is likely to change.

So make sure you change with it.

Understand the Reasons to Apologize

 

 

When you muster up the courage to apologize to someone that you harmed, it says a lot of great things about your character. When you tell your apology the right way, it makes a much more impactful difference. An essential quality in any apology is the sincerity and delivery of the message. What you have to say is necessary, but the manner and method in which you say it carries more weight.

In this article, we examine the 15 most important aspects to take into consideration when apologizing to a friend, loved one, or anybody who you owe the conversation. There are certain mindsets that you have when approaching the conversation, as well as appropriate types of locations and times for it to mean more. It is also vital to have an action plan to follow up with the person after giving the apology.

Understand the Reasons to Apologize

Before you apologize, you must understand why you will have the conversation in the first place. There are usually five reasons why someone may need to give an apology. The first is to open the line of communication between you and the other person of value. Having a common understanding that an apology is needed is the first step toward a healthy dialogue when giving an apology.

Another key reason you would need to apologize is to express your feelings of remorse and regret what you did. By admitting this to the other person, you also acknowledge that you were wrong in this situation. When you become aware of your actions and are upfront about your wrongdoings, you show a sense of humility that will increase the chance of the other person accepting your apology.

When apologizing to someone early in your time knowing them, it may lead to a crucial discussion about what is allowed and not allowed within the scope of the relationship. This type of talk will set boundaries and expectations for future decisions. By knowing what gets expected of each other, you are less likely to experience issues down the road.

Apologizing is also a great way to learn from your mistakes. By breaching a discussion about your wrongdoing intimately with someone, it allows you to articulate how you will be better next time verbally.

Apologize in Person Rather than via Phone or Text

If you want to convey the full value and emotion behind your apology, it is best to have the conversation in person. It is easy for bullies to hide behind a screen when they are saying things online, and you could do the same with an apology. Anybody who apologizes through a text message or email is taking the easy way out. By not apologizing in person, you are shying away from any raw emotions that come with it.

When you meet with someone in person for an apology, it sends a message to them that you want to dedicate enough time to making amend with them. When you schedule the window to meet with them, you should arrange so that you have no commitments right after it. This planning ensures that you will have all the time you need to formally apologize and then discuss more topics and game plan afterward.

When you set up the time to apologize, make it known to the person that you will not be able to communicate effectively unless you can speak with them face-to-face. When you meet up with them, give them your undivided attention and make excellent eye contact while you are making your points. Making the apology in person also allows you to read his or her body language as you communicate your points.

Find a Location and Time for the Apology

Once you have established that you can make the apology in person, the kind of location where you apologize is equally essential. You must make sure the site is private, quiet, and free of distractions. If you go to a noisy place, the other person may not be able to hear from you. If possible, do it in the privacy of your home or theirs, but you should give them the authority to pick the location of the apology.

You also want this to be a unique conversation shared between only you and the person. If you go to a shared space, someone might overhear what you are saying. You may also withhold information or communicate differently with your body language, knowing that there are people around. When you surround yourself with privacy, you can give undivided attention to the other person.

The time of the apology is also an important component. Work hard to fit your schedule around the time that the other person wants. A good idea would be to make the apology over lunch or dinner when the person is not in the middle of the work or stress. An apology during the nighttime would allow you to have a full conversation without having to worry about getting back to your daily obligations.

Imagine Everything from the Other Person’s Perspective

As you should in any conversation, you should seek to understand the other person before getting them to follow you. Before you formally apologize, put yourself in his or her shoes. Ask yourself how you would feel if you were them. Even though you cannot truly feel what they feel, showing empathy will allow you to deliver your apology better if you can get on the same wavelength as the other person.

You should consider all potential impacts of your wrongdoing or mistake. Was the person that you apologize to the only person who was indeed affected? By contemplating all the indirect implications of your error, you can address these components in your discussion so that you can apologize to the best of your ability. If the situation calls for it, you can bring all the impacted parties together for the conversation.

By seeing the events from the other person’s perspective, you can ask more educated questions. Significant inquiries result in a more extended, more meaningful dialogue between you and your friend or loved one. Take time to think hard about what he or she dealt with in the past. Their history, relationships, and other past traumas give you insight into how you can approach your apology effectively.

Manage Your Expectations

Managing your expectations is vital when making an apology. Saying “I’m sorry” does not automatically mean that the other person will accept it right away. It is a good idea to taper your expectations if the apology does not go as planned. Everybody handles trauma and negative situations in different ways. One of the most important things to remember is that the apology is about the other person, not you.

You may have negatively affected someone, and time could be the best healer in your situation. So, the apology will not be the means to the end, but it will be a crucial step in the grand scheme of the whole process. Part of full forgiveness will be letting your follow up actions communicate more than your words do. Outlining an action plan not to make the mistake again will get discussed later.

There is a minimal chance that the accepting of forgiveness might be impossible. Depending on the severity of your actions, the other person may express that they could never forgive you. The best thing to do here is to communicate your sincere apology and continue to show that you mean what you say. Opening this possibility before you make your apology will help you remain mentally stable.

Express Remorse about Your Mistake in Your Apology

Expressing genuine remorse for your mistake will get shown not only through your words but through your body language and facial expressions. Your choice of words and phrases need to be authentic, deliberate, and right to the point. Everybody makes mistakes, say things they do not mean, and acts irrationally. But it is all about how you reflect and show you are genuinely sorry about your error.

When you express regret, be very clear and communicate on why you are having the conversation in the first place. You could be attempting to strengthen communication or be upfront that you regret your actions so much, that you need to schedule this discussion about it so that you can formally apologize. You should be apologizing for the right reasons and not for ulterior motives.

The timing of your apology makes a critical case for your genuine remorse for your actions. The longer you wait after the mistake gets made, the less the message means to the other person. Depending on the nature of the transgression, try your best to make sure the other person learns about the mistake from you rather than someone else. If they find out before you tell them, follow up immediately.

Empathy is an essential aspect of expressing regret in your actions, so make it known to them that you are sincerely sorry for both the direct and indirect impacts of the situation.

Admit Responsibility

Admitting responsibility for your part in the mistake is one of the most critical aspects of a sufficient apology and being upfront and honest about your specific behaviors, actions, and the violations of trust that occurred. Make sure to empathize with the person and understand who your mistake impacted all. Address the potential future impacts in your apology to make it more authentic and real.

Another important aspect is to understand the details as to why your specific action caused their emotions. The other person might be going through a variety of different emotions for different reasons. It is essential to understand all of these, address them, and talk about what you could have done differently. Addressing these facts will make communication more direct and productive.

Throughout the whole conversation, do not assume anything about the other person’s feelings, or how you think your words are coming across. Before you end the discussion, it should get fully understand how each person feels that the meaning behind everything got communicated.

Lastly, avoid shifting the blame onto anything and anyone else. This deflection of blame will take away fro the sincerity of your apology. Take full responsibility for everything you did and own everything.

Make Amends with the Other Person

You can say everything that needs to get told during the apology, but the follow up actions are what matter the most. It is essential to let the other person know that you will make it up to them in some way or another. You should outline a plan or schedule a future event to let them know that you are committed. This next event could be a dinner, a group event in which you include them, or some other value.

Another simple way to make amends is to tell them you will not make a mistake again, and then let your actions do the talking. Once you make your initial apology, revisit the conversation weeks or months down the road to circle back on your promise. It takes a big person to learn from his or her mistakes, and you can make amends by putting this into practice. It takes much longer to earn trust than it does to lose it.

By promising to make amends in the future, you put your reputation on the line. If you do not follow through with your future commitment, many people will question your character and trust. You create a high risk, high reward situation by promising to make amends. One thing you could do to keep yourself accountable is to write this conversation down in your journal so that you stay serious about it.

Express Gratitude

A refreshing, unique strategy for an apology is to express gratitude in different ways throughout the conversation. It is vital to let the other person know that you appreciate their time and that you are grateful that they gave you a chance to offer an apology. Showing that you are thankful for this opportunity shows that you genuinely care to make amends and try to correct your wrongdoing.

You can also show appreciation for everything that gives you in the relationship. You can thank the other person for sharing good times with you. If you have known the person for a long time, shed light on the memorable times shared. You can then let them know that making it up to them is essential to you because of how much trust you already built. A loyal person should get valued as such.

When showing that you are thankful for your person, make sure your words count. It is not what you say, but how you say it. Eye contact is something that often gets overlooked in regular conversation, so give them undivided attention throughout the entire conversation. People want to feel important and appreciated, and you are sure to give your apology more weight by taking this sincere, grateful approach.

Listen Attentively

While you might be doing a majority of the talking at first, listening is just as critical during the conversation that follows an apology. No matter what happens, the other person wants to feel understood and valued. You cannot connect with a person and show empathy without actively listen while he or she is talking to you. Do not just listen with your ears but listen with all your body language.

When the other person is talking, look them in the eye and show affirmation that you hear what they are saying — nodding your head a few times when they make an extra important point will show that you get locked in on what they are saying. When it is your turn to talk, reiterate what they just said and expand upon how you will continually work to remedy the situation. Do not interject and respond respectfully.

Another way to show that you are effectively listening is to ask fantastic questions. Focus on posing inquiries that revolve around how the other person feels. The facts are one thing, but it is essential to focus on the emotions of the person and where they stand mentally. When you bring great questions to the table, you prolong the conversation and make it healthier and more meaningful.

Write Down Your Apology

If you want to keep yourself fully accountable throughout the entire apology process, it would be helpful for you to write your thoughts, actions, and plans out. This strategy can get done in a journal, if you already do that, or on a sticky note that you can place in plain sight for yourself. When you put your thoughts on paper, it makes them more real because you think them, then you see them, then you repeat them.

Another reason why you might write down your apology is that you could be concerned about how your words will come off when you apologize. It is entirely reasonable to get nervous going into a conversation such as this one, so you could outline what you will say on paper. This strategy could help you organize your thoughts and help you feel more prepared when you sit down with the other person.

One thing you need to keep in mind here is not to make your apology seem too rehearsed and scripted. While it is good to plan and write words down, you want to make sure that you come off as a sincere friend when you have the conversation. When you are done with the conversation and have followed up steps to take, it is vital to put these down on paper as well to keep yourself committed to the promise.

Do Not Offer Excuses

The act of offering excuses is an easy trap to fall into when giving your apologies. The simple way out would be to try and explain your actions and provide justification as to why you did something. It is normal to try and defend yourself. But again, this conversation is not about you, and it is about the other person. Your priority should be to fully understand how you emotionally affected them, not to defend yourself.

Excuses are dangerous to use because it might make you feel better about yourself to use them, but they will severely weaken your apology. Offering reasoning as to why you did something will discount the meaning of your words in the other person’s eyes. Instead, be upfront that you are taking full ownership of your actions. Do not shift the blame on to other things to reduce responsibility.

A great way to prevent yourself from making excuses is first to explain what you did, then immediately follow it up by expressing that it was the wrong decision. You should be upfront by saying there is no reason for you to make the other person feel the way you did. And while it was not your intention, be cognizant of what you did and incorporate that into the apology.

Be Fair to Yourself When You Make an Apology

Throughout the entire apology process, you need to establish the difference between taking full responsibility and accepting blame for too much. You want to communicate that what you did was wrong and work to make amends, but do not be too hard on yourself while doing so. It is good to focus on earning forgiveness from the other person, but do not forget to forgive yourself as well.

It is also essential to realize that humans are not perfect and make mistakes. While you cannot control what the other person will say after you apologize, you can control how you respond and learn from failure. You will improve yourself and develop, and the repairment of the relationship with the other person will eventually come with it. Give yourself a chance to rebound from your misstep.

When you apologize, let the other person know that you are working to become a better person from the entire experience, not only for them but for your own sake. Be humble throughout the apology, but make sure to stay healthy mentally so you can take care of yourself too.

Do Not Expect Instant Forgiveness

The entire apology does not happen in a single conversation, so you cannot expect the person to accept your statement 100% right away. Depending on the nature of the mistake you made, it could get fixed with one conversation. But everybody’s healing process and timeline is different, and it is essential for you to recognize this fact.

Be forward about this in your apology and let them know that you wanted to have this conversation right away because it is essential to you. Do not put pressure on the other person to accept your apology because that could make everything worse. Be prepared for them to ask for space from you. Spending time apart from the other person could end up being a blessing to let the apology clear the air and sit.

In the days and weeks after the apology, be sure to follow up and see how the person is doing. Do not bombard them with messages or calls but let them know you are there to talk if they still want to. But through the entire experience, respect their space if they ask for it.

Promise That You Won’t Make the Same Mistake Again

When you commit not to make the same mistake again, your loyalty and trust will get put in the spotlight. This step is an important one for you and your relationship with the person because it puts pressure on you to follow up on your promises. It is critical to reassure the other person that you have an action plan to alter your behavior. Be specific when talking about how you will do that going forward.

After you outlined your plan, schedule a time with the other person to have a touchpoint on how well your changed behavior affects the relationship. By putting in the extra effort to follow up on your apology, you will increase your chances of repairing the relationship.

Conclusion: Be Sincere, and Actions Speak Louder Than Words

As you can see, there are many essential things to take into consideration when giving your apology. The most important thing for you to do is be real with them. Do not provide excuses or an explanation for what you did but own it. Take full responsibility, then be forthright about your action plan to make amends and not make the same mistake in the future.

The other person wants to feel important and valued by the time the conversation ends. By actively listening to them and being sincere with your words and body language, you will show them that you are grateful for their time. One of the more important things to remember is that the formal apology is half the battle, and the other half is following through with your actions. You are capable of remedy.

27 Ways To Overcome Lack Of Ambition

Ambition is defined as the desire and determination to achieve success. The definition of “success” may vary from person to person and culture to culture, but the message remains the same: it’s important to have goals and the determination to complete them.

The Truth about Ambition

We all sometimes lack ambition. Even the most successful people in the world experience periods of failure and doubt. But they eventually succeed because their ambition reemerges, even in the wake of failure, rejection, and disappointment. Although it can be easy to fall into the trap of defeat when you encounter setbacks, ambition is not about never failing, it’s about getting up when you fall.

 

Ambition is not an inborn trait. It can be learned and cultivated, the same as any other positive trait. A lack of ambition can certainly be overcome. The possible irony, though, is that overcoming a lack of ambition requires a certain amount of ambition itself. After all, you’re creating a goal with the determination to follow through and achieve that goal. Happily, seeking out ways to improve your ambition is a step in the right direction!

27 Ways to Help Overcome a Lack of Ambition

In addition to resolving underlying issues, there are some steps you can take toward improving your ambition, or creating ambition where there previously wasn’t any. These steps may be completed on your own, or under the guidance of your mental health provider.

  1. Find a Mentor.

Finding someone to look up to whose success closely matches what you hope to achieve can help you find the drive to keep chasing your goals.

  1. Make Your Goals Visible.

Whether it’s a Pinterest board, index cards, or a whiteboard, create some form of visual representation of your goals so you can see exactly what it is you’re working toward.

  1. Stay Active.

Staying active improves confidence, mental acuity, and physical health-all things that can help you stay sharp as you work toward your goals. Find an activity you really love and stick with it.

  1. Give Success a Try.

f you’re feeling short on motivation, try accomplishing some of the steps you need to take to succeed. If you hope to secure a position writing for a major publication, visit your favorite coffee shop and spend the day writing. If you hope to have a family, ask to babysit for a friend.

  1. Build Up Support.

If all you see around you are people who are not pursuing their goals, you’re unlikely to pursue your goals either. Try to find friends who are also working toward their goals.

  1. Practice an “Abundance Mindset.”

Practice cultivating the mindset of abundance. See a failed relationship as just that: a single failed relationship. See a setback at your work as what it is: one setback. An abundance mindset believes there are always more to be had and always the possibility for improvement.

  1. Learn Yourself.

Personality and aptitude tests can offer a lot of insight into yourself-your motivations, your drives, and your pitfalls. Knowing yourself well can help you kickstart the desire to move forward when you’re in the midst of low motivation.

  1. Use Envy Well.

Instead of getting stuck in the mire of envy, allow it to fuel you. If you envy your friend’s recent cruise, start saving to go on your own. If you envy your sibling’s ability to purchase their dream home, sit down and determine what you need to get yours.

  1. Cultivate Your Talents.

Everyone has something they’re good at. Even if your talents don’t immediately seem impressive (“Who cares if I can juggle?”), there’s likely to be some grain of usefulness or joy in your abilities.

  1. Find a Need.

If you’re struggling to find motivation, look outward at how you can improve the lives of the people around you.

  1. Make Your Own Meaning.

Before you can truly and effectively chase success, you need to determine what exactly that means to you. Some people measure success by the money they make, while others measure success by the amount of time they’re able to devote to their loved ones or hobbies.

  1. Recall Your Triumphs.

Keep your triumphant moments close by for the days you feel you’ve lost all motivation. Recalling your successes can help you leave a funk behind and move forward in working toward your goals.

  1. Look Up to Someone.

Unlike a mentor, who is personally involved in your life, find someone whose successes you can admire from a distance. This could be someone who shares a similar background-someone who left poverty behind, for instance-or someone who shares your goals-such as someone who has worked their way to the top of their field in academia.

 

 

  1. Leave Negative Self-Talk Behind.

Negative self-talk may seem like merely speaking to yourself realistically, but it serves no function other than tearing yourself down. Instead of using negative speech when speaking to or of yourself, use clear and objective language. For instance, you can change “You’re no good at anything!” to “You struggled at work today, and that’s okay. You’ll try again tomorrow.”

  1. Respect the Process.

Success is a process, not a destination. There will always be another obstacle and another hill, so try to enjoy the process as it happens.

  1. Create a To-Do List.

Writing down everything you need to accomplish in the next day or the next week can help you free up some much-needed headspace, and can lend a sense of accomplishment to your day each time you get to check off another task.

  1. Daydream!

Imagine what your life will look like once your goals are realized. Although you should not live in fantasy, occasionally indulging in the imagined fruition of all of your hard work can be healthy and motivating.

  1. Use Your Passions.

Find things you’re passionate about, and see how they can help you work toward your goals. If you’re passionate about painting, but yearn for a career as a teacher, you can combine the two and work toward an art teaching degree. If you’re passionate about cooking, and hope to work in corporate law, you can use cooking as a means of decompressing and relaxing when your workload has grown too great.

  1. Seek Out Motivation

Motivation won’t always come to you-sometimes, you have to chase it. If you don’t feel like getting up in the morning, reward yourself with a trip to your favorite coffee shop. If you don’t want to complete the paper for your class, consider all the stress-free time you’ll have once the paper is finished.

  1. Leave Your Comfort Zone.

Comfort zones might feel safe, but they can also stagnate growth. Instead of living in your comfort zone, push yourself to adopt new challenges and try new things. The worst you can do is fail.

  1. Commit to Learning.

Learning is not something you leave behind after your diploma or degree. Every single day, spend some time learning something new. Read the paper while eating your breakfast, listen to a podcast on your commute to work, or even just ask a friend or coworker to tell you something new.

  1. Just Take One Step.

Put one foot in front of the other in pursuit of your goals. It doesn’t always have to be a giant step, such as moving across the country. It can be merely researching the cost of that move. Remember: planning is part of the work.

  1. Believe in Yourself.

You can do hard things! You can change your life. Even when circumstances have given you a rough run, believe you are bigger than your background.

  1. Ask for Help.

When it becomes too much-you’re overworked, or the demands on your time are too much to handle-ask for help! Bring in a trusted friend, a family member, or a coworker, and lighten your load. There’s no shame in teamwork.

  1. Do Your Research.

Blindly following your dreams can be dangerous. If you move across the country to pursue acting, only to find that you would have to work three jobs (jobs you do not have) to afford a single studio apartment, you’re putting yourself at risk. Instead, identify what steps you need to take to move toward your goals, and take the necessary time to achieve them.

  1. Evaluate What Is Important to You.

Sometimes goals shift and needs change. Perhaps your relationship is more important to you than the career you’ve always imagined. Perhaps your career is more important than the family you wanted. Give yourself the space to change your plans as you go along. Few things kill motivation as effectively as rigidity.

  1. Work On Yourself Daily.

You’ll falter. You’ll lose hope. But keep working on yourself! You’re the person who will be with you every step of the way, so make sure you’re cultivating traits and behaviors that you like and can be proud of. Watching yourself become the person you’ve always dreamed of is a powerful motivator.

 

10 Crucial Benefits of Goal Setting

The benefits of goal setting are tangible and significant.   If you can successfully set and achieve your personal and business goals you will experience many benefits and improvements.  Setting goals gives you greater clarity on your future, increases focus, triggers new behaviours, guides your actions and gives you a clear purpose in life.  Goals provide direction and a clear focus on what is most important in your life.

Setting goals transforms how you invest your time, energy and focus and provides motivation to take action on achieving your goals.  Having goals provides clarity on your vision and ensures that vision is aligned with your daily goal achievement activities.  The benefit of goal setting means you have a greater focus on where to invest your time and energy each day.

Setting goals that are specific and measurable is beneficial as it gives you a clear path and plan to make progress on your goals every day.  This intentionality ensures you achieve a sense of personal satisfaction, momentum and motivation every day.

In this article I’m going to share the importance of goal setting and 10 benefits of goal setting.

The Importance of Goal Setting

Setting goals gives you a long-term vision to work towards and short-term targets to focus on each day.  Goals create the framework to organise your time, energy and focus each day.  Setting goals helps you stay motivated and excited and guides your daily action plan so it always aligns with achieving your goals.

The process of setting goals is important because it helps to clarify what’s truly important to you, and gives you a clear path and plan to pursue those goals.  In addition to improving your daily performance, people who set goals are more productive, more creative, have more confidence and are less stressed.

Effective goal setting gives you clarity on what you want to achieve in life and gives you a proven framework for taking action to achieve those goals in a focused, effective and decisive way.  Understanding the benefits of goal setting improves your ability to achieve your goals.

Goal setting success starts with having specific, measurable goals with a deadline.  These goals are more effective in improving performance than goals that don’t have a number attached or a deadline to achieve the goal in.  Choosing an effective goal that is specific and measurable means you’re committed to actually achieving the goal.  Read more with my complete guide to goal setting.

Benefits of goal setting

Here are 10 benefits of goal setting.

1. Direction

Goals give you a direction, purpose and destination to reach.  Having a clear, exciting goal inspires you to take action.  Goals provide a direction and purpose and a clear destination to reach.  Having clear direction gives you a sense of purpose in life and a specific focus each day to organise your time, energy and actions.

Goals gives you a clearer focus to help you plan better, make better decisions and help you manage your time effectively.

2. Greater productivity 

Goals provide specific measurements and achievements to work towards each day, which increases productivity.  With goals you get to see the measurable progress you’re actually making.

Having monthly, quarterly and annual goals gives you a target to shoot for and a measuring stick to track your progress daily, weekly and monthly.  Read more about setting measurable goals.

3. Improved prioritisation   

Goals give you emotional and intellectual engagement on the outcome of your goals, ensuring you are committed to take daily action.  Having specific, measurable goals guides your action steps every day.  Goals help you clarify where you are now and where you want to be in the future.  Goals help you visualise the future you want, and provide the framework for achieving your goals.  Read more about how to achieve your goals.

4. Increased focus

Goals give you a daily focus which helps you achieve better and faster results.  Without clarity on your goals it’s difficult to stay focused.  Goals provide daily motivation to ensure you stay focused and take action every day to achieve the things that matter most to you.

Having goals gives you a clear plan and path to follow every day, which eliminates distraction, overwhelm and procrastination.  Read more about how to stay focused.

5. Greater clarity 

Goals give you clarity on what’s most important to you on life.  Without goals you will waste time on countless activities that don’t move you forward in life.  Having goals triggers an increased level of clarity and motivation to help you make progress in your life every day.  Effective goal setting gives you control of your future and makes it easier to capture bigger opportunities.  Goals enable you to prioritise your time and energy.  Read more about how to prioritise.

6. Improved accountability

Goals give you greater accountability.  Having goals ensures you are crystal clear on what you want to achieve and how important achieving that goal is.  Goals help you visualise yourself in the future having achieved your goals, and give you the inspiration to take action every day.

This emotional engagement with achieving your goals helps you stay accountable through daily actions.  Read more about the benefits of working with an accountability coach.

7. Better decision making  

Goals help create better boundaries around your time, energy and focus, which improves decision making.  Having goals gives you a clear framework to manage your time and energy.

When opportunities come up, having clear goals, allows you to make decisions about whether to take action or not.  Goals get you clear on your purpose and ensure your daily actions align with your goals.

8. Control over your future

Goals help you take control over your future.  Without goals you lack direction and give the power to other people to choose how you should spend your time and what you should focus on.  Having goals gives you direction and motivation to take action to achieve your goals.

Goals help you take control over the future you want for yourself, which ensures you make better decisions in the present.

9. Increased motivation

Goals increase excitement and inspiration.  Having goals gives you that added bit of motivation you may need when you don’t feel motivated or experience some setbacks.

When your goals are exciting you’ll be motivated to take action, even when you don’t feel like it, because you know the outcome of reaching your goal will be so transformational.  Read more about how to get motivated.

10. Greater inspiration

Goals which are exciting and motivating inspire you to take action every day.  Measurable goals give you a framework to see the progress you’re making every day towards achieving your goals.  Without clear measurements you won’t have a clear destination or know when you’ve reached it.

Making progress on your goals builds momentum, motivation and excitement.  When you see how far you’ve come towards your goal achievement, you’re even more motivated to carry on.

Summing Up

Setting goals can transform your life.  The simple act of setting goals that are specific and measurable can transform your habits, your mindset, your confidence and your daily actions.  The benefits of goal setting are endless.

Goals provide direction and purpose.  Having goals trigger higher performance, greater productivity, greater creativity and greater focus.  Set a goal today and see how far you can go.

 

Is Your Social Media Content Attracting Leads? 4 Ways to Bolster Your Strategy

Digital marketers often identify social media as one of the best forms of , but it can often feel like we’re just going through the motions. If the  isn’t attracting leads, what good is it? It’s likely you just need a quick boost in strategy to make sure your content is appealing to your  and getting inbound requests and messages.

In fact, 90 percent of social media users have used the platform to communicate directly with a business before. So if none of your customers or followers are reaching out to you, it’s a telltale sign that something should be changed. Ideally, you’ll post a picture or video with a robust caption that offers value and the floodgates will open: direct messages, likes, comments and queries should start coming (or even just trickling at first) in, proving that your content struck a chord and inspired action. Not there yet? Here are four ways to bolster your strategy to attract those leads.

Related: Content Marketing Secrets for Every Social Media Platform

1. Focus your content on interesting stories

How much does your content dive into stories? They don’t have to be your personal stories. Stories of past clients, stories of other inspiring entrepreneurs or even folklore stories can be used to establish your point. Stories of other people who just went for it and found massive success are powerful too. It helps readers or viewers imagine themselves in the shoes of the story’s protagonist. These stories can be shared in captions or in the post itself through videos.

Lenney Leong is the founder of Get Customers. He’s had success creating video content around stories, with over 7.2 million views and counting. He advised me to make sure you engage from the start. A long, roundabout story will do little to draw viewers in. “Set the stage for the story from the first sentence, or by the title of the video,” Leong noted. “Be straightforward so people know they should stay engaged throughout the storytelling and know what to expect.” Leong has garnered many inbound conversations as a result of this storytelling. And it’s worth noting that videos perform best on , seeing 49 percent higher interactions.

2. Do a poll asking what type of content people want most

Instagram has many interactive features in its Story functionality. Use them! If you feel like you’re unsure what your followers really care about, utilize the poll to see for sure. It’s possible you’ve been creating content for something they’re peripherally interested in, but they are really curious about how you created your product’s landing page or how you scaled your company one year in. Instagram influencers and bloggers swear by the functionality, especially because it can have surprising results. You may think your followers want one type of content when really they want another.

Be open to what you haven’t yet considered. In addition to the polls (where followers can choose one of two options), also use the “Question and Answer” functionality so people can submit, in their own words, what they most want you to talk about.

Related: 3 Keys to a Highly-Effective Content Marketing Strategy

3. Host a Q & A on Facebook or Instagram Live

While using the story functionalities is a great way to glean some initial insights, it also depends on what your viewers are doing when they flip through your story and if they currently have the time, interest, or energy to engage. “Another great way to bolster your content strategy is to host a Q&A on Facebook or Instagram live,” says Sarah Lefebvre, CEO of Localiz. “Followers may be more likely to submit questions if you’re going to answer in real-time, and you can tell by the questions or  that you’re getting as you navigate different topics what is resonating the most.”

Even better — since only a fraction of your audience will tune in for the live, you can use the answers you gave and strategies you talked about in future posts. Save the video, take notes, and convert into posts of their own. Now that you know for sure it’s something people are interested in!

Related: How Your Business Can Capitalize on Facebook Live

4. Make sure you have a call to action in every post

Finally, it sounds so simple but is often overlooked. Make sure there’s a call to action in every single post! It doesn’t have to be the same every time, but use something like, “Message me if you’re interested,” or “Follow me for more content like this.” Even asking viewers to comment with a watermelon emoji if they are also looking forward to summer drives engagement and lets you know who is paying attention to your posts.

Without a call to action, people simply don’t know how to engage. Be clear, state what you’re looking for, and give plenty of direction to viewers and followers — all of which leads to a direct message conversation or whichever KPI matters most to your business.

Mihran Kalaydjian Introducing Breeze (zepur gi tarnam) Զեփյուռի նման

Mihran Kalaydjian Introducing Breeze (zepur gi tarnam) Զեփյուռի նման I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad. Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers. When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with it fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze.

LIKE A BREEZE

Lyrics:

I’ll be the gentlest breeze that
Descends from the mountains to rest at your door.
Like a knight seared by your love
I’ll surrender my sword at your garden’s gate.

And I’ll watch for you, night and day.
Only hurry back to your garden
So I can see your face, put my heart to rest.
Drunk with your love, I would die at your door.

Disguised as Spring I’ll enter your garden
to cling to your rose like the singing nightingale.
I’ll kneel by your door as a sacrifice for your life.
I’m your Shahen; I’ll sing you a thousand songs.

Again I’ll watch for you, night and day
Only hurry back to the garden
So I can see your face, get drunk with your love.
Put my heart to rest so I can die at your door.

Building Relationships Through Letter Writing.

Corresponding with students via snail mail is a good way for teachers to foster trust anytime—but especially when everyone is physically distanced.

With remote teaching likely continuing into the next academic year, we’ll need low-tech ways to establish relationships with students whom we can’t reach digitally. An ongoing letter communication through the mail is just that—and is also an empowering way to build relational trust with students. That trust, explains Zaretta Hammond, is the foundation on which culturally responsive teaching can change learning trajectories for even our most vulnerable students.

My first year in the classroom, I saw one of my more disengaged students pass a note to a friend. I thought about confiscating it, as my teachers had done. Instead, I wrote her my own note the next day. She wrote back, and we continued writing through the year, her engagement in class strengthening alongside our relationship. Letter writing became my most essential tool for earning my students’ trust.

When we as teachers write letters to students and they write back to us, we balance power dynamics, learn from each other, practice holding space for complex feelings, and engage our natural curiosities as readers and writers. Here are several suggestions for writing meaningful letters to students.

INTRODUCING THE LETTERS

To promote authentic communication that equalizes the power dynamic, remove obligations and expectations that students participate. Keep the letters optional and clarify that writing conventions and content will not be evaluated.

Inform families, perhaps in a separate letter, that you are initiating a dialogue with students through optional letter writing. Remind parents and students that you will respect their privacy—but that you are still a mandated reporter.

Keep the lines of communication open and flexible by avoiding constraints like deadlines and page limits. Make it known that students are welcome to start new topics and don’t need to continue a topic initiated by the teacher.

Write the first letter to your students (you might start with a few students per week) to serve as a helpful example for students who may struggle with this possibly unfamiliar form. Set students at ease by using a casual tone, sharing personal anecdotes, and even including jokes or funny sketches. Model letter writing conventions like dating and signing the letter.

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WRITING YOUR LETTERS

I used to pepper my letters with questions and suggested topics to prompt students to respond. But this approach maintains the traditional power structures of classroom communication, where the teacher is facilitating conversation. Over time, I learned to create a safe space that promotes genuine dialogue.

Participate in the conversation instead of directing it: If I know a student plays the violin, I won’t directly ask him about it. Instead, I write about my related experiences. For example, with this extra time on my hands, I have thought about finally learning how to play my guitar. I’m thinking of trying YouTube videos, but I’m worried that I won’t have the discipline to practice without a teacher. By sharing these thoughts, I open up lines of communication. My student is free to pick up this thread and respond in a variety of ways, instead of only answering my specific questions about the violin. Maybe he won’t mention his violin at all and instead choose to talk about YouTube, describe what he’s doing with his extra time, or assuage my worries about learning a string instrument.

Ask questions that stem from curiosity about topics that students initiate: Questions that are prompted by what students are choosing to share with us invite us to demonstrate genuine curiosity, offer our unique perspective, and introduce new words and ideas that probe students’ thinking. When we gain insight into our students’ unique funds of knowledge, we see their academic assets. We can use these insights to plan instruction that leverages what students already know.

Make your thinking visible: When young people get a glimpse into the thinking life of someone else, especially someone who thinks in an interesting or productive way, it’s the best kind of education. When a student recommends an app I should download, I’m honest about how I’m trying to cut back on my phone use since I’m getting addicted to the games I already play. I add that I’m trying to dock my phone after 6 p.m. and will let her know how it goes. By observing others’ thinking, our students may learn new coping skills and language to navigate their own experiences.

Encourage all forms of expression, regardless of perceived errors or informality: Zaretta Hammond has said that our students’ errors are information. As students informally write to you to connect and share their lives, avoid directives about how they should write. Simply note their errors and write your response with correct models. Use this information as you plan your instruction, but don’t instruct in your letter.

Hold space for students’ feelings: To maintain an equitable co-writing relationship, refrain from comments that evoke the authority you still have as the teacher. Instead of suggesting solutions to problems that students share, respond with acknowledgment and empathy. Instead of reassuring students with praise, show how you connect with their experience or what you’re learning from them.

When our students have uneven access to distance-learning technology, writing letters allows us to advance equity within our sphere of influence. We can give them a safe space in which to reflect, complain, disagree, express fear, ask hard questions, and hear our stories. We can practice being there for students as a trusted adult, a relationship that can nurture rigorous learning.

7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Settle For Someone Who Doesn’t Make An Effort

7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Settle For Someone Who Doesn’t Make An Effort

Isn’t it the best feeling to hear “It wasn’t the same without you” or “I missed you so much”?

We all want to feel desired, wanted, and needed. We all want to feel loved and cared for. We all want to be missed. When it comes to significant others, we need to feel desired. That desire drives the passion, intimacy, and love that we feel between each other.

Sometimes we feel the passion but not the desire. We receive the response to our text a day or two later without any acknowledgement that it was late. Sure, people can be busy. Of course, we’re always busy. But how busy do you have to be to not respond with a “So sorry, busy day, will respond later”? It’s the respectful thing to do.

In our society, texting is many times our primary form of communication. We get to know each other by what emojis we send, whether or not we use periods or commas, and of course, our response time. We’re never asking for much, but we do expect a response within a respectable amount of time.

It might be that you’re trying to plan a date with the person from your English class that you’ve been crushing on for the entire year. It might be an old fling that you’re trying to reconnect with. It might be someone you’ve gone on a few dates with and you’re really feeling the potential.

Whether you’re in a potential, new, current, or nonexistent relationship, there’s never a reason to settle for someone who doesn’t make it known they want you. Here are seven reasons why.

1. You deserve better.
First comes first: You deserve better. If your best friend was complaining that the guy she likes was only texting her back every three or four days, what advice would you give her? You deserve better. It doesn’t matter whether this person is the sweetest person ever when you’re together. Making plans is a crucial step to continue getting to know each other. If they’re wishy-washy, it’s not worth it to you.

2. Your time is valuable.
When this person is off “being too busy,” you’re waiting around for their text and either coming up with excuses for them or feeling sorry for yourself. Stop that! Your time is valuable and you could be doing much better things than thinking about the “what ifs.” Stop “what if-ing” and spend your time investing in someone who will also invest time in you.

3. The Golden Rule.
Treat others how you want to be treated. You know that you wouldn’t be this flaky with someone, so why let yourself be treated this way? Indirectly, it’s insulting to you. You don’t need to be insulted or played with.

4. You won’t know what other opportunities are out there.
When you’re distracted by what this person could be doing instead of texting you back, you’re wasting your own time. You could be missing out on bumping into that cute person at the coffee shop who is completely willing to spend the 30-seconds it takes to reply to a text and make plans. Who knows what else you’re missing? You don’t! Not until you start looking.

5. You’ll become dependent on someone who isn’t dependable.
Let’s say you end up waiting 3 days for the reply. Even though you’re frustrated that this person made you wait, you make plans for Saturday and you’re looking forward to it. Saturday is a blast and your optimism is restored that this person is the one for you. They end up taking another 3 days to reply when you try to make plans again. This becomes a cycle of feeling so down when you’re waiting for the reply, but so happy when you finally make plans. You don’t need this madness! There are already so many stressors in life; waiting the whole week to confirm your weekend plans shouldn’t be another one.

6. There are better things to do than wait around.
Cook a new recipe. Bake cookies. Sing. Dance. Go to the beach, for a drive, for a run. There are endless possibilities for you to do that will stimulate your mind, body, and spirit much more than waiting around for a text back.

7. You are strong!
You might be feeling like it actually is worth it to you to wait around or that there actually aren’t better opportunities for you out there. But trust me, there are. Be a little more patient—the best has yet to come.

The bottom line is that if someone wants you in their life, they’ll make an effort to keep you in it. You’ve done nothing wrong. Don’t wait for someone to “come around” and show you they want you. If they do, you’ll know.