If You’re Not Natural In A Skill You Can Learn It

Learning a new skill is on everyone’s agenda. Whether it’s becoming fluent in a foreign language or simply having something as an asset, skills are undeniably valuable. While being able to teach yourself something instantly is the Facebook community’s most desired superpower, it isn’t all that easy. However, it’s definitely possible.

Firstly, find a skill you are passionate about. What is something you’ve always wanted to learn to do? Forget difficulty levels for now, and go beyond a “just for fun” mindset. Consider the skill as something that will be vital to your life (and anyway, it may be).

Things may be easier if you consider your own skills. Some activities require good memory retention or an ability to accurately follow instructions. If you can already check certain “pre-requisites” off a list, your chances at becoming an expert at your new skill are significantly higher.

Once you’ve picked your skill, set realistic goals. Figure out what your primary motivation is. Do you want to learn to draw because a university elective requires it? Or do you want to impress a colleague? Whatever the case, make these goals meaningful to you, however shallow they may seem. Your bar should be at a defined level of expertise. If you want to become knowledgeable in a language, are you seeking full comprehension or get-by conversation? Gauge your own strengths and weaknesses in regards to this particular skill.

If you’re training yourself to become proficient in something you’ve never done before, chances are, you want to learn fast. If you can’t, don’t let your pace discourage you. On the ground, sloths move 2 meters a minute. It’s a stretch, but they get the job done. Manage your expectations and also set a deadline. When will this skill be most useful to you? Figure things out far in advance. If your chosen skill is writing fiction and you’re keen on entering a short story contest, don’t hesitate. Dive in!

Break down the skill. If you’re into photography, you’re going to have to learn the ropes of using cameras and editing tools. Skills can be two or even three-fold — making a list of what you have to tackle will come in handy. It’s kind of like throwing together a deconstructed meal. Be visual about it. Build graphs and brain maps (they may sound pretty juvenile, but they are useful — I promise!).

Remember, practice makes perfect. Make it your mantra and remember: consistency is your friend. You can learn a perfect Pachelbel Canon on the piano but fail to retain certain strokes because you don’t practice enough. On that note, don’t overwork yourself. It’s the same principle as studying too hard for an exam. While it’s great for your short-term memory, the stress will tire your mind.

Every now and then, you’ll feel like giving up. “It’s too difficult,” is a phrase that nobody is alien to. Identify your pain points. What do you know you’ll struggle with? If it’s hand-eye coordination or remembering sequences, figure out the best way to overcome these struggles. Most importantly, remember your motivation.

Maybe there is a charm that comes with being a natural at something. However, it doesn’t mean making the effort is any less attractive!

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In Your 20s? 30s? 40s? Age Doesn’t Matter in Meaningful Interactions

All too often, we hear ominous stories about how adulthood can take away our “lives.” My guy friends, for instance, would always talk about settling down as if it means giving up the freedoms they currently have — no more regular basketball live-streaming with their mates, no more beer pong and video game weekends. My girl friends would also freak out a little when imagining their lives as a soccer mom, when their everyday would be consumed by helping kids get ready in the morning, bringing them to school, doing stuff around the house, fetching kids from school, and repeating the cycle all over the next day.

But I always felt like this isn’t necessarily the case. We romanticize the idea of peaking during our high school or college years, thinking that’s when we live the best of our lives because we have the best people around us. Everything else that comes after is just the natural course of things after the end of our glory days. I disagree. For me, meaningful interactions are not necessarily limited to our youth.

Of course, our teenage years are fraught with self-discovery. That’s when we first have an inkling of our passions and the things we like to do. High school is a time to try out your interests and maybe decide what to pursue in the future. But aside from discovering your identity, it is also a time to have fun with friends and make the craziest, most random memories. Most of us also probably had our first kisses then. I mean, who didn’t go to prom? Being a teenager is like being in a whirlwind of new emotions; it’s fun, adventurous, and romantic.

Unfortunately, some of us stay behind and linger with those memories, choosing instead to idealize those golden days and not to go on and have more adventures, even as an adult. Believing that your teenage years are all there is to life is detrimental to your growth as a person.

I’m sure everyone’s college days were also intense and significant. I, for one, probably had my first real and severe experience of distress during my time in college. Algebra homework in high school? Pfffft. Between my terrifying cultural studies professor who demands a reaction paper on every reading, my thesis that doesn’t seem to want me to graduate, and my fear of unemployment once I do graduate, it’s a whole new level of exhaustion. But this can only mean that our early 20s is a time to harness one’s strengths and start working on maturity.

University is also probably where you get to meet the most diverse set of people. So it’s not just a time to gain fun friends to create crazy memories with, but also to find those who can really help you pursue your goals. Despite of and maybe even because of the raging hormones that are ever-present throughout college, it might also present opportunities to grow into the kind of mature person who can handle actual relationships.

Up to one’s late 20s, I think, is a good time to make mistakes and learn from them, through the different people you meet and the different meaningful interactions that you have, whether romantic or platonic.

I myself am in my mid-20s. And like I’ve mentioned before, real adulthood is what people my age are really afraid of. People in their 30s and 40s are probably more likely to prioritize their careers and families. The assumption is, by then, you will get so caught up in living a normal, stable, and secure life that it just becomes tedious — what meaningful interactions are there for me if I just follow the scripts?

Assuming responsibility is definitely important. But being in one’s 30s or 40s also means extending yourself fully and sharing your life with others. Putting one’s family first doesn’t necessarily entail choosing obligation over passion; maybe it’ll even be fruitful to open up to your kids and have them open up to you about things all of you feel passionate about. Likewise, marriage doesn’t have to kill romance; it can provide a whole different and exciting arena for it.

And finally, because you’ve been working all these years to settle down, now might be a good time to go out and know your community. Meaningful interactions can happen in the seemingly most simple events. Grocery shopping is just a routine, but who knows what interesting people you’ll meet there? Just because you have a home life doesn’t mean no opportunities for spontaneous friendships will make themselves present.

In one’s 30s or 40s, people can’t really afford to rethink their priorities. And they don’t have to. Just treating your neighbors sometime could suffice. Smile at someone in the park. Help a stranger out. Everyone you meet will surely give you a meaningful interaction if you let them.

* This post is inspired by BeepBeep Nation, an app that provides a platform for people to request for the help they need and others to offer their help. By facilitating face-to-face human interaction and creating a culture of kindness, it aims to make the world better. Pre-sale of the ICO that fuels the BeepBeep Nation app is already available. Check out the EMINENT token now!

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Let Swedish Concept “Lagom” Bring Balance to Your Life

Mindfulness is a pretty trendy lifestyle choice that truly appears to be effective, though of course different people have different takes on it. Some professionals say that living in a fast-paced world where everything is instant exhausts us, and therefore we must sometimes slow things down a bit. For a person with a mental health condition, acceptance and awareness are necessary tools in order to find ways to live with it—though again, what worked for me might not necessarily be as successful for someone else.

There are many opinions on how to find a healthy and functional lifestyle that is most suited to one’s well-being. But if there’s another word to describe this world other than “fast-paced,” I think it would be “excessive.” We work so hard to buy so much stuff, eat so much food to do so many things, take in so much information in order to survive and then so much media to keep ourselves entertained. We need so much and want so much. This is why I find myself rather invested in the balance of one’s life as described by the Swedish concept of “lagom”.

“Lagom” [celebrates] the idea of “just enough.” It’s the space between minimalism and living in excess . . . With lagom, less is more, and instead of buying things we do not need, it is about finding pleasure and fulfillment in moderation. It is the belief that extremes on the spectrum are bad. For instance, exercise is good, but none at all is just as detrimental as too much.

The idea seems exciting, though a bit lofty. So the question now would be: how does one embrace “lagom”? Well, to answer this, you would constantly have to ask another question: is this good enough? Because good enough is the way to go for “lagom”. When it comes to housekeeping, one should learn to keep what’s valuable — don’t hoard every single souvenir, but don’t toss everything out so quickly either.

[B]efore adding anything else to your space, ask yourself if things are good enough already. The point is to find a simpler life that still has room for the things that make you happy.

As for work, you have to know your limits. Decide when enough is enough. Don’t demand too much, but don’t let your employer demand too much from you either.

Accept that work is an important part of life, but find the balance between letting it be the main focus of your life and an unpleasant task you charge through as quickly as possible.

Another compartment of life that “lagom” works wonders with is your diet. This is because the idea of balance and moderation is best when it comes to nutrition.

[T]here is a time for indulging in all the delicious goodies that make a celebration great, but there is also a time to moderate. The first step to eating lagom-style is to eliminate waste.

Not every good meal has to be indulgent and expensive. Buy local. Grow your own produce. As long as it doesn’t take too big a space in your schedule, make time for things that will balance your life.

Like I said, you may read a lot of opinions about the real way to achieve a healthy lifestyle. You may hear from your momma or Aunt Carol about their own take. Then again, every person’s life is so specific, and what you end up doing with mindfulness, slowness, or even “lagom” depends entirely on how you want to live yours. “Lagom’s” only reminder is as simple as this: simple is best.

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From Rookie To Pro: Acing Job Interviews

The real-world stage through the eyes of a fresh grad is often exciting and simultaneously terrifying. When balancing budgets isn’t creeping up anyone’s sleeve, it’s the unforgiving task of job hunting. True enough, the perfect 9-to-5 may eventually roll around, but won’t be yours until after acing the dreaded interview. It’s daunting, undeniably, but totally doable with a lot of preparation and a little bit of charisma.

For some, the dream isn’t necessarily the job itself, but the agency. Still, familiarizing yourself with the role is always the first key move to a promising career. Know what tasks you will be performing — even the nitty, gritty, nothing-to-brag-about, seemingly menial duties like filing papers. And anyway, if you’re applying to a company like Google, filing papers may be a lot more significant than anyone lets on. All that information has to go somewhere!

It may seem the most trivial aspect of an interview, but make the effort to dress the part. Design or advertising groups may appear casual, but looking professional never does any harm. Wear something you feel confident in — maybe a statement piece such as a bright necklace or tie. Keep in mind not to get too carried away. Interviewers don’t want to be distracted by a penguin-printed suit.

Here’s the kicker: know the company. Head to toe. Left to right. Top to bottom. A job interview might be about your strengths, but there’s no harm in gauging how you’ll fit in in relation to your potential work place. A CEO might also throw you a curveball with statistics or facts that you want to be prepared for. Simply knowing who a company’s founder is may work greatly in your favor. Of course, your knowledge should exist beyond the basics.

Most interview questions are fairly basic: how would you describe yourself in three words? What can you bring to the table? What are your strengths and weaknesses? To you, and even occasionally to the interviewers, these questions can feel a little monotonous. The solution? Be creative but not outlandish. Add a touch of humor to your responses but only when it’s relevant. Knock knock jokes aren’t always going to fly with businesslike professional. When the tough questions come around, be prepared. Make a list of any possible queries an interviewer might have and how you’d go about answering them.

Most importantly, answer honestly. If you encounter a brain fart, ask for half a minute to allow yourself to recover. Never panic, as it leads mostly to rambling and, at times, tears. Be honest about your past experiences and how you might’ve learned from mistakes. Editors are fairly eagle-eyed — they probably know you more than you let on.

As tacky as it seems, be yourself. You may be working with these people for years and you don’t want to have to put up a front. Anyway, being whoever you want to be is reserved for online personas. The real you is what companies are after.

Sure, on the whole, interviews are stressful. But the relief of a job well done is just about the best reward.

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Be A 5-Star Hostess At Your Local Animal Shelter

For stray pups and wandering felines, an animal shelter is a stepping stone towards a forever home. Or at least it should be. Some promising residents become therapy dogs, while others find families through dating apps (yes, you read that right). Others don’t seem to hit the jackpot. If you’re an animal lover but lack the extra space for a furry friend, volunteering at a shelter might be the perfect side hustle.

As with any non-profit, making a difference isn’t just a monthly stint. Charity groups, especially those that cater to animals, require time commitments. Before diving into the deep end, arrange your schedule. Anyway, most organizations will indicate a minimum amount of hours for students or working volunteers.

Be ready to train. Depending on what you sign up for, training programs may or may not be required. After all, you don’t want to be chasing after a Road Runner stray without the proper equipment. When it comes down to actual tasks, work with your skills and strengths. Do you have an eye for photography? Snapping headshots of handsome adoptables may be the job for you. Are you hands-on and nifty with a comb? Grooming might be your thing.

Animal shelters are all about their tenants and like any hotel, require a load of maintenance. Beyond the animals, you can participate in clerical or manual work. Accountants are totally underrated, despite a slew of paperwork and finances pulled from medical care, neuter-and-spay services, and food alone. Similarly, anyone familiar with carpentry could construct pens and crates.

Supporting your cause remotely is also highly doable (and effective), especially in this day and age. Spread the word by posting your experiences on social media, handing out fliers, and inviting experts to speak at special events. If you have a nickel to spare, gather supplies. While most needed items are often laying around your storage cupboard, others are a little more elusive. Pay a visit to your local Pet Smart. Use Facebook to your advantage to call for donations. Consult sites such as Amazon or eBay — with caution!

If you’re big on events, there’s no going wrong hosting a fundraiser. Whether it be a birthday bash, a school fair, or simple food drive, donate your earnings to your favorite shelter. Even better, allot time to highlight your cause through a speech, video, or game. Learning is always fun when it’s, you know, fun.

At the end of the day, if you’re itching for a companion but can’t yet set aside the funds to care for one permanently, foster them. Falling in love with your temporary house guest may leave you in a sticky situation. Still, the outcome (usually adoption) is often heartwarming one.

Puppies in pet stores may certainly be more attractive than grown ones behind cage doors. Nevertheless, any dog’s eagerness to love and accept you are often immeasurable, regardless of breed or age. They are, after all, everyone’s favorite friend.

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Work For Your Meal At This Tokyo Restaurant

Some restaurants give out free meals to the needy. Others make you work for it. At Mirai Shokudo (Future Eatery) in Tokyo, customers either pay for a meal — or work an hour for one. Run single-handedly by Sekai Kobayashi, the unique dining experience teaches individuals the value of diligence.

“It’s an exciting job because I work with a new person every time. It’s interesting to develop a good rapport and work with others,” said [Kobayashi.]

Students are Mirai Shokudo’s most frequent customers — and what better a demographic to learn true independence? Despite the free lunches, Kobayashi’s business remains profitable thanks to open-sourcing. Feedback allows the ambitious entrepreneur to make improvements and remain on top of her game.

“Sharing something with others means supporting those with ambition. That underpins my approach to work,” she said.

In Tokyo without a bill to spare? No problem — just head on over to Mirai Shokudo!

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Make The Most Of A Productive Morning Routine

For workaholics, sleep often becomes a thing of the past. Still, busybodies can find ways to stay healthy and remain alert, even in the early morning. But for night owls, getting up at any hour before 9 is more or less a daily struggle. Not much of a morning person myself, I find that the hours leading up to a long-awaited lunch break are dragging. Nevertheless, I’ve grown into a routine that make 7, 8, or 9 am wake-up calls a lot more bearable, and even productive.

The number one hurdle to a fulfilling morning is lack of sleep. Work may call for the occasional late night but, if you can help it, get enough sleep. Your eight hours are crucial and if it means rescheduling a much needed Netflix binge, Riverdale can wait. Granted, an extra hour or two of sleep may not ease the struggle of getting up, but you’ll thank yourself for the boost of energy later.

While others may indulge in an early-morning jog, let’s face it — not everyone can bear with the wrath of exercise. Instead, try morning stretches. Do a handful of push-ups or jumping jacks immediately after getting out of bed. It may be lazy, but at least it’ll keep you from wanting to jump right back under the covers. That, and you’ll get your blood running.

When rising early, thoughts of reuniting with one’s beloved mattress often trump daydreaming about breakfast. Regardless, remember to eat right. While the first meal of the day doesn’t have to be a gourmet masterpiece, it should at least be good for you. Go with a dish that is both healthy and easy to prepare. Sound options are eggs, oatmeal, fruits, and nuts. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a cup of coffee — but mind your caffeine intake throughout the day!

Overcoming the first workload hump isn’t the easiest task, so leave enough time to shower and hydrate. Starting your morning fresh will, more often than not, keep you energized. But, aside from your body, your mind has to feel good too. Find ways to quickly exercise your brain. Meditate. It’ll relieve the stress of being awake and keep the nerves at bay. Guided meditation may inspire you, as well as prevent any chances of dozing off.

Before getting into the grind, organize your tasks. Naturally, you’ll want to get the hardest ones out of the way — but not when your brain is booting up. Get your simple assignments over with. Not only will they wake you up, but make you feel a sense of accomplishment. Working on the heavier jobs later on will relieve the pressure of having to think about menial errands.

Not all mornings will be easy. Like with anyone else, there are good days and bad. But getting into a healthy routine will alleviate most of the moaning and groaning, and make trivial chores a lot more bearable. Take it from a self-proclaimed nocturnal being — the sun may be a bit blinding, but at least we’re not really vampires.

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Finance Budgeting 101 For Fresh Grads

Let’s be real. Finance budgeting when you’re a fresh university graduate is not anyone’s strong suit. Stepping into the real world often entails instant noodles and being perpetually broke. Of course, this isn’t to say that young adults can’t learn how to spend wisely.

Before making any plans, it’s most important to figure out your money goals. Where do you want your money to go? What is valuable to you? In university, money probably meant restocking your dorm with essentials and having enough for a night out. With independence comes a change in priorities. There are a lot of things to consider that are no longer your parents’ responsibility.

While outlining a budget may seem simple enough, there is always room to educate yourself. Resources on personal financing are available on pretty much any platform — whether as a YouTube video, article, or book. Collate as many tips as you can and see what money-saving methods can potentially work best for you.

At this point, you’re a step closer to actual budgeting, but not before setting short and long-term objectives. Think about what you are saving for in the next few months to the next few years. In terms of immediate goals, are you looking to purchase a car or perhaps fund an apartment? In the long run, do you picture yourself having children? The future can be unpredictable, but knowing what you want, even a decade early, is a good source of motivation.

Now for a long-awaited moment — making a budget. Understand your cash inflow and outflow. Know where your money needs to go and how much. Online tools can help paint a clearer picture on how much to set aside for rent, transportation, food, leisure, health, and everything else. Be specific, as you are basing this on a monthly income.

Insure what you can. As a fresh graduate, insurance may seem frivolous, or something you simply can’t afford at the moment. But when hospital bills start rolling in, you’ll thank yourself for being insured. If your job doesn’t offer such benefits, consider self-insuring. Either way, seriously consider plans with good coverage.

Because adults have them, you’ll probably also want to apply for a credit card. Doing so will allow banks to grant you credit scores (if you’re a smart spender) and, in turn, make you eligible for loans. In order to keep up appearances, you’ll want to always pay your bills on time and avoid being indebted whenever possible.

On the occasion you have extra money to spend, treating yourself is tempting. By all means, you should do so — but within your financial capacity. Remember to always prioritize. Spend in cash because it is easier to remain disciplined. You can’t see what you are spending on a credit card. Limit yourself and ask: do I really need this? If you can live without something, don’t purchase it.

Money is not always fun, especially when you are lacking it. But being smart about it makes everything a lot easier. Bidding a sheltered college life goodbye may seem incredibly daunting, but experiencing a smooth transition into the working world is always possible. Generally, hard work and research always pays off.

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How Will Artificial Intelligences Shape The Future?

Day by day, doing work is made easier by various technologies such as household machines, virtual assistants, and the Internet. With people relying heavier on technology each year, we must ask ourselves how artificial intelligences will shape the future. Michael Hanuschick, Janet Baker, and James Kuffner provide their input.

Baker is skeptical about the developing AI, but concludes that proper use of technology is all about awareness:

“Powerful technologies will be used and abused… We must be aware and take active roles in advancing our capabilities and protecting ourselves from harm––including the harm from escalating prejudices we foster by isolating ourselves from differing ideas (e.g., with polarized news feeds) and productive discourse about them.”

Kuffner believes that AI exists for the better:

“AI will enhance and augment the human experience. Historically, humans have formed strong bonds — even relationships — with their automobiles (machines).”

Hanuschick thinks AIs can effectively handle small tasks, while the bigger ones must be dealt with by us:

“Jobs based on fairly simple and repetitive tasks will probably continue to disappear, but anything more complex is likely to be around for quite some time. I haven’t seen evidence that a true AI, with the ability to understand and reason, will be seen in our lifetimes.”

Many fear that AIs will eventually replace the human workforce, but others are optimistic that they will complement our vision for the future. And while AI’s customizable looks may be the least of our worries, who wouldn’t want a robot version of Brad Pitt?

Do you think AIs will benefit our community?

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