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3 Ways Towards Finding Out How to Get Real Self-Help

3 Ways Towards Finding Out How to Get Real Self-Help

What is Self-Help?

Self-help seems to have become a Mecca for anyone, regardless of background or credibility, trying to make easy money. Today, when the currently unemployed put “life coach” as the occupation on their Facebook profile, it is hard to know what that vague term even means.

Everyone needs some coaching from time to time, and the Internet is full of legitimate resources. Tony Robbins’ services are not exactly affordable to all who are in need. So, how do you choose someone that is legitimate and worth your investment.

First of all, remember this, it is called “self-help” for a reason. The idea is an old one. Instead of feeding the hungry, teach the hungry to fish so they can feed themselves. These lifehacks teach you what are 3 “must-haves” in the arsenal of any worthwhile “Life Coach”.

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1. Vision: If you don’t know where you are going, how do you expect to get there?

If a counselor of any sort is offering advice and they don’t first test your vision, then they cannot help you very much. Envisioning your future isn’t some sort of mystical scene, it’s not supernatural by any means. Necessary, on the other hand, it definitely is. Take for example a construction tradesmen, while many look down on physical labor of any sort, the tradesmen know and teach a fair share about vision.

If a tile setter has been contracted to set a floor on the a certain slab of concrete that has existing tile already adhered to it, some challenges are in play right from the beginning of the job. Contractors do not see challenges, albeit, they only see solutions. Not a single profiting contractor would say, “I cannot finish this job.” Because that’s the only way they get paid, by finishing the job no matter what. The contractor doesn’t see cracks in the slab of concrete. They see a need for membrane. They never see a foundation out of level. They see the low places that need to be filled, and the high points that need to be ground down. Your vision must be the same.

2. Take Action: Now that you see the finish, run towards it.

Taking action, is always a necessary lesson taught by any good instructor. Those life coaches’ teaching, that you don’t have to diligently labor to get what you want, are banking on naive, lazy, disillusioned people who believe they shouldn’t have to do anything to have everything. If that happens to be you, don’t feel bad, just evolve your mind, because it’s just not reality.

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Now that you’ve established where you will one day be, it is now time to take the next step. Make sure your next move is something that will line you up with your final goal better than you were before. For instance, if my end goal was to finish the floor that was contracted in the previous example, my next step would be to remove the existing tile floor first.

Once you’ve done the second step, start the next. You should always be moving forward. There will be times you fail, some of the journey will not be easy. You will need, aside from taking action, the 3rd ‘must have’ for any life coach: Perseverance.

3. You must persevere: If you get off track, don’t stay that way.

Without perseverance you will never accomplish your goals. In the words of the one time Austrian immigrant, from humble beginnings, Mr. Olympia himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Don’t be afraid to fail.” Failure should be your fuel, not your foe. If you fall down you stand back up better, faster, and stronger.

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The first person to ever inspire me to never give up was the greatest champion that ever lived, Michael Jordan. When I was a child, I remember the first time I heard the account of Michael being cut from his high school’s basketball team, I thought it was a lie. In truth, he was cut from that team but Michael Jordan persevered. His Royal Airness wasn’t looking like royalty as he vomited into a bucket on the sidelines during game 5 of the 1997 Finals. Years later, I would contract the flu, only then I was truly able to appreciate the 38 points he scored to win the contest, now infamously known as “The Flu Game”.

The year before that, Michael Jordan’s father was robbed and murdered. MJ came out of retirement to regain the title that same season. Time and time again Michael Jordan persevered. When the Gatorade’s promo “Be like Mike” aired, children and adult alike absolutely wished they could be.

If your end goal is a great task, you must have vision, take action, and persevere. If your “self-helper” is not teaching you those three tools, then try a different outlet. Remember, self-help is just that. So help yourself apply those three parts of the self-help lifehack and find the strength you need. In the end, there will be no mentor, no “life coach”, the end game finale has only one hope for help: You.

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Featured photo credit: The University of Chicago Campaign via campaign.uchicago.edu

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes effectively.

I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

What to Write Down

Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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1. Dates of Events

Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

2. Names of People

Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

3. Theories or Frameworks

Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

4. Definitions

Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

5. Arguments and Debates

Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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6. Images

Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

7. Other Stuff

Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

8. Your Own Questions

Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

1. Outlining

Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

2. Mind-Mapping

For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

Here’s the idea:

In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

3. The Cornell System

The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

The Bottom Line

I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

More Note-Taking Tips

Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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