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5 Online Courses To Equip You With Knowledge You’d Only Get After Years At Work

5 Online Courses To Equip You With Knowledge You’d Only Get After Years At Work

Do you want to get ahead in your career, but need to bring your skills up to date? Thanks to the power of online learning, you can give your skillset a boost in just a few weeks. These courses are convenient and free, meaning that your learning can easily fit into your life.

If online learning sounds good to you, why not check out these five courses from Coursera, a hub connecting you with the best online courses provided by world-renowned universities and training organizations.

Learning How To Learn: Powerful Mental Tools To Help You Master Tough Subjects

Rating: 4.8 stars out of 5

This course will teach you how to learn. Why is this so important? Well, before you can hope to expand your knowledge in any domain, it’s useful to understand exactly how your brain picks up, stores and makes sense of new information.

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You will learn how to overcome procrastination and make the best use of your memory along, with other cognitive skills that will be useful in any line of work. The course is interesting and engaging, with users reporting that the presenters are likeable and that the activities (including quizzes) are fun.

Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills

Rating: 4.7 stars out of 5

This negotiation course has helped many people pick up the basics of positive negotiation. Even if your job role does not officially involve much negotiation, we all have to work with other people on a daily basis, in such a way that means we need to work out how to make sure everyone’s needs are met.

This course includes plenty of helpful video materials that demonstrate the skills vital for successful negotiation. As part of your learning, you will undergo a live negotiation process with a friend or online partner. This course really allows you to put what you have learned into practice.

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Effective Problem-Solving and Decision-Making

Rating: 4.1 stars out of 5

Whatever your job, you will need to undertake some degree of problem-solving and decision-making on a regular basis. Those who can think critically and use the information they have at their disposal to make well-informed, balance decisions will always be popular in the workplace.

Master this skill and not only will you be respected, but you will be seen as a reliable individual with leadership potential. The course contains real-life case studies that will help you appreciate the importance of critical thinking in day-to-day situations.

Successful Presentation

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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There are few forms of communication more persuasive than a high-quality presentation, but many people find public speaking to be a daunting prospect. In this course, you will learn how to overcome your fears, put together a great presentation and make use of verbal and non-verbal cues in getting your message across.

This course is essential if you are looking to obtain a leadership position or wish to learn how to influence others in the workplace.

Influencing People

Rating: 4.7 stars out of 5

If you want to make an appreciable difference within your organization and ensure that your ideas are heard, you need to learn how to influence other people. This course will equip you with the skills you need to share your ideas with others in such a way that they take notice.

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You will discover how you can exert your own personal influence over your managers, those you supervise and other stakeholders. Once you learn how to influence other people, you will find your work much more rewarding, because you will be able to see the firsthand effect of your own personal power.

Online courses are increasingly popular as a cheap, effective way of broadening one’s set of work-related skills. If it’s been a while since you took steps towards your personal development, why not sign up for one or more of the above courses today?

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Jay Hill

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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