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More Ways to Go on a Date with Life

More Ways to Go on a Date with Life

More Ways to Go on a Date with Life

    Yesterday I suggested that the rules that apply to successful dating could be applied more widely to life in general. After all, when we go on a date, we want our partner to see us at our best – and what could be better than being at your best all the time?

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    With that in mind, I listed 6 guidelines that apply as well to life as to dating, and today I’m back with 6 more. Since life, like dating, can take a lot of different forms, these are still only brushing the surface, and I encourage readers to leave their own tips for dating and for life in the comments. Who knows, we might all become better at both!

    1. A negative outcome can be better than a positive one.

    Everyone wants to be liked. On dates, this often leads us to settle for less than we really want to avoid the negative consequence of being poorly liked by our partner. This, in turn, can give rise to awful relationships – disrespectful, overly dramatic, even abusive ones. If the goal of dating in general is to find that special person you want to share your life with, though, you need to risk being not liked by your partner – why waste time with someone that isn’t what you’re looking for? Every date that ends without the promise of a call can be chalked up as a success – provided you didn’t bend your character around what you assume s/he would like best. In life, too, failures can often be seen as successes, provided you learn from them and carry those lessons forward, and provided they were come by honestly, through your commitment to your own goals.

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    2. Be yourself.

    It hurts me to see people pretend to be other than they are in order to impress a date. Pretending to have more money (or less), more education (or less), or different tastes than you have is such an awful strategy – first of all, who wants to build a relationship with someone who doesn’t accept you for you, and second of all, what’s going to happen when eventually the truth comes out (which it almost always does)? While there’s something to be said for the old maxim “Fake it until you make it”, as a general rule following your own dreams in your own way is the only real road to success and happiness. Doing things because others think you should (or because you think they think that) is bound to be unsatisfying, and incredibly difficult to maintain any kind of real motivation for.

    3. Practice seduction.

    Dating is all about revealing yourself over time with the intention of drawing a partner to you, eager to learn more. Likewise in life, people who are both interesting enough to merit attention (what Seth Godin means when he says “Be remarkable”) and open enough to allow their interestingness to shine draw others to them. But it’s all about the timing – reveal everything at once and you become nothing but a resource to be used and discarded; reveal too little too slowly and you become a bore.

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    4. The start foretells the finish.

    Although there are exceptions, for the most part the way you and your partner interact on a first date sets the tone for everything that follows. If you’re open, honest, and comfortable at the beginning, chances are you’ll remain so throughout your relationship; be too closed off, self-conscious, dishonest, or negative, and you’re setting yourself up for failure – even if you and your date really like each other. When we say “first impressions count”, we’re saying much the same thing, but it’s deeper than just impressions. I know that as an educator, the way I interact with my students on the first day of class will carry through the whole semester; if I am personable and interact with them a lot, I can expect a highly engaged classroom, whereas if I do all the talking and take an authoritative tone, I can expect to spend the next 15 weeks lecturing with a minimum of student questions or input. Taking pains to get things off on the right foot can go a long way towards avoiding complications later on.

    5. Be on time.

    Really. Woody Allen once said that 90% of life is just showing up, and at least half of that is doing it on time. Imagine a date where your partner is late – what does that tell you about his or her feelings about meeting you? Now, imagine he or she is late for the first 5 dates? The first 10? Now what do you think of their attitude? Being late suggests that you don’t value the other person’s time, that you don’t believe they have anything better to do than to wait for you. It can also suggest that you’re incompetent and disorganized – not exactly qualities people look for in a person they potentially want to build a life with. Or in any other area – what applies to dating applies just as easily to the workplace, family gatherings, and just about everything else. While being punctual often goes unnoticed, being tardy sends powerful messages that are often nearly impossible to recover from.

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    6. Just say no – until you’re ready to say yes.

    When it comes to sex, most of us are pretty aware of whether we’re ready or not with any given partner. Some of us are hot to trot after a good first date, others want to be married, and most of us fall somewhere in between. Regardless of your preferences in that regard, we all feel taken advantage of when a partner seems to demand we “give it up” before we’re ready. While most of us are fairly adept at keeping our pants on until we’re ready, in the rest of our lives we often stumble over “no” and commit ourselves to projects we either don’t want to do or don’t have time to do. This also leaves us feeling taken advantage of. Learn to say “no” when you need to – you’ll respect yourself for it in the morning.

    Let’s hear your tips in the comments below!

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2019

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful 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.

    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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    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.

    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.

    Theories or Frameworks

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

    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.

    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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    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.

    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.

    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 About Note-Taking

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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