Ace Your Next Exam!

It’s 8 a.m. and as the teacher passes out the exams you can feel the anxiety rise up from your stomach like heartburn after bad pizza. Taking tests can be very unsettling, but test day stress can be lessened, or even eliminated, by utilizing some helpful test taking strategies. What you do before, during and after a test will determine how well you score and how relaxed you are going into it. There are countless test taking tips that are good guidelines for doing your best on any given exam.

You may think you know how to study for a test, but these simple tricks could help you improve your scores and ease your mind. Develop these test taking skills and strategies and you will be an expert on knowing how to ace a test in no time at all.

Tips for Test Taking

Before:

  1. Catch some zzzs!Get some sleep, people! Of course you will be groggy and unfocused running on 2 hours of sleep and a venti cappuccino, so avoid falling asleep and drooling on your test (embarrassing) and get a good night’s sleep the night before your test. Be sure to set your alarm with plenty of time to get up, eat and get out the door. Also, setting a backup alarm isn’t a bad idea!
  2. Eat!Don’t let a growling tummy distract you from focusing on your test. Making sure you eat a healthy, balanced meal is one test taking strategy that will yield noticeable results. Stay away from fatty, sugary foods and stick with healthy choices such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Oatmeal with berries and skim milk is a perfect combination to power you through your test!
  3. Plan ahead!Don’t wait until the night before your test to begin studying. Once the class begins, start planning out when and where you’ll study so you’re not left cramming into the wee hours of the morning the night before a big test. Stress is probably the biggest complaint of test takers and it can easily be lessened by proper planning, time management and refusal to procrastinate.

Why Marriage is a Lifehack

What I see around me everyday is a seemingly growing culture of ambivalence towards marriage and just commitment in general. Children are born out of wedlock, marriages end in record numbers, and the new priority is career before all else. Religion’s authority over society is weakening more and more everyday, especially with the horrendous acts perpetrated by certain members of the Catholic church. How can we take anything seriously anymore?

The truth is, the world and society at large has spent the last few decades making a mockery of what values have caused societies such as the United States and Europe to prosper. With seemingly no one to trust anymore, how can young adults trust a marriage partner? Isn’t having children selfish, since there are so many starving children? Isn’t it greedy and arrogant to ask someone to give themselves to you forever? Doesn’t it seem like a lot of work to stay with the same partner your entire life?

Yes, yes, yes!
But that’s the good thing!

The reason why I don’t feel bad about saying yes to these statements is because the alternatives ask me to not acknowledge my own life and needs. As I believe everyone is on this Earth for a purpose, what sense does it make not the fulfill that purpose? One of the most rewarding parts of life is realizing everything that happens to you, you intended. Good and bad. You can assume responsibility for an orphan child, but it is not your acts that put the child into the world, you did not intend it.

This “greediness” of marriage and acknowledgement of your own humanity is paralleled by other characteristics.

Giving your life to marriage is the ultimate gift you can give someone.

Fancy dinner our? Hah.
New BMW in the driveway? Pff.
My entire freaking life? Whoa there.

After years of reading relationship literature I realized that gifting someone in order to receive something back, be it a relationship, or a kiss, or whatever, is incredibly selfish and manipulative. I give credit to David Deangelo for first steering me in that path. The person you are gifting doesn’t even get the gratification of the gift, because underneath your smile, they know you really want something in return. How selfish!

Marriage is sacred, it is more than a “contract”. Marriage is a bond broken only by death. You can choose to either have a happy marriage or unhappy marriage. It is epic and can sometimes be scary. It is everything the postmodern world has been harping against, true, unclouded decision.

But then something strange happens. The clouds open so your worst days are not that bad. Green and yellow shades highlight your brightest days more so than ever. Sometimes it seems as if God thanks you for such a gift to another human. The gears around you seemed oiled, as if the world wants you to continue and give life to a new human. The universe just keeps on thanking you more and more as if you really did one-up it. Somewhere in my wildest dreams, I remember predicting all of this. A happy marriage, kids, life in a sunny valley, wildest dreams.

Can you forget that there may be someone else out there for you? (There is). Can you acknowledge your own mortality and take the wild ride in store for you?

Remember to Forget

Blogging about self-development has its own rewards – I get to keep my mind focused on great minds, successful people, ideas, and processes. Constantly updating my mental database and refreshing my thoughts is a great way to spend time.

After a brief vacation away from blogging, I came to realize again what I already knew. One must live his life to write about his life. While blogging (previously, journal writing to only myself) is a great fall-back-onto hobby of mine, something I always go back and do no matter what, I have taken some time to just relish life. Golf, cafés, mountain treks, friends, pubs, time with the wife, etc. Doing these things revitalizes my blogging desire because I forget about blogging (ambition) and live in the moment (peace/contentment).

Remember to Forget.

Remember to forget about doing what seems like the brightest path to walk down. Take a couple detours to really see the world you live in. Head back to reality from the golden fields and ivory towers we sometimes construct for ourselves to keep only the positive and the successful on our minds. Sometimes I believe we have to step out and establish these ivory towers in the middle of the worst things imaginable, the most horrible fears. We have to give the Midas Touch to the world and not just live in our towers with the gold and never spread it to the outside world.

When I first was introduced to the Law of Attraction, I thought that I had to be in the White House or on Wall Street to feel its benefits. Then, after a while and much skepticism for this “Law”, I realized that successful people and places can be found in the most unlikely places.

Remember to Forget everything you have learned for a while. Just for a little.

How to Focus on Goals

Imagine you wanted to walk to the other doorway. Imagine the path there is full of people talking to you, trying to sell you things, and generally trying to delay you or even prevent you from reaching your goal. Everyone thinks they have something good for you.

You stop and look at the scene and what do you do? What is waiting for you when you reach your goal? Are there better things waiting for you on the way? How do you even know in this information age where most of humanity’s knowledge can be accessed in a few seconds? What is the best choice?

The easy answer I like to give is, you never know.

From this standpoint, it seems relatively easy to just walk to the other door, doesn’t it? But in real life, where the paths are often hidden, it is much harder. You must stay focused on the goal and your legs will walk themselves while your mind keeps you focused. You socialize, live life, and do the tedious everyday chores like anyone else, but you are going in one direction, you have momentum. Imagine the other doorway you want to reach and keep it in your mind and make no excuses for wanting to go to there.

Choose where you want to go.

Start walking.
Live everyday moving a little closer to the goal (step by step)
As you approach, you gain more momentum, propelling your legs.
Once you reach the goal, then you can choose where to go next.

Many people seem to change their minds when they are halfway there.

That is saying to yourself that you do not trust your own mind, your own decisions. To finish one’s goals is to acknowledge your own decision making willpower – your life levels up. So stick with the path you choose, you will be happier at the end and fresh to start a new challenge.

Keeping Your Network Alive and Well

Establishing a solid network can actually be fun its all about creating a targeted community. Once youve established a strong network, its important to keep the contacts fresh. That can be a bit trickier!

A good rule of thumb is to touch base once every four to six weeks. Its helpful to keep track by setting reminders for yourself so you can get on a regular schedule. Six weeks can slip away quickly!

You may send a newsletter out at the same time each month or perhaps quarterly. Newsletters can be a good way to keep you on the tip of your customers brain but its not very personal.

So in addition to a newsletter, choose another time roughly each quarter to make a one to one contact with each person in your network. This does not need to be formalized, but its a good idea to keep track of who you have contacted with what. Theres nothing quite as embarrassing as sending the same article twice.

In your more personal contact, you may ask about a concern they had the last time you spoke, send along an article you feel theyd enjoy or helpful resource. You may even send a small gift but make it personal. You dont want to send candy to a diabetic or a beautiful cookbook titled 101 Ways to Cook a Chicken to a confirmed vegan.

Of course, one of the best contacts is sending them business. Do this often enough and they will always remember you.

Chat with people in your network and immediately after your meeting, write up a few notes. Do they admire a certain author? Do they see every movie made by a particular actor? Do they have a favorite food? All of these provide opportunities for touching base and avoiding missteps.

You might also read their newsletter and write them a note thanking them for their insights. Be specific in your praise and feel free to ask an intelligent question or two.

Finally, take your industry into consideration and know your audience. Of course its important to be professional, but is it best to be formal or more casual? Do they like (appropriate) humor? Do they like a longer newsletter or is it best to just get to the point? Regardless of the industry, its almost always best to obey the cardinal rule of avoiding religion and politics.

Interview Wardrobe Challenges

Living in Chicago, dressing for business is a constant challenge. I need to have something professional, fashionable, yet able to be worn in a brutal winter or a hot summer. In addition, we women have an added challenge that men do not–all the fashion changes and rules! Men can wear a suit to any business function, but women have to consider skirt length, colors (is black too plain? is pink to bright?), and even whole outfits!

In some corporate cultures, “business” can range from a sweater and skirt to anything non-denim. If you’re not sure, it’s better to play it safe, and stick with a conservative business suit. This can be changed around depending on the weather (e.g. skirt instead of pants, sleeveless shell instead of a long sleeved button-down), and you’ll fit most professional situations. It is better to ask your professional coach about your personal business style.

Sure, this can be easy if you’re going from your house to an interview, but what if you’re going during your lunch hour? It’s happened to everyone–you dress up for work, and people start making jokes about you leaving.

I’ve learned a few creative tricks to keep them from finding out! These include:

1) Wear a business suit once a week. No one will suspect anything if you regularly dress up.

2) In cooler weather, take your blazer off with your coat, and hang them up together. As long as the rest of your outfit is business casual, no one will know.

3) Roll up your business jacket and put it in a bag. It’s less likely to wrinkle when rolled instead of folded.

4) Get your suit and/or blazer dry cleaned, and pick it up on the way to the interview. It’ll be in tip-top shape, and you’ll likely be able to use the cleaner’s dressing room to change.