Last year I clearly remember reading blogs from successful freelancers. Many blogs, many freelancers. They had pictures attached to their blogs. A picture of an oceanfront, a rain forest, some even had pictures of themselves surfing waves. Oh how I loved their pictures. Oh how jealous I was. So jealous. I wanna be there. I want to be in a rainforest with monkeys, I want to be sipping margeuritas by the ocean. (I’ll pass on the surfing though. I couldn’t swim to save anyone’s life let alone my own.) I so desperately wanted to be one of those freelancers writing stories from exotic locations around the world.
I read their stories for over a year. They were interesting. There was no scientific formula, no Rubik’s cube to solve. They all managed to get there in their own ways. The more I read, the more I realized that I could do this too. Why couldn’t I? Why can’t everybody? After one full year of reading success stories it was time for me to take some serious action so that I could be the next freelancer on the block writing stories from who knows where. I had no location in mind at the time, really. I didn’t even have a plan. All I had was a fierce determination and a never fail attitude. That was good enough for me to get started.
Perhaps you should know a little about me so you don’t think I’m some hot shot from Canada that had things handed to her and life was easy. Au contraire. I struggled financially and personally most of my life. In and out of jobs, in and out of relationships, owned a hair salon that closed after 3 years and left me declaring bankruptcy (this, I might add, happened very recently, like 2012 recently). Left an abusive relationship in 2013 that left me broke, homeless and scrambling to survive. Nope, it hasn’t been easy, but remember I’m a warrior.
Up until July 2015 I was a full time hairstylist and have been for the last 20 something years. A profession I could always fall back on when my other ventures went to shit. Hairstyling takes its toll on even the fittest of people. At 52 years old I had received my first, and last, cortisone shot for shoulder pain caused by my job. I had had enough. I was not going to be a pin cushion for the rest of my life just to work to pay bills to survive. No thanx. Let’s get back to those darn successful freelancers.
I’m a writer. I’ve always been a writer. Daily diaries, journaling, letters to ex boyfriends behaving badly and eventually a newsletter and a blog. Yes I could write. Time to kick this into high gear, make money doing this, hang up my shears and go sip margeuritas by the ocean. Here’s my formula and trust me, it’s not rocket science. So keep in mind this formula is for freelance writers but it applies to any freelancer or entrepreneur at all really. It’s about you, your passion and your gift.
1. Write and connect with as many freelancers as you can.
Be prepared to work for free in the beginning. For about 4 months or so I worked for free and I still submit guest articles. Expect to put in long hours each day while you’re working on making your dream come true. Work on perfecting your craft so the big guys will take notice. I got a whack of no’s. I have pages and pages in my binder of no’s. Don’t give up. Remember fierce determination.
2. Social media is your best friend. Really it is.
Use it. Reach out to many site and page owners to get attention. Jump up and down and wave your arms in the air if you have to get noticed. Like pages, comment on blogs, tweet, update, chirp, twerk, good grief, you name it, just do it. Someone will notice you and see how awesome you are. Period.
3. Remind yourself daily how awesome and successful you are.
Positive self-talk is crucial. You might not be there yet but your brain doesn’t know the difference. Keep telling it how awesome you are. Your brain will believe whatever you tell it. Tell your brain, every single day, that you are an awesome writer (or whatever it is you are awesome at) and tell your brain that you are sought out by all the big guns. You tell your brain whatever you have to but make sure it’s positive.
4. Set a time frame.
Mark a date on your calendar. Make it bold and scary. Don’t be too lenient. If you want something in 6 months, then set that date. My goal was scary. There was no way no how I was going to spend another winter in Northern Ontario Canada. The clock was ticking and I had to move fast, work hard and push full steam ahead. Expect to do that. Prepare for hard work.
I am writing this article on my laptop from my balcony in Guatemala. When I look up I can see three volcanoes and one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Lake Atitlan. My apartment costs me $300/mth (Cdn) everything included and I’m totally loving this life. I’m not telling you this to brag or make you jealous. I am telling you this because if I can do it, so can you.
A round of margueritas for everyone!
How Neurobics Can improve Your Memory
When you are trying to improve your overall well-being, it is just as important to focus on your mental fitness as well as your physical fitness. Most people have heard of aerobics. Aerobic exercise is a great way to boost your heart rate and burn a few extra calories while improving your heart health. But, have you ever heard of Neurobics? Neurobics is the science behind brain exercise.
Yes, you can exercise your mind and keep it just as fit as your body. But, it is not like your brain is going to do any jumping jacks or jogging any time soon, right? So, what can you do to keep it fit, and how does exercising your brain actually improve your memory?
Let’s dive a little deeper into how Neurobics actually works, and a few exercises you can try to boost your memory and overall brain health.
What Is Neurobics?
When you break Neurobics down, it stands for neurons + aerobics. Neurobic exercises increase the level of oxygen in your brain and “breathe life” into the neurons.
When those neurons are stronger and more stimulated, it improves your brain health – especially your memory. A good way to visualize how Neurobics actually helps is by picturing a piece of glass being blown into a decorative item. The glass maker has to stretch the piece when it is warm and malleable. But, once it is stretched out, it doesn’t spring back to where was before. It stays permanently in place.
Neurobics work the same way. By taking part in an activity or experience that taxes your brain, you are “stretching” the neurons. Once they are stretched, they don’t return to the shape that they were in before.
That is the point of Neurobics – to challenge your mind in different ways so that it gets stronger. If you are working out your body, doing the exact same exercise the same way each day, it would eventually cause your results to plateau. You have to switch things up to “confuse” your muscles and get them stronger. Working out your brain is just the same. With that in mind, let’s cover a few easy Neurobics exercises that you can start doing right away.
Change Your Habits
One of the easiest (and yet, most challenging) ways to get started with Neurobics is to step out of your daily comfort zone. Some habits can already be detrimental to your memory, and cutting them out of your life will make a difference.
When you stop old habits, you are actually using Neurobics to challenge your brain into different thinking patterns. Some ideas to consider include:
- Giving up (or at least cutting down) on television
- Quitting smoking/drinking alcohol
- Changing your eating habits
- Exercising more
When you stop doing some of the things that you have grown comfortable with, you require your brain to stretch, adapt and change. As a result, you will start thinking clearer, become more focused, and remember more things.
Do Something Different
Some Neurobic exercises are things that you can do in just a few minutes each day – the equivalent of doing 50 jumping jacks in a five-minute work break. Things like solving a crossword puzzle, writing in a journal or giving yourself a High Five in a mirror can all fire up the neurons in your brain. Even yoga and/or meditation can force you to push away the “cluttered” thoughts that are in your head and require you to focus on one particular thing.
The places you go and the experiences that you jump into can be considered as Neurobic activities. Anything that challenges your mind and causes you to think differently about something is a great way to stretch your brain.
These could include going to a museum, a zoo, a musical performance, or even different cultural festivals. Allowing yourself to be open to new ideas and experiences is one of the best ways to exercise your brain and improve your memory.
Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do.”
While one of the biggest benefits of Neurobics is improved memory, it is certainly not the only “perk” to this type of mental exercising. Neurobics can also help you to face your fears, live without regrets, and experience a fuller, more meaningful life.
They can give you the courage to take more chances and experience the rewards. They can turn you into a better leader. Most importantly, Neurobics can inspire you by changing the way you see the world around you.
If you are already passionate about your physical health, it could be time to start thinking about your mental fitness, too! Whether you want to improve your memory as you get older or just want to keep your mind as sharp as possible now, trying Neurobics is a great way to “stay in great mental shape”.
Use some of the exercises listed here to get started. You might be surprised by just how quickly your focus and memory will start to improve.
8 Great Ways To Reward Your Employees
Employee engagement is more than a current trend – it is something that more businesses across the globe are starting to value for plenty of good reasons. When employees feel happy and appreciated, they are more likely to be productive and loyal to your company.
While basic benefits packages are still important, it is now more important than ever to go above and beyond for the people working for you. Not only can great rewards help you to hire the best talent, but they will also make your business environment a positive one where people will actually enjoy coming to work and do their best.
The great part about rewarding your employees is that you can let your creativity shine. Think about practical, functional rewards that your employees will actually use and appreciate. Then, don’t be afraid to have some fun with your ideas.
Feeling stuck? Not sure where to get started? Let’s cover some great ways to reward your employees.
1. Make Your Gratitude Public
Sometimes, the simplest gestures can make the biggest difference. If you really want your employees to feel good, make sure everyone knows how much you appreciate their hard work and dedication.
So, thank them publicly. The next time you have a company meeting or public event, carve out some time to thank people individually. Giving them a few moments of attention in a public setting is a great way to show them how much that you appreciate them. After all, who doesn’t like to be complimented?
2. Give Time Off
A reward doesn’t have to be something tangible to be valuable. If your employees have been working hard, reward them with some extra time off. It could be a long weekend, a surprise vacation, or even just an afternoon off on a random Tuesday.
If you do decide to reward them with some free time, make sure you let them know how much you appreciate the work that they have been doing. That appreciation, along with getting a break from work, can help them to feel more motivated and productive when they return.
3. The Little Things Count
You don’t need to go overboard with flashy, expensive rewards. Sometimes, it’s the little things that mean the most. Plus, you will be able to give them more frequently.
Hand out things like gift cards to local coffee shops or movie theaters, or give them something practical like a travel mug or ergonomic desk chair. Small gestures can really mean a lot and your employees will remember and appreciate the gesture.
4. Build Community Through Food
Everyone has to eat, but not everyone likes spending money on their lunch or bringing a regular sandwich from home.
One of the easiest ways to reward your employees is to have lunch catered in as often as possible. Not only does it show them how much you appreciate their work, but when everyone eats lunch together, it will build a more positive work environment. Your business benefits all around.
You can take things one step further by making your catered lunches a scheduled event, whether you do it once a week, once a month, etc. It gives people something to look forward to and serves as a constant reminder of your appreciation.
5. Subscription Services
Subscription services have become more popular than ever in recent years. They really grew during the pandemic, when most people started spending more time at home.
Consider signing your employees up for a subscription service you think they would enjoy. Perhaps give them a list of magazines that they can choose from and give them a years subscription for a job well done.
6. Schedule Company-wide Activities
Host company parties, picnics, and other fun events as often as possible. Everyone deserves to have fun after working hard, and it is another great opportunity for your employees to get closer, a build a better bond. Company activities can also help to prevent burnout in the workplace.
Make sure to include certain events that can include employees’ family members so everyone can join in the fun and your workers don’t have to be away from their loved ones. Family picnics, movie nights, bowling tournaments, or even a catered dinner are all great ways to make sure everyone is involved.
7. Extra Responsibility
While more responsibilities might not seem like a “reward” at first, it is how you present it to an employee that makes a difference.
When you sit down to talk to an employee about increasing their responsibilities, make sure they know why. Talk about how much you trust them and their ability to make decisions on their own. Let them know their value as a part of the company, and you take their career goals as seriously as they do.
8. Give Them A High Five
Giving someone a high five should not be confined just to sports. You have probably seen the viral videos of a teacher giving their students a high five as they enter the classroom. You can feel the positivity, genuine excitement and the wonderful energy from these videos. Research has shown that the biggest difference in whether or not someone will enjoy their job and be more productive, is not the amount of vacation time or their salary package. It is when someone has a manager who cares, appreciates and trusts them and makes them feel that they matter. The next time someone hits a target, makes a sale or gives great customer service why not give them a well deserved high five and see how it makes them feel.
While your employees might not regularly expect rewards, that is half the fun of giving them. Boosting morale, no matter how big or small your business might be, will make a big difference in how productive your workers are. It will shape the environment of your entire company, and the best part? It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to reward people for a job well done. Get creative, get personal, and find unique ways to show your employees how much you appreciate them.