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How to Succeed at NANOWRIMO

nanowrimo

NANOWRIMO is a writing challenge that goes on every November where lovers of literature everywhere take on the same goal—to write an entire novel in one month. See how you can successfully achieve this goal by following these great tips!

Table of Contents:

What is NANOWRIMO?

NANOWRIMO stands for National Novel Writing Month. It occurs every November and refers to a writing challenge to finish the first draft of a novel by the end of the month. So if you’ve always wanted to write a book now is your chance!

The Logistics

So the logistics of NANOWRIMO is to get a full, first draft done by the end of the month. The official final wordcount goal is 50,000 words. If you divide that into the 30 days of November, then you’ll need to write about 1,667 words every day for the whole month of November to get to the final word count and end up with a full first draft.

Final Word Count Goal: 50,000 words

Daily Word Count Goal: 1,667 words

But ultimately NANOWRIMO is about you, your writing goals, and what works best for you. Some people only have time to write on the weekends and that’s ok! If you’re a weekend writer then can write 3,571 words for each day of the weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), instead of writing 1,667 words each day of the week. Over the course of the weekend your new word count goal would be:

Weekend Word Count Goal: 10,000 words each weekend

How to Write a Novel

how to write a book

1. Pick a genre

The very first thing you should decide when going into NANOWRIMO is the genre you’d like to work with. If you’re going to write a book it’s good to first know what kind of book you want to write. The kinds of stories you could write are an endless list of categories and subcategories, so if you want to see a more detailed list check out Literary Genres.

But here are some of the more basic literary genres:

  • Fantasy
  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Historical fiction
  • Science fiction
  • Memoir
  • Mystery
  • Tragedy
  • Romance
  • Horror
  • Self-help

It also might be important to decide who your audience is before writing because that can decide a lot about how you write your novel. Thinking about what age group you are writing for is a great way to start so your reading level and content cater appropriately to your readers.

2. Pick a perspective

First Person: This perspective is written in the main character’s point of view. The narrating character tells their own personal story with their own words. When writing in first person you’ll use words like I, me, us, my, and we.

Second Person: This perspective is written to address the reader directly. It’s as if the narrating character is telling a story to the reader directly. When writing in second person you’ll use words like you, referring to the reader who the narrator is speaking to.

Third Person: This perspective is not written from the point of view of the character or the writer. Instead, a third party narrator is telling a story that they are not themselves in any way apart of. This can also be referred to as omniscient point of view, because the narrator is like the all-knowing god of this story. When writing in third person you’ll use words like he, she, they, and it.

Multiple Perspectives: You can also write your book using multiple points of view. This is especially common when writing in first person because then you can switch between the firsthand perspectives of different characters throughout the story.

Present Tense: You can also write your story in the present tense. In this case you would write as if the character is telling their story as it is happening. For example you would write, “I walk toward the closet door and open it.”

Past Tense: It is much more common, and even recommended, to write your story in the past tense. This means you would write the story more naturally, as if it had already happened and someone is narrating a detailed, perfectly remembered account. For example you would write, “I walked toward the closet door and opened it.

Ultimately, if this is your first novel, it’s recommended you write in third person, in the past tense. If you feel a little more confident in your writing abilities then you can try out writing in first person, or even switching between multiple points of view throughout the story. If you really want to be different, you can write in the present tense, but most books are written in the past tense.

3. Create the world

All stories need a setting. Maybe your story will occur in a small town or the big city. Maybe it’ll take place in an alternate universe, or a completely different fantasy world of your creation. Get a clear vision of what your world is like, and all the important aspects of the world that will affect your story and characters.

4. Create the characters

There are many ways to create really great characters. You can make a vision board for each characters to keep tabs of all your inspiration for who they are. You’ll also want to find names for them and keep notes on all the things you know about each person appearing in your novel.

5. Make a story outline

Now that you have the materials and initial ideas you need to make a story, it’s time to start outlining! One thing that can really help you storyboard your book is to first think about your beginning and your ending.
There are many templates and guidelines out there for how to format a story outline that can help you with all of this.

story outlining

  • Freytag’s Pyramid
  • Imagine the rise and fall of a pyramid. The story starts with exposition, rising action, peaks with the story’s climax, falling action, and ends with the resolution. To see the story outline in even more detail check out the 7-Step “Freytag’s Pyramid” from the Writing Itch.

  • Snowflake Method
  • This method involves starting with a small story summary and expanding it to have more and more details until you have a larger story.

  • 8 Point Arc
  • The 8 point arc includes 8 key story points that you can write about in order to have an 8 step plot outline for your novel.

  • 3 Acts
  • The first act is the setup, act two is when the confrontation occurs, and act three is the resolution. This outline is great for writers who just need a really simple idea of the basic flow of their story.

  • The Hero’s Journey
  • The hero’s journey is a classic story outline you see in popular books like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. It’s similar to the 8 point arc in that it has a detailed 10 step plan for your story outline.

  • Notecards
  • Write out your key scenes on different notecards. Then you can use a wall or bulletin board to place your notecards in order. This outline technique is great for writers who often rearrange events.

  • Plots
  • This outline is for when you have multiple plots happening simultaneously. You can have a main plot and sub plots, or have equally important A, B, and C plots.

Story Beginnings:

  • Mid-Action
  • Also known as in medias res, starting in the middle of the action can be a great way to get your audience hooked right away and keep impatient readers from putting the book down after the first page.

  • Ask a question
  • By starting with a question you can immediately give your book an inquisitive tone.

  • Introduce us
  • You can also start your novel by introducing the reader to something or someone important. You can describe the setting, the world they live in, or a key character.

  • Origin story
  • If your story has important background information then you can start with the origin story of your kingdom, or main character.

  • Flashes, dreams, and memories
  • You can also start your book out with an important flashback into the past, a foreshadowing flash into the future, in the lucid landscape of a telling dream, or with key memories.

Create Conflict:

Every story needs some riveting conflict. It’s what keeps the story going and keeps your readers interested in what’s going to happen next. For more help in brainstorming your main and sub-conflicts read, “Decoding the Six Conflicts in Literature (With Examples).”

Story Endings:

Some people really struggle with how to end their book. There are many things to consider in order to create a good ending. You’ll need to ask some important question like, what goal or goals you want accomplished or unaccomplished by the end, how your characters change, and what do they learn or fail to learn.

  • The Happy ending
  • The goal is accomplished and things are better now.

  • The Tragic ending
  • The goal fails and things are worse now.

  • The Twist ending
  • The goal is accomplished, but for some reason things still end up worse.
    The goal fails, but for some reason things still end up better.

  • The Cliffhanger
  • The goal remains unaccomplished, leaving readers in suspense, or in the middle of events.

Writing Resources

Every writer has their go-to resources for writing. Eventually you might find blogs, forums, or books about writing that you like.

Name Generators:

Websites:

Books:

How to Cultivate Yourself as a Writer

Like with any hobby you should look into bettering yourself as a writer, just as you would if your hobby was hiking or drawing. Here are some things you can do to really enter into the writing world:

  • Join writing groups
  • Write with others
  • Get feedback
  • Read books you love
  • Read books on writing

How to Stay Inspired Throughout November

When you’re on a writing deadline it can be really hard to stay inspired. Everyone has their own tricks to beating writer’s block and as you write more frequently you’ll gain a list of your own. Here are some things you can try to get you started:

  • Explore Pinterest
  • Make vision and mood boards
  • Get in nature
  • Take care of your physical and mental health
  • Keep reading things you love
  • Watch things you love
  • Listen to things you love
  • Set up your workspace so it’s decluttered and free of distractions

NANOWRIMO is like a community event on a larger scale. By joining the groups and forums you can accomplish your goals along with your fellow writers and who knows?! Maybe you’ll make some friends or publish something great! What’s more, writing novels can potentially become a lucrative at home job to get your household some extra income.

If you’re going to do NANOWRIMO this month, you may need a little help preparing. If you do need some financial help visit a Check City store or our website to take out an easy to use Personal Loan.

 

READ MORE

Learn some other tips about making more money, “Making More Money.”

Thinking about writing as a career? “How to Choose a Career” can help you decide if a career in writing is write for you.


How to Write a Resume

make a resume

Resumes are a very important part of the job application process.

A resume is often the first impression you’ll make on an employer and can be what gets your foot in the door and gets you that interview!

Explore this Guide:

Job seekers everywhere are panicking about how to make an effective resume so they can start seeing success from their job searching. Even if you’re just starting out in your field you still want a professional resume that will clearly show any hiring manager what you can bring to the table.

What is a Resume?

A resume comes from the French word, résumé, meaning outline. Now we spell it without the accents and use it to refer to an outline of our work history, expertise, and skills.

Resume is pronounced re-zeh-may, or “re-zə-mā” if you understand the phonetic alphabet. Either way you can easily listen to the pronunciation of the word at Merriam-Webster.com.

Resume Objective

The objective of a resume is to show a potential employer, an easy-to-read, brief outline of why you qualify for the job. They want to see a quick glance at your career, accomplishments, and what skills and qualifications you’ve gained so far.

It is a formal document showing your professional life thus far, that a potential employer uses to make an educated decision about whether you merit an in-person interview or not. When creating a resume you’ll want to make sure it includes all the information an employer would need to make this decision.

Create a Master Resume

It’s a good idea to create a master resume where you simply write everything you could ever put on a resume. This can also be considered a curriculum vitae (CV)—a lengthier version of a resume that isn’t meant to be an overview, but instead a thorough outline of all your experience, certifications, awards, achievements, projects, and publications. A CV or master resume, is meant to be a complete history of your academic and professional career, endeavors, and accomplishments. You want to keep a copy of your master resume, or CV, because different jobs are going to necessitate you include different information, depending on the job.

For instance, if you’re applying for a job where you’ll be designing someone’s website, you won’t need to include the cashier job you had as a teenager. But if you’re applying for a job in customer service, then the employer will want to know that you have that customer service experience as a cashier.

You also only want your resume to be a page long, but a resume with absolutely all the experience you’ve ever had in your life is going to eventually be longer than a page, so keeping all this information in one place on your master resume is a good idea to have as a reference.

resume example

Resume Sections

There are a few key sections that go into every professional resume. Once you have a master resume to work from you can start putting everything into these main sections.

Personal Info

Somewhere near the top of your resume, you want to put your name on the center stage of your resume so the employer can easily know right away who they are looking at. Then you can kind of introduce yourself briefly by including a personal bio section that may list your personal interests and hobbies. If you’re including a cover letter on the front of your resume, you can also put this personal introduction there instead.

Contact Info

You’ll also want to include your preferred contact information on your resume. This information is usually so that they can contact you in case they want to offer you a job interview, so make sure you put down the best way for them to contact you for this. Usually this includes your phone number and email address.

Your email address on a resume should be simple and professional. If you don’t already have an email username with your name instead of a TV reference, then it’s time to make one for professional purposes like this.

You can also include other ways for them to get to know you and see your qualifications if those apply for you. If you have a personal website, or an online portfolio you can include that here too. You can also include any professional accounts you have, like your LinkedIn profile.

Experience

Here is where you outline your job history. You don’t necessarily need to include every job you’ve ever had, sometimes it makes more sense to show the work experience that most applies to the job you’re applying for now.

You also want to list your work experience in reverse chronological order, meaning that the job you had most recently goes first, and the oldest job experience goes last. This way you are putting the most relevant information, the most recent and therefore most applicable information up front.
When listing each job you’ll want to include the following information:

  • Job title (the title you had at this job)
  • Company name
  • Location
  • Job description (what were your main duties at this job, and what did you accomplish there)
Education

This section is where you outline your education. Many people have questions about what to include and not include in the education section, like when do you stop putting your high school education on your resume? Once you have a bachelors or associates degree you are usually ok to stop including your high school education on your resume.

Your high school education is a basic education that everyone receives, so there really isn’t anything specific about it that applies to your future job. And once you’ve officially gained some form of higher education an employer can easily assume you also have a high school education, but it’s what you did in your higher education, what you studied and learned specifically there, that interests them now.

  • When listing your education you want to include the following:
  • The name of the school
  • The years you were there
  • What degree you have (associates, bachelors, masters) and in what

If you haven’t finished college yet you can include your estimated future graduation date and what you are studying, meaning your majors and minors.

Achievements

You don’t have to just put down jobs that you’ve had though, also put down any other achievements, accomplishments, awards, or community involvement that might be important for employers to know. If you’ve published anything before here is the place to list that. Any volunteer work you’ve done. Any licenses, certificates, or other special training you may have, including if you speak another language.

Skills

When making your skills section the first thing you want to do is look into what skills are involved in the job you’re looking for. Job ads usually list the kinds of skills they are looking for in an applicant. If any of these skills apply to you be sure to include them.
The skills section should include both hard and soft skills.

Hard skills are specific abilities and knowledge that you have, like knowing how to use Photoshop.

Soft skills are useful attributes, like being organized or friendly.

Then, if you have room, don’t just list these skills, but provide examples to show how you do indeed have these skills. These examples can also be included on your cover letter instead, where you’ll have more room to tell key experiences that prove you have these skills.

For example, if one of your skills is that you know how to use Photoshop, you can also say that you used Photoshop to design a poster in your most recent job. Or if you list that you are organized, you can briefly talk about how you created a new filing system at your last job.

Design a Resume

You can make your resume on Microsoft Word, on Google Docs, or even online. Both Microsoft Word and Google Docs have free-to-use resume templates that can also work as good examples of how to professionally format your resume.

Resume Template Websites

How you design your resume is how you’re going to make your resume stand out. But this doesn’t mean you should make your resume flashy, in fact you should do the opposite. Your resume’s audience doesn’t want to be distracted by too many colors or graphics, they want to focus first on the information that is most important, so center your design around the information itself.

Create a Path for the Eye to Follow

You want your resume to be easy to read. One way to accomplish this is to create a path for your reader to follow. We read left to right, so this path tends to make a kind of Z shape on the page.

Make it Organized

Use bullet points to help organize your lists. Use headings with a clear heading hierarchy so the sections and subsections are clear.

Use a 10–12 Point Font Size

This way your font size won’t be too small to read, but it also won’t be silly looking by being too large.

How to Make a Resume for a First Job

If you are making a resume for a first job then you may not have a lot of experience yet to fill out your work history. A resume for someone just entering the job arena is often called an entry-level resume or a student resume if you are still going through school.

But the experience section of your resume isn’t just for your work history. You can put all kinds of other useful experiences there as well. You can list programs, clubs, and organizations you’ve been a part of, or volunteer work you’ve done. For example, you may not a previous job to list in the experience section, but maybe you were the president of the horticultural club, or the lead flutist in the concert band. You can replace your work experience with these types of high school experiences instead.

Another approach you can take to fill out your resume as an inexperienced student is to make your resume more skill focused than experience focused. If you can’t list any jobs than you can list different skills you have and describe how you gained those skills.

You can list your high school experiences in the same way you would list a job, including the following information:

  • Your Title (Volunteer, Club Secretary)
  • Company/Organization Name (National Honors Society)
  • Location
  • Description (what were your main duties, what did you accomplish)

How to Make a Resume for College

If you’re in college, or freshly out of college, you may also run into a unique problem when creating a resume. Your experience section is also going to look different because you may not have a lot of jobs to list. But college provides tons of exceptional experiences that you can include in a resume instead of jobs. You can list internships you’ve done, or apprenticeships. You can talk about capstone classes and the major projects and research you did for these key courses, and show how these classes have prepared and trained you for a job. You can also talk about any programs, clubs, and organizations you were apart of during your college career.

In the accomplishments section, be sure to include all the certifications you’ve received while in school. Today, successfully obtaining degrees and certificates from your college classes can mean a lot to a potential employer. If you received any awards, special honors, or published your work in a student journal you can include these kinds of accomplishments as well. You can even include your GPA in your college resume if you have a particularly high GPA to boast about.

How to Make a Cover Letter for a Resume

It is always a good idea to include a cover letter when you send an employer your resume. A cover letter is formatted like a formal letter consists of these main points,

  • Your name
  • Your contact information
  • The date
  • Professional greeting
  • A brief paragraph about yourself
  • A paragraph or two for key experiences where you prove your skills
  • Conclusion
  • Professional closing

To create a winning resume all you have to do is follow the advice in this article and remember the whole point of a resume—to show what you have to offer in a brief, clear, straightforward way. Meanwhile, if you’re in between jobs and need some financial help, feel free to check out Check City’s Personal Loans.

READ MORE
Check out another great article about writing a resume, “How to Make a Resume for a Job.”

Read another Check City article about getting a new job, “New Year, New Job.”

How Much Do Teachers Make?

New Article Series: How Much Do Professions Pay?

Check City would like to officially introduce its new article series about how much different professions pay.

Understanding the median salaries for a profession is a very important thing to know, whether you are looking for a new job, or looking to choose a career.

In fact, between 10,000 and 100,000 people have searched online for the answer to how much teachers make. Well, search no longer! With our new article series about professional pay you can get all the answers you need to make informed decisions as a student and future employee.

Teachers have a lot of influence over their students. Teachers help their students learn social skills, and figure out what they want to be when they grow up. They have the ability to forever change the course of a student’s life. Teachers help us grow as people, realize our passions, and teach us how to fully pursue those passions and contribute to a healthier and happier community. Students spend about 13,000 hours each year at school with their teachers. Needless to say, the teaching profession is an important aspect of our society.

How to Become a Teacher

Once you decide you want to become a teacher you may want to consider what type of teaching you want to go into. You can teach different subjects and at different grade levels. Primary education is the first level of education done by elementary school teachers. Secondary education refers to middle school and high school. Higher education is typically how we refer to any level of education done after the high school level, like college. As with all professional careers today there is a process that prospective teachers must go through in order to be qualified and subsequently hired by an employer. This process to becoming a teacher includes an education specific to your field, certifications, and classroom experience.

First,

You’ll want to get a bachelor’s degree.

Elementary teachers often major in education or child psychology. Middle and High School teachers tend to major in whatever subject they wish to teach while taking teacher preparation courses alongside that. College professors must also go to graduate school to complete a master’s degree. Depending on the university and the area of study you would like to teach you may also need to get a doctoral degree.

Second,

You will get certified and licensed to teach in your state.

Third,

In order to complete your certification, you will have to spend a certain number of hours in the classroom under the instruction of an established teacher, and take a certification test. You can think of this part of the process like an internship that is required for your teacher certification.

As a prospective college professor, your university may have its own requirements to enable you to teach. You may need to work a number of years as an associate professor first or meet certain publishing requirements.

What Teachers Do

The tasks of a teacher are going to vary by grade level, subject matter, and school district or university. But in general teachers in the primary and secondary education levels (elementary through high school) will do the following:

  • Create lesson plans
  • Teach core subject materials
  • Teach social and group skills, and other proper behavior
  • Enforce classroom rules
  • Evaluate their student’s abilities, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Teach to the entire class, in smaller groups, and one-on-one
  • Grade assignments, essays, tests, and quizzes
  • Communicate with parents and guardians about the student’s behaviors, grades, accomplishments, and struggles
  • Prepare students for standardized tests required by the state
  • Supervise during lunchtime or recess

Some of these tasks are exclusive to teachers in the primary and secondary grade levels, while professors teaching in higher education (college level) may not have some of these same duties. Professors do however have the following duties:

  • Create a syllabus and semester lesson plan
  • Give lectures, discussions, and demonstrations
  • Grade student assignments and tests
  • Record grades
  • Fulfill university requirements for professors like publishing papers every so often

What Determines Pay

Generally, most jobs are going to vary in salary depending on things like what state you work in, your specific employer, how much experience you have in the field, and how much education you have. But sometimes a career will have its own variables that go into determining salary, and factors that weigh more heavily on that decision than others. For teachers, the following variables play into determining salary:

  • The state and region you work in. Every school district is going to be different.
  • What type of school you work in. A private school, a public school, and a charter school are all going to pay differently.
  • The years of teaching experience you have.
  • Your level of education.
  • If you specialize in a certain area.

How Much Do Teachers Make:

teachers salaries

There has been a lot of turmoil in the news lately about teachers’ salaries and whether teachers are being paid fairly. Teachers have been a part of several protests in the recent past, asking for better wages and more funding for their schools. During these protests, some teachers have even gone on strike and stopped teaching to try and get their voices heard. This aspect of the teacher strikes has been a particular point of controversy since teachers aren’t just seen as employees. The role of a teacher is culturally held aloft as more of a noble pursuit than as the means to someone’s livelihood, making it difficult for teachers to talk about wages without judgment.

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers Make:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that kindergarten and elementary school teachers make a median salary of $57,980 a year with a job growth rate of 7 percent.

Middle School Teachers Make:

Middle school teachers make a median salary of $58,600 a year with a job growth rate of 8% which is a bit closer to average growth rates.

High School Teachers Make:

High school teachers make a median salary of $60,320 a year and also have a job growth rate of 8%, which the BLS calls “as fast as average.”

Substitute Teachers Make:

Kids may miss a school day here and there, but class will still go on even if a teacher needs to miss a day. That’s why there are substitute teachers that can fill in or regular teachers when they aren’t available. They usually make a mean annual wage of $31,510 at $15.15 an hour.

Private vs Public School Teachers:

Believe it or not, private school teachers actually make less than public school teachers generally do. Obviously this is going to depend on the school because some public school district areas do better or worse than others, while some private schools are more expensive than others. But on average, public school teachers make $50,000 a year while private school teachers only make $36,000 a year.

Side Hustles for Teachers

Being a teacher also includes a number of side hustles that can provide some extra income to teachers.

  • Tutoring
  • Summer camp or summer school
  • Selling worksheets, lesson plans, and other classroom materials
  • Creating curriculum for publishers
  • Proctoring exams
  • Teaching adults

Whatever your profession might be, there are always ways for you to make a little extra income to cover all your expenses. Teachers aren’t the only ones who struggle to make ends meet each month. Many people get hit with emergency expenses that can also make hurt your monthly budget. When you have a bad month financially, you can depend on the Check City Personal Loan to see you through it and get you quickly back on your feet again.

So What’s the Problem?

The short reason you’ve been hearing so much lately about teachers’ struggles and issues with teachers’ salaries is because the issue goes beyond their income. The problem isn’t so much that teachers need a higher wage, but that their classrooms and their students need more funding. In order to adequately provide for their students and to facilitate their success, learning, and care, teachers often end up using their own money in order to do their job well. So in this sense, the issue may not be that teachers pay is too much or too little, but rather that the situation is unfair. Most full-time jobs are required to provide their employees with whatever they need to do their job successfully, and this is where teachers have been struggling the most to keep up financially.

Teacher’s Need More Funding

There are a lot of important things that go into successful learning for children and adolescence. They spend the majority of their day at school and nee to be adequately fed in order to focus throughout the long school day. They also need a number of materials in order to actively learn, practice, and take notes. Teachers also need materials and resources to teach their subjects in the best way possible for each child. Providing food, notebooks, and pencils to kids and teens from low-income families are just some of the many personal expenses being left on the shoulders of teachers alone.

Teachers should be able to have the funding and resources necessary to have a successful classroom. Some school districts and states are doing better than others at funding their schools and providing their teachers with a decent salary for their area and hopefully, the number of school districts doing well by their teachers and their students will continue to grow. The teaching profession is a unique opportunity to mentor and mold the coming generations and by so doing, help build us all a better world.


Sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers,” “Middle School Teachers,” “High School Teachers.”

No Kid Hungry: Share Our Strength. “Hunger in Our Schools.”

No Kid Hungry: Share Our Strength. “Only a Teacher: Teaching Timeline.”

No Kid Hungry: Share Our Strength. “Which States Have the Highest and Lowest Teacher Salaries?”

4 Investments Worth Making

worthwhile investments
 
With the Up’s and Down’s the economy has experience over the last several years, many people have been left asking the question, “Are there any truly safe investments that can be made these days?” In today’s post we’ll cover the top 4 investments that are still worth making.

1: A House

house investment
 
A home is one of the most worthwhile investments you will ever make, and what an investment that will be. It may take you decades to pay off your house, but the nice thing about houses is that they increase with value over time.

The value of real-estate rises over time like the value of a car falls, it’s predictable. Your investment will pay itself off and more should the need ever arise to move or sell.

With that in mind, any land you may own will have the same effect. As the amount of available land decreases, prices for land that you own increase.

It’s the law of supply and demand. The less supply available, the more someone is willing to spend when the demand rises. With that being said, be wise when it comes to making your home purchase as well as the improvements that you make during your time living there.

As we learned in 2007 there can sometimes be artificial inflation that happens in the housing market, buying during those times can lead to severe financial turmoil. In addition to being careful when you buy, be careful what improvements you make, understand that some improvements such as landscaping don’t give you as much bang for your buck when it comes time to sell as a remodeled kitchen or bathroom.

2: A Steady Stock

stock investment
 
Certain stocks have shown steady, predictable growth over the years and are therefore, safer to invest in. Oftentimes the growth is slow, but it always moves in the positive direction.

When you plan on putting aside money for a number of years, consider investing it in a steady stock instead of a bank. Your money will appreciate better in an investment rather than a holding cell.

3: An Education

education investment
 
If you don’t have a post-secondary degree yet, get one. On average, salaries take drastic turns for the better with every degree you get. You are worth more when you have learned more. You come to the table with more to offer, and are therefore a competitive employee. If a company wants you, they’re going to have to pay to keep you.

That’s the beauty of an education. It represents quite the financial investment, but the jobs and salaries that follow are well worth the time. They more than pay themselves off with time. If you have one already, see if there’s anything more that you can be doing to increase yours, ie. attending conferences and keeping up with recent literature.

4: Invest in a Friend

invest in people
 
There is untold power in investing in the people around you.

Studies have shown that there is a correlation between the people that give more and the people that earn more. Some say it comes from a social responsibility. When you’ve been given so much, you are responsible to give to others. The more you give, the more you’re blessed with. Others will say it’s a weird coincidence. Science can’t figure it out, but the phenomenon remains.

The more you invest in the people around you, the more money you are likely to make. You will never know though until you give it a shot. On top of that, you’ll be doing something to make a difference in people’s lives. Whether you give them a fish and feed them for a day, or teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime, the results will be the same.

For one, you’ll help someone, someone that needs help like you’ve needed in your life. For another, you’ll share an excellent example to those that might continue the legacy themselves (like your children).

Finally, and least importantly, you’ll feel great about what you did—changing someone’s life. Invest in the people and community around you. This doesn’t always mean you invest monetarily. Many times it will simply be getting to know someone new, offering a listening ear, or showing someone that’s ignored that you care. No other investment will give you the return of investing others. This is the best investment you will ever make.


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Take a look at “Planning Investments while Budgeting” to learn more about how you can include your worthwhile investments in your budget.

11 Important Qualities to Have When Changing Careers

career-qualities
 

 
In order to keep up with the changing job market and stand out from all the other eager job candidates, it helps to have the qualities of a successful professional. Whether you are changing careers or looking to start one, these skills are what every employer in every field looks for when interviewing candidates. In order to succeed in today’s changing job market, workers have to foster new skills and hone in basic ones. Whether you are 25 or 40, starting your career or changing it, here are some great career changing qualities that will make you stand out from other job candidates.
 

 

1: Work Well in Groups

Be a team player! In almost every work environment you will have to work with others to some degree. Employers want to create a productive and peaceful work environment where coworkers not only get along, but work well together. So when you demonstrate your ability to work with a team, you increase your attractiveness as an employee. Working well with others also creates a sense of unity and helps productivity in the workplace.

Understanding Generational Differences

When entering the workforce you will quickly see that there are often generational differences between coworkers. Anyone from Generation Z to Baby Boomers may be present in your next place of work and—as Sarah Sladek has found in her studies—there are distinct cultural differences between each generation. In order to avoid generational misunderstandings, it is important to get along and understand your coworkers as well as help them understand you. After all, a peaceful work environment is a productive work environment.

It’s easy to have a lot of prejudice toward people who see so differently from you. One of those differences we all can experience is generational. There are currently 4 defined generations listed below from oldest to youngest:
Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)
Baby Boomers have been raised to follow tradition. They care about families and economic security.
Generation X (born between 1965 and 1981)
Generation X was raised during the women and civil rights era. Their time was before childcare programs which gave them the nickname “latch-key children,” meaning they were raised to be self-sufficient and independent thinkers. They care about a work-life balance and seeing a positive impact from their work.
Generation Y or Millennials (born between 1982 and 1995)
According to media expert Sarah Sladek, Generation Y is a tech savvy, globally minded generation that isn’t joining, buying, networking, learning or engaging like other generations. This generation experienced many firsts, firsts to use technology. They want frequent feedback, want variety in their work. They avoid tradition for the sake of tradition. They’re eager to learn and lead. And they like to reexamine to keep things relevant and future focused.
Generation Z (born between 1996 and 2009)
Generation Z is the newest and youngest named generation right now. They are also referred to as the connected generation because they haven’t known life pre-internet. They are a creative, entrepreneurial group that care about social causes.
 
For some people differences can be a huge roadblock in a working relationship. This often happens because people take differences as a personal offence. But we all see with different eyes and when accepted, this can be a team’s greatest advantage. You alone can’t experience and see everything, but together, with many perspectives, your team can SEE and therefore DO much more than any individual.

Generational differences are also not the only difference you’ll come across in the workplace. Everyone was raised differently, comes from different places, backgrounds, and beliefs. Knowing how to interact and work with all kinds of different people will make you a useful asset to any working team, and an all-around better human being.

So let people be different. Let everyone bring their own unique selves to the table and your arsenal for combatting projects and problems will be that much more impressive and diverse.

2: Giving and Receiving Criticism

In the workplace you’ll need to learn how to embrace and use criticism to your advantage. You also might need to know how to effectively give criticism as well. You should embrace every bit of criticism as an opportunity for insights on how to improve. Even the worst given criticism can have something useful that you can take advantage of. It may be hard to hear small, nitpicky ways you can improve. But when you allow yourself to use criticism, you can develop new skills that will help you climb the professional ladder and improve yourself as a person.
criticism

How to Give Feedback

Sometimes your job will require you to give feedback to others. The whole point of giving feedback is that you want to see something improve. Whether it’s actions or a project, you are simply invested in making something the best it can be. Your feedback needs to be helpful, effective, and clear. Here are 4 quick steps to make sure you don’t leave someone more confused by your feedback, rather than giving them the insight and direction you intended.
First, ask what IS working.
This isn’t just to make people feel good about what they are doing, or soften the blow of what you don’t like, though it can do these things too and that’s an added bonus. But if people don’t know what is working then they might end up changing things they shouldn’t. Make sure they also know what is working.
Second, ask what’s NOT working.
This part of giving feedback is rather obvious. But remember to not let yourself make the interaction overly emotional or personal while giving feedback about what isn’t working.
Be clear and specific.
Vague criticism is not helpful criticism. A subordinate or team member can’t improve if you are too ambiguous in an attempt to not hurt feelings. For example, if a team member is working on a design, don’t just say, “It could be better.” Instead figure out what specifically about it isn’t working. Is it the color? Is it the image they chose? Is it the font style? Be as specific as you can about what is and isn’t working.
Finally, help them implement your feedback.
Once you’ve figured out what exactly isn’t working you can become even more specific by suggesting solutions to their problem. So don’t stop at “the color isn’t working,” but help think of what could work. Maybe the color needs to be lighter, or darker, or a different color all together. In any case, don’t leave them to brainstorm solutions all alone. Giving suggestions can also help further solidify their understanding of what insights your criticism is trying to give.

How to Receive Feedback

In almost any workplace you are going to receive feedback about your work and performance. Here are a few steps to follow anytime you are receiving criticism:
Shut up and just LISTEN.
A lot of times, when receiving criticism about something we’ve worked on, our initial gut reaction is to talk, to explain ourselves, to help them see what we were seeing, or to defend our work and therefore ourselves. But when you are talking you are missing out on the feedback the other person could be giving if you let them have the floor.

It may help to look at your work not as YOUR work, but as THE work. Separate your work from yourself and allow it to be its own entity that you and the critic are both just working on together.
Wait until the end to ask questions.
Waiting until you know they are finished to ask questions is the best way to make sure you don’t miss anything. Asking questions will also help you understand their feedback more. Feedback is only helpful if you have a clear understanding of it, so don’t be afraid to ask questions at the appropriate time.
Turn negatives to positives!
Sometimes criticism isn’t so constructive. Other times even constructive criticism can just come with a lot of negatives. If the feedback is poorly given, focus on what good you can take from it to be better.
Thank the critic.
Make a habit of thanking your critics for their feedback. Even if it was poorly given, thanking them can help them chill out and realize they don’t need to be hostile to get through to you.
Implement the feedback.
Make a plan going forward of how you will implement the feedback. It was meant for your benefit so take full advantage! This is where you take the wheel back again and start driving forward.

3: Flexibility

Be flexible. The workplace today is changing rapidly. Rather than being angry and resistant of changes, develop flexibility. Flexibility is a winning strategy in today’s job market. It is also important to prioritize and be flexible with your time in order to take care of your own well-being, while still being productive.

If you have trouble with change, here are some tips on how to deal with change better:
flexibility

Stay Grounded

Find something in your life that isn’t changing to focus and lean on while you acclimate to the new thing.

Understand the Reasons

Seek to understand the goals for the change so you can more easily get on board. More than likely, if your workplace is changing something it’s because they have reason to believe it will make things better. Understanding the estimated benefits of this change will help you see its value and give you a reason to want the change too.

Keep Up to Date

Don’t get comfortable being stagnant. Make a habit in your everyday life to learn and try new things. This will give you an arsenal to deal with change as you actively pursue it in your own life. If you are staying up to date on learning new things, then some changes may not be that big of a shift for you. In a way, you’ll be prepared for changes in advance.

Strong Support Network

In your personal life it’s important to have a support network. This can consist of people, hobbies, and practices that you can lean on in times of change and need. It’s also important to have support from fellow coworkers and team members when changes cause you and fellow workers to lose footing. Be there for others and they’ll be there for you.

4: Problem Solving Skills

Be a problem solver. Employers look for workers who can work across lines and be an active participant in the running of the business. When you are willing to learn expertise and solve problems that arise, you increase your level of knowledge and your value to the company.
problem-solving

Understand the Problem

You can do this by defining the problem, listing all the obstacles and related variables, and defining the root cause of the problem. Understand the whole picture so you aren’t missing any important details that may be the key to the solution.

Reverse Engineer

Sometimes deconstructing the problem will help you find the root cause, which may be the key to the solution. Also, thinking about things backwards can give the new perspective necessary to see the solution.

Communicate

There will probably be people and other departments that you’ll need to communicate with in order to understand the problem completely. The knowledge of these other people may be the missing link you need to formulate the entire solution.

5: Confidence

Be confident. When you project a sense of confidence, you center yourself. Your sense of confidence will have a profound effect on your coworkers. When you appear confident, your coworkers and managers will be willing to follow your lead.
confidence

Change Your Perspective

People aren’t just born with or without confidence, it’s something that you build for yourself. You can grow or diminish your confidence through the perspective you choose to have.

Grow Thick Skin

Part of self-confidence is having thick skin. You want to build up a layer to keep yourself from taking everything personally and allowing every little thing to chip away at your self-esteem.

Try treating yourself like you would a friend, or loved one. Seeing yourself from this detached perspective can help some people be kinder and take better care of themselves. Find opportunities to congratulate, compliment, and reward yourself.

Look Inward

Deconstruct Your Self-Image.

Be more self-aware. Take note of your triggers to know what builds and what diminishes your self-confidence. Be aware of what you obsess over and ruminate about. What failures do you focus on? List the things that disappoint you about yourself. For example, if you say “yes” even when you want to say “no.”

Do the 100 days of rejection challenge. Jia Jiang started this challenge. You purposefully make crazy requests of people in order to be rejected once a day for 100 days. His purpose was to desensitize himself to rejection.

Reconstruct Your Self-Image

Visualize yourself as you want to be. How you view yourself in your own mind’s eye is where your self-confidence stems from. Create an image of yourself that you are proud of.

Practice seeing yourself as equal to those around you.

Use positive affirmations. Affirmations are when you say things out loud to make them more real, to train your brain to think a different way about yourself.

Practice leaving your comfort zone.

Practice more self-care.

Make realistic goals you know you can accomplish. You might want to go to the gym every day, but you know you can get yourself to the gym at least twice a week.

Look Outward

Create boundaries. Part of self-care is creating your own boundaries and respecting yourself more by adhering to the boundaries you need.

Forget yourself. Pay more attention to those around you instead of worrying about how they see you. Help others, volunteer, and focus more on the things outside of yourself.

6: Competence

Being competent is all about your ability to learn new skills and navigate uncharted territory. It is about having a level of self-sufficiency and not being helpless in every new situation. Competence will take you farther and farther in your job as the things your workplace wants you to do are going to vary more. Competence also comes in different levels.
competence

Level One: Confidence

One trait of a competent person is having confidence in your abilities. When you pair confidence with competence, you have a winning strategy for completing tasks that may be new to you. You can gain this first level of competence by doing new things frequently. You might not have any experience using Microsoft Excel, but you can have experience in doing new things. There are a lot of tips, tricks, and skills you can learn by doing new things that can transfer over to other tasks as well.

Level Two: Learn

The second level of competence is being able to learn and figure new things out on your own. Skills like this come from knowing how to research and study independently. In school you learn this skill with individual assignments. For example, you need to get rid of an endnote on a document, but you don’t even know what an endnote is! Because you do know how to use the internet and user forums, you can figure out how to do it on your own.

7: Good Work Ethic

Develop a strong work ethic. Work ethic can encapsulate a lot of different things. Ultimately work ethic is the idea that hard work is important. If you have a good work ethic that means that you put in good, valuable, high quality work and that you care about the kind of work you are doing. It also encompasses how you carry yourself in the workplace.
work-ethic
Here are some characteristics of those who have a good work ethic:

  • Be focused
  • Have an appropriate work-life balance
  • Be professional
  • Adhere to workplace etiquette
  • Be dependable
  • Be self-disciplined
  • Be organized
  • Be productive
  • Be efficient
  • Be responsible
  • Care about the work you’re doing
  • Care about quality work
  • Determination
  • Accountability
  • Humility
  • Integrity
  • Discipline
  • Team player
  • Loyalty to company
  • Time management, be punctual, deadlines
  • Honest
  • Respectful

8: Handle Pressure

Work well under pressure. Today’s workplace is a pressure cooker of stress. When you develop a sense of calm amongst the crazy, you exponentially increase your ability to rise in the workplace.
pressure-stress

Take Care of Your Body

Try to treat your stress the way you would treat the common cold. Stress can also affect your body. Everyone gets colds, that’s why it is called the common cold. Everyone also gets stressed out in the same frequency. When you have a cold you can either do nothing and let it escalate to a sinus infection, or you can do things to take care of yourself and get over the cold quicker.
Get More Sleep.
On a regular day you might be able to get away with 5 to 6 hours of sleep and still function normally during the day. But when you are sick you need to sleep more than that. In the very least you need to be getting a full eight hours of sleep each night, maybe a little more. When you’re stressed you also need more sleep than normal to recuperate. You’ll want to also make sure you are getting quality sleep:

  • Make your room cold.
  • Have plenty of blankets.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time.
  • Give yourself an extra half hour of falling asleep and waking up time.
  • Unwind before bed, relax, meditate, take melatonin, or drink some cold water.

Eat Healthy.
Make sure you are eating healthy. When you have a cold sometimes you lose your appetite. Sometimes when you’re stressed you can also lose your appetite, while other people’s appetite grows. You have to fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to keep up and keep running during times of sickness or stress. You have to give your insides a fighting chance by providing the right fuels.
Exercise.
Unlike when you’re sick it’s actually good for you to exercise like normal when you’re stressed. Exercise is a good natural medicine for stress.

Take Care of Your Mind

Reach Out.
Reach out to others and let them know what’s going on with you. Sometimes simply talking out our stress can help alleviate it. Go out with people in your support system to have some fun and treat yourself. You can also formulate a team to help you with whatever’s stressing you out. Sometimes we stress out because we have a task that’s too big for one person and we need to accept that and ask for help.
Prevent Burnout.
One thing that affects a lot of worker’s stress is actually burnout. There are a lot of things you can do to prevent and treat burnout, but one thing that helps is to change things up. Changing your routines or taking a much needed vacation can be just the medicine you need to reach full capacity again.
Organize Better.
If your tasks are all planned out in doable chunks then you can tackle your workload better and stress about it less. For instance, you’ll know you don’t need to worry about task B today because you have plenty of time allotted on Thursday to tackle that item. Effective organization gives you back control. Also try keeping a list of all the things you’ve finished so you can have an accumulating list of accomplishments to remind you of how productive you’ve been.

9: Time Management

Manage your time well. You can be the best employee in the world, but if you constantly miss deadlines due to poor time management, you undercut yourself. So, learn how to allocate your time for each task wisely to increase your marketability. Time management skills will not only help you be more productive, but it will also help you take care of yourself better.

  1. plan your month
  2. plan your week
  3. plan your weekend
  4. plan your day

time-management

Some Time Management Tools:
  • Monday.com is great for managing team jobs.
  • Toggl is great for keeping track of how you use your time.
  • Google or Microsoft Tasks are great for making and organizing your to-do lists.
  • Bullet journals are great agenda for the creative spirit or if you want to organize a lot of different things in one place.
  • Trello is a great app if you like to organize with post-it notes.
  • Mind Meister is a great tool if you like to organize in a map or thought-web form.
  • Hard copy calendars are great for a big picture visual.
  • White boards are also great for a big picture visual.

10: Communication

Be a communicator. When you communicate well, you create a sense of harmony and competence in your team and in your office. Good communication is a valuable skill that should be developed no matter where you are on your career path.

Nonverbal Communication

Includes things like your body language and demeanor. You can practice good nonverbal communication with good posture and being an engaged listener.

Verbal Communication
  • Be respectful
  • Be relevant
  • Be specific
  • Be focused

positive-attitude

11: Positive Attitude

Develop a positive attitude. Nothing is less attractive than someone who doesn’t want to be on the job. Whether you hate or love your job, develop a gratitude and a positive attitude to keep morale up!
 
Along with having an overall positive attitude become invested in your work. It is yours to do and how you do it and your attitude toward it, will reflect you more than it reflects your job.






READ MORE
Listen to Jia Jiang’s TED Talk, “What I Learned from 100 Days of Rejection” to learn about what he learned from the 100 days of rejection challenge.
 
Read the Mayo Clinic’s article, “Job Burnout: How to Spot it and Take Action” to learn more about managing burnout in the workplace.

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