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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 Make a Good 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!

 
What is a Resume?
Create a Master Resume
Resume Sections

Design a Resume
How to Make a Resume for a First Job
How to Make a Resume for College
How to Make a Cover Letter for a Resume
 

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 Nurses Make?

nurses pay

The nursing profession has been around for a very long time. Today there are over 100 different nursing specialties. So the field not only offers a lucrative salary, but a chance to specialize in what you are most passionate about as well. This article will take a closer look at the salary aspect of the Nursing profession.

Everyone at some point has to figure out what to do with their life and what job to take. We all want a job that will make us happy, foster our passions, and provide for ourselves. If your passion includes helping people then the nursing profession may be the perfect career for you.

There are many reasons becoming a registered nurse (RN) is a great career choice. For one thing, the registered nurse profession currently has an expected growth rate of 15%, which is much faster than the average job’s growth rate. So if you’re wondering if your job outlook as a future nurse is good or not, have no fear, the demand for nurses is only going to get higher.

A career as a registered nurse is a great option not only because the future outlook, job security, and demand looks good. It also only requires a bachelor’s degree, and the average salary for registered nurses is $71,730 a year! Not only that but the nursing profession has a vast array of subfields and specialties you can go into as well. No matter your temperament or passion you can bet that the nursing profession has a niche for you.

What Determines Pay?

According to the Bureau of Labor statistics RNs tend to make an average of $34.48 an hour. When calculating for annual salary, the lowest 10% was around $50,800 a year, the median annual salary was $71,730 a year, and the highest 10% was up to $106,530 a year.

Like all jobs, how much an RN makes is also going to depend on certain factors unique to that field. The variables that affect the salary of a registered nurse are:

What state you work in

Different states all have different average RN salaries. For example, RNs in Alabama have an average annual salary of $57,890, but RNs in California have an average annual salary of $102,700. Just keep in mind that these numbers often vary due to things like cost of living. Nurses may make more in California each year than nurses in Alabama, but the cost of living between these two states may differ greatly as well.

Level of education

There are 4 different levels of education that you can seek in the nursing field. All of which will require studies in nursing, physiology, anatomy, and nutrition. Generally the higher your education level, the higher your starting salary at a job is going to be.

  1. Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) takes 2-3 years.
  2. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) takes 4 years.
  3. Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) takes 2 years.
  4. Doctorate in Nursing (DNP) takes 4 to 6 years.
Experience or how long you’ve been working as a nurse

The more experience you have working as a nurse the more your salary is likely to increase compared to nurses who are newer or haven’t worked as RNs for as long. The fact that experience and time spent in the job factors into salary is helpful because it means employers will recognize you for your experience and compensate you more for your time spent in the field.

But if you are new to the field and still only making that starting salary, you may need some help here and there to stay on track financially. If you find yourself needing some help during the month, you can use the Check City Payday Loan.
 
nurse tasks
 

What Do Nurses Do?

What everyday tasks a nurse does will potentially depend on whether they are specializing in a specific field or not. But below are a couple of common RN duties to give you a feel for the kind of work that would be required of you on a daily basis:

  • Administer medications and treatments
  • Assist in examinations
  • Instruct patients on how to care for themselves after leaving a medical facility
  • Observe patients
  • Operate medical equipment
  • Perform tests
  • Record patient medical histories
  • Record symptoms
  • Supervise the Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)
RN Hours:

Some patients are going to need around-the-clock care, so there will always needs to be some RNs on duty. RNs usually take the 24 hours in shifts so that there are always nurses available in the day and night. This means that as an RN you may end up working nights, weekends, holidays, or be on call.

If you are interested in the work that RNs do but want to work more regular business hours, then there are some options available. There are places of work where RNs are needed but they only operate during normal business hours. Places like offices and schools will only require a regular work shift.

Nurse Related Jobs and Specialties

There are many nurse related jobs that are also worth considering if you are interested in this type of vocation. This is one of the perks of the nursing career. It has the potential to lead to other jobs, and it connects you to the medical career world in general.

There are also many different specialties within the nursing field itself. As you become a registered nurse you may find that a specific area of work interests you above the others, and if you want you can pursue that specific area of practice.

The following charts are just a few examples showing the range of salaries for some common nursing specialties. But there are over a 100 different nursing specialties available in the medical field right now. Below we will continue to go over some of these other kinds of nurse specialties. For more information about different nursing specialties and what they do you can visit RegisteredNursing.org.
 
nursing specialties


Nurses hold some of the most important jobs in order to make a hospital function properly. They literally fill hundreds of rolls and perform a countless array of duties. If you are looking for a job that will allow you to live comfortably, while letting you pursue your individual passions in the medical arena, then becoming a registered nurse is the ideal path for you.


READ MORE
This article is apart of a series, read “How Much Do Teachers Make?” to learn more about the salary of other professions.

Explore this Career Guide Series for more information on how to become a nurse and what the job is like.

Connect with the Nursing Community and read more about different Nursing Career Specialties.

4 SMART Goal Examples

SMART-goal-examples

This article is meant to help you understand SMART goals and how to use them. By giving plenty of examples along the way, you can use this goal making tool to your advantage and achieve all your personal and professional goals. You may have heard the acronym SMART goals by now, and you may be wondering what it means and how to use this tool to up your goal setting game.

  1. Professional Goals
  2. Fun Personal Goals
  3. Serious Personal Goals
  4. Financial Goals

What are SMART Goals?

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. SMART is a mnemonic device that is meant to help you create “smarter” goals. The 5 elements of a SMART goal are the 5 key characteristics of an effective goal that you can actually achieve. So you want the goals you make to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Specific

To make your goals specific enough, you want to answer the key “W” questions, who, what, when, where, why? You want to decide your goal and describe it in as much detail as possible. The key is to have a clearly defined picture of your goal in your mind, leaving no room for ambiguity.

Ask who, what, where, and any other details?

Measurable

Making your goal measurable is mainly making it so you have a measurable outcome to work toward, so you’ll know for certain when you are successful or not. So instead of just wanting to lose weight, figure out how many pounds you want to lose. If you want more Instagram followers, think about how many more followers you want. What you can measure is going to be different for each goal, but there is always something you can measure. Maybe you want to be happier, what are some measurable things you can keep track of that will show whether your plans are working? Maybe you can measure how many hours of sleep you get each night to see if you’re getting your full 8 hours each night, or record in a mood journal how you feel at certain times of the day for a couple weeks to try and find patterns.

Ask how?

Attainable

Just like when dealing with your finances you’ll want to determine whether the ROI is worth it. Each goal is going to take time and resources. Are they going to yield worth while results? Is the effort your goal would require doable? Maybe you want to run a marathon but you’ve never run before, so perhaps a better goal to start with would be to run 20 minutes every day. Sometimes you need to take your vision down a bit for a goal that you are actually able to do right now in your life.

What’s the level of attainability?

Relevant

Sometimes we feel pressured by our surroundings to make certain goals. Maybe your parents want you to be a doctor, but you want to be an English teacher. Maybe the people around you make you feel like you need to make intense dieting and weight goals to buff up or slim down, but you’re actually at a healthy bmi(link to how to gain weight on a budget post). Goals take time and effort, they come with their own costs, so above all your goals have to be made for you, by you. So when making a goal ask yourself what your motives are and make sure they’re good, worth it, will actually yield the results you desire.

Ask why?

Time-Bound

Time needs to be a major element in any goal you make. You need to create a plan that aligns with calendar dates and deadlines. Having a due date helps us stay focused, motivated, and kick us into action. Remember that it is here where you can bog yourself down if you’re not careful, so be flexible and plan smartly so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Don’t be afraid to adjust when you need to, sometimes learning your limits and what works best for you takes some trial and error.

Ask when?

SMART Goal Examples

There are different elements that make up our lives and thus there are different kinds of goals we can make for each aspect of our lives. There are the more formal, professional, and serious goals we need to make, and then there are personal and fun goals we want to make. Make goals for your more professional and serious successes, but set goals for yourself as well. Below are some key goal categories to remember:

1. Professional Goals

Specific: (ask who, what, where, and any other details) You want to wake up earlier for work each morning.

Measurable: (ask how) You record on a chart beside your bed every night you manage to go to bed at 10:30 pm. On a similar chart beside the door you mark each morning you are able to leave your house for work at 7:30 am.

Attainable: (what’s the level of attainability) Instead of making a goal to get to work by 7 each morning, you’ve started with a goal to get to work by 8 each morning, because you know working toward this goal is more feasible for you right now.

Relevant: (ask why) This goal is relevant for you because going to work earlier will allow you to leave earlier in the day, giving you more time for other goals and endeavors outside of work.

Time-Bound: (ask when) You’ve set alarms on your phone to remind you when to get ready for bed, and when to wake up and get ready for the day. You’ve decided to give yourself a month to get into this routine, and if you are successful, you’ll reward yourself to a Friday movie night with friends.
 
professional-goals
 

2. Fun Personal Goals

Specific: (ask who, what, where, and any other details) You want to make more friends in college.

Measurable: (ask how) You plan social events to go to every weekend this month and decide you have to stay at each for at least a full hour, and must talk to at least 3 people you don’t know. You record the events, how long you stayed, and who you befriended in your journal after each weekend.

Attainable: (what’s the level of attainability) You know you can attain this goal because there are social events you know you’ll be able to go to, and you have a roommate who is very social land willing to go with you to each event.

Relevant: (ask why) This goal is relevant to you because you’re a freshman in college and want to make friends in this new phase of your life. You know your overall wellbeing and happiness will increase by reaching this goal.

Time-Bound: (ask when) You have this month to enact your plan before reevaluating all the new people you met, and continuing with your goal by inviting some of those people to a social event at your own apartment at the beginning of the following month.
 
fun personal goals
 

3. Serious Personal Goals

Specific: (ask who, what, where, and any other details) You want to lose 10 pounds.

Measurable: (ask how) You’ll weigh yourself on a scale and record your weight progress on a chart.

Attainable: (what’s the level of attainability) This goal is attainable because you’ve spoken with your doctor and it is ok for you to lose 10 pounds. You also have a dietary and exercise plan that should yield results over time.

Relevant: (ask why) This goal is relevant to you because losing 10 pounds will put you at a healthier weight, give you more energy, and build your confidence.

Time-Bound: (ask when) You schedule regular weigh-in dates for the following weeks to come, and estimate that you should reach your weight loss goal in time for the beginning of summer.
 
serious personal goals
 

4. Financial Goals

Specific: (ask who, what, where, and any other details) You want to decrease your debts.

Measurable: (ask how) You know how much overall debt you have, and after sitting down with your budget you can reorganize your spending so you know exactly how much you can spend on debts and other spending each month. This will also tell you exactly how long it will take for you to pay it all off. You can keep a record of when you successfully make each payment, and visually see yourself getting closer to paying all of it.

Attainable: (what’s the level of attainability) You can know the attainability of this goal by how well you budget for spending more on debts and less on other varied expenses. If you ever need help reaching your financial goals and getting back on track you can take out a personal loan at Check City.

Relevant: (ask why) This goal is relevant because you have debt to get rid of, and getting rid of debt will free you to spend more on other things and save for the future.

Time-Bound: (ask when) You have a due date for your bills each month and by keeping on track with these monthly dates, you stay on track to finish paying off your debt in the months you’ve given yourself.
 
financial goals
 

Document Your Goals

In order to make sure your goals follow the SMART goal rules, it may help to record them on a chart or utilize a goal setting app. There are countless goal setting apps out there to help you track your habits and reach your aspirations. Here are some of the best goal setting apps for making SMART goals:

smart-goal-chart-printable
 
In some ways, goals are how we live our lives. It’s how we make decisions and enact change. Understanding the 5 key characteristics of SMART goal-making can help you level up in your personal and professional life, and more effectively plan for success. As a great artist once said:
 
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

—Pablo Picasso



READ MORE
Read the section on SMART goals from YourCoach.
 
Read another Check City article about goal making by reading, “How to Set Goals.”

7 Tips for Workplace Wellness

tips for workplace wellness
 
In order to take good care of your work you first have to take good care of yourself. Taking care of your well-being will not only help you in life, but it will help you in the office as well.

  1. Get Quality Sleep
  2. Fuel Your Body Effectively
  3. Exercise
  4. Prevent Eye Strain
  5. Decorate Your Desk
  6. Learn to Unwind
  7. Have Pursuits Outside of Work

Believe it or not, but even an office job can have its own hazards. You may not think about it but everything from vending machine food and sitting all day can cause serious health problems. But don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to combat these workplace hazards and increase office wellness. This can mainly be done by having a work-life balance. Everyone always seems to be talking about having a good work-life balance, but what does this balance really mean? Ultimately your wellness at work is about taking care of your physical and mental health.
 

Take Care of Your Body

physical well-being
 

Get QUALITY Sleep

Sleep is a factor that greatly affects your performance throughout the day as well as your physical and mental well-being. But it isn’t enough to just go to bed and hope for the best. You don’t just want enough sleep you want quality sleep. There are ways you can optimize your sleep so that you are getting the most out of your nights.

Go to bed and wake up at the same time

This will help your body to adjust to a regular schedule. Once your body is used to this schedule falling asleep each night and waking up each morning will become much easier. Set an alarm or reminder for when you need to start getting ready for bed to help you learn to wind down at the same time each night.

Stay hydrated

You actually get dehydrated as you sleep which can cause a dry and hoarse throat in the morning, leg cramps during the night, and an overall lack of quality sleep. You lose hydration in the night through breathing or a dry or warm environment in your bedroom. Another thing that can cause night dehydration is exercising late in the evening. To combat this issue, hydrate yourself well throughout the day, keep a water bottle on your nightstand, and keep your room temperature on the colder side with a humidifier turned on while you sleep.

Fuel Your Body EFFECTIVELY

Your body is like a complicated machine and in order to work at top performance levels and feel its very best your body needs fuel that it can work with. There are a lot of foods out there today that might be quick, easy, and immediately filling, but they won’t provide your insides with the proper nutrients to function at full capacity and eventually you’ll feel this as you feel more and more lethargic throughout the workday. You can fuel your body with a lot of things, but only certain nutrients will give you effective nourishment to give you optimal health and energy.

Eat wholesome meals

Make healthy meals at home and take healthy meals with you to work. Many of your coworkers might be going out to eat every day and though this might be fun in the short term it probably isn’t beneficial in the long term. Healthy homemade lunches will improve your physical wellness and improve your spending! You can also start bringing in healthier treats for your coworkers to help improve workplace wellness as a whole.

Eat wholesome snacks

If your stomach is growling for the majority of the day, you will likely crash before the end. Make sure you have the right nourishment going into your body and it will pay off. Even simple snacks can help keep you going between meals. Nuts, fruits, and cut up vegetables can really give you the energy you need to make it through the day.

Cut down on sugars

One of the biggest issues office workers fight on a typical workday is lethargy. Sugar intake can be one of the major contributing factors to your lethargy. Take note of the sugar content of what you are consuming in a regular day and you’ll see how prevalent this ingredient has become in a lot of our foods.

Then remember, while you pick your foods each day, that each gram of sugar adds to unpleasant feelings like bloating and tiredness. Make sure you take these tips to heart in order to keep your body happy and healthy throughout the workday and throughout your life. You will be grateful when you still have energy after retirement!

Stay hydrated

You would be shocked to know how much staying hydrated can improve your workplace wellness. There is nothing more important than drinking enough water throughout the day. It doesn’t matter whether it is summer or winter, your body is made up mostly of water and you need to continually replenish it. Don’t wait till you are thirsty to start drinking. It is much better to have a set amount that you plan on drinking throughout the day.

In general it is advised that you drink 8 glasses of water a day. It can help to have a designated water bottle that you keep with you throughout the day to drink from. If you have trouble getting yourself to drink enough water each day try drinking with a reusable straw. This can make drinking enough liquids faster and easier. Another thing you can do is put things in your water to make drinking water more fun! You can add cut up fruits and vegetables, mint leaves, and many other things to your water to make staying hydrated healthy, tasty, and fun.

Exercise

Exercise may seem like a dauntingly intense habit to get into, but it’s actually one of the easiest ways to boost your well-being because any amount of it will help. Even if you only go out of your way to exercise 20 minutes on weekdays, that’s still better than no exercise at all.

The average person is advised to get 75 to 150 minutes of physical activity into each week. This averages out to be around 30 minutes a day. Thirty minutes really isn’t asking too much of your time and there are a million ways you can get this 30 minutes of physical activity into your day without having to do crazy intense workout sessions at the gym. You can simply go on a walk, plan a hike for the weekend, go swimming, biking, or take a physical class like dancing or yoga.

Put Exercise on the Agenda

You can implement a routine of exercise into your day before or after work. Getting yourself to exercise will be easier if you schedule it into a specific time of day. In fact, a study found that working out at the same time each day made exercise more effective.

Work Out at Work!

You can also find ways to grab some exercise while you’re at work! There are hundreds of exercises you can do at your desk. Everything from simple stretches to replacing your chair with a stability ball can greatly improve your health.

Whatever you choose to do, change things up and get your body moving as much as possible. By the end of the day when most of your coworkers are crying about sore backs and tired limbs, you will be ready to keep going with your day.

Office Friendly Exercises

  • Practice good posture
  • Leg raises
  • Chair dips
  • Use weights at your desk
  • Ab workouts with your swivel chair, or stability ball
  • Lean on your desk to do planks or pushups
  • Use a standing desk
  • Go for a walk around the building
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator

Prevent Eye Strain

If you work in an office chances are you also get a lot of screen time at work. Staring at screens all day can put a strain on your eyes and even cause headaches and nausea after a while. But you can help prevent eye strain by getting a blue light filter on your screen, or blue light filter glasses to wear at work. It is also a good idea to take a break or two from your screen while at work to give your eyes a rest.
 

Take Care of Your Mind

mental well-being
 

Decorate Your Desk

Decorating your desk will make you happier, and liven up your workspace. You can get plants, you can set up some photos, you can decorate with cool looking bulletins and white boards, or splurge on a special mug or thermos just for your desk.

Learn to Unwind

You don’t have to pay for an expensive spa to still have your own personal spa day. There are endless things you can do to unwind and everyone relaxes in different ways. For some people relaxing may include hanging out with friends and going out. For others, relaxing may mean staying home, taking a warm bath, watching TV, or reading a good book. In order to learn how to unwind you need to learn more about yourself and what relaxation techniques work best for you.

  • Learn about mediation
  • Keep a journal
  • go outdoors
  • listen to music
  • have a spa night
  • read a book

Have Pursuits Outside of Work

It will give you a special sense of accomplishment to have your own personal pursuits outside of your job. And if you need help with funds to make your club or go on a weekend getaway you can use a Check City Personal Loan!

  • Volunteer
  • Join a book club
  • Start your own group or club
  • Join a recreational or intermediate sports team
  • Make personal goals
  • Plan vacations and getaways
  • Take a class

Having workplace wellness is all about having a work-life balance. Having a work-life balance is all about taking care of both your body and mind. If you remember these key principles of taking good care of yourself than not only will your life and health improve, but you will actually become more successful and productive at work as well!


READ MORE
Read “Workplace Wellness” from Mental Health America (MHA) to learn more ways you can improve the overall well-being of your employees.

Read an NPR report about how effective wellness programs are in the article, “How Well Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work?

Read an article from Corporate Wellness Magazine called, “What is Workplace Wellness Really? “ to learn more about what workplace wellness means.

For more tips about workplace wellness, see our article, “How to Stay Healthy at Work.”

How to Gain Weight on a Budget

budget-gain-weight
 
Losing weight isn’t the only way to stay healthy. Nowadays we understand that when it comes to weight, less isn’t always better. Whether you simply need to gain weight, or you’re trying to gain muscle mass, these tips can help you reach your weight gain goals.

While most people in the country are looking for ways to lose weight, some people are looking to do the exact opposite. For every person that has trouble losing weight, there is somebody struggling to gain weight. This could be because they want to bulk up and gain more muscle, or because they have a higher than average metabolism that makes it difficult for them to gain and maintain a healthy BMI.

To Maintain a Better BMI

For those that do not know, BMI stands for Body Mass Index. This is a weight-to-height ratio that helps indicate where you are on the spectrum between being over or underweight. The US Department of Health and Human Services has an easy to use BMI calculator that tells you whether you are underweight, normal, overweight, or obese. All you have to do is input your height in feet and inches, and your weight in pounds.

Why Is Being Underweight Bad for Your Health?

Knowing your BMI is important because it isn’t healthy to be overweight OR underweight. We hear a lot these days about how unhealthy it is to be overweight, but many studies have shown that it can be just as unhealthy to be underweight.

  • Worldwide, underweight children are at greater risk for childhood mortality and disease, particularly pneumonia.
  • Underweight pregnant women have a greatly likelihood to suffer complications during pregnancy, like Intrauterine Growth Retardation (IUGR), which affects the healthy development of the fetus.
  • Underweight men are at greater risk for early all-cause mortality than men in the normal weight range.
  • Being underweight can cause osteoporosis and protein deficiency in the elderly.

To Gain Muscle Mass

Maybe you’re not underweight and you just want to gain muscle weight. Either case will find the following tips helpful. Some people want to build up muscle for sports, weightlifting, an acting role, or a job that requires physical work.
Whether you’re looking to bulk up with muscle or just add some curves to your physique, gaining weight can be expensive. Luckily there are some simple ways to gain weight on a budget. It doesn’t have to entail crazy dieting measures like binging unhealthy fast foods or eating out of cans everyday either. You can gain weight the healthy way while on a budget with these simple principles.

How to Gain Weight

Carb Load

The main way you gain weight is by increasing your daily calorie intake. A calorie is a unit of energy used in reference to the body. One of the main ways our bodies get energy (calories) is through carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are a type of nutrient that provides your body with a source of energy. Your body changes carbohydrates into glucose which then helps power your body, tissues, and organs on a molecular level.
Carbohydrates come in two forms—complex and simple. Complex carbohydrates are generally better for you, are less processed, contain less sugar, and take longer to digest so you’re left feeling more satisfied. Simple carbohydrates are more processed, have more sugars, and take less time to digest so you’re left feeling hungry again sooner.
Most foods have carbohydrates in them, but some of the best carbohydrate candidates are bread, rice, oatmeal, pasta, and starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn. Other fruits, vegetables, and dairy products can also be a great way to intake healthy carbohydrates, but grains really are the star when it comes to carbohydrates.
Bread is really not that expensive and you should be able to find oatmeal and other whole grain pastas for very cheap at the store. By choosing the right grains you can dramatically increase your caloric intake.
 
carb-load
 

Protein

Proteins are made up of amino acids and do a lot of the work in the body’s many cells. If you think about anything having to do you’re your body’s cells, you can bet proteins are there doing all the hard work. Proteins also help our bodies have strong bones, muscles, and skin. Increasing your protein intake is a great way to build up healthy muscle mass and weight.
Great sources of protein include meat, nuts, beans, and animal products like dairy, eggs, and cheese. Protein from meat and animal products are complete proteins with all the amino acids that our bodies need. Plants are incomplete proteins meaning they don’t have all the amino acids your body needs. If you only eat plant based proteins you just have to make sure you eat lots of different plants in order to get all the different amino acids you need.
 
protein
 

Healthy Fats & Oils

Fats and oils are an important part of any diet. While you may hear a lot of people telling you to not eat fats or oils, there are some healthy ones you should be eating. Some healthy examples of fats and oils that are good for you are extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, fish, avocado, nuts, yogurt, and peanut butter. Peanut butter is a great way to get healthy fats and oils on a budget because it’s fairly cheap and is loaded with calories and protein as well.
There are three kinds of fats—saturated, unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), and trans fats. You want to consume unsaturated fats and avoid saturated and trans fats. Healthy unsaturated fats are good for you because they protect your heart from disease and lower bad blood cholesterol.
 
fats-oils
 

Exercise

If you’re trying to gain muscle weight then obviously you need to exercise. But if you’re just trying to gain weight you can benefit from exercise as well! Cardio workouts are great for building your heart and lung health, but cardio exercises are primarily helpful in losing weight. Strength training is the kind of exercises that will help you gain healthy weight and build muscle mass.

How to Plan Your Weight Gain Budget!

After gaining a better understanding of the nutrients your body needs and the costs of basic healthy groceries, you can budget and make a plan.
health-quotes

Make Your Goals

Not only do you need to create goals for how much you need to budget out for food, but you also need to know your specific weight gain goal. This will help you create an effective meal plan that works for your body and your budget.

  1. Decide how much you want to spend on groceries each week.
  2. Then choose your healthy groceries full of complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats and oils and stay within that weekly grocery budget goal.

This is why it helps to make a grocery list before you go shopping because at home you can pick your groceries and calculate the cost of everything to make sure you stay within budget before you even get to the store!

Organize Yourself

You should be keeping track of your caloric intake in three separate amounts—how much of your calories are proteins, carbs, and fats. If you keep a log of these three key numbers and use the food pyramid to balance things out, you will be surprised at how much you are able to gain.

Maintain a Balance

While your major goal may be to gain weight don’t forget to still eat vegetables and fruits. Vegetables and fruits have essential vitamins and minerals so keep them in your diet as well. It’s important that you not only eat to gain weight, but that you eat to be healthy as well.
 
We all need to eat and we all have physical goals about our health and our weight. But while you go about planning, remember that you aren’t just reaching short term goals, you are creating a lifestyle for yourself. Remember that it’s not just about gaining weight, it’s about practicing a healthier way to live. It’s also important to still eat things you like even if you are on a weight gain diet. Enjoying your diet will make it feel more like a meal plan, and ensure you keep these healthier habits in the long run.


READ MORE
Read more about effective ways to gain weight in the Mayo Clinic’s article, “ What’s a Good Way to Gain Weight if You’re Underweight?

12 Helpful Tips When Finding the Right Gym

gym tips

Here are some tips to consider when finding the right gym for you:

  1. Work Out Near Home
  2. Visit When You Normally Workout
  3. Look for Cleanliness
  4. Gym Reciprocity
  5. Read the Contract
  6. Compare Pricing
  7. Observe the Culture
  8. What Machines Do They Have?
  9. Ask About Emergency Care
  10. What Classes Do They Offer?
  11. Look for the Long Term
  12. Don’t Forget the Locker Rooms

We make fitness goals all the time, but when we continue to fail at reaching those goals, it can be really discouraging. Having a gym membership can be just what you need to finally reach your goals this year. The gym industry is huge in America, so it can be difficult finding the perfect gym.

1. Work Out Near Home

Location can be very important when finding the right gym. Find a gym that is near your home, or on the way to work. If you have to go out of your way to the gym, you probably won’t go as much, so it’s a good idea to pick a gym close by work or home. Create a list of local gyms in your area that you are interested in.

After you have a list of the local gyms, you can research their websites to see what they offer. When you have narrowed the gyms down to the few you want to check out, hit the pavement. Most gyms offer a three-day or one week pass, to check out their services. Talk to the staff and other members to gauge how the gym meets your needs. As you work out, evaluate how you feel at the gym. If you feel positive, this is a great possibility.

2. Visit When You Normally Workout

Are you a morning person or an afternoon person? Do you like to workout first thing in the morning? Or maybe you like to work out right after work, in the afternoon. Or, maybe you like to work out late in the evening! Visit the gym whenever you are most likely to work out each day. By doing this, you can gauge the crowd control and see if that would be a problem for you.

3. Look for Cleanliness

gym cleanliness
 

Check for a clean environment and machines. People touch the equipment all day, so cleanliness is essential. With so many people touching the equipment, the chances of catching someone else’s sickness is high. So if the gym employees keep the equipment clean and in good repair that’s a good sign.

4. Gym Reciprocity

Ask about reciprocity agreements with other gyms within your city, or even nationwide. Many gyms are part of a network and will allow you to work out as you travel, or they have multiple locations. Don’t be afraid to ask about reciprocity so you know whether you can use their other gyms as well.

5. Read the Contract

gym membership
 

Check your contract to ensure that you understand everything you are signing. If your credit card will be charged automatically, make sure you know the exact amount you will be charged. Ask about the fees and different pricing options. It is also important to understand how long you are under contract. Make sure that you understand how to cancel your contract, should you need to.

If you’re gym shopping you should be able to ask for a copy of the contract to take home and read through. You’ll want to make sure there aren’t any hidden fees, and that you understand any rules.

6. Compare Pricing

It is important to gather and compare all the gym membership prices and gym membership deals. This can play a major key in finding the right gym. Some gyms charge more because they offer more, and some offer better deals at different times!

A good way to do this is to gather the data about all the places you’re thinking of and make notes of everything in the same notebook. This way you can see the different prices all in one place.

7. Observe the Culture

Gym culture is a real thing and every gym has one. If you’re going to have an aversion to a certain kind of gym culture, then you’ll want to look out for those things when you go visit. You want to make sure the atmosphere in the gym is friendly, safe, and comfortable. Dealing with a toxic, or obnoxious gym culture is the last thing you need when you’re trying to work out.

8. What Machines Do They Have?

gym machines
 

A good mix of machines and equipment is a great sign. They even say that an assortment of different brands is a sign of a quality gym, since different brands will make certain equipment better than others. Make sure the treadmills, ellipticals, and other machines will fit your needs so you can switch your workouts up with different exercises.

Above all you want to make sure they have the machines you want. If you’re an avid treadmill runner then a gym with no treadmills wouldn’t be the right fit for you. Also, if they only have 2 treadmills that are always in use, you may want to look elsewhere, since the machines you want will always be busy.

9. Ask About Emergency Care

You may never need emergency care services at the gym, but it is a place where sudden emergencies could arise from overexertion, or through dealing with heavy equipment.

Are the gym staff trained in CPR? Is there an AED kit nearby with staff trained to use that too? These are all questions that are perfectly acceptable for you to ask when visiting prospective gyms.

10. What Classes Do They Offer?

gym classes
 
You want to take full advantage of your gym. Workout classes and trainers are one of the ways you can do this. Signing up for scheduled classes can really help you to stay on track with your fitness plans.

Gyms can also offer a lot of extra amenities besides lockers and machines. Some even have a food court or a smoothie bar. If there are any special amenities you need in a gym, make sure you add them to your gym shopping list and star the options that include them.

11. Look for the Long Term

Don’t be blinded by flash deals! Just because there are deals it doesn’t mean they are the best gym to go with in the long term. A gym membership is a long term thing. Daily workouts can be a part of the rest of your life. So shop with the long term in mind.

12. Don’t Forget the Locker Rooms

What about the locker rooms? Maybe you’ll bring your gym clothes with you in a gym bag, but having a locker at the gym can be nice in case there is anything you need at the gym every day. So don’t forget to check out the locker rooms to make sure they’re comfortable and clean as well.

 

Finding the perfect gym for you can take a little research. But with the right research you can find a gym that will help you keep your fitness goals and resolutions.


READ MORE

Learn more about how to find your next gym, “How To Find The Right Gym For You

Get yourself to not only find a gym, but get yourself to go, “11 Easy Ways to Find the Right Gym (So You’ll Actually Go)


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