While many people make resolutions at the start of a new year, I prefer to focus on the new things I want to achieve over the coming month. And in particular this includes new skills. In fact, there’s two occasions during the year that I tend to take up new activities and it happens to coincide with the academic terms in September and January. Maybe that’s because it’s easier to find evening classes starting up and online courses are being promoted more at those times of year, but mostly I just think it’s down to me having a bit of time off and having the chance to reflect on what new things I want to learn.In September I started to learn Spanish but time constraints meant that I never quite got through all the practice tasks for the beginners’ Spanish lessons so I couldn’t progress at the same speed as the rest of the course. Nonetheless, I have all the documents and workshops sitting in my inbox so I can get started up again whenever I get some time. I guess I’ve just got to make time, right?!The other course I started in September was ballroom dancing. I went along to my first class on a dark Thursday evening and was immediately hooked. Well, who doesn’t want to be waltzed around a dance floor like a princess, eh? The added bonus was that latin dances were taught alongside the traditional foxtrot and quickstep ballroom dances, so I discovered that I quite liked these too. Who would’ve thought that I would enjoy dancing a rumba? I certainly didn’t see that coming! The beginners’ course has just finished and I loved getting my head around the steps. I’ll be back for more as soon as I can.So this January I want to focus on developing my crafting skills and it’s the wool-crafts that I want to focus on. Excuse the pun but knitting has always had me tied up in knots. Continue reading “Learning a new skill in 2017 – Knitting” »
Taking on a home DIY project tends to sound like a lot of fun. There’s certainly a level of satisfaction that you can gain by rolling up your sleeves and getting to work around the house. And if you’re the sort of person who enjoys being productive, you’ll get a lot of fun out of it. It’s also true that a lot of DIY projects that start out this way end up being a bit more tedious and difficult than expected. So I thought it might be nice to discuss a few ways to make DIY a little more reliably enjoyable. In a way, this all depends on the specific task at hand, as well as on your general mood and outlook. But the following tips just might help you to maintain enthusiasm for most of your improvement efforts around the home.1. Educate yourself on the basics
It doesn’t sound like the most enjoyable thing to do, but getting educated on some basic home repair and DIY concepts will help you to have more fun fixing things up. It’s frustrating to get into these kinds of jobs without knowing what you’re doing, so it pays to teach yourself in advance. As a starting point, this list of simple maintenance tips and ideas covers a lot of common jobs that arise around the house. They’re not the most artistic, craft-geared DIY projects, but they’re things that need doing, and if you know how to handle them you’ll be better equipped for a pleasant experience.2. Entertain yourself
Just tackling a DIY job with nothing else going on can sometimes get dull. The clear solution is music, but even then things can get complicated. If a job involves water pipes, woodworking, dust, debris, or paint you won’t want your music devices or headphones anywhere near it. Fortunately, there’s a solution specifically for this problem. This page on heavy-duty radios built for construction sites and similar environments reveals that there is some modern audio equipment made for tough conditions. There are plenty of options, but if you can find a strong, durable radio with Bluetooth that can let you play your music, radio stations, or podcasts you’ll be able to stay entertained no matter what kind of job you’re taking on.
3. Learn To Repurpose Materials
If you’ve been looking for a way to reach your ultimate career goals, why not consider starting an online learning programme? Designed to help you achieve your employment objectives, these courses could open up new doors for you when it comes to your progression at work. If you’re unsure how online learning could aid you, here are a few benefits to consider.It’s a great way to get ahead
Whether you’re looking to go further in your current field of work or you want to completely change the direction of your career, online learning can help you learn something new as a way of getting ahead. From acquiring new skills to becoming more knowledgeable in a certain area, e-learning gives you the chance to set yourself up for bigger and better things when it comes to your career. However, you’ll only succeed if you enrol on a course that’s specifically going to help you reach your end goal in your industry.
Welcome to the weekend everyone! It’s time for me to remind you about work on Monday morning and let you know what you can do right now to help you achieve your career goals. After all (I’ve seen this quote literally everywhere last month) ‘dreams don’t work unless you do’. Okay, I know you just want one day off but I promise it’ll be worth it if you do a little hustling on the weekends too. Here’s why it’s good to network and what you can do today to get started:It’s not what you know, it’s who you know
Honestly, most of the best opportunities I’ve worked on have come from knowing the right people. Okay, maybe I didn’t know that they were the ‘right’ people when I met them, but when the time came for them to commission a new project, I was the girl they called! Am I just lucky, being in the right place at the right time? No! I actually had to get up, go to events, meet people, chat in real life and maintain those relationships. Thankfully for me, it’s not a chore; I love finding like-minded souls and catching up with them on a regular basis, because the life of a self-employed gal can be quite a lonely one. Having that human connection makes me happy and, honestly, most of the people who started out as business acquaintances are now good friends.
Over the years I’ve done a lot of studying online. I’ve studied branding, community journalism, IT and marketing, to name just a few. And, no surprise, I’ve completed a course in Personal Development via distance learning too. I studied the course, completed assessments and gained a qualification without ever meeting a tutor or any other students. For some of you, it may feel a little lonely to miss out on that human connection and social interaction with your peers but don’t worry; you can communicate with other course members through forums and email.For me it was a really convenient way to learn; it meant that I could study as little or as much as I liked, and could complete the course in less time as I wasn’t attending a certain number of lessons or spending time on class discussions. Plus, once I’d competed each course, I could proudly add it to my CV. I really like this way of learning and here a three reasons why you should consider it too:
Paper-free studying – The course materials are all the same as with a regular course, just that you’re able to experience them ‘paper-free’. No more textbooks or journals cluttering up your home, or files full of notes on your desk. With online learning it’s all contained within your laptop and assessments are usually online or submitted via email. Continue reading “Personal Development – 3 reasons for learning at home” »
It’s all about careers on the blog this week – did you spot my article last weekend all about learning as you earn?? I think it’s the whole ‘back-to-school’ feeling I get in September that makes me want to think about jobs, studying, careers and personal development. So today we’re finding out how you can tell if a job is right for you and whether or not you should pursue it as a future career. Finding the right career is always a challenge, unless you make a clear plan to help you achieve your goals. It is important to find out what job will make you happy as well as successful. It is also helpful to know what types of jobs will match your skills and what is best suited for you. You can take tests to find this out or use a job search engine such as Jobrapido to help you in your job search and give you some ideas of jobs you might never have known existed!
One important thing to remember is that although your career is a set of plans and ideas, it’s not realistic to think of it as a linear path. Often we feel like we need to find our dream career straight away but most of the time different jobs will take us to our dream career.
Are you currently working in a job you enjoy? Perhaps you’re an intern, or are working on a gap year, or just starting out in a new full-time role. Maybe you’ve already bagged your dream job and the only way is up? No matter what stage in your career, if you want to continue to work in your sector and develop new skills in order to progress up there is something you can do right now to become more talented at your current role. It’ll help you become a valued employee in the organisation you’re working for, earn you a pay rise and make you more employable in the future. What is it? Learning as you work.They say that there’s no longer a ‘job for life’, and that is partially true. Compared to our grandparents’ generation, who may have had the same role in the same factory for 50 years, it’s unlikely that this is how our working lives will pan out. But there IS such a thing as a career for life. And yes, there is difference! It’s about finding the job that makes you feel like you’re not really working because you enjoy it so much (for me, that’s writing) and sticking with that career for your whole life. You can change companies, work freelance, do work on different projects and collaborate with various people but, essentially, everything you do is linked to your ‘career’. When you start to see it like that, you can identify ways to learn from every experience you have.
Think of it this way, your CV is a work in progress. Okay, usually we only write a CV at the start of our working lives, once the education part is out of the way. We might update it with work experience when we look for a new job, but it rarely gets much attention other than that. I personally like to update my CV every year. Even though I work freelance and never really apply for jobs, it’s still a great way to keep track of the skills I’ve learnt from the projects I’ve worked on throughout the year. And the getting the most out of every project is the key point – learn as you work and you’ll add more and more value to your ‘offer’ as an employee.
I know that Spring is traditionally the season of new beginnings but I think that autumn holds some of the same magic too. Starting in September, specifically on the 23rd this year, autumn is the ideal time to start a new project or try out something new. There’s a sense of optimism in the air, everything is covered in a warm autumnal glow and with the Christmas holidays only a couple of months away everyone is looking forward. Perhaps that’s the reason why so many courses begin in the autumn term rather than January? Whether you’ve started a new adventure at university, signed up for a leisure learning evening class or have just begun a new academic year at school, it’s an exciting time and one that I look forward to every year.I’m not always starting a new course (although, I’ve been a student on-and-off for 22 years if you count school!) but I still get rather excited at this time of year. It’s the ‘back to school’ adverts that make me reminisce about the excitement of a new school term and I can’t help wanting to study something. I might be in the minority – I know a lot of people who would rather never write an essay again – but I guess that’s the writer in me coming out. I love the idea of getting stuck into a new subject, starting a project or learning something new and even though I’ve not signed up for any courses this year, I am planning to take a couple of workshops.Just seeing school supplies landing on the shelves of high street stores in August reels me in, and I inevitably start buying more stationary than I have all year. Why would I ever need a protractor kit? Okay, I don’t. But I kind of want one. I must have really enjoyed school as a child because just the sight of a pencil case makes me want to start a history project on ‘The Tudors’. I bought notebooks, a set of pens, new scissors and a circle cutter (below, I don’t know why?!) when I nipped out to buy a birthday card last month. Oops. But what about the people who do need it? The students. What were they buying this academic year?
I’ve done it! I knit a scarf! Or is it knitted a scarf? However you say it, I’ve done it! For the first time in my life I have finished an entire knitting project from start to finish and I am really chuffed.When I decided to make a scarf as a Christmas gift for my husband I was a genuine knitting novice, I didn’t even have any knitting needles in the house. I’d made a knitted bow years ago with the help of my friend guiding me through the process, but everything I’d learnt at that time must have left my brain almost instantly, as I had no clue how to cast on, knit stitches, change wool colour or cast off. Not a good start for someone who wants to complete a gift project in less than a month!
It’s easy to assume that all those fashionistas you see on the street were born with an eye for style and an innate understanding of what looks good. In most cases though, they just know the right places to look to check out new styles, and what it takes to change a style from something they’ve seen into reality.
If you have even a small creative bone in your body, it’s likely that you too can learn about style if you know the places to look. Here are some tried and true methods to go from staring envyingly at an awesome outfit to decoding the style elements and incorporating them into your own look.
Look at your favorite celebs & style icons
If your goal is to learn about fashion so you can become more fashionable yourself, then the celebs whose outfits you most admire can be a great place to start. The trick is to not be overwhelmed or intimidated when you first being paging through Vogue and Hello or browsing Heatworld.com. These celebrities and models have stylists who are paid a great deal to come up with outfits for them, plus most have a bottomless wardrobe (not to mention designer freebies!) to choose from.
The good thing about stars having paid stylists is that you can steal their hard work for free, just by checking out their pictures. Pick out a few favorite celebrities’ looks and grab a notepad. Now you’re going to break down the major elements of the outfits you’ve chosen. Really look at what they’re wearing and what makes the style. Is it a tailored jacket with a flirty skirt (tutu even)? Coloured tights? Eye-catching accessories? If you’re like me, the same sorts of staple items will come up in many of your favourite looks. By the time you finish, you’ll have a list of different items you can begin incorporating into your own wardrobe.
Check out fashion blogs
Fashion blogs are excellent to have in your style arsenal, because in many cases they do this fashion decoding for you. Many pick out different style elements and highlight new looks; whether you’ already an avid blog-reader or not, they’ll help you understand the current trends. Refinery 29 is an excellent blog which breaks down current looks and makes suggestions for style combinations. Other blogs, such as Street Peeper and the Sartorialist, post pics of enviable street fashion from around the world. When you find styles you like, perform the same “style analysis” that you did on the celebs, breaking down the actual elements of the outfit in writing. In this way, you’ll be able to keep track of established and emerging trends.
Keep an eye on street fashion
While street fashion blogs are certainly excellent at cataloguing worldwide trends, it’s likely that there are at least a few fashionable lads and lasses in your town; if you live in a city, then there are hundreds. In your daily comings and goings about town, look at people who immediately strike you as “put together.” Make a mental note of the major elements of their look—is she wearing stacked wedges, cutoff shorts, tribal prints? Be a style thief and look to others for inspiration. You’ll probably find that after a short while you’ll be able to improvise these put together looks on your own.
Read books & magazines
While books might seem like the opposite of fashion (old and dusty versus new and trendy), they can actually be great tools for learning about style. Look books and fashion books chronicle everything from vintage fashion to the latest trends, and can help you gain a little perspective on fashion’s evolution. The library will usually have the latest issues of Vogue and Elle, and these are always worth a look too. I personally love leafing through old issues in the journals archive to see how fashions have changed over the years (and sometimes have a giggle too – did anyone really wear that?!).
How do you go about re-creating celeb outfits? What influences your own personal style? Do you already read fashion blogs and what do you think about them? Leave me a comment! x