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Monday, February 17, 2020

What are SMART goals?

How to create and achieve reasonable goals: The S.M.A.R.T. method

Simply setting a goal doesn't mean that you will actually achieve it. To increase your chances of success, try the S.M.A.R.T. method the next time you have a goal in mind. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Read on for more information about how each of these key elements can help guide you on your path to creating and achieving reasonable goals.

S – Specific

Setting a very specific goal helps pinpoint exactly what it is you want to achieve. Knowing what you want to achieve is vital because planning for success is hard when you don't really know what you want. When outlining your goal, be specific in what you want, why you want it, how you'll go about getting it, when you want to get it by, and who (if anyone) may need to assist you along the way. Instead of setting a vague goal (e.g., make lots of money), create a more specific goal (e.g., make enough money mowing lawns to buy a new phone in September).

M – Measurable

It can be hard to know when or if you've achieved a vague, unmeasurable goal. If your goal is simply to improve your health, then how will you know when you've done enough to meet your goal expectations? Instead of setting an unmeasurable goal (e.g., improve your health), ensure your goal includes easily measurable components (e.g., exercise on the treadmill 20 minutes per day for 30 days).

A – Attainable

It's always better to set goals where you have a reasonable chance of success. After all, failure to achieve your goals can be very discouraging and might even prevent you from setting other goals in the future. When creating goals, be sure to consider factors like how much time, effort, and money will be required to complete your goal. Use this information to decide whether the goal is actually attainable and, if need be, adjust your goal so that you'll have a more reasonable chance of actually succeeding.

R – Relevant

How relevant is your goal to you personally? There's nothing wrong with seeking outside inspiration when hunting for a new goal, but if your chosen goal isn't really relevant to you or your desires, then completing it isn't going to feel very rewarding. Just because someone tells you that you absolutely must run with the bulls in Pamplona, doesn't necessarily mean that running with the bulls is a relevant goal for you. If you feel no connection with your goal, then it's probably not relevant to you and you'd be better off working toward a different, more relevant goal.

T – Timely

It's unlikely that your goal will be immediately attainable, otherwise, you'd have already accomplished it. Consider the steps required to achieve your goal and factor in reasonable amounts of time to complete each step. When you have a better idea about a possible timeline for your goal, set a deadline for reaching your final objective. Do keep in mind that because things don't always go as planned, it's important to have some flexibility in any deadlines you set for yourself.

Regardless of what goal you have in mind, it can be well worth refining it with the S.M.A.R.T. method. By employing the SMART method of creating and achieving reasonable goals, you can better define whatever it is you'd like to achieve and fully understand the steps you'll need to take in order to make your goal a reality. Armed with this new information, you can then decide if your goal is something you'd actually like to pursue.

How to get more out of reading

All too often, reading is seen as a chore where the end goal is merely to finish. Though people may feel a sense of satisfaction upon reaching the end of a piece, there are so many more rewards that can be reaped if the reader just puts forth a little effort during the reading process. By actively trying to get more out of reading, you can grow your vocabulary, get a better understanding of the document's overall subject matter, and retain more of whatever it is you're reading. Here are some tips to help you succeed in these three areas.

Growing your vocabulary

You're bound to come across many unfamiliar words while you read. To grow your vocabulary, always look up any words you don't know. While online dictionaries are perfect for looking up unknown words, a physical dictionary can also get the job done in most cases. If you can't look up a specific word during a reading session, then jot down the unknown word so you can look it up later.

To help ensure you won't forget your newly discovered vocabulary, record each new word you come across on an index card, then write its corresponding definition on the back of the card. So you can continuously reuse the same set of cards, use a pencil when recording the words and corresponding definitions. Review these cards once a day until you're confident that you've committed the words to memory. Once a card is memorized, it can then be removed from the pile.

Getting a deeper understanding of the subject matter

Many written works, especially nonfiction publications, barely scrape the surface of a topic. To get a deeper understanding of the subject matter you're reading about, seek out additional information whenever you come across a topic you know little about but find particularly interesting. By learning more about the topics mentioned in the document you're reading, you'll obtain a wider perspective of the subject.

Seeking out a deeper understanding of the subject matter can also be beneficial to those reading fictional works. To expand your horizons while reading a work of fiction, seek out further reading on the particular book, series, or author. Also, consider researching any locations and time periods mentioned in the book, as they may be relevant to certain themes seen in the work.

Retaining more of what you read

No matter how interesting people find a topic to be, many still forget a large part of what they read shortly after reaching the end of a written piece. To retain more of what you read, slow down. While speed reading can be tempting - especially if you have a lot to read - slowing down will give you time to really process the information so you can better commit it to memory. Rereading something in its entirety can also help commit its contents to memory, though this method isn't often practical due to time constraints.

Taking notes or highlighting passages as you work your way through a document is another method that can help you retain more of what you read. If something seems to be rather interesting or important, highlight the section or make a quick note of it so you can easily review any vital passages later on. Reading important phrases aloud may also help you retain more of what you read, particularly if you are an auditory learner.

Regardless of what you are reading and why you are reading it, it is always worth trying to get more out of the experience. By actively trying to get more out of reading, you'll be able to grow your vocabulary, get a deeper understanding of the subject matter, and retain more of what you read.

How to choose a tutor

Finding and choosing the right tutor for you

Whether you are falling behind in certain subjects or simply want a head start on future lessons, it can be well worth hiring a tutor to help you get the most from your academic life. Tutors can do more than just help students academically, however. They can also help students build confidence in the classroom so they can excel in areas like class participation and public speaking. No matter what your reason is for seeking out a tutor, here is some advice to help you find and choose the right tutor for you.

Finding potential tutors

There are various ways to seek out potential tutors. For starters, you may want to try asking your teacher or school counselor if they know of any tutors who specialize in the areas you happen to be struggling in. Even if your teacher or school counselor is unable to recommend any formal tutors, they may still offer to set up some in-school study sessions between you and a fellow student.

A second place to seek out potential tutors is online. Simply search for "Tutors in X," where X is the name of your city or town. If your search turns up any local tutors, then take note of the ones specializing in your problem subjects so you can contact them for more information about their services. While online searches often yield more results for those in larger cities, students in smaller towns may still be able to find a local tutor by performing such searches online.

If you are still having trouble finding a local tutor after contacting your school and searching online, then you may need to consider signing up for sessions at an online tutoring agency instead. While online tutoring agencies may have some advantages over local tutors (like their tendency to offer more flexible tutoring schedules), do note that not all agencies are open to students lacking a stable internet connection, web camera, and microphone.

Choosing the right tutor for you

You'll want to ask potential tutors a variety of questions so you can narrow down your options to include only the tutors that meet your needs. By interviewing each tutor, you can get a better idea about whether or not a specific tutor may be a good fit.

Here are some sample questions to ask during the tutor interviews:

1. What formal training or first-hand experience do you have tutoring students in the same grade and subject that is to be focused on? Ask for references so you can verify their claims.

2. What are your available hours? If the tutor can't provide tutoring sessions that fit into your schedule, they won't be a suitable match.

3. What are your fees? You can easily narrow down your options by excluding any tutors who don't fall into your or your parents' budget. You should also ask each tutor about their payment options and cancellation policy.

4. Where would the tutoring sessions take place? If the tutoring sessions aren't to be held directly in your school or online, ask if the tutor would be willing to come to your house or if they prefer tutoring in a public space like a library.

Please be aware that no matter how careful you are when choosing a tutor, it's entirely possible that you end up choosing the wrong one. If, after a number of sessions, you feel like you've chosen the wrong tutor, don't be afraid to make a change. Do be sure that you allow yourself enough sessions to give the tutor a fair shake before giving up on the pairing, however, because it can take time for any new tutoring relationship to reach its full potential.

It's also important that you realize that working with a tutor won't be an instant fix to your learning struggles. It can take several sessions to see noticeable results. If, after a reasonable amount of time, you find you aren't seeing the kind of results you were hoping for, then it could be worth looking for a new tutor. If you do end up looking for a new tutor, be sure to put these tips back into action so you can once again increase your odds of locating the best tutor for the job.

Exploring your career options

Whether you are on your first job hunt or your fifth, there are many things to consider when exploring your career options. To increase your chances of ending up in a career that meets your needs and goals, be sure to carefully explore all of your options before making your final decision. This exercise will help guide you through the process of carefully exploring your career options, so your final decision will be more informed.

Before starting, please note that this exercise has been split into two parts: the self-questionnaire and the external search for more information. Before delving into part one, create a list of potential careers and add to it throughout the exercise each time you think of a new job you might enjoy. This will help ensure you don't accidentally forget any options, so you can take a closer look at more jobs before making your final decision.

Part One: Self-Questionnaire

There are many questions to ask yourself when considering your career options. Though the questions listed below aren't the only ones that can be asked, hopefully, they are enough to give you a better idea about which jobs will be most suited to you. Now on to the questions.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses that may affect their working life. For instance, if you are good with people, then it may be worth considering a job in the service industry. If, on the other hand, you're the type of person who works better alone, a less social profession could be more your style. Once you figure out your strengths and weaknesses, you can use this information to influence your final decision.

What are your scheduling preferences or requirements?

Do you want to work full-time or part-time? Maybe you need a job with flexible scheduling options that won't interfere with your other commitments. Knowing your scheduling needs and preferences can help you determine whether you should seek a career with fixed working hours or one with a more open schedule.

How far away from home are you willing to work?

Some jobs may take you around the world while others may take you no further than a home office. Knowing how far you'd be willing to travel for work can help you narrow down your career options. Also, consider setting a limit for the longest commute you'd be willing to make on a daily basis. Don't forget to factor in possible complications like access to a private vehicle and the availability of public transit in your area. If you're lacking a reliable mode of transportation, it may be necessary to focus on jobs in your immediate vicinity.

Is money your only objective, or do you also want to make an impact on the world?

Certain jobs aren't likely to make a major impact on the world. If you just need the money and don't care about making a major impact, then it won't really matter which type of job you end up choosing. If, on the other hand, you are looking to make a difference in the world, you will likely need to be pickier about the type of career you'll enter into.

If you have prior work experience, what did you like or dislike about your previous job(s)?

While not everyone will have prior work experiences to draw upon, if you do, it can be helpful to figure out which parts of the job you enjoyed or disliked. By determining which parts of your previous jobs were and weren't so enjoyable, you can factor such preferences into your final decision. For example, if you really didn't like the long commute to and from your previous job, then you should probably look for something a little closer to home this time around.

Part Two: External Search for More Information

Hopefully, after taking some serious time to reflect on the previous questions, you have a better idea about the types of careers that will suit you best. Now it's time to look outside yourself to continue your search. For more information and possibly a little inspiration, continue exploring your career options via the following avenues.

Search Engines

Grab your list of potential careers and search for each listed job using an online search engine. When researching a potential career, you will gain more insight into the realities of the job, which will help you determine whether the job in question may be right for you. Searching the various careers can also help you figure out which jobs are in high demand, plus it should give you an idea about each job's estimated starting salary.

Online Career Assessment Web sites

Various Web sites offer online career assessments. Most will present a series of multiple-choice questions and ask you to select the answers that best represent your current situation, personality, and interests. The site will then show you a list of suitable careers based on your previously submitted answers. While there is no guarantee that the assessment site will suggest your perfect career, at the very least, it may point you in a good direction for continuing your search.

Family, Friends, and Acquaintances

You can learn about a variety of careers by simply asking people about their job. If something happens to pique your interest during one of these conversations, inquire further with the person about what they had to do to enter their field of business. As a bonus, if you do find your perfect career through someone you know, they may be able to put in a good word for you if you ever apply for a job within their company. What a great networking opportunity!

While careful preparation can help direct you toward an excellent career, there's sadly no definitive way to ensure your new career will be as perfect as you dream. That's why there's no shame in changing careers if you start a new job only to realize that it isn't for you. Do keep in mind that all careers have a learning curve, meaning it may take some time before you become fully accustomed to your new job and industry. If, after you've given the job a fair shake, you still believe that you've fallen into the wrong career, then there's nothing wrong with regrouping and re-examining your career options.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Play checkers online

A couple days ago, I had a little time to kill in a study hall, when all of a sudden, I had this urge to play checkers online. I haven't played a good game of checkers in ages. So I simply entered "play checkers online" into Google, and I came across an awesome Web site called

The Web site offers checkers and quite a few other fun strategy games, as well as all things - you guessed it - math.

Check the site out sometime. It's very clean and neatly organized, easy to navigate, and there's plenty you can do on it. You can even create and print your own math worksheets.

play checkers online at

Gary Lewis and the Playboys

In this latest installment of my occasional "Exploring the world of music" series, I'm excited to bring you some music by Gary Lewis & the Playboys, a pop and rock band that had its heyday in the mid-late 1960s.

Gary Lewis, who still tours today, is the son of legendary comedian, actor, singer, and telephon host, Jerry Lewis. Gary's mother, Patti Palmer, was also a singer of note. You can read about Gary's father, Jerry Lewis, here on Wikipedia.

Check out these Wikipedia articles on Gary Lewis and Gary Lewis & the Playboys.


Sunday, February 9, 2020

The benefits of playing an instrument

Playing a musical instrument has many benefits for your brain and your ability to learn. Following are three videos I came across today on a YouTube search that discuss these many benefits. Do you play a musical instrument? What are your thoughts on the points being discussed in these videos? Feel free to share your observations and insights in the comments section below. We'd love to hear, and learn, from you!