Downturn Presents Career Opportunities

As the downturn continues through the penumbral landscapes of a perceived, slow-going economic recovery across weeks and month, and yes, even years, many Americans find themselves (as they did after 911), reevaluating their professional lifestyles. To be sure, many are simply concerned about keeping or finding a job to provide for themselves and their families, but there is a distinct contingency of the population that is hoping to seize upon the opportunity that the downturn affords to go back and get the education necessary to transition into new industries that suit professional lifestyle choices more fittingly.

Obviously if you have savings and are not earning a great deal in the downturn or are unemployed, a slow economic period such as the present period offers the perfect opportunity to wait out the storm by going back and getting that degree or certification. Educational financing is often available and can cover room and board for you (and sometimes family) for many years while you earn your degree. Additionally, available scholarships can help to minimize or eliminate the accrual of education-related debt. Small work-study jobs offer you the ability to provide for basic needs while you increase your earning power in a environment that can be far more stress-free and enjoyable than many current working situations. A return to academia can, on a long term basis, help lead to a better working environment in a dream position once the economic unrest has cleared up and, in the short term, provide you with the freedom to study topics that interest you and spend greater time with your family.

While a return to education for a degree or certification is not for everyone (particularly for individuals with job security and satisfaction or with large families and scant savings) for the right individual, the current downturn can offer a real opportunity in an economically secure environment. The choice is a highly personal one and is, like everything else, a matter of timing. If you find yourself sitting there at your desk or at home thinking about a change in your career path and living experience, you may want to ask yourself “Is the timing right for me?”

Shoppers Should ‘Dig Around’ To Find Fab Festive Presents

Festive food is to be the most popular purchase this Christmas, according to a new set of figures.

In research carried out by PayPal, just under three-quarters (71 per cent) of consumers are set to get a food-related item as a gift to give to someone. Meanwhile, 65 per cent of people are due to buy either wine or spirits. Research from the firm also showed that 70 per cent will pick up CDs or DVDs for present purposes, with 64 per cent getting clothes. Books and sports equipment are to account for 63 and 11 per cent of consumers’ expenditure respectively. Some 40 per cent, meanwhile, are to buy electrical goods, the purchase of which could be funded via a cheap secured loan.

The study also indicated that the amount of money spent on Christmas presents this year is to be approximately half of that splashed out in 2005. According to PayPal, consumers are due to spend an average of 154 pounds on gifts during the upcoming festive period. Two years ago, this figure stood at 310 pounds. Findings from the company also showed that men are set to have the highest expenditure out of the two sexes this year, as they will spend 169 pounds. In comparison, women are to splash out 142 pounds. For both males and females, applying for a personal loan could be a helpful way in which to fund festive expenditure.

Commenting on the figures, Cristina Hoole, shopping expert for PayPal, said: “The majority of us really look forward to Christmas because of the unexpected presents we’re all keen to receive. Shopping is part and parcel of Christmas and putting a smile on someone’s face with a fab present, usually the pick-me-up we all need and like at the end of a tough year. However, from the PayPal findings, this year will be a booze-filled, stomach-satisfying affair.

“There are plenty of bargains to be had by shopping online compared to the high street. If you’re prepared to do some digging around on the internet you’ll find fantastic and original ideas to ensure you deliver the most creative presents without breaking the bank this Christmas.”

While shopping over the internet to purchase Christmas presents, those looking for a competitive way in which to manage their money may also wish to take the time to apply for an online loan. And taking out a personal loan via the web could be advisable for a rising number of consumers after a recent study by Mintel showed that about one in ten Britons will shop over the internet to get the majority of their gifts, with 38 per cent buying some presents online. Overall, it was suggested that retail sales in the run-up to the yuletide period are between two and three per cent higher than this time last year. Meanwhile, a third of consumers state that although their finances will be strained over the course of Christmas, they will still splash the cash. In turn, taking out a quick loan could be one way in which to reduce spending pressures.

Be Present – Seven Ways to Be More Productive and Enjoy Life More

Each day and each moment of each day is a gift that we all have been given. When you stop to think about it you know this is true. But it is an easy fact to forget when you open your email, look at your to-do list or see a steady stream of people asking you for help or to get something done . . . now. The world conspires to keep us moving faster and to multi-task at every turn.

Unfortunately most of the time when we are moving at that frenetic pace we aren’t at peak efficiency or effectiveness. We know this too, but too often we don’t act on that knowledge. What we need to remember is the value of right now.

And right now…

and right now.

The value of the present moment.

When we stop multi-tasking and live remembering and valuing the present moment we will paradoxically get more done. We will have better relationships, we will learn more that we can apply in the future and we will enjoy ourselves more each day.

To get to these benefits we must get past the pace and seemingly the expectations of the world around us. We must find ways to slow down enough to be present in each moment. The rest of this article offers seven ways to be present so you can reap the great benefits of doing so.

Be grateful for the “present.” Let’s put first things first. If you want to be more present in every conversation and situation, you must be grateful for that moment. Even if you don’t like the situation, when you are grateful for the opportunity you are better able to stay mentally in the moment rather thinking about what you will do “next.”

Note: Granted, this first piece of advice is a bit philosophical and doesn’t provide you with a specific strategy or tactic, but this philosophy will drive your ability and willingness to do all of tactics that follow. Read on for the specific actions you can take.

Take a deep breath. When you find your mind wandering beyond the current situation, start by taking a deep breath. This breath can serve as a reminder to help you refocus and to center you as well.

Focus on the present moment exclusively. Do one thing – just one thing – at a time. The crux of remaining in the present is to focus on the task, person, situation or whatever is in your current moment. If you are thinking about what you are going to say next, what you are going to do next, or what you are going to have for dinner you aren’t focused on right now.

Reduce the noise. Turn off the iPod, the radio or the television unless that is your current moment focus. The noise and distractions around us can easily pull us away from the current moment, divert our focus and reduce our effectiveness.

Refocus your inner voice. When you notice yourself judging, analyzing or having another sort of mental dialogue in the current moment, shift your mental focus by saying to yourself, “now, now, now” or some other phrase that will help you bring yourself back to the current moment, situation or activity.

Be more observant. Pay closer attention to the present moment! Notice what your senses are noticing, but what you may be unconsciously tuning out. What is the real message under the words you are hearing? What do you smell, what can you taste? What do you hear (in addition to the words)? When you open yourself up to be more observant you give your brain something to think about that is relevant and helpful in the present situation, rather thinking about another time, place or activity.

Ask “What do I want to remember about this moment in time?” I once read the advice that when you are on vacation at a place you truly value, that you should take an omni-sensory, three-dimensional picture of everything about that place and time in your mind. Taking this “picture” helps you savor the moment in the present and helps you remember it forever. This advice combines the concepts of being grateful and being observant. I believe this approach can be used anytime, as a way to capture a moment for memory, for future reflection and more. You can stimulate this activity by asking, what do I want to remember about right now? Or a similar question that works best for you.

These activities will make a difference in your results – both personal and professional. The benefits mentioned at the start of this article will all be yours as you perfect the habit of being in the present moment.