The Other Side of Peer Pressure

Peer pressure has a bad reputation as it has been largely used in the negative context.

Among the youths, peer pressure is a well discussed topic where it receives mostly negative perceptions due to negative social pressure and habits among the youths.

Previously, SarawakYES! has discussed the negative impact of peer pressure and what the youths can do to handle it.

However, peer pressure is not all bad as there is a good side to it too. And depending on how you look at it, peer pressure can have positive influence on the youths. Here are some ways peer pressure can be beneficial for you:

Letting go of bad habits

Peer pressure is all about following the crowd and if steered the right way, it can help you adopt good habits.

Try to think of a time when a friend pressured you into doing something good for yourself or avoid something bad.

For instance, if your close friends are adopting healthy habits such as exercising regularly or following a healthy diet, you will also be encouraged to pick up the same habit.

Positive peer pressure can help you reflect on your actions and amend your ways by letting go of bad habits and pick up good ones.

A great motivator

Sometimes, you just need a good push to encourage yourself to do something that you are not brave enough to do. And this is where peer pressure will come in handy as it can also be a powerful motivator.

When you observe your classmates studying hard in class, you will naturally feel pressured to do the same so that you can perform better in your studies.

Whether it is the classroom or working space, peer pressure can actually motivate you to perform at peak level.

In a team or group environment, everyone is expected to perform their best and this will naturally make the poorer performers step up or risk falling behind others.

Shaping good personality

The youths are more susceptible to the influence from their peers or the crowd as they want to fit in or feel a sense of belonging.

For the youths, your peers play an important role in shaping your personality as well as influencing your way of looking at life and how you make choices.

Peer pressure can help you analyse and contemplate your ways of thinking. And if you are fortunate to get a good peer group, they may actually persuade you whether directly or indirectly to bring a constructive change in your personality to be a better person.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2EysM8z

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Should you join your alumni association?

Your days in school and college may be some of the most memorable moments in your life but now that you’ve been working for a few years, have you ever thought about reconnecting to your alma mater?

One of the ways for you to reconnect could be to catch up with long-lost friends, who you’ve probably rediscovered through social media networks like Facebook or messaging services like WhatsApp, but another way could be by joining the alumni association of your school or college.

Apart from reliving the nostalgic moments of your life as a student though, alumni associations could offer you a lot more benefits that you may not have thought of.

Widen your network

As the members of your alumni association would be made up of a diverse group of people, your network will definitely be much wider by joining. This could be especially useful if your work forces you to be based in a new town or city. It’s not just great for your social life; the benefits could extend to your professional life as well, as your fellow members would be able to offer you guidance and advice for your career, especially those in the same industry as you’re in.

Boost your career

Apart from offering invaluable guidance and advice for your career, some of your fellow alumni association members may actually be able to provide you with opportunities that you would probably not have even known about. This is especially true when some of your fellow members could be in a position to assist in improving your career prospects, either through the help of their own extensive network or as decision-makers in their respective organisations.

Give back to your alma mater

Joining an alumni association should not just be about how it could help you progress personally; it should also be about giving you the opportunity to give back to your school or university. Contributing to your alma mater could be in many forms and could include becoming more active in alumni activities or providing moral or financial support to the alumni in its efforts to help the school or university.

Contribute to your community

Some of the activities organised by your alumni could even extend beyond just helping your alma mater. These endeavours could be in the field of sports, education or health and this will give you an opportunity to contribute towards improving lives in your community.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2yhTzQG

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Making time for self-reflection

In a world where we’re always on the go and where we tend to get distracted by so many things (especially our mobile devices), we should pause from time to time to reflect on decisions that we’ve taken so far.

Self-reflection is our ability to analyse ourselves, especially in learning more about our own attributes, disposition, principles and purpose from our experiences, whether in school, at work or throughout life.

It involves questioning our past and present actions and habits sensibly, in terms of whether they are bringing us any closer to our overall goals and dreams.

Yet, for an ability that is essential for self-improvement, self-reflection is often ignored.

Some might find it embarrassing or a waste of time; others don’t know how it’s done or fear the results out of reflecting on themselves.

However, we can gain a lot from slowing down to take a look at ourselves. Self-reflection allows us to build self-awareness, empathy and integrity, as well as challenging our preconceptions.

And when we happen to stumble upon a problem, it lets us generate new ideas to overcome it; some of which can even lead to a change in our routine.

Most important, self-reflection gives you the worthwhile opportunity to learn, understand and accept who you are as a person and how much more you can accomplish to be better.

Always remember that in your process of self-reflection, you need to acknowledge your strengths, weaknesses, successes and failures without being overly critical with yourself.

That way, you’ll be able to determine your way forward – whether you’re capable of achieving your goals or you’re required to change your motivation towards a better path to success.

Self-reflection can be done in many ways at any time, more effectively when you do it voluntarily. Journal writing and meditation are among the most common suggestions.

You can also reflect on yourself during your daily routine, such as showering, commuting to school or office, or eating your meals without your smartphone next to you.

Talking to people like friends, family members, colleagues or counsellors would help give you a better idea about yourself too. Those who are especially honest with you can point out thoughts or issues that you might have missed in your own self-reflection.

Whichever way you decide to take, make it a point to self-reflect on a regular basis, for it takes practice and commitment to turn self-reflection into a habit.

As long as you understand the importance and long-term benefits of self-reflection, you can realise your goals and grow better without forgetting the experiences that made you who you are today.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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Tips to studying effectively

With lots of facts to memorise and absorb, there are times when studying seems more like a chore.

Studying may appear effortless for some students, but for others the struggle is real. As you find your concentration depleting, so does your enthusiasm for learning.

However, the ability to study is something that you can train yourself to be better at. Luckily, there are creative ways to help you study and excel.

For effective studying, here are some simple and practical tips that you can apply into your usual study methods.

Create colourful diagrams

If you have a set of fancy stationery, colourful post-it notes and highlighters, now is the best time to use them as visual aids that can be helpful when revising. Also, you are more likely to use them to create your own notes and diagrams.

Producing creative drawings such as diagrams and mind maps to illustrate what you have learned not only makes revision fun, but also helps you to memorize notes better.

In addition, these drawings can motivate you to create more notes in the future for effective learning.

Choose a good place to study

One of the keys to effective studying is choosing the right place and time, and this may differ for each student.

Sometimes, a change of scenery can help in regaining your enthusiasm for studying, whether it is the local library, a coffee shop or the park.

And while some students learn better when they study somewhere more private and quiet, others concentrate better with background noise as their company.

However, if being outside is not possible, do consider studying elsewhere in your house.

Take regular breaks

Studies have found that taking a break to relax and unwind is essential for achieving productivity and a positive outlook on the future, as well as improving one’s concentration.

This may also apply for young working adults who are working long hours in front of a computer or university students who are pulling all-nighters to study.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, published in the print version on Saturday, September 29, 2018.

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Overcoming peer pressure

If you’re currently studying in a college or university, there may be times where you find yourself doing something you won’t normally do, in order to fit into a social circle. This experience is commonly described as peer pressure.

Peer pressure is a form of influence coming from your peers that leads you to conform to their standards by changing your behaviour, attitude, or values.

It can be direct (you’re told to do something by your friends), indirect (you notice most of your friends doing certain activities that you will less likely do) or self-motivated (you put pressure on yourself to be part of a group of friends).

Experiencing peer pressure can happen at any time in our lives, but we are more vulnerable to it during our college years.

This is especially true when we’re surrounded by peers from many different backgrounds, and we’re more likely to try new activities as part of the process of understanding our relationship with others and ourselves as individuals.

To handle peer pressure well and navigate through college life better, here are some tips that could help.

Know when to say “no”

Whenever you feel pressured by someone telling you to do something you’d rather not do, say “no” politely and reasonably, even if the person tries to persuade you by saying things like, “Everyone’s doing it” or “You’re no fun.”

Responding in that manner consistently allows you to stand your ground and boost your self-confidence and self-esteem.

Differentiate between good and bad

Not all forms of peer pressure are negative.

Positive peer pressure helps you confront your insecurities and improve yourself as a person, be it staying healthy, volunteering, or being good to others.

Giving in to positive peer pressure excessively, however, can be detrimental to your wellbeing, so it’s important to do it in moderation.

Choose your friends wisely

Anyone who forces you to do something you dislike is not a true friend, so pick peers from your classes or college activities who hold similar interests, beliefs, or values and allow you to be yourself.

It’s worth noting that you and your friends don’t need to have the same opinion on everything; this enables you to learn different perspectives other than your own.

Be yourself

Always remember that the decision to act (or not to act) upon peer pressure is your choice and responsibility, so always think things through before making the decision and reflect on how your actions will eventually define you.

Also remember that whatever it is that you want to be, don’t do it just for the sake of pleasing others.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2DqHWMo

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When the career path chooses you

For some of you fresh graduates, there is a high chance that you may not be able to land a job that’s related to what you studied in college or university.

It’s actually not uncommon to have a fulfilling career that you didn’t plan for when you were completing your diploma or degree, so don’t stress out if your first job is not what you envisioned.

While some may be lucky enough to land a job that fits perfectly within their field of expertise, others may end up getting hired for a role that is completely different from their expectations.

If you fall into the latter category, here are some of our thoughts on the matter.

Accept the change

First of all, be grateful for the job opportunity offered to you and realise that your employers acknowledge your capabilities enough to trust you to fill a position that is not related to your field of study.

You may not realise it at first, but if you give it your best shot, you may find that the job could suit you better than you imagined.

And even if your field of study is different from the job scope at hand, always remember that having good work ethics, being creative and innovative, and able to be a team player will always be appreciated in any work environment.

Willing to work your way up

As you may have a lot to learn in an industry that you are not familiar with, upon joining you will have to start from the lower rungs of the organisation.

Always keep in mind that you have a lot to learn and also need to gather as much experience as possible to be more competent at your job.

It may take a few years, but if you have the determination and are willing to work hard, your efforts will not go unnoticed by your supervisors.

Leverage on transferable skills

As mentioned above, in any industry you join, if you have good work ethics and can be a team player, you would have an upper hand in most organisations.

Apart from those attributes, in order to make you stand out in an industry that is unrelated to your field of study, you should focus on your transferable skills.

These could include leadership skills, written and verbal communication skills, organisational and time management skills, and also research and analytical skills.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2QwRNmh

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Have a break

It used to be said that those who worked for long hours without any intermission were considered hardworking and productive, but that’s not really the case.

More scientific studies have shown that taking regular breaks from work can help us improve and maintain our focus, motivation, creativity, and overall productivity.

Some of them also revealed that how we take our time out matters too; and while a nap is one of the best ways to spend during our breaks, it isn’t the only one.

Thus, to avoid getting distracted and bored or experience burnout from your work, here are some other methods to consider for taking effective breaks.

Plan your break

To reap the benefits of having a work-break balance, you need to decide how often you should have them.

Some studies suggest having a ‘25/5-minute plan’ (25 minutes of working and a five-minute break, and then a longer break after four cycles), others a ‘50/10-minute plan’, or even a ‘52/17-minute plan’.

Whichever plan you find suits you the most, following it enables you to have greater focus at work, so long as you are disciplined and committed to having time for yourself.

Keep up with your reading

Reading allows you to gain more knowledge and reduce stress, among many other benefits.

Therefore, during your break, read stories that inspire you, articles that you’ve wanted to read, or even something unrelated to your work.

Magazines, books, or newspapers can do you good too, because they let you give your eyes a rest from looking at screens on your computer or mobile devices for too long.

Have a snack

Junk food like crackers or sweets might give you the immediate kick you need to work, but they won’t last long and won’t help flatter your waistline.

Instead, munch on small portions of healthy snacks such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and dark chocolate. They not only help restore your energy and boost your brainpower, but also keep you healthier for the long haul.

Move around

Assuming that your work involves a lot of sitting or staying in one position, doing light exercises during your break allows blood and oxygen to flow in your body continuously and tight muscles to loosen.

Be it basic stretches, walks in or outside your office, or some calisthenics, these movements also help lower the likelihood of having physical aches and pains as you grow older and, most important, make you feel good.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2QiUWX0

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Keep reading

It’s no secret that we Malaysians don’t read a lot of books despite our nation having a high literacy rate. The habit of reading is beneficial for us in so many ways; however most still find it a struggle to read. So, here are some practical tips for you to nurture your reading habit.

Try reading a few pages a day

It’s impossible to turn into a voracious reader in just one day, so it’s important to set a goal to cultivate your interest. To start off with, pick up a book that might pique your interest and try reading 10 pages a day. Then, slowly increase to 20 pages. Before you know it, you’ll have finished reading the whole book and moved on to a new one.

Build your own collection

Sometimes, a good library can motivate us to read more so instead of going to a public library, you can actually start your own at home.

Don’t limit yourself to just buying new books; second-hand books are just as good and they’re a lot more budget-friendly too.

Carry a book everywhere

You might find this tip to be extremely helpful to cultivate your reading habit. By carrying a book around, you get to read while waiting for the bus, a doctor’s appointment, or a friend who is late for a lunch appointment.

Apart from that, reading is far healthier than scrolling on your smartphone all the time.

Make time to read

Related to the previous point, reading can be done anywhere so long as you carry a book with you. This allows us to make more time to read rather than letting our busy schedules stop us from reading.

For instance, reading before going to bed is said to help improve sleep and reduce stress. However, it is recommended that you read something light instead of heavier topics.

Watch movies based on book adaptations

Watching movies might seem like an unlikely tip to cultivate reading habits, however there’s a good reason why you should consider watching the movie version first – it’s because the movie adaption will never be as good as the book or novel.

Even if you disagree with that last point, it won’t hurt to pick up the book and read it for yourself.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2Q0KZwW

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Imagine…

What do soft skills such as creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking have in common? They all require you to have a strong imagination.

The term ‘imagination’ tends to be associated with childhood development, but it isn’t limited to only children re-enacting their fantasies or favourite fairy tales through pretend play.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines imagination as “the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality.”

This is applicable when we try to imagine a physical sensation, feeling, emotion, smell or taste; when we visualise based upon a story we read or heard; or when we picture a product or service that can positively benefit people in the future.

As a distinctively human ability, imagination lets us discover new ideas, images or sensations beyond the limitation of reality through a combination of our experiences and knowledge.

It is especially relevant to creativity and innovation, in which imagination of the artistic or scientific kind is put into action through creativity and turns into an innovation.

Simply put, without imagination, we may not be able to enjoy our favourite films, literature and any other art forms, or experience the likes of mobile devices, the Internet or technological advancements that have made life easier for us.

If you’re running a business, having a strong imagination is essential to ensure long-term success as it also helps in creating a vision for your company.

Imagination also allows business owners to generate ideas for daily operations, come up with multiple solutions to a business problem, and even foresee potential new ventures that can be incorporated into their business strategy.

Most importantly, while we may become more rational as we get older, we can enhance our professional and personal growth through continuous development of our imagination.

The advantages are endless; for one, being imaginative lets us improve skills that we use in school, at work or our daily life, be it the aforementioned problem-solving and critical thinking or emotional intelligence and communication.

Our power of imagination also enriches ourselves as individuals, as it boosts our perceptiveness, self-esteem, self-confidence and overall mental health by providing us a more positive outlook in life.

Fundamentally, imagination reminds us of our passion and purpose in life amidst our daily routine and responsibilities.

And when we don’t restrain ourselves and make the effort to turn it into reality, imagination allows us to envision a future that would challenge current limitations and norms, subsequently creating positive change within ourselves and the society at large.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, published in the print version on Saturday, August 25, 2018.

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Stressing on emotional stress

These days, if you’re a student, life can feel more emotionally draining than ever, especially as we hear more and more reported cases of mental illness and depression among youths, which could all begin from being emotionally stressed.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health revealed a worsening state of mental health problems among students in the country; from just one in 10 individuals in 2011, to one in five in 2016.

Emotional stress among youths can be triggered by various factors, the most common one being stress over poor academic performance.

It is not something that we should take lightly so here are a few of our thoughts on this subject:

Get help and counselling

As a student in college or university, if you’re experiencing emotional stress there are various support systems available to you, including counselling services, which are offered at most campuses.

Therefore, if you are having difficulty dealing with emotional stress, it’s important to seek assistance from a counsellor as soon as possible.

However, the first and most important step to take is to realise that you need help and not suffer in silence.

Seek emotional support

Some of us are now so used to spending time with our smartphones rather than interacting with family members and friends.

The influence and pressure from social media can also be overwhelming, thus leading to stress and depression.

When going through emotional turmoil, it is best to not be alone as spending time with loved ones and people we trust is the best way to overcome emotional stress.

Change your lifestyle

Research done has suggested that regular exercise is an effective way of lessening the effects of emotional stress.

There is also research that shows the psychological and physical benefits of exercise, which can also help ease anxiety.

Exercise often helps reduce emotional stress by releasing endorphins, natural chemicals in the brain that give you a sense of pleasure and also distract you from anxiety.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, published in the print version on Saturday, August 18, 2018.

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