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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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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How a fear of failing will affect you

The pressure to succeed in school is a real struggle for a lot of students.

These days, for some of them, they’re continuously pressured to achieve good grades and are told that failure is not an option.

The pressure, whether from their parents or peers, is a constant reminder for them that only good grades will assure a better life in the future.

If left to persist, this fear – caused by the stigma surrounding failure – could actually affect students’ ability to learn.

According to a study by Bilkent University in Turkey, the fear of failing at school can influence a student’s motivation and have a negative impact on learning.

The study, which was conducted on 606 secondary school students and 435 university students, found that those who developed a fear of failure at an early age were more likely to adopt goals such as mastering the material presented in a class or to avoid doing worse than other students to validate their ego, rather than for their own personal interest and development.

Because of this, the students’ interest in learning was destroyed and they were less likely to adopt effective learning strategies and, worse still, they were more likely to cheat.

Apart from students’ attitude towards learning, the fear of failing can also affect students physiologically and emotionally.

As grades are emphasised more than self-growth and development, students with a fear of failing will definitely face the consequences, such as negative thinking, intense worrying, and replaying in their minds the problematic incidents that occurred in previous classes.

In addition, they may also experience fatigue and low energy, are emotionally drained, dissatisfied with their life, and experience chronic anxiety, hopelessness and depression.

The fear of failing also prevents students from reaching their fullest potential.

When deciding on goals to pursue, they may tend to focus more on preventing losses rather than achieving gains.

Socially, this may make them afraid of trying new things or gaining new experiences, as they’re afraid that these might make them fail even more.

It’s not easy to erase this fear of failure but if you’re a student it’s important for you to look at failure as a learning experience and a temporary setback, rather than as an irreversible stumbling block to your future success.

The key is to keep striving to achieve your goals and never give up on your dreams.

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/2KtViWD

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How students can cope with stress

While most consider their university years the best time of their lives, the stress can be overwhelming as students constantly worry about meeting deadlines and taking the next step after graduating.

Excessive and unmanageable stress can be damaging to one’s health because it affects both mental and physical wellbeing.

According to Malaysian Psychiatric Association president Prof Dr Nor Zuraida Zainal, due to increased stress, depression will be a major illness among Malaysians by 2020.

As students, stress from studying and the pressure to perform well may not be easy to avoid, but it should not get the best of you. Here are a few simple tips that can help you to overcome stress.

Be good to yourself

Stress can be manifested in many ways, particularly in physical and emotional forms. So, it is important for you to take good care of your body and mental state.

This may include getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising regularly and not taking unnatural energy boosters.

Being good to yourself also means knowing your limits and not overwhelming yourself with too much work.

Stay positive

In negative situations, staying positive can definitely help you to overcome your struggles.

Positive thinking does not mean that you should avoid confronting the less pleasant situations that you are in. It just means that you should approach them optimistically instead.

When feeling stressed, do avoid solitude for it may lead to you feeling more stressed and depressed. Instead, surround yourself with the company of supportive friends and family who know you well.

Be organised

For students, stress normally results from overflowing work and assignments, thus it is important that students learn how to prioritise and be organised.

By learning how to prioritise, you will learn how to balance your time between study and fun because being organised will make your life easier and more efficient.

You should also avoid procrastination as this is one of the major contributors to stress.

Create a stress outlet

When you feel stressed, it is okay to take a break once in a while to unwind.

And since we all react differently to stress, we have different ways to destress.

A stress outlet is created to relieve stress as it allows you to do things you enjoy. Examples include listening to music, dancing, outdoor activities, do-it-yourself projects and even meditating.

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/2H18Ebj

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The dos and don’ts of handling criticism

The digital economy demands innovation and creativity, but when you present ideas that are considered experimental or previously unheard of, chances are you will face some criticism.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise; after all before they were giants, innovations introduced by the likes of Google, Apple and Amazon were (and still are) met with the occasional scepticism.

Criticism in general comes from everywhere at any time in our life, and we also tend to get critical when we see actions, behaviours or decisions that challenge our perceptions and beliefs.

However, it’s important to note that not all criticisms are destructive.

In fact, some that are constructive can be a guide for change, pointing out mistakes and offering suggestions for future endeavours.

What matters most is how we approach criticisms of any kind – whether by valuing them in order to grow and become better individuals or by letting them drag us down and causing unnecessary stress and aggression.

Here are some dos and don’ts on handling criticism and while they might be easier said than done, you’ll find things are more manageable when you keep an open mind and acknowledge the reality that people will criticise you regardless of your actions.

DO:

  • Take your time and focus on the message behind the criticism instead of the tone, because while it might appear confrontational on the surface, the points could actually hold water;
  • Rationalise criticisms from the critics’ points-of-view. You can, for example, discuss things with someone who really knows you and is honest with you, or have an open and sincere conversation with the critics themselves for a clearer insight;
  • Remain confident, which involves having a better understanding of yourself and accepting your strengths and weaknesses so that you won’t be affected by criticisms easily; and
  • Ignore criticisms that are off base, because your time is better spent on those that provide room for learning and improvement.

DON’T:

  • Get emotional and react at once, because your initial reaction may not reflect how you truly approach criticisms;
  • Be too sensitive, because while it’s common to react negatively, such attitude towards criticisms can affect your relationship with other people, as well as your personal wellbeing;
  • Get defensive by making excuses before your critics can even present their opinion, otherwise you’ll lose the opportunity of listening to suggestions that might be worth exploring; and
  • Perceive criticism as an attack to you as a person. Instead, treat it as a feedback for the actions or decisions you’ve taken (constructive) or a distraction from your work or goals (destructive).

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale-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/2zX9zHe

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Millennials and money matters

As a young working adult, managing your finances may seem daunting and even impossible at times.

It’s easy for people to blame this situation as simply a case of millennials having a lavish lifestyle or spending excessively.

However, the rising cost of living is among the challenges that could affect how you manage your personal finances.

While some factors may be out of your control, you can still determine how much you save and spend every month, and this could be crucial in helping you accomplish your financial goals.

First of all, you have to be honest with yourself every time you’re about to spend your hard-earned money; make sure you analyse whether you really need something or if you just want it.

For example, do you really need to drink that fancy coffee which costs RM12?

As you start your career, try to stretch your ringgit as far as you can. You don’t have to spend a small fortune to have fun so look for and take part in activities that require little to no money.

Remember, by spending less, you will have more to save and invest.

Speaking of savings, before you think of saving for that vacation you’ve always wanted, make sure you save for something more important first: an emergency fund.

This emergency fund, which you should save in the bank, should be at least six months’ worth of your monthly spending.

You never know what your financial situation will be next year or two years from now, but having an emergency fund in place will at least be of help to you when getting back on your feet again.

Worryingly, according to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), 75 per cent of Malaysians find it difficult to save RM1,000 for emergency needs.

And if you’re now in your 20s, it may seem like forever before you reach retirement age.

However, it is never too early to consider planning for that time when your days of working are over.

EPF once again provides another sobering statistic as it estimates that 55-year-old retirees would need at least RM228,000 in their EPF savings to be able to withdraw RM950 a month, based on a life expectancy of 75 years.

The good news for millennials is that you still have a long time to save and invest for a comfortable retirement, and there are also a lot more resources now to learn about managing your own finances.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale-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/2xsvq6M

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The perks of being multilingual

When conversing normally, how often do you find yourself using three languages in the same sentence?

Although this situation may seem confusing to monolinguals, the ability to speak more than one language is more than just a social advantage in today’s diverse societies.

Numerous studies show that being multilingual can improve cognitive flexibility and delay dementia, especially in older people, in addition to other benefits whether cultural, psychological, or lifestyle.

With a population of 2.7 million ethnically diverse individuals in the state, diversity is something that Sarawak can tap into to make our youths on par with the competitive globalised world.

Here, it is not uncommon to find Sarawakians to be fluent in more than one language as we are often encouraged to converse in other languages apart from our mother tongue.

For instance, when it was announced that Sarawak would adopt English as one of the state’s official languages alongside Bahasa Malaysia, there was much positive feedback.

Various efforts have been made to encourage students to speak in English including the launching of several English language-based programmes in schools to improve proficiency.

Academically, students would find it useful, especially if they wish to pursue tertiary studies overseas, to have a strong command of not only Bahasa Malaysia but also English, as the latter is the universal language of commerce, science, technology, and literature.

For jobseekers who are looking to expand their careers in fields such as tourism, business, healthcare, journalism, and international relations, knowing more languages would make their resumes stand out in a pool of job applicants, thus boosting their chances of being hired by future employers.

The extra skill is also beneficial especially when employers are looking to send employees on overseas assignments.

In addition, companies tend to hire employees who can speak multiple languages and navigate through different cultures when exploring new business avenues worldwide.

Being multilingual in today’s globalised world also opens up social and cultural opportunities as it creates greater exposure and allows for open-mindedness.

When traveling to other countries, communicating in someone’s native language leads to deeper interactions with the locals, making the experience more rewarding.

There are almost 6,500 languages in the world and among the most spoken languages are Mandarin, English, Spanish, French, Arabic and Hindi.

So imagine the cultural and language barriers you’ll be able to overcome if you are able to master at least one major language.

As we now live in a globalised world, picking up an extra language is highly recommended as it not only provides a social advantage, it creates more opportunities for your career as well.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale-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/2u7Mylj

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Putting creativity into practice

Creativity tends to be associated with artistic works like music, film, visual design and literature but when looked closely, it is relevant even in scientific or technical-related disciplines, be it technology, architecture or engineering.

In fact, by mastering both science and arts, you can be more competitive as you will have the advantage of forming and adapting ideas by connecting different perspectives from different disciplines.

While you may be accustomed to rote learning and memorisation during your school years, it is never too late to boost your creative skills.

To start off, add fuel for new ideas by reading news, journals and publications regularly, observe your surroundings and talk to people to have a better understanding of the latest happenings.

If you find yourself having ideas that you think are innovative and valuable, list them down, evaluate and refine them for improvements, then ask others for opinions.

Communicating your ideas not only helps you to be open to feedback, but also lets you learn to accept and correct your mistakes and failures.

Of course, ideas are simply thoughts unless you put them into effect, so execute them and keep track of your progress.

When you find yourself exhausted trying to come up with creative ideas, give yourself a break.

Relaxation rejuvenates your mind, so by the time you’re ready to get back to work, your creative juices will be able to flow naturally.

Ultimately, be persistent in developing your creative skills in order to improve your motivation and confidence, as well as increase your interest, curiosity and engagement to learn more.

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/2nYsyyn

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Why We Should Take Risks

Chances are you may be one of many school leavers who are considering the right programme to take for your studies. Some of you may even be one of many graduates who are searching for the right job to start off your career.

As you ponder your next step in life, do consider taking risks. It doesn’t just apply to those who aren’t afraid to take on extreme activities like mountaineering, those who put their lives on the line for a living such as a police officer or those who dare to travel to some of the most dangerous countries in the world.

In fact, risk-taking involves seizing opportunities that can make a difference in our way of thinking and perception. As exemplified by the likes of Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey and Tony Fernandes, no dreams can be achieved when we stay in our comfort zone.

There are people who prefer to remain safe and secure, thinking that risks are inconvenient and time-consuming, when in truth it will only hurt them in the long run because they’re unable to reach to potentials they never knew they have in them.

As such, taking risks opens you up to new challenges, which allows you to learn new skills, pushes you to be more creative, boosts your self-confidence and resilience, and teaches you more about yourself.

Most importantly, the more risks you take, the greater your chances of overcoming your fear of failure. Mistakes are bound to happen when taking risks, but the experiences you gain and learn out of them will only make you a better person because you are ready to take on opportunities without hesitation.

So what can you do to take risks? You can start small by accepting new opportunities, such as trying out a new sport, travelling to a new place or trying out any kind of activities you have never experienced before. Some of them might be too daunting, so you can take them on bit by bit.

Once you have accumulated your successes and failures, go for something bigger. Keep in mind that the risk you’re taking has to be calculated, i.e. the decision is made after carefully considering the rationale and potential benefits.

Regardless of the choices you make as a school leaver or a university graduate, know that no risk guarantees success, so trust your instinct and take a leap into the unknown. After all, you’ll never know until you try.

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/2m9Td7G

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