Welcome to my blog! What was initially the perfect way to procrastinate has actually started to excite me a bit, so here it goes! I’m a second year Economics student at the University of Birmingham, and at this point in my degree, I am bored of having next to no work to do, unmotivated and want to earn some money. In fact, the only reason I have enough money to get through the term is because I spend my evenings writing blog posts, trying to think up business plans or sitting in trying to work out why I don’t have enough money, instead of going out.

That being said, I was clever enough to not have gone out at the beginning of the year and got a job. Incredibly forward thinking, I know! I’ve had a few weekends work here and there, and pissed that money away, so I’m trying to change my attitude to money. I’ve invested some savings, I’ve tried most of the ways that the World Wide Web suggests for making some money while being a student, even survey answering (that was a sad evening), and I have very little to show for it.

So, in this blog, I will be sharing my journey through the low earning world of student money-making schemes, alongside my views on university, money itself, gambling and many other obscure topics that seem to be taking over my life at the moment! I hope you enjoy coming along with me through the ever-interesting lifestyle of university when you can’t be bothered to work and hopefully you might learn a thing or two from my nonsense ramblings.

Endorsements and your Personal Brand – is it really you?

We’re living in a world dominated by Social Media. All that matters these days is your latest instagram post, what tweets are viral and the private lives of Z-list celebs who,  in reality, are really fucking dull. These Love Island, TOWIE and Made in Chelsea “celebs” who bring about an image of sex, stupidity and generally vapid content are making a fortune though.

They’ve used their personal branding (and yes their large followings that come from TV coverage) to monetise as much as they possibly can. The sad thing for us who don’t necessarily aspire to make a tit of yourself on TV is that we have to graft in a different way to get a following, but the joy is, if they can earn with approximately 4 brain cells to rub together, we all can too.

The way for all of us to build our personal brand, both in real life and on socials, is through high quality, value adding content. Think about it, when you’re talking to someone you want to impress, you don’t want to just fill in the gaps, repeating what others are saying and all in all, talking bollocks.

You want to be adding valuable contributions to the conversation, project or anything in between, because that’s what makes you stand out. Online, content is everything. You have to work hard on it, but with high quality and value adding content, you will build a following. From there, the opportunities are endless.

In my view, the advertising I’ve seen done by the Love Island lot has been relatively generic. It’s a lot of nutrition and gym based substances that suits the target audience perfectly, and probably helps both the brand and the “influencer” nicely. With true value adding content, you can gain sponsorships from brands within your field, lasting relationships that can help your personal brand no end. The more you push out quality content, the more your personal brand grows, you get more well known for the right reasons while doing what you’re passionate about. 

Yeah, alright mate

The passion side is absolutely vital. If you’re basing your personal brand on something you’re not passionate about, you’re completely faking it. You’re cheating yourself and all the consumers of your content. When you’re talking, writing or posting about something you’re passionate about, it makes the whole process far, far easier. There’s less worry about analytics at the start, which is absolutely huge, and also, your work becomes play. It’s that old cliche, when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. 

“There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Nelson Mandela

Have a look at your content, have a look at what you’re posting. In this world of fake news and constant gossip, just make sure you’re not faking it. You’ll be all the happier with the effect it has.

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Weight of Expectation – The Crushing Blow

Those who have seen me working in the past couple of months will likely have described my working style as laid back, relaxed and as many other synonyms of that ilk as possible. I like to think that, regardless of this, I still perform to a high standard. I rarely achieve what I believe I’m truly capable of, but that’s a shortcoming that I simply need to either improve or get over. It does bring me onto my point though, as due to this inability to hit my full capability, I put copious amounts of pressure on myself. The chilled exterior works for a long time, but at a certain point I start to crack, and the pressure hits. 

Right now is one of those points. For the last 8 weeks or so, I’ve been working in a very relaxed manner, performing well but making sure not to place too much stress on myself because I know the downfalls associated with this. Now that my internship, and hence more structured work, has finished, I’ve stopped seeing the people who kept the pressure off, and I’ve lost any sort of balance and routine that I was used to. This has meant I’ve actually been working harder over the last 5 days, because I’ve felt pressure to perform within my own projects. Unfortunately, the results have been a whole load of shite.

I’ve also felt bad about relaxing and I’m struggling to be on my own because I drive myself slightly delirious trying to keep working, as if trying to get blood out of a stone. It’s not positive for results and it’s not positive for wellbeing, and this is where pressure can really fuck with you. You see more and more people burning out from “workload”, but I don’t think that’s the reason for their burnout. The stress and pressure that they place on themselves drives them to the point of absolute torture, and this dampens their productivity and is part of the cause of such rising mental health issues. 

USA stats, but still applies

Don’t get me wrong, some people thrive under pressure, but this is a different beast. Pressure can work a charm, it can give a project purpose, and in the right doses it can help productivity tenfold. However, when you put the pressure on yourself, it is not in the form of deadlines, it’s not stereotypical, it’s unmatchable expectation that can rarely, if ever, be met. It drives you crazy.

Don’t ever let the pressure exceed the pleasure.” 

Joe Maddon

Now why do I say this. It’s a bit of a rant, but more importantly an awareness point. You can strive towards a million goals during your life, your career, whatever you want, but if you pile a weight of expectation so great that you can’t carry it on yourself, those goals will fizzle away, and that’s just not worth it. I’m a massive wellbeing advocate, despite what some might think, and the fact I see this sort of thing on a daily basis, especially within myself and the people I love, scares me no end. 

Just have a think about the pressure you’re putting on yourself. Is it good for you? If not, talk to me, let’s have a conversation.

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Take Advice, then Adapt it

Advice is a funny thing. It can shape your actions and improve your life, or it can damage the situation significantly, causing worse issues than you can imagine. Now, in almost every post I’ve written, I’ve given my opinions on many matters and advised towards certain behaviour and actions and advised against others, and so it only makes sense to add a bit of perspective to it all.

Everyone’s received advice from a variety of different people, people you know, people you admire and everyone else. You get advice from famous people and “influencers”, whom you’ve never met, and many people take that advice as absolute gold. The advice I take tend to come from successful entrepreneurs, and the people I know have the experiences to apply to my circumstances, however I use one tool to make sure every piece of advice I take improves my life instead of damaging it.

The way to do it is personalise any advice. By that, I mean forming your own opinions based on the advice you get from others, and personalising it to your own situation. People can be empathetic, but they will never understand your circumstances as well as you do. I see so many people taking advice like it’s word of law. When it goes wrong, it’s another thing to complain about, and another person to blame. By personalising it to your situation, you can take those parts of the advice that suit your needs, and discount those parts that could cause damage. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t take advice. Advice is one of the best things that other people can offer you. It can help to give an outside perspective on your situation and widen your viewpoint when you’ve backed yourself into a corner. It’s hugely helpful, but as long as you adapt it to your situation. Take as much advice as possible, but make sure you are clever with it, as sometimes it can bite you in the ass.

“Sometimes an outside perspective is the clearer perspective.” 

Shannon A. Thompson

I’ll give an example. I’m a big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s successful, driven and tends to know what he’s talking about. His ideology, and advice for those in college/university, is that you need to use all your time available to you while it’s available to hit your goals. For me, I prefer to do my work in shorter bursts, when I can focus wholly on something and do it to a high quality, and then stop and move onto something else. I also adapt it to fit in my own wellness, so that I never burnout from working too hard yet still put as much energy as I can into my work. This adaptation of the advice has helped me massively, even though I didn’t take it directly from the horse’s mouth.

Too many people in this day and age take everything said to them at face value, with no ability to adapt and bend advice to suit their situations. Not only that, they complain and blame others for their inability to do so. Our blame culture based society keeps pushing to the forefront when things go wrong, however if people could take advice with a pinch of salt, personalise it and then use it to their advantage, maybe things would be different. 

But of course, that’s just my advice. I also advise you follow on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.

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It’s Payday Ladies and Gents – Behavioural Changes and Making the Most of your Money

Payday coming can bring on some pretty impressive and foolish spending habits. These interest me, the wealth effect is very much apparent and when a lump sum goes into your account, you tend to want to spend at least some of it relatively extravagantly. In the last few days, I’ve been looking at football shirts, watches and TVs, and fortunately, I’ve decided to reduce this down to a takeaway instead.

One use of my Payday funds

Watching the attitude changes of people on payday, and specifically how they change their behaviour is extremely interesting. Generosity increases, frivolity increases and any previous thoughts of saving or investing tends to go out the window. I feel like we all fall into this trap in one way or another. Even if I’m not overly frivolous, I am willing to spend money on things I wouldn’t usually touch. 

All this frivolity is backed up by research. 35% of workers spend almost all their monthly earnings in the first week. 35%. However, despite this incredibly high proportion, another question comes to mind. How many of that 35% would claim they don’t overspend on payday? I think far more than we’d expect. And another question springs to mind, how many of these people had a plan of what to do with their money, and then gave up on it once paid? 

Now, I wanted to see the opinions on this, and so I went to that unrequited source of information that is reddit. There appears to be a very hostile or defensive view to budgeting and the payday phenomenon. Those saying they “treat themselves” on payday but don’t have any money left after all their bills are paid continue to complain about their lack of money. I’m not telling anyone they can’t spend their money however they want, but if you are putting yourself in financial difficulty because you think you deserve to treat yourself then you should perhaps rethink your budgeting plans.

To make the most of your money, budgeting is absolutely key. It’s a vital skill to learn, and it’s one of those practices that even the lowest quality of budget can make a massive difference. I personally have been tracking my spending, and have seen some worrying spending patterns. I started tracking this so that I could make changes to my habits, and then when payday did arrive, I didn’t overspend.

So my first tip for making the most of your payday money is: Know your habits and then budget accordingly.

Making a plan of where your leftover money goes after your necessary spending (bills, rent etc) is also a useful tool, as long as you stick to it. Map out how much you’ll have, and work out what the best uses for it. Some into savings/investment, some for food shopping etc, some to invest in your own projects, and then make sure you do it.

So, tip 2: Have a plan and stick to it.

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”

Peter F. Drucker

Finally, and this is closer to my own habits, don’t be afraid to productively invest in yourself. Whether this is in terms of taking a risk and putting money into a new start up, or simply buying books that will educate and expand your mindset. Anything that can build up skills or even push you outside your comfort zone is a worthwhile investment, and in my opinion is much more worthwhile than that treat yourself takeaway. A material good that expands your horizons and broadens your views is not only worthwhile, but vital.

So, tip 3: Use your money to educate yourself and explore your options.

Payday spending is an ongoing conundrum for me, but I hope that if you’ve read this far, you too find it at least slightly interesting. Next time you get paid and go straight to (insert your shop of choice), have a quick think, make a quick plan and then continue. 

Or don’t, it’s your life.

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The Interruption of Ideas – Have you tried turning it off and on again?

I’m a ranter. I very rarely get writer’s block. My main issue when it comes to writing is trying to weigh up when I’m writing good content and when I’m writing bullshit. Unfortunately, what I do struggle with is something I’m calling “The Interruption of Ideas.” It is simply the inability to come up with any new, exciting ideas with regard to either an already existing or fresh business plan. 

Sometimes, when I’m telling myself it is absolutely vital to be productive, I almost try and force myself to improve or extend an idea I’ve had in the past. Forcing myself into this mindset almost never works, and leaves me in a frustrated and stubborn mood which is tough to escape. This wall that I hit is difficult for me to deal with. When I get to this point, I struggle to come up with other ways to beat it, adding to my frustration.

It comes to mind that, presumably, this sort of thing happens in every profession. A lack of ideas is not a unique issue, and for those trying to meld a creative passion with their own academic ability, it can often be the most difficult issue to overcome, regardless of what you are creating. This is because the joining of academia and creativity takes two near opposite disciplines and shoves them in a melting pot. My academic side is stubborn, literal and logical, whereas my creativity can often be impulsive, overenthusiastic and unrealistic. Together, these should work well, but when one takes over, you end up with a metaphorical pile of shit.

Let me give you an example. When the creativity overwhelms the logic, the ideas never stop. However, these ideas which seem incredible and life changing, tend to be completely outside the realms of possibility and end up either wasting far too much of my time or crashing and burning very quickly. Let’s be honest, no-one enjoys seeing their ideas crash and burn and so I’d much rather find the balance.

“Sometimes we crash and burn. It’s better to do it in private.”

Dean Kamen

The Interruption of Ideas comes when the logic really overtakes your brain. Every little idea that pops into your head gets immediately shut down due to an overwhelming reliance on the literal world. Every idea that you’ve had in the past also begins to seem impossible to achieve, and you get into the worst mindset possible. It’s more worthwhile to stop thinking, turn your mind off for an hour, and get back to it.

So, for anyone who ever struggles with this lack of ideas, whether it’s at university, in business or in any project you do, I have two options for you:

  1.  Try your best to switch off for an hour. This can be through mindfulness, having a short nap or going for a walk. Don’t watch TV, don’t play video games and don’t scroll aimlessly through social media. 
  2. Do something that truly inspires you. Maybe it’s a book or writing something, I don’t know, but do it, and the ideas will come.

The most important thing to do is be self-aware with this issue. Recognise it, and then take steps to beat it. The rest will follow on beautifully.

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Life after University: What the F**k Do We Do Now?

My realization that Uni is actually coming to an end in just under a year’s time has recently hit me. Maybe it’s because I’m overreacting and actually need to just enjoy the fact that I’ve got a WHOLE year before the big, wide world swallows me up or whatever bullshit people say. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been having my first experience of office life and it’s made me realise that this could be what I’m doing day after day for the rest of my life. Or maybe it’s just that it feels like yesterday that I was moving into the shitty accommodation on the first day of uni. Nostalgia can be scary.

The Theatre of Dreams

The scary thing isn’t a lack of certainty, or an actual fear of the working world. It’s the fact that I might be stuck doing the same thing day after day, week in week out, for the rest of my life. Monotony is possibly the biggest thorn in my side, and I simply can’t deal with it a lot of the time, and so a life filled with monotony is therefore a massive fear of mine. I’m sure we can all relate to at least part of that. 

“There is no time for cut-and-dried monotony. There is time for work. And time for love. That leaves no other time.” 

Coco Chanel

Now the namesake question. What the fuck do we do now? 

Motivation, in my opinion, is the key to success. Within that is, of course, hard work, talent and all the other buzzwords and phrases that people use, but motivation is the overriding key. If you’re not motivated, you won’t work hard, if you’re not motivated, you won’t exploit your talent et cetera et cetera. So, as a first answer to the question, find what motivates you. 

“It’s easy to dream, but much harder to execute it.” 

Gary Vaynerchuk
Perhaps a good bit of motivation for you all!

Motivation may come in the form of hitting targets, setting objectives or goals and constantly improving. It may come from an absolute enjoyment for some subject or activity. It may come in material form (despite this being a much more volatile and wavering reason to be motivated). It could come from, and pardon the cliché, chasing a dream. It’s likely to be a whole melting pot of those reasons, but finding something that truly motivates you is vital for understanding where you want to go from here with just a little more clarity.

Next is actually giving yourself time to apply this motivation to a passion. Not an employer, but a passion. Finding a job you’re passionate about is the only way you’re going to enjoy your working life. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. The issue with this is that it takes time to actually work out your passion. Over the years I’ve wanted to do many different things that I thought I’d love to do for the rest of my life, but it hasn’t worked out. Tastes change, but if you can find yourself a career that truly fulfills you throughout your life, that’s your passion.

Take a think about it, the world of work is coming more quickly than you expect. Blink and you’ll miss your chance to work these things out, and if you do miss that chance, you’ll regret it. Or just do whatever you want, I don’t care.

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Attention Span of a Goldfish: The Trials and Tribulations of Losing Focus Easily

We all have our moments of thinking we’ve got something seriously wrong with us whenever we experience one of our small shortcomings. Or maybe that’s just me and I seriously do have something seriously wrong with me. Regardless, I’m already straying off my point, which is exactly the point of this post.

Recently, when I’ve been lacking interest in an activity that I really need to complete, I will simply leave it or do it to the minimum standard possible. During exam period for example, revision became the most difficult thing for me to do. I seemed unable to even force myself to do it, despite the fact it was a necessity. The repercussions of this will soon follow as results are released, but it’s crazy to think that I had absolutely no ability to push myself, even when a strict deadline presented itself.

When this sort of thing happens, it’s easy to beat yourself up about it. To be totally honest, I have beaten myself up about it already, and now I’m ready to analyse it. Three key points come to mind as reasons for this mindset:

  1. Stress
  2. Focus Elsewhere
  3. Lack of Passion

Firstly, stress hits us all in different ways. I hate the way it affects me. I either get angry and overbearing, or completely give up in the times of the worst stress. Fortunately, it takes a lot of stress to push me to these points initially, however once I’m there, it’s hard to get me away from it.

At this point, I can also only focus on an individual task for about 10 minutes before realising I either want to do something else or simply give up with the task at hand. The overwhelming nature of stress can have this effect on many people, and the only way I’ve found to overcome it is to take a moment, stop, reset my brain, and start again.

Having your focus elsewhere is the classic issue of every person on a Monday morning when they’re thinking about bed or anything other than work. The key problem with this, is that your focus tends to drift when you are doing something you are simply not interested in.

If you were loving what you were doing, you would happily stay focused on it, for example the ability to not take your eyes off the screen as Ricardo Vaz Te slams in the winner against Blackpool in the Playoff final (gets me every single time). This got me thinking.

Maybe, the degree I picked isn’t actually as good as I thought it would be. Maybe I’m not actually that interested in anything to do with university anymore and hence would rather focus on other things. OR maybe I need to stop watching the West Ham YouTube channel in an overly reminiscent way.

My focus has been drawn away again

Finally, a lack of passion for something will always mean your willingness to pay attention to it will waver. Passion is what drives each and every one of us every single day. We have different levels of passion for specific things, and our attention goes proportionally to each one of those things. They say that your career should be in something that you are passionate about. Honestly, I think the main reason for this is sanity.

Doing something you’re not passionate about for years on end is the reason that people hate going into work on a Monday and love leaving on a Friday. It’s definitely part of the reason I struggle to focus on my revision and even the lectures in the first place.

“At its basic form, if you genuinely celebrate Friday, you need to rethink your entire fucking game. You need to rethink life.”

Gary Vaynerchuk

So, as a final send off, if you are struggling with a similar lack of attention span on the things that are supposed to matter, try and find something within the activity to be passionate about, this will grab your focus which will relieve your stress. It is, for all intents and purposes, a self fulfilling prophecy. Just a shame it can be such a bitch to crack!!

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