Dealing with expectations

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Recently I have watched as we have evolved in to a world and society where we have the highest expectations of what everything needs to be but less chance of things actually meeting those expectations. We all think we could do better than others and deserve more than we have. We all think we could do a better job than our boss or would run the company that we work for differently. When something or someone fails to meet our expectations we start to chastise or give up on the thing or person who has failed to meet our self-created expectations.

The problem with choice

Take TV for instance, because there are so many shows now available to us at the push of a button, that choice has made us picky and expect more. No longer is it ok for a show to be good and entertaining, it has to be better or different than anything else out there. It is a shame because not many people actually take the time to sit down and invest in anything, which people aren’t raving about. Don’t get me wrong it is good that there is that push for shows to be better but who decides what is better or best? Who decides what is a good programme for someone to watch?

Next take football for instance and for this I would like to look at my favourite team, Arsenal. This year the normal top teams in the league aren’t doing as well as in previous seasons like Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea, this had led to many fans thinking Arsenal should be winning the league but they aren’t. Arsenal have no more right to win the league than any other but currently seem to be under more pressure than any because of the expectations.

Trying to succeed

Trying to succeed in a more expectant society is very difficult. It’s even harder when it is coupled with a world of people who seem to want to complain more than they praise and now they have many more ways to do it thanks to Smartphones, social media and so on.

I could sadly see a world one day where people stop trying to create or achieve because the weight of expectations and negativity is crippling. You don’t want to make success easy because then it’s not worth anything but the worst thing this world could do is stop people from trying.

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Sale Season

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For many years in the UK the sale season started on Boxing Day but in recent years the sale season has come early to the UK, with Black Friday triggering many pre-Christmas sales.

Spend

It used to be that people would use their Christmas money to snap up deals after Christmas and companies tried to encourage us to keep spending, even after all the money we had invested in Christmas. Now it seems that companies want us to spend more money before Christmas.

The thing I don’t like about pre-Christmas sales is that it encourages people to buy bigger gifts for others because they can get a certain item at a knock down price. Instead of buying something they want, it is all about getting them the highest value present whilst paying the least amount possible for it. The problem then comes is that if these pre-Christmas sales stop; the person you are buying for may still expect the same value gift as last year.

Do you really need it?

The other problem I have with sales is that it encourages us to buy things that we wouldn’t have dreamed of buying if they weren’t on sale. We think we are getting a bargain and making a great financial decision but in reality the best financial decision is to not buy it and keep your money in your wallet.

If you didn’t want a particular item before it was on sale you don’t need / want it now. You shouldn’t just want and buy things based on price. You should buy the things you want / need at the price you think they are worth. The price a shop puts on an item isn’t necessarily what you think it is worth or what it is worth to you. Always try and keep that figure in your head of what it is worth to you when you are going out to buy something, as just because it is on sale, it still might be more expensive than you think it is worth.

Turnover

Remember sales aren’t about the companies giving you a good offer; they are about the companies getting more money out of your pocket and shifting stock. The reason companies have sales is to get money out of you that they think they wouldn’t have if they didn’t have a sale, it is simply an exercise of them trying to increase their turnover and is not about them doing something nice for you.

I’m not against companies making money and I am not against people getting things at cheaper prices, I am just against the sale culture and how it feeds in to the material culture.

Why I will never understand football fans

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In the UK, the football (soccer) season started for most professional teams this weekend just gone. After a couple of months since the last ball was kicked in anger, fans from across the UK were chomping at the bit to watch their favourite teams play, select their Fantasy Football team and start commenting about games on social media.

I love the game of football and have been a fan for as long as I can remember. Like everyone else I had been looking forward to the start of the season so I could start cheering on my team and watch Match Of The Day again, a TV show which is an institution to so many fans.

Dark Ages

Football is sold as a game that can unite the world, but sadly I think in this country it is a game that people want to use to cause divides between them and other fans. In a world where inclusivity and acceptance of people from all walks of life is on the rise (thankfully), I think football is still stuck in the dark ages. It is not deemed as acceptable to hurl an insult or abuse at someone who is different from you in life, yet for football fans it is seen as the norm to insult and abuse opposition teams and the fans of opposition teams.

This is just one of many bugbears I have with the fans of this game. It’s like when your team wins, it is a great feeling and one to be enjoyed but sadly to many this isn’t enough, instead they feel the need to poke fun at the opposition and their fans. As football fans we all know how it feels to lose (it doesn’t feel great) so in the knowledge of this I don’t know why any fan of the game would want to go out of their way to make that experience even worse for another.

School ground mentality

Sometimes I feel like most football fans still have the school ground mentality of bullying and ganging up on someone because it is seen as the fun or cool thing to do. I don’t see why people get their kicks out of provoking people and rubbing it in their faces when the team they support beat another.

I enjoy watching any game of football, regardless of who is playing, just to enjoy the sport. It seems other fans however enjoy watching games that don’t feature the team they support, just to give them ammunition to mock the fans of that team, which to me just seems like such a waste of time.

I just want to enjoy the game and I don’t want my enjoyment of the game to come at the price of anyone else’s enjoyment. I know I am in the minority but I wish more were like me. Sadly I know that insulting, laughing at or abusing other teams and fans is a big part of fan culture, that people get great enjoyment from, I just want to opt out of it and enjoy the high & lows of the season as they unfold. Celebrating the victories, commiserating the defeats, watching great football no matter who is involved and congratulating others when they have success.

Don’t just read the news – react to it!

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In every aspect of our lives we are surrounded by news. When we put the radio on in the car, switch the TV on, go on the Internet, go on our phones, go to the shops and when we speak to others that we meet, we can be faced with all kinds of news.

So many of us just consume it without giving it a second thought. For that minute when we are engaged with it we are interested and then when we turn away, turn the page or switch it off, it doesn’t matter any more. So many times we will read a news story quickly, immediately form an opinion and move on to another.

An article is more than just a headline

Do you spend the time to read a full article and not just a headline? Do you let the article sink in and give yourself time to think about it? Do you spend time to find out more about the situation?

With the throwaway media culture we currently live in and with the explosion of 24-hour news I think we have to guard against just becoming a world of passive news consumers. We must make sure our hearts do not get hardened to the news. It is too easy just to not emotionally react or connect with the news, as for many of us there is only so much bad and horrific news stories you can consume before you disconnect from the human side of them.

We don’t need to feel helpless

Sometimes we feel helpless and think that we can’t do anything to change or help the situation that we are hearing about. We can allow ourselves to think that we can’t make a difference or to think it isn’t our problem. I want to say in this blog though that you can make a difference and my belief has been further inspired by the response to a news story I heard about this week.

After a football match in England between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Watford, Watford fan Nick Cruwys was attacked on his journey back to the train station and left in a critical condition. Nick is now fighting for his life in hospital. Many news companies, like the BBC, covered this incident:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-31789223

I’m sure many people had a read of this news story and then clicked on to another article or another website. One person however decided they could do something. That person was Ollie Floyd who set up a fundraising page with a target of raising £1000 for Nick and as I type the total currently stands at £22,974:

http://www.gofundme.com/o8itrk

Now at the moment Nick needs to pull through and needs the best care but what this page has done has acted as a place for people to offer support and hope. The page has helped lift the morale of the friends and family around Nick and has kept people thinking about Nick by keeping this story in the news.

One person can make a difference

It took one person in Ollie Floyd a small amount of time to set up a page but this small act started a movement. It showed that we don’t have to feel so hopeless when we read the news. It showed that it just takes one person to inspire others. When you read or hear a news story there will be many people around the world feeling the same as you about it but sometimes it will take you stepping out and doing something to give other people the chance and confidence to do something.

What you do doesn’t have to be about raising money or setting up a web page it can literally be anything! Your response could be to campaign, to volunteer, to help someone or choosing to give your custom to a different company. Your response doesn’t have to be big, your response doesn’t have to change the world but your response is needed.

Ollie could have set this page up and got no responses but at least by doing it he would have been able to go to bed that night knowing he tried to do something. If you try and do something because of a news item and it doesn’t work, do not give up or be discouraged. The more we all try, the more we will all be encouraged and the more news stories like that of the online response to the original news article, the greater chance we have to change the world. I want to live in a world where our response to news events is as news worthy as the original events themselves.

Let’s be the generation that reacts to news. Let’s get emotionally connected, let’s care, let’s talk about it, let’s react to it and let’s do something about it.

International Support

Most weeks I will check the stats for the blog to see what people are reading and what subjects have really engaged them. The one section of stats that I absolutely love though is the one where I can see the countries that my visitors are coming from.

At the moment it seems like each week I check my stats there are new countries represented. It would be amazing if one day the stats showed that someone in every country on the planet had viewed this blog. That’s the thing I love about the internet, how when you post something at any time of day someone, somewhere can click a link or type in a web address and read your work.

A Connected World

We live in a world now where you don’t even need to go to a country or place to have a positive impact on it, which I think is super cool. A world where you can change the world in your sleep. We are a more connected world than we have ever been before and the possibilities to share in each other’s life are there for us to take.

I am appreciative of every view this website gets and I thank each and everyone of you for taking the time out to read my blog, regardless of what country you come from, but it does always touch me when people whose first language isn’t English take the time to read.

I wish I was fluent in a second language and had the ability to converse with people of other nationalities in their language and read information from their countries. I am also pretty sure that there are many bi-lingual and multi-lingual people out there who’s English is far superior to mine, which puts me to shame really.

A Thirst for Knowledge

I am though so glad that there is this thirst for information and knowledge that people aren’t letting language be a barrier to obtaining it. I wish I could translate this blog properly and have it available in multiple languages to make it easier for people to read, as I think that would open up some important and big audiences.

More than ever I think many of us now understand how important the events in other countries are and how they impact us all. The world is also a more open and accessible space these days, so I think we should be encouraged to learn and understand other languages. I think the English speaking world has it much easier than most other countries when it comes to conversing with the world due to the number of English speakers, but I think it is important that we don’t get lazy with it and that we appreciate the position it affords us.

Shared Experience

I wish I could be there sitting with one of the viewers of this blog from another country when they read it and talk about it with them. I would love to know what they think about what I am saying and how their opinion or viewpoint might differ to mine because of their background or culture.

No one person can experience everything or know everything. This is why I am so keen to use the Internet to share my thoughts and experiences, but to do it in a way where I can connect with others and learn from them as well. I don’t think there are many people out there that you can’t learn something from.

To the people who have not let language be a barrier to their development, dreams, opportunities and thirst for knowledge, I salute you. In life there are so many things that can stop people from achieving what they were put on earth to achieve, so for those that push through them I will be forever impressed.

Don’t let language or anything be a barrier to success in your life. If there is something you want to achieve, its time to go out there and achieve the things you need to achieve to make it happen. If you want to change the world in a positive way don’t let anything stop you.

Holiday

I have now been back in the country for more than a week but I am still buzzing after two weeks spent roadtripping across America.

The buzz has inspired me to write this blog post on the importance of holidays. Now I am more than aware that being in a position to take and afford holidays is a privileged position because not everyone is able to, but I think those that can should. Holidays can be expensive depending on where and when you go but I think they bring back a lot more value in other ways.

The two main things a holiday can do the first is give you energy by being away from work or school and removing the stress and strains for a little while, the second is give you memories that will last a life time. If you had stayed at home that last Tuesday would have followed the same pattern as any other but by being away you remember it so much more clearly as it is different and because you aren’t doing things on holiday that you do everyday it lodges memories that you will never forget.

I think you can learn a lot by going to another country. Before you leave you get to test your planning and organizing skills to jump through the necessary hoops to make it happen. Whilst out there you will be really working on your communication skills especially if there is a language barrier and you will also be learning how to communicate with people of a different culture and background.

I think going on holiday can bring you back a better person with more understanding of others and a knowledge of a different culture which are all helpful in day to day life.

So go for the sun, the food, the entertainment or whatever your reasons are for choosing a holiday destination and I promise that you will benefit from your holiday in more ways than you originally thought. Not sure when my next holiday will be but I know I will treasure it when I go on it.