Monday’s Learning TidBit – Cognitive Dissonance

The weekend came and went, and where does it leave you now? Most likely sitting at your office Monday morning feeling less than enthusiastic to be doing your daily grind. To help kick start your mind and get you into the mode of thinking again, MissMentor has decided to give you an interesting tidbit of knowledge for the day.

Cognitive Dissonance.

You probably have heard of the term. Cognitive dissonance is defined as the uncomfortable feeling one has when holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time. This theory came about in 1957 by social psychologist Leon Festinger.

His paper Theory of Cognitive distance states that we all hold a variety of beliefs, ideas, and thoughts. These are known as cognitions. Most times our cognitions don’t relate to one another. So claiming your love for chocolate ice cream has no relevance to your opinion of Obama’s presidency.  Occasionally though, our thoughts do conflict especially when it is tied into one of our actions. This is where the dissonance comes into play.

Festinger’s most popular example is smoking.

We are all aware of the harms of smoking. It causes cancer, it ages us, it is bad for those around us, and the list goes on. Most smokers are fully aware of this yet continue to smoke.

Our minds do not like dissonance, though, and it causes us much mental stress to deal with it. Common sense would tell us to stop smoking, right? Well that sounds easy in theory, but we all know (either from experience of witnessing it) smoking is a hard habit to kick. In general, habits and behavior are much harder to change than thoughts.  Therefore, the smoker has a couple of options to deal with this.

One way is to focus on the perceived goodness that comes from smoking.

For example, smoking helps me lose weight. Losing weight is good.

If I stop smoking, I will gain weight which is bad. Or he can compare the dangers of smoking to other risks.

People are aware that car accidents are very common, and yet they still drive everyday.

Why is smoking a cigarette so different?

One other example I’ve heard was in the relation to cigarettes taking 7 minutes off. My friend proclaimed, “The last 7 minutes of life are probably the worst anyways. Who wants to live to an incredibly old age deteriorating day by day? I’m doing myself a favor by saving myself from those terrible last moments.”

A flawed theory, no doubt, but not an uncommon thought in many smokers.

Another great example is buyer’s remorse. Oh the lies we tell our selves (and believe) so that we can spend that money on a pair of overpriced shoes!

Happy Monday all!

What are our opinions on this? In what ways have you dealt with cognitive dissonance?

Living in another country: Is it for me? What do I need to do? (pg. 4)

4. Electronics.

    Can you take them with you? Or will you need to buy new ones once abroad? Often times, the electricity voltage will be different in another country and little things like your hair dryer won’t match the prong holes. You can by converters here or in your new country. You may also opt to just buy new electronics once abroad. Keep in mind though that electronics can cost more abroad than in your home country.

    5. Prescription Medication.

      Are you taking any? Will you be able to find them in your new country? Chances are yes, but double check by asking around on forums and with your doctor. The other option is to ask your doctor to fill you up on a year supply before you leave. If you ask, your doctor will be willing and there should be no problem with this.

      6. Clothes and Shoes.

        Keep the weather in mind! Will you be shopping? If you are planning on living in another country for an extended period (6 months – 1 year), it is likely that your suitcases will fill up quickly when you are ready to return home. MissMentor’s suggestion -pack lightly on the way there. Lighter than you think necessary because chances are you will be bringing goodies back.

        7. Toiletries.

        It’s not a bad idea to stock up on this before you head to your new country. It will help the transition so that you can focus on finding work versus finding where to buy shampoo. Bring the basics – shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc… – so that they will last you when you first arrive.

        8. Vaccinations.

        Typical ones needed are Hep A, Hep B, yellow fever, and measles and mumps. Each country is different  so check around on  which vaccinations are recommended. Some countries will not require any but only make suggestions.

        9. Flight and accommodation.

        Pretty self-explanatory. Get a ticket, book it. Think about accommodation when you arrive. You will probably have a fair amount of luggage, so rather than winging it, it’s probably best to arrange a place to stay. From there you can find housing.

        10. Register with the U.S. Embassy once abroad.

          This is highly recommended. Let the US know where you are, so in the case that something does happen, you will have resources.  Click here for the U.S. State department page. They also offer some great tips in traveling abroad.

          By following this list and doing the research, you are well on your way to living in another country. The real adventure begins once you are there. Bon Voyage!

          Living in another country: Is it for me? What do I need to do? (pg. 3)

          is the public transportation system? Many of the conveniences you take for granted here may not be available when you move abroad. Things that you have been doing for years without thought can become testing trials once you are living in another country. Finding a bank, buying toiletries, and delivering packages are all mini-adventures.

          Ready for the Plunge! What’s next and Extra things to consider.

          Ok, so you’ve asked yourself, mulled over why you want to move abroad and have calculated the technical things like budget. You’re ready for excitement and change, to push yourself in new ways, to be a full-on expat. Congratulations! Living abroad is a wonderful experience at any age. Let’s take a look at the next steps needed for making your dream of living in another country a reality.

          1. Look up VISA requirements.

          What do you need to enter the country? To have an extended stay? If you plan to work abroad, it is important to look at work permit requirements as well. In Vietnam, they require a police record and a notarized copy of your degree in order to get a work permit. It is difficult to get this once you are abroad but relatively simple if you are in your home country, so taking care of this before the move abroad is ideal. Be sure to research this thoroughly. You don’t want to be the person who just arrived after a 12 hour flight, only to be sent back home (and yes, this is at your expense).

          2. Find a job.

          There are a few strategies in doing this. One way is to arrive in your country of choice and establish yourself through networking. Find a place, become acclimated to the culture, and then through word of mouth begin your job hunt. Even if you choose this step, it is important to do the research first and make sure that this can be done. For example, when teaching English in an Asian country such as Vietnam or Thailand, this approach works fine. For more information on this, check Dave’s ESL café.  Also, if you already have family or relatives living there, this is not a bad idea. Use them as a resource to help familiarize yourself with living in another country.

          The other approach to is to search international job forums and secure a job before you go.  Many countries will have their own career sites and versions of Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com.  When you find a company, ask what is included in your work package. Sometimes a company will offer you an expat package covering your flight and accommodation costs.

          3. Get  insurance.

          Don’t forget this!! Your domestic plan most likely won’t cover you abroad. If you have secured work, see what they offer you. Consider getting insurance that covers an emergency medical evacuation plan as well. (click below for next page)

          continue living in another country page 4


          Living in another country: Is it for me? What do I need to do? (pg. 2)

          A relationship may not work overseas – Are you willing to make the commitment?  You may be able to bring your pet, but will it have to be quarantined for a specific amount of time once you arrive to your country of choice? Will you be in a living space where your dog can roam free? Are you willing to sacrifice the momentum you’ve built in your career for a self-fulfilling experience? Think these things through, and tie it back into why you want to move abroad. 

          5. What are possible problems with the language barrier?

            When you are living in another country, there are language barriers you will face. Living in the UK, you may have a few mis-communications with the colloquialism. Living in Thailand, however, you will face much larger obstacles in overcoming a language barrier. It is a good idea to take language courses before you leave or do home study with books or Rosetta Stone. When you do not know the language, be prepared to have difficulty in everything (at least at first). Counting change, asking for directions, looking for the bathroom – any of these things can be challenging.  It is wise to learn some basics before you go, and be prepared to use some heavy hand signage! 

            6.  How much money do I need? /Do I have enough money?

              When answering this question think of flight costs, transportation costs once you are in the city, amount of time you will be without work, and currency exchange. If you plan to find work once you are there, make sure to give yourself a decent cushion of savings to live off of. Don’t forget to also include, food costs, living costs, and any luxuries you may need.  This is basically planning your budget.

              7. What is the lifestyle there like? What is it like to be living in another country?

                You may have an idea of what a place is like, but you may also want to do the research before you go. Search the internet for forums with people who have lived abroad or are living abroad. Talk to friends and family who have had this experience. Will there be conveniences like a grocery store or only local markets? Can you buy name brand products over there? How (click below for next page)

                continue living in another country page 3

                Living in another country: Is it for me? What do I need to do? (pg. 1)

                The travel bug hits most people at one point or another, and sometimes it just hits really hard. Traveling somewhere for 2 weeks isn’t enough, you want to live there! This is a step by step guide that will get you started on your way to making that move to living in another country.

                First off, ask yourself why you want to live in another country. Visiting Greece for 2 weeks one summer may have been magical, but actually living there will be a completely different experience. Be aware that a vacation mindset is very different from our everyday mindset. Your mindset abroad will have to be even stronger.  You will be faced with challenges. Living in a different country requires an open mind, and it won’t be all roses and daisies. If you can accept this, your experience of living in another country will be truly memorable  and a sure way to learn more about yourself.

                Questions to ask yourself before living in another country.

                1. Where do I want to live?

                2. Why do I want to live there?

                It is important to take this step further than a blanket answer, for example, “because it’s fun”. What exactly are you looking to experience abroad? A new culture? Learn a new language? Getting back to your roots? Escaping the recession? In knowing what you want out of the experience, it provides you a strategy in getting there and enjoying it. This will be greatly helpful in maintaining positivity once you’re abroad facing challenges.

                3. What are my goals in living abroad?

                This question is an extension to why you want to be living in another country. After examining your motives, it is a good idea to list 5-10 goals you would like to accomplish while abroad. It can be something small as learning to cook a local dish to something larger like learning a new language. This will help give you purpose in your experience. At some point abroad, you will have a moment where you wonder – Why am I here???!!  and What am I doing??. This goal list can be a reminder to help you stay on course and to enjoy your experiences.

                4. What will I be leaving behind when I move abroad?

                This is a very important question to ask yourself. Do you have a pet? A boyfriend/girlfriend? A job you love? When you move abroad, you have to be willing to make sacrifices. (click below for next page)

                continue living in another country page 2

                New grads and finding a career part 2

                So, yesterday I posed the question of how much is it the school’s responsibility versus the student’s own when it comes to finding a job after graduation. If you missed the blog, click here to get the back story.

                It seems the general consensus is to know what you want before you enter college, and then to take the appropriate steps after to make sure you are choosing courses that will benefit you in finding a job.  After graduation, many college students finally realize this all too late. Not to fear, according to Usnews.com , there are real reasons why some new grads find jobs successfully while others don’t – and it’s based on more than just luck or networking.

                It comes down to two very simple things: strategy and a positive mindset. Strategy being defined as setting a goal and monitoring its progress along the way. Makes sense.  You have to know what you are looking for before you find it.  And the positive mindset? Makes double sense.  With the rough job market, positive thinking provides a cushion and helps the job seeker bounce back after being faced with rejection or failure.

                This is becoming a very clear pattern that I’m seeing. Successful people think positively. My interview with April Braswell (only 2 more days until it’s reveal!) further proves this point. People who accomplish, people who succeed, people who find jobs – all these people are relentless in reaching their goal. To have that drive and ambition, it takes the ability to see a picture bigger than the one currently in front of you. On top of that, it takes the courage to believe in it.

                Finding a job after graduation is no doubt difficult. Having the ability to stick it out and stay motivated, though, is a skill which will not only benefit your job search, but also your path to success.

                Do you agree or disagree? Why/Why not?  When you face rejection or failure, what do you do to bounce back?

                New grads and finding a career

                I came across this article today on CNN.com.  In gist, a recently graduated student is suing her alma mater for tuition costs – $70,000 as well as $2,000 for stress related reasons. She claims her school’s career office did not try their best in finding her a job and gave preferential treatment to those students with more stellar grades. Her GPA was a 2.7 although she had a solid attendance record.

                I can see how she would be upset. Working your butt off in college (I am going to give her the benefit of the doubt on this), believing in the education system, and then to have it all culminate in  an exciting career of selling discounted shoes at the local Payless. I am not saying I agree with her actions, but this is an exaggerated case of what new grads feel when they first enter the real world.  So, why does this happen? And who is to blame (if anyone)?

                One argument as to why new grads are unable to find work after graduation and float around career-less, at times jobless, for the next couple of years is that the school’s do not aim for their students to get jobs. In fact, the school is yet another money-making institution which wants its students to re-enroll in grad school. This is a more cynical view.

                Another argument is that it is the student’s job  to make the most of their own education. A college provides a wealth of resources: professors, advisors, libraries, and peers. If you pose the question, there is bound to be someone who can knowledgably answer it. At the same time, being able to utilize resources and being able to see viable solutions to your problems is often related to the circumstances you were raised. It also comes down to the role models you had and the “pictures” you were shown of attitudes on life.  Should a school be responsible in filling this gap?


                What are your opinions on this article? And how much responsibility, if any, should the school take? Why do you think that new grads face such difficulties in entering the real world?

                Behind the scenes of being an entrepreneur

                I recently interviewed April Braswell – Dating Expert and Online Dating Coach – as well as lost my IPOD. These may seem like 2 unrelated events, but with the loss of my IPOD I’ve been consequently listening to music less. I really do miss having a soundtrack to my life, but with less music blaring in my ears, my brain has made room for more thoughts. Substantial thoughts -thoughts that I had previously pushed to the back of my mind so I could blast more CSS in my ears and work out.

                The main thought has been planting seeds.

                Not the farming kind, but the figurative kind. Seeds that you plant today (mini-wealth building projects, acquiring new skills, building relationships with others, etc..) that will one day lead to bear fruit or not. In my interview with April, I aimed to pick the mind of an entrepreneur and see how she viewed herself as well her path to success. Her humble and warm nature made her easy to relate to, and she really showed that the word “CEO” or “President” are just words for people who’ve failed constantly but kept going.

                She also emphasized the benefits of sowing many seeds. Plenty of seeds give you more chance of bearing more fruit, and like farming, not all seeds will turnout worth while. The ones that do will be the wealth builders, and the ones that don’t will be the learning experiences.

                I love this philosophy, but applying it is a different thing. Her words definitely gave me some lingering thoughts. For instance, after I’ve chosen my “seeds” and planted them, how do I know when to keep going and when to see that the seed just won’t produce? I can be too persistent at times, but I guess that is part of the learning process.

                I think I may just wait a bit longer to get a new IPOD. One because I am allowing myself a proper mourning  for my music. And two so that I can keep these thoughts growing and come up with a formula to success which will work for me. In the meantime, keep a look out for April’s interview and her advice on how to be an entrepreneur and her path to success – coming Tuesday, October 6th!

                So you have your budget — are you sticking to it?

                OK, so you’ve calulated the percentages and numbers for your personal budget. It looks good. X amount will go to your 401K, long term neccessities, Y amount will go to that new car you’ve been wanting and intermediate neccesities, etc…, and put it all together and you’re on your way to wealth building in no time! It looks all neat and tidy, right? A clear plan, now all you have to do is follow it. And you most likely do….at first. Just with any new endeavor, after the steam of the first excitement wears off, you start to slip back a little into old habits. Here are some tips to keep you going and motivated to stay on that budget.

                1. Keep your eye on the prize! I know, a bit cliche and overused, but it doesn’t make it any less helpful. A big part in doing this is knowing what you want. Ask yourself what is it you’re aiming for. Have you clearly defined your goal? Or is it just a gist of what you want? (e.g. I’d like to buy a house soon vs. I want to save $10,000 for a down payment by the end of this year) Know your goal, and remind yourself of it. Before you take that spontaneous trip to Vegas with the girls, take a split moment to pause and think: Will this make me happier in the long run? If you think, yes, go for it! If no, well that brings me to my next point.

                2. Delaying instant gratification. We’ve all been told that the key to success is not eating that marshmallow. It makes sense. Why go for something and get less, when you can wait just a bit longer and get more. This principal strongly applies to your budget. You want to make it to Rock Star level of the Personal Budget Plan because that’s where you can start investing, and when you invest – your money makes money. This doesn’t mean denying yourself pleasures but rather planning for them. A few impromptu sushi and sake nights after work, some impulse buying here and there, and before you know it your NOW budget will be greatly diminished before you’re halfway through the month. Plan your pleasures so you can truly enjoy them guilt free.

                3. Cold hard cash. It’s nice when you have it, and it’s also so painful to let it go. So, use it! Debit and credit cards make spending money a breeze. Sure debit cards pull directly from your account, but you don’t see or feel it happen. The physical act of holding money and then giving it to someone else leaves a much stronger impression than swiping a card. Cash does have it’s downfalls like the fact that you won’t have a paper trail of your transaction, but this is just another motivator for you not to spend money you don’t need to. You’ll have to write down that spending in your budget. It’ll make you think twice about whether you really need that purchase.

                So those are a just few tips you can do to keep yourself on your budget. See what works for you because in the end we each have our own unique formula for keeping ourselves motivated. Cheers and Good luck!

                Do you need a Personal Financial Advisor?

                Maybe you are coming back after a year of success with your plan or perhaps you are further along with your investment portfolio and need assistance in that area. This is the “step” for you. In Wealth Building Tip #5, you can read my recommendations for asset selection and how to interview financial advisors who have your interests at heart.

                Building wealth over the long term means hiring experts as necessary. You will pay for expertise. Understand how to maximize your investment IN your investment.