10 Things To Do To Change Your Life Forever…

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”
~ John F. Kennedy

The one constant thing in our life is change. We cannot avoid it and the more we resist change the tougher our life becomes. Trust me, I know this because I was very skilled at deflecting change in my life. We are surrounded by change and it is the one thing that has the most dramatic impact on our lives. Change has the ability to catch up with you at some point in your life. There is no avoiding it because it will find you, challenge you, and force you to reconsider how you live your life.

Change can come into our lives as a result of a crisis, as a result of choice or by chance. In either situation we are all faced with having to make a choice – do we make the change or not? I believe it is always better to make changes in your life when you choose to rather than being forced to.

We however cannot avoid the unexpected events (crisis) in our lives because it is these events that challenge our complacency in life. What we can control when we are experiencing these challenging events, is how we choose to respond to them. It is our power of choice that enables us to activate positive change in our lives.

Acting on our power of choice provides us with more opportunity to change our lives for the better. The more opportunities we create to change our lives the more fulfilled and happier our lives become. Here are 10 things that you can do in your life that will change your life for the good, forever:

1. Find Meaning In Life

Spend some time trying to sort out what is important in your life and why is it important. What is it that you want to achieve in your life? What are your dreams? What makes your happy? Your meaning in life gives you purpose and sets the direction of how you want to live your life. Without meaning you will spend the rest of your life wandering through life aimlessly with no direction, focus, or purpose.

2. Create A Dream Board

When we were children we would daydream all the time. We were skilled at dreaming and visualising what we would be when we grew up. We believed that anything was possible. As we grew into adults we lost our ability to dream. Our dreams became hidden and once we started to feel like achieving our dreams was impossible.

A dream board is a great way for us to start believing in your own dreams again. Seeing our dreams every day on a dream board brings our dreams to life. Our dreams become real and we start to have believe in the possibility of achieving these dreams.

3. Set Your Goals To Achieve Your Dreams

Once you know what is important in your life and what your dream life looks like for you, you need to take action and set your long-term, medium, and short-term goals. It is acting on these goals that enable you to achieve your dreams

Remember your goals may change. Always be flexible with setting and achieving your goals as things in life change and your goals need to reflect these changes. It’s the small steps that you take that create the momentum for change to happen in your life.

4. Let Go Of Your Regrets

Regrets will only hold you back in life. Regrets are events of the past and if you spend all your time thinking about the past you will miss the present and the future. You cannot change what you did or did not do in the past, so let it go. The only thing you have control over now is how you choose to live your present and future life.

I had a heap of regrets that were holding me back in my life. I came across the “Balloon Exercise” and got rid of my regrets for good. What is it? It’s simple — blow up as many balloons as you need. On each balloon write a regret and then let the balloon go. As the balloon drifts off into the sky say goodbye to that regret forever. A simple and powerful exercise that works and can change how you live your life.

5. Choose Some Really Scary Things To Do And Then Do Them

This is all about you choosing to step out of your comfort zone. Public speaking is one of the most frightening things anyone can do. I was petrified of public speaking however, I knew that I wanted to be a motivational speaker. So I joined Toast Masters to overcome my fear of public speaking. My first speech was terrible, my knees were knocking, I broke out in a sweat and I couldn’t stop shaking. But I did it and the feeling of completing this speech, even though it was terrible was great. I chose to keep going and now I earn a living as a motivational speaker. I am still nervous when I get up to speak however it is an excited nervous and I love it.

Make a list of scary things that you would kind of like to do but are too afraid to. Put a plan in place and then go do them. Never stop doing scary things because if you do your life will become one of complacency and comfort.

6. Start Living A Well-Balanced Life

Our health does not remain the same. Our physical, emotional, and spiritual state changes, as we get older. What we can control however is how we feed our minds and our bodies. Living a balanced and healthy life builds our resilience to the physical changes of our body. Exercise is the best way in which we can attain a positive and optimistic attitude toward life.

Living a healthy, well-balanced life with lots of exercise is a lifestyle choice that without a doubt will give you a happier more satisfied and fulfilled life.

7. Face Your Fears

Its easy to ignore our fears and hope that they will go away. Unfortunately, it does not work like that. If you want to change your life, learn to master your fears so they can’t control you any longer. Our fears are only thoughts in our minds that are not real but over time we have become to believe that they are true. It is our fears in life that stop us from living our life to the fullest. We know when our fears are controlling our lives because we feel discontent, dissatisfied and unfulfilled.

Once we face our fears we take back our power to choose how we want to live our lives and when we do this we change our lives forever.

8. Accept You

The only person who is going to create change in your life is you! and to create that change you have to like you. There will be times in your life where you will face rejection and there will be people who will not like you that much. Accepting who you are and loving yourself helps you to move forward in your life. Putting yourself down all the time and wishing you could be better will only lead you to a life of unhappiness and discontent.

Find your courage, love yourself, and step out and do something crazy. Don’t worry about what anyone thinks or whether it is the right thing to do. In your heart if it feels right, act on it and go create the life you love.

9. Live In The Moment

Many of us tend to think that the grass is greener on the other side. Often, we get to the other side of the fence we find that this is not so. The motivation to change our lives comes from our desire to be happy. We are often so busy focusing on our pursuit of happiness that we miss the joy of actually living in the moment. Our desire to have happiness in our lives is a desire of a future state not of the present. We become so consumed with all our problems and discontent in the present we miss the precious beauty of the moment.

Sitting on the beach eating an ice-cream with your best friend or partner is a moment of happiness. Appreciating and showing gratitude on a daily basis is experiencing happiness in the moment. Helping those in need brings joy and happiness to us. This is what living our life in the moment is all about – don’t miss these moments because you are too busy focusing on your pursuit of happiness.

10. Experience The Joy Of Learning

Each time you learn something new you gain more knowledge and with more knowledge comes more confidence. Learning helps us to be more adaptable and flexible to new situations. Learning encourages us to be more creative and innovative in our thinking and we are therefor more comfortable with the unknown.

Reading books is a great way for us to learn. To fully embrace the joy of learning, never stop reading nor searching for more knowledge. Learning gives our life meaning and this is what makes our life worthwhile.

You have a choice to make as to how you want to change your life. Choosing to act on these 10 things will, without a doubt change your life forever. So what are you waiting for? Go do these 10 things now!

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10 Reasons You Should Smile More Often…

Mother Teresa once said “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” We have been smiling all our lives. And to some degree, we already possess the inherent knowledge that smiling not only feels good but it actually does good too.

Yet many of us shy from smiling as often as we ought to. I’m not the one to judge; we all have our own problems to deal with in life. But way too often, we actually punish ourselves by choosing not to smile when we really should be smiling our brains off!

So, the next time you get the opportunity to smile, just smile, and enjoy all that positivity it spawns. If you’re not convinced, well here below are reasons you should be.

1. Smiling makes you look attractive.

Your smile says a great deal about you. It really is true. Not convinced? Try this. Try to think of some of the people you’re attracted to. Done? How many of those were actually smiling? Well, you don’t have to tell me because I already know the answer.

We are naturally hardwired to be attracted to people who smile. Something about seeing someone smile builds up all this positive energy in our minds. And every time we see them, we associate them with all that positive energy.

So, the next time you’re around a bunch of friends or strangers (it really doesn’t matter) and you want to attract attention, just smile.

2. Smiling makes you happier.

Now this is as true as it is strange. Smiling actually makes you, the person smiling, happier regardless of the situation. Normally we are hardwired to smile only during pleasant situations.

The brain in turn releases endorphins which lowers stress and improves your overall mood, hence making the situation pleasant. But it being a voluntary action, we can actually trick the brain into believing that an otherwise dull situation is actually pleasant by simply smiling.

So the next time you’re bored, or god forbid sad, try this — kick back, take a few deep breaths and smile. Just smile, and watch your brain work its magic!

3. Smiling improves your immune system.

It has been reported that when you’re smiling, the body releases more white blood cells than it usually does. And the prime purpose of white blood cells are to protect the body against both infectious diseases and foreign invaders.

So, smiling more often actually makes your body more immune to diseases and hence makes you healthier. In fact, that is the prime reason why so many famous celebrities are invited to children’s hospitals. If they can get the children to smile, that will, to some degree, boost their overall health.

So with this in mind, don’t just go smiling on your own from now on. Make others smile too!

4. Smiling makes you a better leader.

Smiling encourages trust. We can all agree to that. A person who is constantly smiling appears more trustful than someone who is not. And what more do we look for in a great leader than trust?

Take a look at all the popular leaders of the world. I don’t say the great leaders, because not all of them may be popular. But the popular ones, who are also the more successful, smile more often than others.

This is true for leadership in all levels. Fear and intimidation may work like a charm for a while, but they never last long. The leaders who truly make a mark in history are the ones that smile.

5. Smiling helps you make a better impression.

Have you ever been in a room with strangers and struggled to socialize to the extent you wish you could? Wouldn’t you in turn want to be that person who can get along with everyone in the room in a jiffy?

Well, if you look at the people who can actually do this, you will find that the key to their success is, you guessed it, smiling. Yes, they’re smiling more than you are. But guess what? Their personality is no match for yours. Put on more smiles, and you’ll be sweeping all the charm towards your direction in no time!

6. Smiling makes you more productive.

We talked about the value of smiling as a mood booster earlier, but it doesn’t end there. The effect of one good smile follows you to your workplace and in fact, helps improve your overall performance there.

And this is actually backed by research. A 2010 research led by Andrew Oswald, a Professor of Economics at Warwick Business School, proved that employees who smile more often are significantly more productive and creative in the workplace.

So whether you’re an employee or an employer, smile more often and make others around you smile more often too. It will be great for everyone involved.

7. Smiling makes you more approachable.

Imagine yourself in a room with two people you’ve never met before. You need to ask them a favor. And it’s not just any favor. It would actually be of mutual benefit. Both persons are on their phones. One is smiling, the other is not.

After a while, they put their phones down, and you’re ready to approach them. Which of the two would you go to, or at least go to first? Once again, I know the answer.

There is something about smiling that attracts trust. It makes the person wearing the smile appear warm and kind. The very qualities that make one approachable.

8. Smiling makes you more confident.

Not only does smiling make you look more confident, it actually makes you confident in the long term. If you’re someone who smiles often, you tend to attract more attention, trust and respect than others around you.

This in turn makes you look for the attention, trust and respect in every situation which is the hallmark of confidence — believing that you deserve something.

And how do you do that? The only way you’ve ever known. Smiling more! Which in turn makes you even more confident. It is almost like a chain reaction. A never ending cycle that only makes you more confident and happier with every iteration.

9. Smiles are contagious.

Well, they are, aren’t they?  How many times have you seen someone smile and get no reaction from the other party? Very few, right? People smile, even if to be polite. And we’ve talked about the seer effect of just smiling, even in pretense.

When you’re smiling, you’re actually asking the other party to join in on the fun with you. And 99 percent of the time, they do join you. Smiles are one of the most contagious things in the world, behind probably only to laughter, which is in a way just a louder smile. So smile more, and spread the joy!

10. Smiles are free.

We have discussed a lot of benefits of smiling. But we are yet to discuss the most important reason you should smile more often –- because they’re free! When was the last time you blew away something so beneficial yet absolutely free? Smile, just smile.

You’ll be happier and you’ll make everyone around you happier. Dale Carnegie wrote this on his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”: “A smile costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give. It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.” Old Carnegie sure was onto something!

THE BEST PLACES TO EAT VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN IN LONDON…

Juicebaby, Chelsea

An increasing number of people are choosing to alter their diets to vegetarian or vegan whether that be for health reasons, sustainability or, as with any choice of diet, for the sake of following the trend and testing it out. So I thought I’d compile a post for anyone who is vegetarian or vegan visiting London or just for those wanting to eat this way for a meal or two. So here you have it, the best places to eat vegetarian and vegan in London.

@mildredsrestaurant

1. Mildred’s 

Mildred’s is a super successful vegetarian restaurant in the heart of London on Lexington Street and is one of the best places to eat vegetarian and vegan in London. They have vegan options as well as a plethora of delicious veggie meals. My favourite is their lentil soup and butternut squash salad. Be sure to get here early, it’s always packed but it’s well worth ordering a drink at the bar and waiting if there’s a queue!

@gaterestaurant

2. The Gate

The Gate is located in Hammersmith and Islington. It’s very popular and has been around since 1989! You’ll be so impressed by the quality of the food here, it’s all inventive, flavoursome and incredibly filling. There’s both vegan and vegetarian options on the menu, they also have a pretty awesome cocktail list, if you’re after one!

@tanyaschelsea

3. Tanya’s Cafe

Tanya’s first cafe opened in Chelsea, there’s now a second down the road in Fulham. The cafe is fully raw and vegan, serving up variations on classics such as sushi! There’s also a ‘healthy’ cocktail list for you to feel guilt free sipping on those cosmopolitans. You’ll be so impressed by the accuracy of flavours replicating classic dishes, the menu is incredibly inventive and really yummy too!

@namafoods

4. Nama Foods 

Nama Foods is located in Notting Hill, they’re another fully raw and vegan cafe. They serve up a great selection of raw food, including their raw pizza, which is actually surprisingly good. It’s a little on the expensive end but is well worth checking out if you’re in the area!

@grainstorekx

5. Grain Store 

The Grain Store is in King’s Cross, whilst it’s not a solely vegetarian restaurant they have a huge choice for those opting to not eat meat. It’s a great place to go if you’re eating with a carnivore as you’ll both find plenty of dishes to choose from. The menu is inventive, delicious and full of choice, definitely pay them a visit.

@wildfoodcafe

6. Wild Food Cafe

The Wild Food Cafe is located in Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden. It’s a raw-centric, vegan and vegetarian cafe. They have an amazing choice of smoothies, salads, sandwiches and more substantial meals too. It’s also in a really gorgeous area of Covent Garden and overlooks a courtyard. Definitely recommend checking them out for a vegetarian or vegan lunch!

@ethosfoods

7. Ethos

Ethos is located centrally off of Oxford Street. You pick your table and then get up and serve yourself from a selection of vegetarian and vegan plates. They have all manner of delicious dishes, including salads, hot food and even a selection of desserts. You pay by weight, I went far too overboard when I last visited and basically ended up spending far too much. However, it is actually very reasonably priced if you aren’t greedy like me.

@laborganic

8. Laborganic 

Laborganic serves up a selection of juices, smoothies and salads. They’re all vegan and all delicious. They’re great for lunches but not so much if you’re after a more substantial meal, I usually pop in to pick up one of their flavoured Nut Milks, the cacao one is a must try!

Juicebaby, Chelsea

9. Juicebaby

Juicebaby is one of my favourite health cafes in London, you’ll find them on King’s Road in Chelsea. As the name may indicate they sell a helluva lot of raw, cold pressed juices! They also do smoothies, acai bowls and really delicious salads. You can eat in or take out, although there aren’t many seats so you may be fighting for a table at busy times. Definitely check them out and order an acai bowl for me!

@downtoearthw8

10. Down to Earth

Down to Earth can be found on High Street Kensington. They have a delicious choice of food on the menu along with juices if you’re feeling that way inclined. Be sure to try one of the wraps if you’re there at lunchtime, that’s my go to choice on the menu! Great food and location as well as being very reasonably priced!

THE 10 BEST DAY TRIPS FROM LONDON…

Day_Trips_London

London is one of my favourite cities in the world and will likely steal your heart too, but if you have any more than three days in the city, take the opportunity to get out of London and see more of the UK (and further afield) as there are some great day trips to take from London. Here are the 10 best day trips from London to inspire your trip!

Roman_Baths_Bath

#1 Bath, Windsor Castle & Stone Henge

A day visit to Bath, Windsor Castle & Stone Henge is the most popular day trip to take from London. Sure, its a long day, but it is entirely worth it to pack so much into one day. Should you wish to spend more time in Bath and skip the others, this is also a really great day trip from London and can be done on your own by train (1.5 hours one way).

Oxford

#2 Oxford, Blenheim Palace & Woodstock

Another very popular day trip from London is to visit nearby Oxford University City (1.5 hours one way). If you make it out for a day visit, you’ll have plenty to fit in as there are a handful of free universities and some paid that cannot be missed (particularly Christ Church for Harry Potter fans!) If you allow time for a few hours to visit Blenheim Palace just 20 minutes up the road by bus, be sure to take the time to also drop into Woodstock, a small town right next door. Buses are frequent (usually every 20 minutes) and inexpensive (6 pounds return Oxford-Blenheim Palace).

eiffel tower paris

#3 Paris

It is also entirely possible to leave England and visit another country entirely! Paris is just a little over 2 hours away by Eurostar, making it another one of London’s most popular day trips. Sure, this isn’t anywhere near long enough in Paris (you’ll need 3-4 days to see and do everything), but if its your only chance don’t miss it!

Cotswolds_Tour_England

#4 The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are slightly less known to international visitors, but Brits will be quick to tell you just how beautiful they are! Because you really need a car to get around the Cotswolds and see all the different little villages, the best way to visit this area is to catch an early train from London and book a full day tour of the Cotswolds in advance, including morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea.

Privet Drive Harry Potter

#5 Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour

If you’re a Harry Potter fan or a poor ol’ muggle that has been dragged along with one (there’s something wrong with you if you don’t like Harry Potter but hey, we won’t hold it against you), then you absolutely must make your way out to the studio tour which shows you EVERYTHING about the films and how they were made. Its the ultimate experience for fans of the films and is just a short drive outside of London (book the Warner Bros bus to play it safe).

cambridge_university_telegraph

#6 Cambridge University Town

While Oxford was the first university town, Cambridge is equally if not more beautiful (depending who you ask of course, the inter-college rivalry is well and truly alive!) Cambridge is, like Oxford, a 1.5 hour drive from London with many buses and trains departing frequently.

Blenheim Palace

#7 Downton Abbey Locations

For fans of the hit tv series Downton Abbey, you’ll be delighted to learn there are Downton Abbey day tours departing London to fulfill your love for the show.

Brighton_rights_attached

#8 Brighton & Brighton Beach 

In just under an hour by train you can reach the blissful beachy town of Brighton, a favourite for visitors to London and Londoners themselves! It is a large thriving city with much to offer visitors, but is also home to many locals unlike other popular beachy towns that exist only for tourism. A day in Brighton is best enjoyed in summer as the winter can be quite cold and grey (not unlike London though!)

edinburgh

#9 Edinburgh & Edinburgh Castle

Fancy seeing a bit more of the UK beyond England!? If you don’t mind a quick flight (just over an hour) in the morning and back again at the end of the day, then there’s one city that flies still somewhat under the radar in the UK but is SO worth visiting it isn’t even describable. That’s Edinburgh, pictured above.


bristol_telegraph

#10 Bristol 

If cities are your thing and you’re interested in seeing another city in England, then head over to Bristol as this is just 2 hours by train or to drive. Bristol is also another popular city to visit combined with Bath, as the two are a mere 30 minutes drive away from one another.

8 Ways to Talk Like a Native, and Why We Don’t Need To…

Let me tell you a story about two colleagues of mine who were native speakers of English living in Italy.

Jenny spoke fluent Italian but was constantly mocked and imitated because of her unmistakable and laughable English accent. What most people didn’t know when they sniggered, was that Jenny had been an editor for an Italian/English dictionary! Her knowledge of Italian grammar and vocabulary were second to none.

David, the second colleague, spoke perfect Italian and his impeccable intonation and pronunciation was constantly admired and he was always complimented and nobody ever mocked him either! But I can tell you that his knowledge of grammar and vocabulary came nowhere near Jenny’s. Both colleagues actually spoke excellent Italian but Jenny was stigmatized because of her accent.

So, you don’t have to talk like a native speaker. Just concentrate on communicating effectively when you are learning English or any other language for that matter. Here are 8 ways you can do that.

1. Start talking.

Even if you are not living in the US or in Britain, you can use Skype to start talking. You will have to develop fluency and the best way to do that is by talking. Get on forums and online chat rooms to make contact. You can try out My Language Exchange or Interpals and see how you get on. That is much cheaper than flying to London for a full immersion weekend! Stop worrying too much about accuracy. That can come later. Don’t think; just talk!

2. Now listen.

I taught English for many years and the students’ main problem was that their listening skills were never properly developed. You can listen to English anywhere and everywhere now. Podcasts, YouTube, news broadcasts, audio books, TV, films, and radio. You name it, there are multiple channels where you can really polish up your listening skills. TED talks are an excellent resource. If you are learning another language, these talks have been translated into over 40 languages!

3. Learn the 300 basic words you need.

Tim Ferris, of the 4 hour work week fame, claims that you can learn any language in 3 months. One essential takeaway from his post is that 65% of all written material in English uses only 300 words! Check out the post asthey are listed here. Start using them. Here are some apps to help you gain mastery of even more vocabulary.  Get the Anki app because this uses a SRS (spaced repetition system). This means that you never see the list of words repeated in the same order but at strategically spaced intervals so that you do not forget them.

4. Get cheap lessons.

Maybe you need a few lessons but you do not want to pay a high price for one-on-one lessons with a native speaker. You can hone your conversation skills at any level just by getting really cheap lessons from the italki.comsite. Where else can you get lessons for $5 an hour! This is where Skype comes into its own.

5. Go for more vocabulary instead of more grammar.

Once you have your 300 words, you cannot stop there! What are your goals and what words do you need? This should always take preference over learning grammatical rules, although you do need to be able to distinguish the past tense from the future. It makes communication less problematic.

The word renowned linguist, Stephen Krashen, also favored meaningful interaction over anything else. Vocabulary is the heart of any language, not knowledge of grammatical rules.

“Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill.”

—Stephen Krashen

6. Never stop reading.

Reading is a great way of improving your English. You can read anything you can get your hands on such as cartoons and kids’ books if you want a good laugh and to relax. You can buy graded readers of all the classics and then move on to the real thing. I always tell my students that there should be no books in their native language on their bedside table as they will never be tested on that. Been there, done that! Having a pen handy to underline words is also great.

“Never read a book without a pen in your hand.”

—Benjamin Franklin

7. Leave your comfort zone

Experts always tell you not to worry about making mistakes. Just do it! Here is a task to do. You want to find out essential information from a museum/art gallery in London. You can choose a hotel or airline if you wish. Phone them up and ask for a lot of information. Prepare your questions beforehand. Then check what you have understood by looking at their site in your own language. Talk to English or American tourists when you spot them in your area.

8. Never quit

“Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.”

—Salvador Dali

When we talk about accents, it really is a very superficial aspect of speaking English. After all, many regional accents in the UK exist. Add in all the accents of Ireland, India, America, and Australia. Then, think about all the foreign speakers of English you will come into contact with on your travels and your business trips. Now, who is judging who on their accent? Communication, the desire to constantly improve plus the determination never to give up are the keys to success.

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.”

—Lance Armstrong

6 Ways You Should Revise Your Writing, Every Time…

revisions on your writing

When someone tells you a piece you’ve written doesn’t “flow well,” it can be maddeningly unspecific. But there’s good news: it’s surprisingly easy to fix. We’ve all heard the same advice before: read your work aloud, sleep on it, always proofread, etc. That’s all good guidance, but as an editor, I prefer a more analytical approach to writing—so I’ve assembled a few concrete tips to tighten your prose, improve your overall flow, and produce clear, easy-to-read copy. After you’ve written a first draft, follow these steps:

1. Reduce “to be” verbs.

If a piece of copy feels wordy, weighed down, or difficult to read, it’s often because you’ve gotten carried away with “to be” verbs. These include be,am, is, are, was, were, being, and been. “To be” verbs overload copy because they require secondary verbs. Often you can eliminate “to be” verbs by getting straight to your action verb. For example, instead of saying “I’m not able to do that,” you could say, “I can’t do that.” By following this principle, you’ll streamline your prose.

2. Limit prepositions.

Just like reducing “to be” verbs, axing prepositions tightens your writing. Try to limit yourself to one or two prepositional phrases per sentence. Using more than that can make sentences long and difficult to follow. If you overuse prepositions, brainstorm other ways to write sentences and break up ideas. Some prepositions are unavoidable—and you shouldn’t try to eliminate them completely—but use them sparingly.

3. Vary sentence structures.

Even the best writers tend to lean on favorite words, phrases, and sentence structures. For readers, however, this type of  repetition leads to disinterest. To combat reader boredom, vary the way you start your sentences. In the process, you can usually write better transitions and improve sentence-level cadence. Think of sentence length as another technical instrument in your writing toolkit—a way to mindfully emphasize certain points and de-emphasize others.

4. Avoid noun strings.

A noun string is exactly what it sounds like: too many nouns in a row. Noun strings can be difficult to avoid, especially in business or technical writing. And sometimes it’s impossible to dodge both noun strings and prepositions, so you’re forced to choose whichever sounds best. The important thing is to be aware of them and how they affect your writing. Unpack your noun strings, write them in different ways, and read sentences out loud to find the smoothest path.

5. Cut unnecessary words.

Check your work for redundancy, excessive modifiers, and empty words. If you repeat similar ideas in more than one sentence, try to condense. Be wary of words like modifiers—adjectives or adverbs that describe nouns. Focus on clarity, and ask yourself if each modifier enhances your meaning. Likewise, cut phrases such as in my opinion, kind of, actually, truly,basically, and definitely. By cutting unnecessary words, you’ll emphasize your main points, instead of burying the lead.

6. Examine the cohesion.

Editing for cohesion means seeing how each sentence and paragraph contributes to the overall whole. Each line should build off the previous one, and paragraphs should begin with topic sentences, gently leading the reader along a journey to the conclusion. On both the sentence and paragraph level, use transitional phrases and reference old information before introducing anything new, so the reader can easily follow along.

Good writing doesn’t have to be guesswork or natural-born talent. It simply takes time. Your revision process should, in part, become a scavenger hunt, complete with the knowledge of what you should look to eliminate and reword. Whether you’re a professional writer or someone who dreads putting words together, if you follow these six simple steps, your writing will improve tremendously.

16 Places You’ll Hardly Believe Are In The United Kingdom….

1. Little Venice – Maida Vale in London

Where you’ll think you are: If you didn’t know any better, you might think that you’re looking at photos of the canals in Amsterdam or Venice.

Where it actually is: What you’re actually seeing is a residential district in London called Maida Vale. The area features a series of canals that host the Canalway Cavalcade every year. Over 160 boats flock to the canals annually for a series of events, parades, and for shopping and eating.

2. Tolsta Beach – Isle of Lewis in Scotland

Tolsta Beach - Isle of Lewis in Scotland

Where you’ll think you are: Pretty much any place but Scotland.

Where it actually is: Scotland! Can you believe it? The Outer Hebrides especially has some lovely beaches that can be pleasant, as long as the weather holds up.

3. The tropical rainforest inside the Eden Project of Cornwall

The tropical rainforest inside the Eden Project of Cornwall

Where you’ll think you are: A tropical rainforest in South America.

Where it actually is: A tropical rainforest in Cornwall. Yep, Southwest England. The Eden Project contains two separate biomes: the Tropical Biome and the Mediterranean Biome. The Tropical Biome especially feels very out of place in the British Isles, despite the fact that it is in the warmest, most temperate spot in England.

4. Ben Nevis – In the Grampian Mountains in the Scottish Highlands

Ben Nevis - In the Grampian Mountains in the Scottish Highlands

Where you’ll think you are: The Andes or Himalayas.

Where it actually is: The highest mountain in the British Isles, called Ben Nevis. It’s part of the Grampian Mountain range in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands, close to the town of Fort William. Ben Nevis is actually the highest point in 400 miles. The next higher point is clear over in the Scandinavian Mountains in Norway.

5. The sunken path to Clovelly in Devon

The sunken path to Clovelly in Devon

Where you’ll think you are: Inside the works of Lewis Carroll.

Where it actually is: A small village called Clovelly in the district of Devon. The village is actually most inaccessible by automobile, so small forest paths like the one above are one of the the most pleasant ways in.

6. The Needles on the Isle of Wight

The Needles on the Isle of Wight

Where you’ll think you are: A research base in Antarctica.

Where it actually is: A three hour car ride from London. The Isle of Wight is just off the southern coast of England, near the city of Portsmouth. They may look like frigid, glacial peaks, but The Needles are actually stacks of chalk.

7. Minack Theatre in Cornwall

Minack Theatre in Cornwall

Where you’ll think you are: An ancient Greek amphitheater overlooking the Ionian sea.

Where it actually is: In Cornwall, overlooking the Celtic Sea. The theater was built in the 1930s to host an annual outdoor Shakespeare festival. The original owner of the property, Rowena Cade, thought the sea would make an excellent backdrop for performances of The Tempest.

8. Cockington village in Devon

Cockington village in Devon

Where you’ll think you are: A delightful village in the South of France.

Where it actually is: A delightful village in the South of England. You don’t often see thatched roofs in England, what with all the rain, but Cockington is down in Devon county, where the gulf stream keeps things surprisingly nice.

9. Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Where you’ll think you are: Nowhere on this planet.

Where it actually is: On the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, near the town of Bushmills. The pillar-like basalt columns were formed during an intense period of volcanic activity over 50 million years ago.

10. Norfolk Lavender Fields near Heacham, England

Norfolk Lavender Fields near Heacham, England

Where you’ll think you are: The hills of Provence in France.

Where it actually is: Eastern England, near the town of Heacham in Norfolk county. There are actually similar lavender fields all over England, so you’ll never need to cross the channel again!

11. Achmelvich Bay in Scotland

Achmelvich Bay in Scotland

Where you’ll think you are: Southern California.

Where it actually is: Almost as far north in Scotland as you can get. The name “Achmelvich” actually comes from the Gaelic term for sandy dunes. You’re obviously at the mercy of the elements when you’re that far north, so maybe pack a sweater in addition to your bathing suit.

12. The Jurassic Coast in Devon

Where you’ll think you are: Ha Long Bay in Vietnam.

Where it actually is: The English Channel. The cliffs, rocks, and spires of the Jurassic Coast aren’t quite as impressive as the limestone karsts of Ha Long Bay, but they’re still impressive nevertheless.

13. Porthmeor Beach in St Ives, Cornwall

Porthmeor Beach in St Ives, Cornwall

Where you’ll think you are: The sunny beaches of Australia.

Where it actually is: The sunny beaches of Southwest England! The beaches in St Ives have sun and surfing, and the added benefit of a functioning ozone layer. Plus, it’s just a few hours from London on the train, rather than several hours on a plane.

14. Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, Egland

Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, Egland

Where you’ll think you are: The winding canyon roads in the Colorado Rockies.

Where it actually is: Just southwest of Bristol. The Cheddar Gorge is a limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills, and is home to Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton, affectionatly called “Cheddar Man.” Under the Cheddar Gorge you’ll find Gough’s Cave, which is nearly 100m deep, and over 2km long.

15. The Isle of Skye in Scotland

The Isle of Skye in Scotland

Where you’ll think you are: The hills of New Zealand.

Where it actually is: Highland Scotland. Looking out over the green fields and craggy mountains of the Isle of Skye, you might think for a moment that you were in Gondor from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, but you’d be wrong. Turns out you can get a little slice of Middle Earth right here in the United Kingdom.

16. The Fairy Pools of Scotland

The Fairy Pools of Scotland

Where you’ll think you are: The volcanic plains of Iceland.

Where it actually is: Still in Highland Scotland! It is only about 700 miles from Iceland, so it’s really not that much of a surprise that the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands resembles the island nation a bit.