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What Price Are you Willing To Pay To Live Your Dream?

What Price Are you Willing To Pay To Live Your Dream?
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We all had dreams and aspirations early on in our lives. Those dreams that made our eyes lit up when we spoke about them to others. But how many of us are still focused on those dreams after life knocked us to the ground a few times or took us to different places or after the people we trusted abandoned us?

Many times life takes us to unfamiliar territories and our dreams fade. We move through life, but our dreams are left behind while we sacrifice, bleed, sweat, and fight to make others’ dreams come through.

Some of us got married, had children, got a job and those dreams that brought us such excitement and happiness are no longer a priority. We put our dreams and aspirations on hold. We are so focused on all the other things life throws our way that we have forgotten why we are here.

Life doesn’t always go the way we want it to. We, therefore, have to make things happen. So what happens to those dreams when the kids are all grown and have left, or, when a relationship ends? Do you now have regrets? Are you angry? Do you feel lost? How are your self-esteem and confidence?

How much are those dreams and aspirations worth to you at this point? Do they still matter to you?

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I am here to tell you that if those dreams truly matter to you, you can still make them come through. Your dreams, though delayed, should never be aborted or abandoned. They are right where you left them, waiting for you to renew your love and determination. Before long, you can make those dreams and aspirations a reality.

Here are a few tips to remember when trying to go after your dreams given a period of delay:

It’s never too late to go after your dreams

Firstly, you must want to go after your dreams with all that you have within you. Even though it is much later in your life, you can achieve these dreams. You may be older but your dreams never truly die. On the bright side, you are now wiser, stronger, and better prepared to deal with life at this stage.

Control all the negative thoughts in your head

Our minds can be merciless especially when we are trying to go into uncharted territory. All the passion you had is replaced with cynicism and questions. You now become fearful, intimidated, and filled with doubt.

You can hear your mind asking you questions loud and clear. Why now? Aren’t you too old?  You will never do it? These are just of a few of the many thoughts that will be going through your mind once you decide to get up and make a change. The worse fights you will have when going after your dreams will be those from within. The ones that only you have control of and the ones that will be with you all throughout your journey.

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You will have to want it badly and be determined that nothing and no one is going to delay your dreams anymore. The same mind that is telling you that you can never do it is the same mind you will have to condition to now motivate you to want to do it.

You might have to go it alone

Often when you decide to go after your dreams, you will find yourself alone. The people you love and care for may no longer be supportive of those dreams. Many may not understand it and others are fearful since they like you have neglected their dreams. If they couldn’t do it, they do not believe you can either.

You are going to feel empty and alone sometimes. You will be second guessing yourself and whether or not you’ve made the right decision. You will have to be strong and realize that those thoughts are normal, but you must be prepared forging ahead.

We all had those dreams where we believed we could achieve anything. How many of us have stopped to consider the price we will have to pay to achieve those dreams?

Take small steps

You need to start out taking small steps. Things are going to look and feel strange to you at first, and it might take you some time to get yourself together. With determination, you will find your way. You will soon realize that things do become easier with time.

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Socialize with people who share your passion

Go out and meet other people who, like you, are starting over. You would be surprised to know that you are not alone. There are many people who had put their dreams on hold and are now going out and trying to achieve them and doing so.

Be bold and courageous

You must be bold and strong. Do not allow negative thoughts to control your mind. Do not allow fear to prevent you from achieving your dream.  Let fear become your motivator.  Fear should be the reason you go out and work harder.  The more steps you take in the direction of attaining your goals the less fearful you will be.

The closer you are to achieving your dreams the more self-confidence you will have. The more confidence you have the harder and more determined you will be to pursue your dreams.

The only right time is now

There will never be a right time to go after what you want than today. If you continue to wait around for the right time, it will never come.  You have to make the time. You must be willing to take steps into the vast unknown and be confident you will be fine.

Be prepared to fail a few times

Failure should never be the reason you quit fighting for your dreams. You must expect to fail but also be prepared to get back up and keep going.  Failure is just a bump in the road towards your dreams.  Remember you haven’t done it before therefore you will mess up sometimes but that is part of learning.

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You will also be discouraged and frustrated but dig deep to find the strength. Learn from those mistakes and keep going. Every mistake  should make you wiser, stronger, more courageous and better able to handle anything life throws your way.

Enjoy your life

Most of us tend to put off enjoying life to achieve our dreams but while we are delaying our happiness, life is passing by. Choose to be happy in spite of what is going on in your life. If you aren’t happy with things the way they are now you will never be happy even when you have achieved your goals. Choose to be happy with every step you take, good or bad.

Take the time to do things that excite you and things that make you feel good about yourself. Life is short and if you are willing to be happy with a little, you will be just as happy with a lot. The same is true if you choose not to be happy with a little: you will only be an unhappy person with lots of stuff.

Take time to lend a hand

While you are eager to go after your dream do take some time to lend a hand to those that are less fortunate. It will give you a different perspective on life. You will also realize how helping others help you as well. It will also help take your mind off your problems at least for a moment and when you return you will be better able to see things differently.

Never quit

You will be tempted to throw your hands in the air and give up when things get rough. But after waiting all this time to go after what you love you should never let anything deter you. Fight for what is yours even harder than you fought for other people’s dreams.  You will have the same struggles, but now this is for yourself. Be brave and face life knowing that you are fighting for yourself this time.

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Featured photo credit: Dreams by Djorn Lindel via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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