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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?

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.

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

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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