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The 12 Most Important Lessons to Learn Before Your 30s

The 12 Most Important Lessons to Learn Before Your 30s

I look back at my life and I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to my teenage years – too much awkwardness. My 20’s sure were a lot of fun and then, as I approached 30, I got nervous. I wondered what I was doing with my life and what I’d actually accomplished during college, other than being a three-year running beer pong champion. But now that I’m in my 30s, I have to say this is great. I’m loving it!

Rather than focusing on what hasn’t happened focus on what has! These are lessons that everyone should learn before entering their 30s. By learning these lessons you’ll set yourself up for some fabulous years in your 30’s.

1. Know Your Way Around the Kitchen

Ramen and takeout were fine for your college days, but you don’t want to be doing this every night anymore. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask a friend who has mastered the art of creating delicious eats in the kitchen to give you a few tips. Or you can get a few of your best pals together and take a cooking class. If you’d rather learn right from your own kitchen, or if there aren’t any classes available in your area, consider taking an online cooking class instead.

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2. Have a Better Understanding About Permanence

It seems like the number of people with tattoos nowadays is far surpassing those without ink. If you are considering getting a tattoo, be sure it’s something you are prepared to live with forever. If you decide it’s what you want, make sure you give thought to the placement of your new ink. Getting one that isn’t easily covered by business attire may hinder future job opportunities.

3. Be Knowledgeable About Insurance Coverage

Nothing sounds more adult than insurance, right? You don’t have to be an expert on the subject, but it’s important for you to familiarize yourself with what kinds of insurance you might need throughout your life. If you’re renting, you’ll need renters insurance and then it will change to home insurance when you take that step. Other types of insurance that are important are health, life, and possibly auto, if you have a car. It may be overwhelming at first, but there are insurance experts who can help you compare and learn about the different policies.

4. Know How to Speak Your Mind

It may not have been easy to speak up when you were in a lecture hall in college, but you’re past that now. Before reaching the third decade in your life, you should be able to speak up in meetings. Sure, it may be scary and people may disagree with what you have to say, but it’s important to develop your own voice and believe in what you have to say.

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5. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Quit comparing yourself to those around you. It means nothing if you aren’t in the same place professionally or personally as someone the same age – or younger – than you. We are all walking individual paths, and our journeys cannot possibly look the same. Be confident in the path your life is taking and, if you want to change something, take action to do so.

6. Learn to Love Yourself

I know this is easier said than done. I remember wondering if I’d ever learn to love my thighs and, to be honest, I’m still working on that. But I certainly am learning how to embrace my quirks and flaws and I hope you can do the same. Once you do, you’ll see how those things make you who you are who you are is pretty great. It’s the uniqueness that makes people interesting and, as cheesy as it may sound, there’s no one else out there like you. Enjoy that individuality in yourself and be proud of it. That positive energy will certainly radiate from you and make people have that same love and admiration for you.

7. When it Comes to Alcohol, Everything in Moderation

In your 20’s, this rule certainly doesn’t seem to apply, but now you’ve wised up a bit and know it should. Alcohol is like salt – it adds to a good meal, but it’s not wise (or good for your body) to add it to everything. Your ability to party all night and still arrive at work the next morning is less impressive than it was at 22.

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8. Have a Handle on Your Finances

Don’t panic. I’m not saying you should have an abundance of money, but you should know how to create and stick to a budget. I also hope you know how to balance your checkbook and, hopefully, pay off your credit card on time so you aren’t spending your hard earned money on late fees and interest. There are lots of apps you can use to help you manage your finances straight from your smartphone. Download a few and get started, if you haven’t already.

9. Know How to Do Things For Yourself

You don’t always need to call the repairman. There are many small household tasks you can accomplish yourself for a fraction of the cost. Thanks to YouTube, you can find how-to videos to guide you through most home repairs. Many home improvement stores hold free seminars on how to do simple repair tasks as well. Not only will you save yourself some cash, you’ll gain the satisfaction of having accomplished something you didn’t think you could do.

10. Start to Eat Healthy

This one goes back to our first point. If you’re cooking at home more, you’re more likely to eat healthier. Having a healthy and well-balanced diet will pay off for you in the long run. But we certainly don’t mean you can’t indulge in a cupcake now and then. In fact, we encourage it, because hey – you’ve got to live life, too.

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11. Speak Another Language

So, if you’re almost 30 and haven’t done this one, don’t panic. Just know that now’s the time to start. You can expand your vocabulary at a local community college or by using one of the many online language tools. Not only will this give you a good reason to travel to a new place to put your new skill to use, but it will make you more marketable in the workplace.

12. Take Risks with Your Heart

It may get broken, but you may also find worlds of wonder that you never imagined possible. Putting yourself out there in love can bring you the one you spend your life with or it can bring you great stories to tell down the road. Either way, the risk is worth it. In the end, success is rarely counted by the money we have in the bank but by the riches of our hearts.

If you’re approaching your 30th birthday, I wish you happy birthday and welcome you to this great time in our lives. And, if you’re in your 30’s, what other life lesson advice do you have to add to my list?

Featured photo credit: Birthday Party via istockphoto.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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