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8 Boulders You Need To Remove On Your Way To Success

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8 Boulders You Need To Remove On Your Way To Success

Success is not one simple act, it’s a summation of your habits. In today’s world so many people want to become an overnight success. However, what you don’t realize is that the most successful people work extremely hard. For example, Jack Ma (founder of Alibaba) credits his success to hard work and dedication. NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant would wake up at 4:00 A.M. to practice free-throws by himself before official practice started with the Olympic team hours later. He literally practiced before practice!

Perfecting and practicing your craft are keys to success. The best way you can systematize doing those things is by creating positive habitsLike Jim Ryuh says, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

Today, I want to share eight bad habits standing in your way of massive success, and how you can tackle them head-on to achieve your dreams.

Bad Habit #1: Not being disciplined with your time

Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, time is our most precious and limited resource. There are only 24 hours in one day. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that you’ll wake up tomorrow. That being said, it’s critical that you’re disciplined with your time. Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, gets up at 4:30 A.M. every day. How’s that for discipline?

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Sleeping and waking up at the same time everyday is good for your body and helpful in setting a disciplined, daily routine. Besides being strict about when you wake up and go to bed, it’s also important to be protective of your time. A great tactic to do this is to designate a few days or specific hours throughout the week for “success time.” These are blocks of time where you only focus on doing things that contribute to your personal goals, whether it’s learning a new language or working on a side business. By designating your “success time,” you’ll be able to focus on the things that matter most to you and will be less tempted to say “yes” to last minute social invitations or distractions that can get in your way. You also have to be able to say “no” to committing to things that don’t interest or benefit you. Remember, the few hours you spend doing something you’re not that into are hours that you could have spent learning or growing yourself.

Bad Habit #2: Analysis Paralysis 

Do you spend way too much time trying to decide minor things, like what you’ll order at a restaurant or which toothpaste to buy? Successful people have a track record of making tough decisions with limited time and information. You have to develop habits that can help you do the same. If you struggle with analysis paralysis, challenge yourself to make better decisions faster. Contemplating over minor decisions is inefficient and time-consuming. Humans have limited willpower, so you’ll want to use your willpower for decisions that really matter.

One of the best ways to simplify decision making is to limit the number of options to choose from. The paradox of choice (which has been proven in numerous studies) states that when we’re presented with too many options we become overwhelmed and are then unable to make any decision at all. By narrowing down your choices to the top two or three options you’ll be able to decide faster.

While you can limit the number of options, you can also limit the amount of time that you have to decide something. If you’ve ever had a job offer, you know how effective a deadline can be when it comes to forcing you to make a decision fairly quickly. So if you’ve been debating about an important decision for years, give yourself one week to decide and see how much faster you’ll pick a path!

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Bad Habit #3: Dwelling on the Past

We’ve all done things that we may have regretted, perhaps it was that missed promotion or the company you could have joined that just IPO’d. While it’s great to observe the past and learn from your history, dwelling on the past will only hold you back. Like the Buddha taught, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream in the future, concentrate on the mind on the present moment.” Focusing on the present moment will help shift your mind’s focus from the past and into the moment. It will help you feel more connected and grateful for the journey you’re on now, rather than thinking about the mistakes of the past.

How do you break out of this nasty habit? Set a reminder that alerts you a few times a day to do what I like to call a “mental double check.” It’s simply a way to check-in with yourself to make sure that you’re focused and engrossed in the present moment. When you get the reminder, check-in on your mind and figure out where your mind is. If you find yourself focusing on the past, take a few deep breaths and close your eyes to feel grounded in the moment so you can reset and get present again. If you realize that you actually are living in the moment, celebrate that achievement!

Bad Habit #4:  Negative Self-Talk

Does that little voice in your head get you down? Remember, we become the things that we tell ourselves. Like Henry Ford says, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t. You’re right.” Your mental habits can make or break you. It’s important to get a hold of that little voice in your head, especially when it’s telling you that you suck.

So how can you start controlling that voice in your head so it doesn’t control you? Start taking note of the cues that trigger negative self-talk, it may be when you make a minor mistake or step into the office. Next, realize the routine that you’re in, are you complaining and being negative or telling yourself you’re not “good enough” to be there? Finally, rather than give into that negative voice, transform that thought into a positive one. Rather than beating yourself up for making a small mistake, immediately turn that thought into a positive statement about yourself. Another alternative is to simply own the mistake and propose how you will make sure that you will improve the next time. By distracting your mind with a positive thought or brainstorming how you’ll improve the next time around, you’ll stop yourself from triggering the usual negative self-talk that makes you feel like crap.

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Bad Habit #5: Taking Things for Granted

No matter what issue you may be facing or how horrible the world may seem at a given moment, there is always something that you can be grateful for, it may be a family member or friend or something “minor” like a roof over your head. Being grateful is such an important habit to develop. Successful entrepreneurs like Oprah and Tony Robbins constantly practice it. Practicing gratitude is not only good for the soul, but studies have shown that it also lowers stress levels and increases quality of life. Grateful people also tend to exercise more and eat healthier.

An easy way to practice gratitude is to make a daily or weekly list of things you’re grateful for. These can be big or little things from people in your life, to running water in your apartment! Write it down in solitude. Find a quiet environment to truly internalize the things and reflect on what you’re grateful for. 

Bad Habit #6: Staying in your Comfort Zone

Being successful means trying new things, meeting new people, and being open to different opportunities. With big risk comes big reward, so don’t limit yourself to your current comfort zone of your job, usual friends, and activities. Switch it up and start challenging yourself! The road to success is not easy, so learning how to adapt in different environments now can help you down the road. Like successful business coach Brian Tracy says, “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

So how can you start expanding your comfort zone? A great resource is Meetup.com.  Explore an interest you don’t have a lot of expertise in but want to learn more about and dive even deeper. Get to know new people who you can learn from and aren’t part of your usual social circle. Other ways to step out of your comfort zone include reading books or watching movies that are totally out of the usual genres you expose yourself to. 

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Bad Habit #7: Hanging Around Limiting People

You are the company you keep, so be sure you’re surrounded by supportive and positive people. Take a quick survey of the people who you spend the most time with. Are those people optimistic and positive? On the road to success you don’t have any time for negativity or pessimism. If you notice that the people you spend time with aren’t supporting you, then distance yourself. Find people who share your interests and encourage you to reach your goals. In today’s age there are so many awesome forums to find like-minded people, like Facebook groups, Slack, online forums, and Twitter where you can find a supportive tribe or even create your own!

Bad Habit #8: Comparing Yourself to Others

On the road to success be sure to define your own path. It’s easy to look at other people in the media or on your social networks and feel jealous of what they’ve got, but you never know the story behind the story. What may seem like an “overnight” success was usually years and years of blood, sweat and tears. Comparing yourself to other people can make you feel like you’re not good enough. To kick this habit, limit your time on social networks. This study showed that more than one-third of respondents reported predominantly negative feelings after using Facebook. They were also more likely to feel envious and experience lower levels of life satisfaction.

If you want to be really vigilant of the time you’re using on social media you can track it using apps like RescueTime or MinutesPlease. Remember, you’re on your own unique journey. You’re the only person who truly owns your own experience, so don’t worry about what other people are doing. Spend your time focusing on your own growth and achievement.

Conclusion

The path to success is paved with twists and turns, in order to achieve your dreams you have to build the right habits to get you there. Understanding the boulders that can get in your way will make you better equipped to tackle them head-on so you can attain massive success!

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Featured photo credit: Paxson Woelber via flic.kr

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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

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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