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8 Undeniable Reasons Your 40s Are Your Golden Decade

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8 Undeniable Reasons Your 40s Are Your Golden Decade

Full disclosure: I just turned 30 last month. But I am something of an old soul, and am definitely starting to feel more “myself” the older I get. While your twenties are a time in which to truly discover yourself, your thirties are a time to establish yourself in the hopes that, when you turn forty, you have a solid foundation and can start to feel as if you’re finally in control of your life. Once you hit the fourth decade of your life, you can be happy knowing that:

1. People finally see you as an adult

I got called “sir” last week, but it was by a teenager. When I’m 40, I hope to have established myself enough that people older than me will stop seeing me as a young buck, and start taking me a bit more seriously. When you’re in your 20s and 30s, veterans of your industry will often proverbially thumb their noses at you whenever you express your ideas or opinions, believing you to be “too young to know what you’re talking about.” There’s something about turning 40 that makes this argument obsolete, regardless of whether or not you do actually know what you’re talking about.

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2. You don’t need to be current

Even at 30, I absolutely love coming across a headline on Facebook reporting that two celebrities are dating, and I have no idea who either of them are. I think current clothing trends are ridiculous, and I have no intention of seeing most of the current summer blockbusters in theaters right now. As you hit 40, you realize all that garbage is stuff you cared about because you had nothing else to care about. Now, you have a wife, two kids, and a mortgage to pay. When you were 20, that didn’t sound too appealing. But at 40, you wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Especially not for a pair of skinny jeans.

3. You actually own things

Your car was paid off years ago. You can actually afford to put additions onto your home. You own lawn furniture, let alone living room furniture. You can go to the store and buy a big screen TV without it meaning you’ll be eating Ramen noodles for a month. You’re comfortable enough financially to not freak out every time your wife says “Let’s go to Target!” You might not have that private jet you thought you’d have by this time in your life, but at least you can afford to pay more than the minimum on your credit card bills.

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4. You don’t have a fear of missing out

FOMO, as the kids are calling it these days, doesn’t overcome you anymore. You don’t see Friday nights as an automatic party night, and you don’t even really care when your birthday comes up anymore for that matter. When your friends get together and you can’t make it because of life’s responsibilities, you don’t spend the rest of the weekend wishing you had gone. When they recall all the crazy stuff you missed, instead of thinking “Man, I should have been there,” you think “I guess I had to be there.” When you hit 40, you know you’ve had your time to party, and missing out on one night isn’t that big a deal.

5. People don’t judge you, and it doesn’t matter if they do

You’re not in high school anymore. People aren’t going to judge you for what you wear, or how you act. And if they do, you either take it in stride, or give them the what for. You also don’t care when people make fun of you for saying “what for.” Because what others think isn’t important anymore, you can feel comfortable going to the convenience store in sweats and a t-shirt, or not having a good hair day. You have way too much else on your plate to worry about the big red pimple on your nose (unfortunately, those don’t go away – but your attitude toward them sure does change).

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6. You’ve surrounded yourself with true friends

Again, high school is over. The friends you have at 40 are true-blue pals who will be with you through thick and thin. They’re not just around for the party, but will also help you out when you’re in need. Not only that, but your friends’ family have become your family, and vice versa. Your kids play together and your spouses get along great. You might not see each other as often as you like, but when you do get a chance to get together, it feels like you haven’t missed a beat.

7. You enjoy things you used to think were boring

At one point in the comedy Old School, Will Ferrell’s character mentions “a pretty nice little Saturday” in which he and his wife will be going to Home Depot, and maybe – if they’re lucky – Bed Bath & Beyond. There are either two extreme schools of thought on this: People who think this is a terrible way to spend a Saturday, and people who think this is an awesome way to spend a Saturday. Chances are, if you’re in the latter group, you’re most likely over 40. If you’re any younger than that, you’ll most likely have to pretend not to have enjoyed your time shopping for bath salts and fragrances when you’re with your buddies. After 40, no one will think twice when you say you can’t go fishing because you’re looking for new siding for the house.

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8. You’re still young

Being 40 shouldn’t mean half your life has passed you by. It means you still have an entire lifetime left to live. You might not be as quick as you were when you were a teenager, and you might not be able to stay up all hours of the night on a weekday like you did in college, but there’s still so much to do on this Earth. Your forties are a perfect time to do all of the things you’ve always wanted to do. I’m not saying go all “mid-life crisis” on your family, but you should definitely plan the vacation you’ve always dreamed of, or learn a skill you’ve always wanted to try. Just because life has gotten busy doesn’t mean you should be too busy to live life. Make the most of it!

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm1.staticflickr.com

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More by this author

Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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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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