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8 Uncomfortable Actions That Result in Self-Improvement

8 Uncomfortable Actions That Result in Self-Improvement

Stepping out of your comfort zone is the toughest action you can take. It’s right there in the name: comfort zone. Obviously, stepping outside of it would make you uncomfortable. And who wants to be uncomfortable?

However, doing so is the only way you’ll ever grow as a person. In today’s fast-moving world, self-improvement is the key to getting ahead. It’s no longer acceptable to be just average; in order to succeed in life you need to excel in everything you set out to do. Making these changes might scare you, but the success you’ll experience after doing so will make all the discomfort worth it.

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1. Being skeptical

There’s a terrible saying that complacent people use when they don’t feel like standing up for what they believe in: “It is what it is.” It’s a resignation that, even though they know something is wrong in the world, there’s nothing they can do to change it. The greatest minds of our time never used this phrase; they questioned why “it is what it is,” and put their all into changing, and bettering, the world around them. Be the person that acknowledges that things don’t have to be the way they are, and that we all can change for the better.

2. Being honest

Being honest is not always the easiest thing to do. But it’s always the right thing to do. And this doesn’t just mean you should be honest when you know there’s a chance of getting caught. Hold yourself to the highest level of integrity. Live in private the way you live in public. Keep your promises. Even if everyone else around you is a back-stabbing weasel, take solace in the fact that you continue to maintain a high standard for yourself.

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3. Waking up early

The most successful people in the world wake up hours before they actually start working. They use this time to exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, and prepare themselves for the busy day ahead of them. Your time on Earth is your most valuable commodity. Once it’s gone, you can’t ever get it back. While it’s definitely easier to stay in bed as long as you can before you have to get to work, you’re really just wasting the most important gift you’ve been given.

4. Tracking your spending

So many of us can’t start our day without Starbucks or some other pick-me-up that costs $2-3 per day. While that doesn’t seem like much, it ends up costing you anywhere from $300 to $500 over the course of a year ($15,000 over the course of a career!). I’m not saying you should never indulge yourself, but you also should never get in the habit of spending money just because you feel like you need to. Keep track of every penny you spend, and you’ll almost immediately realize there are things you’re spending too much on that you can cut out right away.

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5. Tracking what you eat

One of the keys to self-improvement is watching what you eat. This goes along with the last point about spending money: if you eat a donut every day just because “you always do,” you might want to think about cutting down. Again, I’m not saying you should completely give up the sweets, but you should definitely acknowledge that not everything you put into your body is healthy. Making healthy changes to your diet will not only leave you feeling better physically, but you’ll also end up with a healthier mental attitude as well.

6. Speaking in public

There’s an old Seinfeld joke about people’s number one fear being public speaking, while number two is death: People would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy. If you think about it, having a fear of public speaking makes no sense. Since almost everyone is terrified of it, there’s no reason for you to be afraid of it. Remember in college when everyone had to give a speech? Did you actually care if the person up front made a mistake or didn’t perform well? No! The only time people care enough to remember a speech is if it’s incredibly good. Think about that the next time you have to give a presentation: You’ll only be remembered if what you said was worth remembering.

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7. Focusing on one improvement at a time

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the areas of self-improvement you should be focusing on. But it’s impossible to attack them all at once. If you’re trying to quit smoking, you probably shouldn’t also try to give up your daily donut at the same time; you’ll drive yourself (and others around you) absolutely crazy. Take the time to make a plan of attack, so you’re able to focus on one area of improvement at a time. After a year of self-improvement, you’ll feel like a completely new person.

8. Setting and achieving improbable goals

When setting goals for self-improvement, you don’t want to make them so easy that you reach them with minimal effort, or so hard that you become completely overwhelmed. Set goals that are just out of reach, so that every time you hit one you feel a sense of accomplishment. For example, if you want to start working out, it’s a terrible idea to plan to go to the gym seven days a week; it just won’t happen. But it’s also too easy to just go once a week. Make a plan to go at least three times, and, if you feel up to it, four or five. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, plan so that you have to strive to reach the minimum goal you’ve set, but you also have room to improve.

Featured photo credit: 04222014 – Success Boot Camp Graduation at PCP – US Department of Education via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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