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20 Things You Can Let Go Of To Live A Joyful 2016

20 Things You Can Let Go Of To Live A Joyful 2016

You don’t have to do more to grow and improve. You can add to your life by subtracting negative habits, and by eliminating mindsets and beliefs that are holding you back can have a massive impact on your life.

1. Let go of making life choices based on the expectations of others.

We’re influenced by friends, family, and society. TV shows, advertisements, and advice from others provide a steady stream of messages about the right way to live. Everyone has an opinion (usually unsolicited) about what you should do with your life. Each person has unique experiences, fears, and dreams. People with different beliefs and experiences shouldn’t direct your life choices. Ignore the expectations society places on you. Let go of living someone else’s life.

2. Let go of ignoring your intuition.

We instinctively know the right choice for most important life decisions. The instinct comes to us as a feeling, hunch, and pull towards the answer. We think making a big decision can’t be so easy. We analyze the situation from all angles, make pros and cons lists, and sift through all the reasons that support each option. We deliberate and procrastinate even though we’ve known the answer all along. All we have to do is tune in to the frequency of our inner voice.

3. Let go of questioning your dreams.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

—Eleanor Roosevelt

You don’t have to drop everything and take huge risks to follow your dreams. You can start by taking small steps in that direction. You put less pressure on yourself with incremental steps instead of trying to get from A to Z immediately. The lessons from your early wins and mistakes will inform your next steps. As you accumulate small wins, you can adjust your strategy and take bigger risks. Starting to move in the direction of your dreams fuels you with excitement and motivation.

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4. Let go of waiting to take action until you’re confident in the results.

You have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. You don’t know how to get there. There isn’t a blueprint with step-by-step instructions to get to the finish line. Even if you create the perfect plan, there will be uncertainty along the way. You can’t remove all risks. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll change direction as you find that certain strategies don’t work like you envisioned. The road map will become clearer as you learn throughout the process. The uncertainty in the outcome will decrease. You just have to take the first step.

5. Let go of comparing yourself to others.

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

—Ernest Hemingway

When we compare ourselves to others, we look towards more successful people. This leads to us feeling insecure and inadequate. We dwell on why we aren’t as successful as them. We feel envy. We blame ourselves for not having made better decisions. Instead of swimming in these negative emotions, we can compare ourselves against our ideal self. We can run our own race. As we turn our attention to what we want, we cultivate productive beliefs and thought patterns.

6. Let go of seeking validation and approval from others.

If you constantly seek the approval of others, you make decisions based on what others will like. Instead of thinking about what you want, you seek to please everyone else. In this frame of mind, your self-image and emotional state are outside of your control. Your emotions ebb and flow based on the opinions of others. As you become self-validated, you look within yourself for answers. You analyze each situation and simply do what you think is right. You stop worrying about how other people will perceive your actions.

7. Let go of looking for permission from others.

When you lower the volume of the opinion of others, you gain clarity on what you want. You don’t wait for the green light from others before you get started. You commit to goals that are meaningful and inspiring to you, regardless of what anyone else thinks. You stop seeking permission from others to do what you want.

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8. Let go of complaining.

Many of the setbacks we face are unfair. Things go wrong for reasons that are out of our control. It’s not our fault. We can easily fall into a pattern of complaining about everything that’s not going our way. It feels good. Yet, complaining doesn’t change our situation. When we stop complaining, our mind switches gears to search for solutions instead of looking for problems.

9. Let go of focusing on the negatives.

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

—Marcus Aurelius

What we focus on, expands. We can unconsciously train our mind to spot the worst aspects of each situation. On the other hand, we can train our mind to apply a positive filter to events through disciplined and consistent effort. We can change the way we perceive obstacles. We can spot opportunities where others see problems.

10. Let go of focusing on the way things should be.

Our co-workers should recognize and appreciate our hard work. Our family should see things from our perspective. Life is rarely the way we think it should be though. It’s messier and more unfair than it should be. When we accept the way things are instead of the way they should be, we move past being stuck in a state of frustration. We make better decisions about the next steps to take.

11. Let go of moving on before celebrating your successes.

We work hard to achieve meaningful goals. Then, we spend a few minutes enjoying the accomplishments before moving on the next endeavor. Looking ahead is a great habit to develop. Taking time to celebrate big wins is equally important. Take a step back to reflect on the journey. Toast to the rewards you’ve earned.

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12. Let go of the need to win the argument.

We craft the winning defense in our head like lawyers. We replay the speech we’re going to deliver. Then, we engage in the heated debate. We imagined we were going to hear the satisfying “you’re right” at the end of the argument. Instead, we both leave the scene upset and frustrated. Each of us digs in more fiercely to our side of the argument. We both lose that argument. We can we win the argument by starving our ego from the satisfaction of proving our point.

13. Let go of the need to be recognized.

We want our contributions to be noticed and rewarded. Seeking recognition is similar to seeking approval from others. Your state and emotions depend on how you’re treated by others. Produce great work because it lines up with your values instead of being swayed by the opinion of others. The recognition may not come today. High-quality work sustained over time is undeniable. The applause from the outside world is inevitable.

14. Let go of worrying about the past.

The more mental real estate we give to our past, the less growth we experience in the present. The past can’t be changed. Worrying about the past doesn’t provide any benefits. We can’t improve our present position at the same time that we’re living in the past. It’s natural to recall past mistakes. We can’t stop those thoughts from popping up. We have the power to let those thoughts drift away instead of allowing them to draw us back to the past.

15. Let go of being overly critical of yourself.

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

—Winston Churchill

If you set ambitious goals, you’ll be at the edge of your comfort zone most of the time. You’ll fail over and over as you climb new heights. Failed attempts are part of the growth process. We can appreciate our effort instead of blaming ourselves for each mistake. We’re more likely to keep stepping up to the plate if we treat ourselves kindly.

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16. Let go of failing to learn from mistakes.

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

—Napoleon Hill

Regardless of how many times we replay our mistakes in the theater of our mind, those moments have passed. The mistakes are etched in history. Instead of obsessing over the failures, we can draw lessons that we can start applying today. The mistakes provide feedback about how to improve. Each mistake is an opportunity to learn. With this growth mindset, there are no failures.

17. Let go of taking things too seriously.

We have the choice to build up every annoyance, setback, and frustration to a level 10 disturbance. Or we can diminish them as we leave them in our rear-view mirror. We have the choice to perceive each situation in a way that’s advantageous. We can enjoy the process. We can keep things light. We can laugh often. It’s our choice.

18. Let go of trying to do it all.

The options are endless. We can take on more projects at work. We can read more articles. We can learn to cook. We can do 1,000 different things. We feel productive when we cross off items from the to-do list. They all feel like accomplishments and progress. Yet, most tasks don’t move the needle towards our most valued goals. The more splintered our attention becomes, the less likely we are to achieve what matters most.

19. Let go of focusing on the urgent over the important.

We can spend most of our time putting out small fires. The urgent tasks will keep coming tomorrow and the day after. Life is an endless conveyor belt of small fires. Most of them aren’t important. When we build the habit of focusing on the important over the urgent, we make consistent progress towards meaningful goals. We create momentum towards the life we envision. That’s better than getting a lot done but not getting where we want to go.

20. Let go of feeling busy and overwhelmed.

We’re all guilty of telling our friends, “I’m so busy.” A part of us likes being too busy because it makes us feel important and valued. We also feel overwhelmed without realizing how it happened. We say “yes” to most invitations and requests without thinking about how they fit into our big picture plans. Turning down requests from our friends and co-workers takes discipline and commitment to our priorities. As we build the “No” muscle, we give ourselves the space to design our days to reflect a balance of work, play, and relaxation. We’re in charge of our time.

Featured photo credit: eflon via flickr.com

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Jose Ramos

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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