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Ask Yourself These 6 Questions To Help Clear Your Struggles.

Ask Yourself These 6 Questions To Help Clear Your Struggles.

I don’t care who you are, there are moments in life where you just feel stuck; as though you were never moving in the first place. Those moments can seem to swallow your life and you often find yourself spinning the wheels in your mind trying to get out of that place, only to find yourself digging deeper into the mental mud of misery.

The best thing to do when you are feeling unhealthy, stuck and miserable is to take a moment to ask yourself some honest questions that will help you move forward and get you out of your rut. Here are 6 that should get you moving on the right path:

1.Are you making excuses?

This is the first question you need to ask yourself. Yeah. It is a hard question that can really sting, but if you are serious about getting unstuck in life you have to be brutally honest with yourself right now. You need to let go of the blame and the excuses and realize that your life is your life. You are in control of this and it is your responsibility. No one else is going to live it for you and if it is not what you want, no one else is going to improve it for you. I am not saying that you cannot or should not seek out help or lean on others when you get into a serious funk.

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What I am saying is that you can’t just wallow in your own misery, complaining about how you got a bad lot in life, and how everything is terrible but none of it is your fault. Sure, things outside of our control happen. Maybe it is even true that the reason you are stuck is not entirely your fault, but life’s crap storms happen to everyone. You need to learn how to accept that fact, realize that other people have it a million times worse, and that all change starts inside yourself with a healthy dose of personal responsibility. So drop the excuses, drop the “woe is me” mentality and accept that life is sometimes difficult and full of peaks and chasms, but there is no use feeling sorry for yourself because you hit a trench in your life.

2.How do you talk to yourself?

As you might be able to tell from, my inner voice is usually very demanding. He is like a drill sergeant that does not let me get away with anything, nor does he let me make excuses or feel sorry for myself. There is this notion in personal development that you should always be soft and kind and considerate with yourself. I don’t agree with this. I think that SOMETIMES you should be those things, because we all need a caring voice to comfort us when times are most difficult, but the people who accomplish the most, the people who are healthy, unstuck and moving forward in their lives, are typically motivated by an inner voice that throws some tough love at them most of the time.

You don’t want to go to the gym? Too bad! You are never going to drop those extra pounds by sitting there and binge watching Netflix! You don’t think you have time to make a healthy meal? That is a bunch of BS! Now get in that kitchen and throw together a salad and do it now! Sometimes you have to put yourself in your place and talking to yourself with a firm, disciplined determination is often how you can get unstuck. Just remember there is a fine line between being firm and being mean. Don’t beat yourself. Give yourself the internal motivation to do what you know you need to do to make things better. Accept no excuses and be relentless!

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3.What matters to you?

You need to seriously decide what is important to you in life and act in a way that shows that those things matter, because if those things are truly important, cherishing them and acting in a way that shows their meaning to you is going to make you feel amazing. We all say that friends and family and health and money and whatever are important, but do we always act in a way that highlights their importance? You say you value health, but do you eat healthy? Do you exercise? You say you value family, but do you tell them how much you appreciate them? Do you go out of your way to help them? You can say how much you value things, but if you act in a way contrary to that your mind, and the world, is not going to buy it.

You can say you want to be healthy and that you value your body, but if you are out there eating fast food and not exercising, then I am sorry, you don’t value your health and the guilt and shame you feel because you are acting contrary to what matters to you is going to make you miserable. So decide what matters to you and act in a way that shows that it matters.

4.Who do you want to be right now?

The question about who you are right now doesn’t matter. What matters is asking yourself who you want to be right now. Right now you are unhealthy, stuck and miserable, but who cares? That is obviously not who you want to be, so quit asking yourself who you are right now and starting asking yourself who you want to be right now. The truth is, we create ourselves in every moment. We choose activities that support or erode our self worth and confidence every moment. What you need to do is find someone or something that actively embodies the things that matter to you and choose to be that way until you don’t have a choice.

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You eventually just do it naturally and then that becomes who you are. You want to be happy right now? Then act like you are happy. Watch happy videos. Recall happy moments. Copy happy people. It sounds like new age, personal development crap, but it works. Every time I do it, it never fails me. The brain is easily fooled and I can almost guarantee that you will be happy and your happiness will be as natural as if it were always a part of you.

5.What small things can you change?

Often, when we are feeling stuck and miserable, we think we have to make some epic shifts in our life. Sometimes that is true, and I will discuss that in the last question, but usually great change in life comes from minor, incremental shifts that snowball into enormous, monumental movements.

The key here is to identify the little things you can do to improve the quality of your life right now. Meditate for 5 minutes a day. Eat 100 less calories per day. Take the stairs, instead of the elevator. Write a thank you card to a friend or family member. You get the point. It’s up to you to identify these small changes, but if you make a few of them, and build off of them, you will notice an increase in the small moments of comfort in your life and you will want to add more and more until those small changes add up to big results.

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6.What big thing can you change right now?

While small changes are great and they will add up over time, if you want a quick fix to get unstuck and feeling less miserable immediately, make a big change. The key here is to not make a bunch of big changes as that is often a surefire recipe for failure. So just choose one, realistic, big change you can make and jump in head first. You have to commit to it and just go for it. It will be hard, but you will get an instant burst of confidence and satisfaction that you are doing something to change your life for the better.

I cannot say what a big change is for you, but I can say it should be something realistic, doable and something that truly aligns with the things above that you value from question 3. Take a sudden trip to see a distant relative that you haven’t seen in a long time. Enroll in a night class at a local university. Throw away every bit of junk food in your house. It should be big enough to where it scares you a little, but not so big that you can’t start it right away. The instant gratification of moving towards this big change will result in a sudden shift of your mental state and get you instantly unstuck.

What you need to remember is that these questions can be asked anytime you feel like you are in a rut in your life. Even if you are not stuck, you can use these questions to keep your life moving forward and avoid those seemingly inevitable moments of feeling lost, unmotivated, and miserable. But also remember this, you can ask these questions all you want, but if you don’t do anything with the answers, nothing is going to change. The key to getting unstuck is to be committed and active in pushing yourself out. These questions are fuel, but the heavy lifting is all on you!

Featured photo credit: Victor Cristian Mitroi via Flickr via flickr.com

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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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