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5 Terrible Excuses For Why People Let Their Dreams Go

5 Terrible Excuses For Why People Let Their Dreams Go

Everyone has dreams and aspirations, and yet most of us in life will never see them through. Perhaps it’s due to being afraid of failure, unprecedented circumstances, or even death. And the ones who do achieve their dreams? Most are often left unfulfilled, wandering aimlessly and confused — why?

Because dreams are meant to be dreams, they’re supposed to be unattainable. That’s why they’re dreams, right?

Wrong.

Here are 5 terrible excuses for letting your dreams go.

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1. You think you’re not good enough.

Yes, everyone has that little voice in their head screaming that they’re pathetic, a failure, and worthless. Sometimes, you believe you’ve created the best thing that’s ever been on earth, and the next day you are wondering how in the world you managed to create such a piece of dirt.

Well, there are many things that science has told us about that little voice. For one, it was originally used as a means of comfort and security. Yes, I know, that voice that calls you ugly and worthless was intended to be helpful, not harmful. And it’s not like you can tie it up, put some tape on its mouth, and throw it in the corner. But let’s face it, that voice is one of the best things we can have. It will tell us over and over when something isn’t good enough, and that’s us.

We know our limits, and so do our minds. So, the next time you hear that little old brain of yours telling you that your piece of art/literature/acting/athletics is terrible, think of it as a way of your brain saying this: I can do better, I know I can. I can succeed in my dreams.

2. You say you “don’t have enough time.”

I’m going to say this once: dreams are meant to be taken and worked on. And if you don’t have enough time for something you’re passionate about, then you truly never were that passionate about it.

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Successful people make time, and if you’re one of those people who are constantly on Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr, grab a stopwatch and start counting the minutes. When you decide that you’re going to sit down and watch TV, start counting the minutes. A recent study from The Telegraph shows us that the average person spends an hour and forty minutes on social media each day — and you still say you have no time?

If you truly have no time, no time in the world to do what you love, drop what you don’t like and start doing what you love. Yes, you might make a little less money, you might not be able to go to the gym, you might not be able to do certain things you like, but you will be able to do the thing you love and pursue your dream. You have one life, so what do you have to lose to go after a dream? Nothing.

3. Your peers think otherwise.

Hey, Jenny, heard you want to be a writer. Good luck with that — you can’t write, and becoming a successful author is, like, super hard, so come party instead.”

Everyone has that one person who will stop at nothing to put down their dreams, their aspirations. These people believe that in life, you have to be a realist. Being an artist doesn’t pay bills, neither does being a writer. What pays bills is working a 9-to-5 job that you might hate, and for what? A nice car, a nice house, a nice job, some status? But what about that dream? What about that dream to be a writer, to publish work?

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You know, I can tell you something, something that’s a fact. If you worked a 9-to-5 job and died tomorrow, what would happen? Someone would come and take your place, people would mourn, and that would be it. Your life as a blip in the earth’s existence. Forgotten. However, if you go out there in that big world and attempt to make something of your dream, you will be more successful than any other millenial who worked all day in a job they despised. Whether it’s being a dancer, being an athlete, being a writer — you have the chance of never being forgotten. The chance of your name to be written on a great piece of work, in a record book, in an amazing play. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So go for it.

To quote Alan watts: What would you do, if money was no object?

Do it.

4. You say, “I’m not quite ready yet.”

It takes a lot of courage to chase a dream. That becomes more evident when you sacrifice family time, your lifestyle, your hobbies, your finances, and even risk losing everything. Now, I’m not saying go out and quit your job, burn your bridges, destroy your foundations. What I am saying is to rediscover that passion, that eternal flame that is within all of us to chase our dreams, because you only have one life.

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With every day that passes, you are the oldest you’ve ever been, and the youngest you’ll ever be again. Time will run from you, and I hear a lot of, “I’m not quite ready yet” or “I’m too young, I don’t have enough experience.” That is bologna. I will say this time and time again: you don’t wait for opportunity, you create your opportunity. You build your bridges, and I’ll be damned if there is a path that leads to success that is covered in debris, fallen down and broken — you’d better get ready to clear it. Because you are ready. You will make yourself ready.

5. You lie to yourself.

Being honest to yourself is one of the hardest things to do in life. People do not like disappointments, and when you are striving to be successful, you always hear the words, “I’m doing my best,” “I work my butt off,” and “I’m always busy.”

People like to proclaim self-greatness. But it’s always good to understand you aren’t the best — yet. I’ll give you an example. My dream is to become a writer, and when I was younger, I used to claim that I didn’t read books because I thought all the stories were pointless and I didn’t like the way other writers wrote. Well, I was lying to myself, and had convinced myself of this lie. The reality was that I believed I wrote the best and had the talent to be the greatest — I still do, but in a much humbler way. I stepped back and told myself that I am nothing but dirt right now. That in order for me to grow, I must learn from the best. I picked up many novels by Stephen King. I don’t like his novels greatly — some I love, most I like. But he is argueably the most popular and well-known writer there is. I stopped seeing myself as someone who can contribute to the world of literature, and starting seeing myself in my true form: as an apprentice, learning on his own through self-education.

So, stop with the excuses and go out there and change the world.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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