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If You Cannot Explain Your Life Plans for More than 25 Seconds, You Have No Plans At All

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If You Cannot Explain Your Life Plans for More than 25 Seconds, You Have No Plans At All

A recent study reported that most people can’t get through a mere 25 seconds of close reflection about their life plans. They may start off with some idea of what they want to achieve, but when questioned about the real aspects of how they will do it, like how they will pay for it, they lose focus and get confused, often falling into complete silence. It’s not that people lack ambition. It’s that their ideas are still in their infancy and most never get past that stage to having mature and solid goals or strategies.

The issue is that life plans can become so complicated and overwhelming that most people just end up settling. Instead of having clearly thought out and planned goals with strategies and tools to achieve them, they let the concrete reality slip through their grasp and surrender to an ambiguous notion of an unpredictable life. While we can’t control everything that happens in life and don’t know for sure what tomorrow will bring; while living mindfully in the moment and focusing on the present is valuable, that doesn’t mean we should abandon our goals and neglect the quest for tangible methods to assertively and actively succeed in achieving our desires.

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One method to making concrete goals and establishing solid strategies is to use the “5 whys” method. This basically refers to a technique for solving problems by simply asking why. The answer is the basis for the next question.

Here are six steps to establishing realistic goals and firm strategies to accomplishing them.

Goals

1.What makes you happy?

Make a list and be honest. What are the activities that make you happiest. Don’t limit your answers by thinking whether or not you are good at it, or if you have any qualifications or experience. Think broadly. It could be that you love cooking or sewing; playing an instrument, reading. Think about the things that motivate you. Although most people may say laying in the sun doing nothing is what makes them happy, soon you’ll be bored. Think about something you would be happy to do every single day of your life. Be realistic.

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2.What are your strengths?

What are you good at. Maybe ask others. You may not enjoy cleaning your house or car very much, but you might be really good at it and feel satisfied after the task is done. Someone may have complimented you on your ability to grow plants or care for pets. Try to think of examples of when you were accomplished at something and the pride you felt, knowing you could do it again. Often it is hard to admit what we are genuinely good at for fear of appearing conceited. It takes courage to give ourselves credit for a job well done.

3.What do you need to do this every day?

Once you have established your desires and attributes, think about the things you may need to allow you to do this every day and perhaps even to make a living from it. Do you need qualifications? Testimonials? More experience? Materials and a work space? Time? Narrow it down. Don’t be too complicated and think too far ahead. Just start at where you are now and where you want to be tomorrow. Do this every day and step by step you get closer to establishing a concrete goal.

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Strategies

1.How much time do you have?

Time is very important. If you have a full time job, are a parent or carer and have lots of responsibilities, you need to consider where this new goal will fit in and where you want it to take you. Time is very deceptive. It is easy to think we have no time, but when you prioritize your life, you can easily find it. If you dedicate only a few minutes a day to the one thing that makes you happy, slowly that time grows and eventually it takes precedence over other things that are no longer as important as you thought they were.

2.How much space do you need?

Sometimes having a work space dedicated to what you want to do is a good motivator. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it is a physical way to start to see a goal manifest. If you want to make clothes, establish a sewing corner. Buy fabrics and a machine. It doesn’t have to cost a lot either. Get things second hand, look for free stuff. Make it known what you want and soon people start giving you things, everyone has junk that to you is gold. Set up a permanent space. Maybe put up an ideas or inspiration board to be able to visualize the activity. Make associations. Anything that corresponds to your goals and life plans can be included in this physical space to build your reality.

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3.What materials are essential?

Life goals are only manifested when we start to see physical outcomes. Do you need a qualification – a framed certificate? Do you need tools and books or guides? Is a substantial investment required and do you need to start putting funds away, take out a personal loan or build the investment a little at a time? Can you get help or crowd funding? Can you partner up with someone or a group of people? Can you barter or swap, give and receive in return to start to make this goal a legitimate exchange? Soon you will have a burgeoning business.

Helpful Guide

Having a goal without good strategies cannot help you achieve what you want. However, with Lifehack Goal Setting System, in which every small progress counts, you can efficiently attain the best result of your desire. For every goal you add, you will receive practical and useful articles that guide you through the process and achieve remarkable outcomes.

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To start with, you can try these health goals:

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Diane Koopman

Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

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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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