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5 Ways Millennials Can Start Building Their Future Today

5 Ways Millennials Can Start Building Their Future Today

There has been a lot written about the way millennials are approaching the world of work in a very different manor to previous generations. We tend to place a strong emphasis on making sure that we work simply to enjoy life to the fullest, rather than only working to live, and you will often hear many people talking about wanting to live only in the now.

These are positive ideals that I very much subscribe to, but aside from being millennials, we’re also known as Generation-Rent thanks to the way our carefree attitude to life and finances in general mean that many of us will never get to own our own home. This is as much to do with our generation being priced out of the market as it is a question of choice, but this one example doesn’t bode all that well for our long-term futures.

I have zero interest in being the killjoy who tells everybody to get serious and get to work, but I do think there are a number of little things that we could be doing now in order to better prepare ourselves for a slightly more prosperous future.

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1. Get a Roommate

If you’ve already got one, cool, but for many people the moment you move into your own flat is a seminal one that proves you’re now a fully-fledged adult with your own established place in the world. This is awesome, well done, but is it really all that important for you to be living alone right now? I am very guilty of having gone down this same route. I have paid a high price for it, and looking back I realise that I would have saved a lot of money if only I had continued to live with friends.

Even if you aren’t ready to ditch your independence completely, there has never been a better time than now for you to rent out a spare room via Airbnb in order to save some extra cash. This is never more true than when you go on holiday and your home is just left sitting there completely empty. Not only are you blowing all your cash on a good time in Ibiza, but you’re paying the rent too. Rent it out and pass that cost onto somebody else. Doing so should at least cover your drinks’ bill.

2. Turn Your Blog Into a Business

Our generation is able to benefit from technology in ways never previously accessible to our parents and grandparents. The internet may waste almost as much of our time as it does provide us with amazing opportunities, but this is something we really have to turn to our advantage. This is especially true for those people who run their own blogs.

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You might think of your blog as not much more than a hobby where you post your writing, art, photography, or any of the other things that resonate with you personally, but this passion could be something that you could turn into a little cash. Advertisers may be interested in buying space on your page if you’re attracting a lot of daily traffic.

And if you’ve got unique content on there that could be turned into merchandise, there might just be a market willing to buy from you. This could get a little complicated and involve a bit of training and some ecommerce CRM software to make this transition a reality, but the long-term rewards will be well worth the hassle.

3.  Be Money Smart

One of the big problems for many people is not that they don’t have any money. It is more often the case that they just don’t manage it well. When you live hand to mouth it is hard to think about saving, but it’s even harder to do this if you just bury your head in the sand and don’t think about it all.

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Aside from trying to work out little ways in which you could budget and save money each month, you should also review all of your financial arrangements. Banking is a business just like any other. You might be perfectly happy with your bank and credit card, but are they really giving you the best market deal? Chances are you probably have no idea.

You might not be able to pay off your credit card over night, but in a few clicks you could very well move all your debt over to a card where for the next year or more you will have 0% interest on the balance you moved.

4. Learn a Second Language

Budgeting and money saving where you can are great ways to build up a little nest egg but so too is education. If you can promote yourself as being bilingual on your CV, there is a good chance that this will make your odds of getting a new job significantly better. Langue learning via a school or an academy can be quite time consuming and expensive, but there are a number of cheaper ways to go about this.

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In many big cities there are often “intercambio” opportunities where you can find people who want to meet up over coffee and spend half the time speaking in their language and the other half in yours. This is great for those people who already have a base knowledge and want to push on. And for absolute beginners there are lots of free resources online which you can use to get started.

5. Buy a Bike

For city dwellers and those that commute from the outskirts each day, travel costs can take up a high percentage of your monthly outgoings. By investing in a decent second-hand bike, or even a cheap brand new one, you’ll not only save money in the long run, but you’ll be improving your health and saving the environment as you do it.

Many major cities understand how beneficial having a bustling bike culture is with extensive bike lanes and low-cost bike share services being a fixture of places like Barcelona, Paris, New York and London. Even if your own city doesn’t have these kinds of luxuries, there’s no reason why you can’t saddle up anyway in order to start saving some money.

Featured photo credit: http://getrefe.tumblr.com/ via 67.media.tumblr.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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