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6 Counter-intuitive Methods to Make Your Life Better that No One Talks About

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6 Counter-intuitive Methods to Make Your Life Better that No One Talks About

Most of the worthwhile things in life don’t come easy. One of the things I dislike the most is “the power of positive thinking.” So many people are sold on this idea that their desired life outcome will eventually come true without any extra effort, as long as they constantly visualize it.

However, the opposite is true. A better life never comes without a price. There are hundreds, if not thousands of ways to improve your life in slight degrees. However, here are 6 unconventional (but realistic) ways you can do to make your life better.

1. Set Goals and Forget About It

What? Yes, I mean it. To make your life better, the first thing you need to do is to have a clear and defined goal. While setting your goals, make sure they are aligned with your values and priorities. If you believe in job security, and your goal is to build a multi-million dollar startup, you’re going to have a hard time.

What nobody talks about are things we should all do after that. Most people give you suggestions on how to set bigger goals, how to use the SMART goal setting techniques, but no one talks about the executions.

Visualizing your goals every day doesn’t help. Instead, you should just forget about it and start executing your goals. Break your goals down into a realistic plan, start taking action, and focus on making progress.

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2. Start Budgeting

Many have said money is not the source of happiness. I totally agree. Making more money should not be the sole purpose of our lives. However, the way we deal with money is emotional. No one can escape from it because, in today’s world, money is heavily tied to life and death in many cases.

Everyone wants to make more money, and many people talk about it; some even teach others how to do it. But very few people talk about managing it because it’s not a sexy topic. It never gets people excited.

Yet, personal finance is about managing money, not just about making more money. How you budget and spend your income is equally, if not more, important than how you earn them and how much you made.

People who are good at budgeting know how to manage risks rationally. Only with that can you finally wave goodbye to the roller-coaster lifestyle.

3. Opt for Simplicity

Simplicity isn’t easy. It’s all about reducing your life down to the fundamentals. It is about wanting less, doing less, and having less, but living more.

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Many of us are caught up in the world where more is always better. We want more time, more friends, more information, but at the end of the day, we have less time because we work more, we have fewer friends because we’re trying to please everyone, and we contain less wisdom because we only scratch the surface of every piece of information we receive.

To live with simplicity, we need to learn more about ourselves, and then focus only on the fundamentals. With that, you can shift your life from scarcity to abundance in no time.

4. Practice Appreciation

Some see everything as happening to them, and others see everything as happening for them. People who appreciate both the good and bad things (and people) around them tend to be happier.

We don’t always have the ability to control our circumstances, but we always have control on how we see and perceive them. It’s time to stop whining, stop complaining, and stop comparing. Instead, appreciate every moment in life because every one of them gives you an opportunity to grow.

How do you practice appreciation immediately? Simply change your “have to” to “get to.”

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  • I have to take care of my parents →  I get to take care of my parents
  • I have to go to work → I get to go to work
  • I have to eat white bread for breakfast → I get to eat white bread for breakfast.

“Have to” makes you feel everything as an obligation; on the other hand, “get to” makes you feel like everything is a privilege.

5. Master Your Habits

We are what we repeatedly do. – Aristotle

On average, humans process 60,000 thoughts in a day. That’s insane. In fact, almost 85% of them are habitual. This basically means 85% of our day to day decisions, behavior, and actions are our habits.

To truly transform your life for the better, you need to start breaking bad habits and building good habits. Easier said than done, but mastering your habits is a long process; no one pulls off the feat in a day or two.

Start observing your routines, identifying destructive habits, then, replacing them with a good, new routines.

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6. Connect with Real People

The advancement of technology has revolutionized how we communicate. I truly appreciate the fact that I can actually connect to great teachers and mentors with very little cost today. Plus, I also get to share my words with many others around the world.

However, nothing beats real connections. With more and more people working using their computer and the Internet, most communication happens online. While work is usually 70% of one’s life, it’s time to shut down your computer, disconnect yourself from the Internet, and go out the meet with real people when you’re not working.

My words can spark a light in your mind, but the true change happens with the support of close people around you. To make your life better, connect and build relationships with others offline.

Proximity is power. – Tony Robbins

Start Before You Feel Ready

To change your life for the better is really not that complicated. It’s simple, but it’s never easy. To make a change in your life, all you have to do is to take the first step: start before you’re ready, then, take consistent small actions, and opt for tiny, incremental gains.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Dean Yeong

Self-improvement writer and performance coach

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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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