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Last Updated on October 22, 2018

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

Ever heard the saying ‘Change is the only constant’?

Everyone without a doubt goes through changes in their lives whether it be a physical state of literal aging, or a mental state of emotional maturity, or regression in some cases. They all nonetheless signify change, yet some of us seem to embrace it better than others.

I have to admit that when it comes to change, I’m not the most accepting. Don’t get me wrong. I love a challenge and am not one to sit still and stay stagnant. Yet, the soothing feeling of being in my ‘comfort zone’ is also one that makes embracing change a lot harder, especially when the change I’m about to make is not easy, and perhaps even something that I dislike.

Fear of uncertainty kicks in and I start wondering if it’s too much sacrifice that I have to make. Perhaps I’m better off staying put where I’m at. Sound familiar?

Have you ever been in a situation where you know that things just aren’t working out? Whether it’s in your personal relationships or career development, you’re feeling somewhat stuck and unhappy with the way things are.

You need that change, yet you’re afraid to make the conscious decision to move because perhaps you’re not even sure of what it is that you need to change! Or you’re afraid it’s too late to have a fresh start, to begin again.

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You might have been with the same company for the last 5 years, in the same position, doing the same thing and it’s not that you dislike your work. But, the thought of doing the same thing for the next 5 or 10 years scares you. You want to do more or perhaps even something completely different altogether.

Or you could already be late into adulthood, where you’ve established a good career path and you’ve got a lot going on, such as a family to care for. You’re financially stable and could potentially be working towards your next promotion. But, somehow you’re not quite satisfied with what you’ve achieved.

There’s just something missing. And yet it feels like it’s too late to leave all that stability behind to embark on a completely new journey of discovery.

Why is that so many of us find ourselves limiting our windows of opportunity and potential because we think it’s too late to start afresh–or that we’re too old to start something? How to start over life?

Meet Jack

I have a friend by the name of Jack. At age 37, he’s a Senior Manager at one of the Big Four and has been working in Audit for over 15 years. He’s got a great salary, owns his own apartment and enjoys the finer things in life, but not without the heavy demands that his job brings.

On the surface it would look like he’s got life figured out. His next steps would be a promotion to becoming Director, or settling down with someone.

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Yet, when I asked him a simple question a few months back, I was not at all surprised to hear his response. I asked if he was happy with his work, as he had been complaining earlier about some work related issues. He hesitated before answering that he sometimes wished he could quit his job to do something less stressful. But he’s become accustomed to this lifestyle and feels that it would be too late to give it up to pursue a new career or ambition. The stakes are too high. So he might as well just suck it up.

The external struggles that Jack faces are financial stability, social influences from his peers, the lavish lifestyle he leads and status or recognition that he gets from continuing with this job.

Internally, Jack faces the risk of losing what he’s built over the years. Being an auditor also makes him a lot more cautious when making important decisions and it just doesn’t seem logical to give up this job for the pursuit of an alternative that would give more ‘meaning’ to his life.

How do you even quantify meaning? It just doesn’t seem like a smart move to make.

And this may be due to having a low internal locus of control, whereby you feel that external forces have greater control over your life than your own actions. You might feel that there are other much younger, more qualified individuals out there who will do better than you, so better not take the risk of starting something new. Or, maybe you don’t feel like you have the energy or time to start anything new at this stage in life.

You might have come across a similar scenario as Jack’s, or you might be a Jack. You’re now facing a wall. Whether it’s the stresses and demands of your job, the lack of satisfaction you get from your work, or the stagnant feeling of not being able to climb up the ladder of success, you have to decide if you want to tear down that wall or continue to let it enclose you.

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It’s Not Too Late!

Well the good news is, that as our society continues to develop at such a rapid pace, it also means we have more opportunities to do things that were previously thought impossible if you were of a certain age, or past a certain phase in life. These days, more individuals are pushing the boundaries and breaking stereotypes.

I’m not just talking about age. Sure, age is only a state of mind–a social construct that should not determine or limit your capabilities and ambitions. But there’s more. It goes beyond external factors like time and age. It’s about you, and your ability to accept challenges and having the determination to break free from your existing situation.

Perhaps why you feel like it’s too late to start over is simply because you’re comparing yourself with others. You’re comparing yourself with younger or more successful individuals when you should really only be comparing yourself to the older version of you.

Going back to Jack’s case, I offered him a solution to his dilemma. It wasn’t a dramatic solution, yet it was something that allowed him to go through total transformation in his life without having to risk time, effort or pain. It wasn’t asking him to quit his job or take a plunge. I simply introduced 7 Cornerstone Skills that would allow him to be in full control of his actions and life again, increasing his internal locus of control to make the necessary changes in his life that would break down that wall he was facing.

The Solution: The 7 Cornerstone Skills

These 7 Cornerstone Skills weren’t exactly new to him. He just didn’t know how to make the right connections between each skill, or he hadn’t dived deep enough in them to discover his full potential.

After going through the Cornerstone Skills, Jack realized there were many new dimensions to seeing and doing things! Something as simple as Learning how to learn, became an important skill that he was now able to use.

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Jack also never saw himself as being a creative person, especially in the industry that he’s working in, you would think that’s of least importance. However he soon discovered that there’s so much more to creativity than simply being a ‘natural’ talent. He was now able to harness his creativity to break down the wall that he was facing.

No longer staying stagnant or going backwards, Jack is now able to use creativity to move forward and suddenly, has options outside of his current job that could contribute to his current lifestyle.

Everything in your life–whether it’s your career, relationships or even health–is driven by 7 Cornerstone Skills. These are 7 qualities that, if you have them, can make you excel at anything in life. These 7 Cornerstone Skills are what’s going to help you get out of your rut no matter what your age.

Over 30% of adults experience a crisis like this. Don’t fall in this category. Don’t become that person who let’s life pass them by only to regret it when you’re retired or way into old age. Don’t let your life plateau and waste away in the daily grind for the next twenty years. Don’t give up on the potential you still have hidden and locked away by your current state.

Become ten times more effective at 40+ than you could ever be at 20. Start pursuing the things you wanted to do your whole life, without giving up on your current roles and responsibilities. Rewind your outlook and bring your energy and motivation back to when life was still full of dreams and possibilities. But this time, actually start to achieve them.

 

Featured photo credit: Pat Kwon via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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