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10 Mistakes 20-Somethings Should Stop Making Now

10 Mistakes 20-Somethings Should Stop Making Now

You are young and free. It’s sometimes hard to see how the decisions you make in your 20’s affect the rest of your life. The truth is, your 20’s are the foundation for the rest of your life. Here are 10 mistakes 20-somethings should stop making now to ensure a bight future.

You should stop wasting time.

You can waste time in many ways, especially before establishing your future. With your entire future ahead of you, it often can seem like there are unlimited amounts of time. It’s not the case. Use your time to do things that matter to you. Spend time on things like traveling, networking, building relationships, and climbing the corporate ladder. If your time-wasting hobbies are keeping you from being productive, take a hard look at limiting or eliminating them.

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You should stop wasting money.

Too often, in our 20’s, we want stuff. From expensive designer clothes, to fancy electronics, and many other possessions that take up a huge chunk of our income. Stop wasting money on these things. They are going to be out of date and out of style quicker than you imagine. Take your disposable income and invest in your future to ensure you have great experiences. Remember, memories last forever, so spending money on that trip to Europe will always be more valuable than a big screen TV that will need to be replaced in three years with the newer, larger model.

You should stop relying on social media.

Social media has it’s place, no doubt. It keeps us connected and can be a great way to stay in touch. But it can’t be the only way! Make sure you are maintaining real relationships and giving your friends and family the face time they need and deserve. You can see what someone is doing on Facebook, but unless you are with them in person, you’re viewing their memories rather than making your own.

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You should stop making everything a #1 priority.

Priorities. It seems like everything is vying to be at the top. Relationships, family, career, friends, pets, houses, school… they can be overwhelming! Take time to prioritize your life. It will make things less hectic and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

You should stop spending time in a dead-end career.

It’s easy to stay in a career that’s leading no-where. Serving, bar-tending and retail can be great careers, but you want to make sure you understand the future ramifications. When you’re in your 20’s, working crazy hours and nights and weekends may seem like a perfect scenario. But as you get older and start with a family and friends, you can miss a lot based on that choice. Make sure you think about the future before deciding on the career you will pursue.

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You should stop staying in bad relationships.

Your first love can be hard to get over. And bad relationships can linger much too long. Stop spending time with people who don’t make you a better person. When you’re in a bad relationship, it will make the rest of your life more difficult. Evaluate your relationships and don’t wait to get out of poor situations.

You should stop relying too much on others.

Whether it’s depending on your parents for bills or relying on your co-workers to pick up the slack, your 20’s are a time to become more independent. Take help when you need it, but start working towards financial independence.

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You should stop worrying about the small stuff.

Too often we spend time worrying and dealing with petty things that turn into big, huge problems. Stop worrying about the small stuff. Whether it’s a fight with your significant other, a problem with your co-worker, or a problem in some area of your life, spend the time to fix it and move on.

You should stop partying like a rock star.

Have fun! You’re young. But you’re probably not a rock star. Stop acting like one. Don’t let having fun get in the way of what you need to do on a daily basis. Find other things to keep you occupied besides bars and clubs. You’ll quickly find you can have much more fun at the museum, at a sporting event, or a small festival. There’s plenty of ways to have a great time.

You should stop risking your future.

The key to it all? Make sure your 20’s set you up for a great future. Start saving your money. Make sure you are optimizing your career path. Ensure you find a great, healthy relationship that will be strong for years to come. Set yourself up so your future is bright. If you’re doing things that risk this future, change it now. There’s a lot of years in front of you, make sure you make them great.

Featured photo credit: Josef Seibel via flickr.com

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Kyle Robbins

Kyle is the founder of Branding Beard. He writes about communication tips on Lifehack.

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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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