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10 Things 20-Somethings Should Give Up Doing To Thrive In Life

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10 Things 20-Somethings Should Give Up Doing To Thrive In Life

At 28, I look back on my 20’s in an interesting way. I’m not yet out of my 20’s, but I’m old enough now that I’ve started looking back on the past 8 years with a lot of clarity. I don’t take any of it back, as regretting the past is as useful as placing your hands on a hot stove, but if I was back in my early 20’s again and knew wiser, there are so many things I would do differently.

Making the most of life isn’t as difficult as it might sometimes seem. You can have an amazing life right now if you give up doing these nine things:

1. Settling for less than your worth

Whether it’s settling to be with someone you don’t truly love, deciding to just take that 50 hour a week job your friend offered you because you don’t think you’ll ever finish school, or turning your back on what you love, don’t settle for less than your worth.

Likelihood is, you’re worth far more than you give yourself credit for. By the time we’re young adults, we’ve been through so much in life that we can often think things like, “I’m not good enough” or, “I don’t deserve that”. But you are good enough, and you do deserve that.

One of the greatest fallacies in life is the idea that we’re incomplete. That we’re missing a screw, lacking something, or altogether messed up. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

You were born absolutely and completely whole, and you continue to be no matter what you go through. No matter how many mistakes you make and no matter who wronged you, you’re the same beautiful person you began life as.

Realize that you’re priceless, and stop settling for less than you’re worth.

2. Changing for others

I was guilty of this myself. We act like someone we’re not to get the girl or guy we like, we do something unlike ourselves to impress a group of people we want to be our friends, and overall we give up what makes us “us” just so that others will like us.

But all this ends up doing is making us lose track of ourselves in the needs of others. We forget who we are, and when we “come to,” we realize all that time was wasted wandering around in disillusion.

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Don’t change who you are for others. The people that are right for you will love you for you, not for who you’re trying to be.

3. Spending the day online

The internet is the future; it’s as simple as that. Everything you could ever want to know is on the internet, and a lot of the most popular forms of entertainment too. Oh, and you can make a living on the internet to boot. So it makes sense that we’d spend so much time online.

But to spend almost literally all day online is unhealthy, both with regards to your body and your mind. Maybe you’re a programmer, or run a blog, and spend a huge portion of each day online. That’s fine, you’re making a living, or are working on making a living through the internet.

But even then, you need to get out and experience nature, talk to people face to face, and just plain have fun with all those things that life has to offer that you can never find or experience online.

Learn how to balance your life between time online and time fully experiencing the beauty of life while disconnected and you’ll be far happier and healthier.

4. Thinking likes and followers = genuine friends

One of the biggest mistakes we make in our 20’s is convincing ourselves that Facebook friends, followers, +1’s, and the like are genuine friends. But genuine friendship is built upon the depth of the connection between two people. You can’t “go through things,” or experience life, with followers and Facebook friends. The most you can do is like the same post and occasionally say “What’s up!” or “Yeah, me too!”

Today, do a quick inventory. How many genuine friends do you have? If you’re having hard times, or something comes up unexpectedly, who do you have that you could turn to? If that answer is one or none, you probably need to get out and start building some genuine friendships.

Our relationships are the most telling factor in not only our ability to be happy but plays a big part in helping us thrive in all areas of life, so invest time in building friendships. It will serve you well for the rest of your life.

5. Sweeping problems under the rug

When we’re younger, we tend to push our problems aside or ignore them, often for endeavors that help us drown them out and forget about them altogether. But that won’t make them go away. They’re still there, waiting for their chance to strike.

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Adopt the habit of taking care of things, whether regular responsibilities, serious issues, or surprise occurrences, head-on and as soon as they come up. Remind yourself that whether you take care of it now or later, you still have to do it eventually, and that if you put it off it can escalate into a far worse problem than what it is now.

You’ll begin really living life the day you decide to face yourself. All your problems, whether big or small.

Decide today to lift the rug on all of your problems and shine a light, and you’ll discover how exhilarating and joy-filled life can be.

6. Caring what others think of you

The number one fear that holds us back is the fear of what others may think of us. At one point or another, we all suffer from it. It’s only natural to feel this way. I felt this intensely from the time I was a young teenager all the way up into my 20’s.

This is probably most intense from high school on into our 20’s. A time where we often want to impress or, at least, not feel the critical eye of numerous groups of people from the other sex, groups of friends (or potential friends), to potential employers, and family.

But guess what? In a very real sense, while you might think that all these people are constantly looking at you and being critical of you, most people are never, if every, thinking about you. Once you realize this, it’s nothing short of a life changing realization.

Don’t believe me? Use yourself as an example. Are you constantly thinking about those around you, nitpicking and being overly critical of everyone near you? Or are you too busy being concerned with your own problems and aspirations to sit around thinking critically of everyone around you? Likelihood is, you don’t. And almost no one else does either. And those that do? Well…

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. – Dr. Seuss

7. Thinking you only have a few options

I grew up thinking I had to go to college to make something of myself. And while this is a respectable path, thinking this was my only option is just another example of limited thinking.

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Don’t convince yourself that you have to take some specific path in life. This all comes down to not restricting yourself and thinking your only options are what you see everyone else doing, or what others expect you to do.

The world really is open to you and you have so many different options in front of you. Look around, use your creativity, and don’t take no for an answer.

Get out there and live your life, and don’t let anything hold you back.

8. Living absent-minded

Truth be told, this isn’t a problem only 20-somethings have, but it is a critical ingredient to thriving in life and something which, if tackled now, will show huge dividends both immediately in your life now and for decades to come.

The way we usually live our lives, we’re pushed and pulled here and there based on a combination of responsibilities, impulses, and only the occasional moment of clarity. We live quite literally only half-awake to the moment in front of us, more often worried about the future and regretting the past.

Do this simple exercise: say to yourself, “I am awake. I’m here, right now, fully alive to the beauty of this moment.” As you say this, focus your attention completely on the present moment experience. Get out of your head completely, stop purposely thinking (thoughts will still crop up without you doing anything, this is OK), and be fully alive to this moment.

Your entire life is waiting for you, realize how amazing your life can be by simply becoming fully awake to the moment in front of you.

9. Thinking you have all your life

Right now, it can seem like you have so much time that there’s little bother rushing to tackle anything of value. This is natural, and you shouldn’t rush around doing anything either way, but you need to live aware of the fact that life is a lot short than you think.

Before you know it, you’re going to turn around and be 30. And when this happens, you’re going to wonder where all the time you wasted went.

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Create a “bucket” list, make plans, and get out there and do all those things you’ve always wanted to do.

As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do. – Zachary Scott

10. Looking for “happily ever after”

Since we were little tykes, through T.V., movies, books, and stories of all kinds we’ve been fed the idea of “happily ever after.” That is, when you can gain the perfect conditions for happiness and an overall great life, such as your special someone, your ideal house, a nice job, and the like, then the rest of your life you’ll remain blissfully happy.

This idea is never more present than when we’re in our 20’s, setting out in the world for the first time, searching for ourselves and striving for our goals.

But “happily ever after” isn’t at all true. Nothing will magically make you happy for the rest of your life. But this isn’t a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean we can’t find happiness.

On the contrary, you don’t have to wait 3, 5, or 10 years to find happiness. The conditions for an amazing life all exist right now within you. You don’t need to find “the one”, you don’t need to make more money, and you don’t need to get rid of your problems.

You can be happy right now in this very moment by fully accepting yourself, embracing your struggles, and realizing that it’s through these very things that you can see the beauty in life.

Stop waiting for the perfect conditions to start really living. Realize you can be truly happy right now by embracing life fully with open arms.

Featured photo credit: woman peeking over a fresh draft beer as her drink toned with a vintage retro style instagram filter via shutterstock.com

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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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