“I’m just living the dream.” Chaz Reinhold (Will Ferrell), The Wedding Crashers
Maybe your dream isn’t to be a 40-year-old wedding crasher who still lives with their mom, but I think it’s safe to say that each one of us has a shadow of an unfulfilled wish, dream or desire. In fear of being ridiculed or vulnerable, we might keep this dream tucked in the deepest part of our junk drawer, but it’s always there, ready to surface if one day the right circumstances fall into place.
Do you ever find yourself saying, “If only I knew then what I know now, I would do things so much differently.”
Do you ever look in at your life and wonder where you could have swerved wildly left to lead you down a different, more thrilling path?
As we approach the end of 2013, it’s a good time to evaluate a few important questions:
- Did you accomplish everything you set out to do this year?
- What would truly make your life meaningful and fulfilled?
- Are your current experiences in line with your desires?
- If you could do anything, what would it be?
Ponder these questions with uncensored thoughts and formulate some new intentions.
I think it’s important to realize that sometimes changing your life from bleak and mundane just means taking away the blur that is clouding your life. See 15 Ways to Lead a New Life you Love.Advertising
With a new year approaching, there is no better time to follow your dreams, no matter how big or small. Check out these things that people who live their dreams don’t do so that you can be one step closer to ‘living the dream’.
1. They don’t follow someone else’s dream.
This might seem like common sense, but many of us follow the dreams set up for us by our parents, partners or friends. You might be a people pleaser, or you might be afraid of letting your loved ones down. Are you lacking when it comes to trusting that you know what’s best for you?
People following their dreams know what they want, and they stand up to others who try to push expectations onto them.
2. They don’t make excuses.
How often do you find yourself coming up with a rainbow of reasons why you can’t achieve your goals or live the life you’ve been dreaming of? Do you even tell yourself elaborate stories about why things didn’t work out?
Where do you find yourself making excuses in your life?
Does it serve you? If not, let it go and simply vow to try each day to be better.
3. They don’t compromise their values or principles.
Compromising is a huge part of our everyday life – compromise, compromise, compromise.Advertising
You will be asked to make many compromises in many facets of your life, relationships, kids, friends and family, and what you’re willing to compromise can in fact play a huge role in your future – but never compromise your values.
People living a life true to themselves are not riddled with guilt, regret or doubts about their choices, they stand firm and move forward with decisions that align with their intentions, goals and dreams.
4. They don’t believe the glass is half empty.
Negativity will only build walls around you. A positive attitude is everything. The glass is always half full. With this attitude, opportunities and abundance will naturally flow into your life. Put your energy on what you want, rather than what you don’t want.
Your thoughts are single-handedly the most important weapon you have in achieving your dreams. Your thoughts are like energy, driving your life. People living the dream are always positive and this naturally manifests positive energy and positive results.
If you think you are beaten you are; if you think you dare not, you don’t; if you want to win but think you can’t; it’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose you’re lost; for out of the world we find success begins with a fellow’s will; it’s all in a state of mind.
Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger and faster man, but sooner or later the man who wins is the man who thinks he can. ~ Author Unknown
5. They don’t focus on materialism.
If your dream starts with wanting to make a lot of money so that you can be happy, you might want to re-evaluate your priorities. Of course you can achieve great wealth, but chances are you won’t be any happier once this golden paycheck arrives.
People who are living the dream know that money can’t buy happiness, and they also understand that a life of status, wealth, fame and popularity is a very fragile house of cards.
If wealth comes as a result of living your dream – bonus. But people who live their dreams know it’s not the initial driving factor.
6. They don’t believe things are impossible, they don’t lose faith and they don’t quit halfway.
Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe. ~ Gail Devers
Our mind is a powerful weapon. It’s normal to have self-doubt or feel like something is out of reach, but those who achieve big things see through this doubt and persevere long after others would have quit. Have a solid faith in your intentions.
Nothing is impossible. You might have to work really hard and sacrifice a lot, but chances are that just by trying, you will open up doors of new opportunities that you never thought possible.
7. They don’t let themselves go.
Follow your dreams, work hard, practice and persevere. Make sure you eat a variety of foods, get plenty of exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle.~ Sasha Cohen
Staying physically fit and eating a balanced diet is the key to feeling good and without feeling good your dreams may not amount to much. Exercising also produces energy which will help you keep persevering.
8. They don’t get stuck in a safe space.
Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country. ~ Anais Nin
You need to get out of your comfort zone and take some chances. If your dream is to learn to surf, you need to lose the fear holding you back and just do it.
People following their dreams thrive on new experiences. They are living their life, not being a spectator to the lives of others.
9. They don’t procrastinate or believe in shortcuts.
Why wait until January 1st to start making changes? Start today. People who live their dreams don’t just talk about it, they take steps every day to bring their desires into reality.
There is no such thing as a shortcut. If you want to be physically fit, you have to do the work; quick fad diets are not the answer, and this goes for any dream. Put in the work and you will reap great personal rewards.
10. They don’t seek a destination.
People living a life dreams are made of realize that living is about moment to moment experiences; they love the journey and don’t obsess over the destination.Advertising
Last Updated on July 20, 2021
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:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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:
- How to Give a Presentation Like a Pro
- 10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time
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