Studies show that two-thirds of Americans are unhappy. That’s ridiculous. Whether you want to get out of a bad relationship, move across the country, start a business, dye your hair green or go to the moon, check this list for warning sings than you’re settling for less than you deserve.
1. You are always tired
If you get eight hours of sleep and are otherwise healthy, you shouldn’t be tired at one o’clock in the afternoon. Excitement about life gives you energy. If you get tired early in the day or have trouble getting out of bed, your life isn’t giving you the excitement and energy you need to make it through the day. You’re bored. Do something.
2. You keep saying “after”
You delay going after your dream until after this happens or after that happens because you are afraid you’re going to fail. You believe that if you don’t start, you can’t fail. That’s a great way to avoid failure, but a terrible way to live a satisfying life. The time is never going to be perfect. In fact, the timing probably will never even be good. Waiting for a time that is never going to arrive will keep you settling for less. Act now.
3. You blame other people
People do mean, harmful and illegal stuff all the time. But that’s not the reason you haven’t achieved what you want. Every successful person got dirt kicked in their face at some point — probably several times. They were successful anyway. Whether it’s someone who maliciously harmed you, the government, the economy or any other force, blaming them gives your power to them. Don’t do that. It’s like giving your opponent brass knuckles in a fight.
4. You don’t think you can
Nobody who did anything ever said it was easy. It’s always hard and always worth it. Don’t mistake hard for impossible. When you catch yourself saying, “I can’t do that,” punch yourself in the face. Then ask yourself if you actually can’t do it or are just saying that because it’s hard. Do hard things.
5. You think a lot, but do little
You think a lot about what you want to achieve, but you take little or no action. You dream about it, but don’t do it. If you consistently think about something, you really need to do it. It’s stuck in your head for a reason. Nobody on their death bed ever said, “I’m really glad I thought about that thing my whole life but never did it.” Think less and do more.
6. You keep saying, “someday”
“Someday” is worse that “after.” You keep saying that you’ll pursue your dream someday. It really means “when some unknown thing happens, I’ll do that thing I really want to do. You’re punting life. Kick the ball as hard as you can.
7. You rip on successful people
You hate other people only because they have achieved something — their lifestyle, their money, their relationships. You think people who have succeeded are greedy, lucky or dishonest. This keep you settling for less, and puts up an artificial barrier to success. You are training your mind to believe the lie that success is for greedy, lucky and dishonest people. Since you are probably none of those things, your subconscious mind is learning that success is not for you. Celebrate other peoples success.
8. You are playing small and you think it’s OK
You tell yourself that settling for less is OK. You make up silly excuses for why it’s OK to keep playing small. You believe that playing small is safer and more practical.
“So many of us choose our paths in life out of fear disguised as practicality”
If you read about Kim Kardashian’s latest drama or other worthless celebrity gossip, you are settling for less. You only have 24 hours in each day and limited time on this earth. You might argue that you enjoy celebrity news or gossip, but is that what you most want to do? If there is nothing else you’d rather be doing, continue reading that stuff. If not, use that time to take steps toward your goal.
10. You are jealous
Everyone else seems to have a better life. They are happier, wealthier, have better relationships and are generally better off than you. You’re a little (maybe a lot) pissed about it. Take note of even the most subtle anger or negativity toward successful people. If you are pursuing life with everything you’ve got, you’ll be excited to celebrate the success of others.
11. Food, alcohol, or TV are the highlight of your day
You know what I’m talking about. All day long you’re thinking about that beer, glass of wine, burger, or the latest episode of Breaking Bad. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things unless they are consistently the highlight of your day. Unless a cheeseburger, beer and the latest episode of American Idol is all you want out of life, you are settling for less than you deserve. Go after something you really want.
Each of these is a result of fear. You believe that if you fail, your dream will die. Yet that dream is what keeps you going every day. You don’t have to accept failure as an option. You can keep going after your goal no matter what.
“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”
― Babe Ruth
The alternative is settling for less for the rest of your life. You deserve better. Take one step today.
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: