To find the purpose of life you must first find out what you love to do most and then make a difference in the world by doing it. Your purpose is not what you do but what makes you feel good when your doing it, what lights you up and makes you happy. Read on to to begin your journey, one of these ideas might just be the key to unlock your purpose.
1. Write it Down
Start a journal to unlock hidden thoughts of your subconscious and explore a part of you that has been dormant for a long time. Write your daily thoughts about what made you feel good that day or even what didn’t make you feel good. Write a daily gratitude list for all the things that you were thankful for that day. The point I’m trying to make is that writing will allow you to look at your life with deeper meaning and unravel the parts of you that remain hidden. It’s a great (and easy!) way to find the purpose of life relevant to you.
2. Find Your Passion
Passion is an energy of excitement when you’re doing what you love. What are the things that make you feel great? What action or activity gives you genuine excitement? Identifying your passions allows you to begin living your purpose because your purpose comes from the way you feel when you love what you do. Are you excited to tell people what you do? If not, what would be something you could be doing right now that would awaken your excitement and passion?
3. Identify Your Strengths
Identifying your strengths and the qualities that make you stand out allows you to pinpoint what you need to do to bring purpose and meaning to your life. Your strengths are an important part of the equation to find your purpose so you can use them to make a difference in the world and achieve life fulfillment.
4. Think About What You Want Your Life to Be
Seriously. What do you want your life to look like 1 year, 2 years or 5 years from now? Are you taking the necessary steps so it can look the way you want it to be? Take a look at your life right now, what changes can you make to achieve the future you’re envisioning? The key is to start making those changes today.
5. Think About What You Don’t Want Your Life to Be
I remember driving down the high street one day when it was pouring with rain, freezing cold and appeared dark and gloomy. It was around 8.50 a.m. and as I drove past a post office, I noticed a queue of people who (I assume) had retired from their jobs, waiting for the post office to open so they could collect their pension money. Even though there is nothing wrong with this, in that moment I told myself I personally did not want to be the one standing at that post office in the future. Knowing what you want AND what you don’t want helps you plot out your life path accordingly.
What don’t you want? And what do you need to do to avoid going down the wrong path?
6. Have a Vision
Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world. ~ Joel A. Barker
Vision gives you something to focus on instead of walking through life aimlessly. You are here for a reason, so create your vision. Make the vision bold and worthy enough to give you meaning and purpose for its achievement.
7. Ask Yourself an Important Question
If you had all the money in the world, what would you be doing? Think about that!
What exactly would you be doing if money wasn’t a factor in making your decision? Perhaps teaching, or travelling, maybe even singing? Answering this question is an easy way to finding your purpose!
8. What Are Your Values?
Are you living your values? Do you even know what they are? You should be, because values are the driving force behind everything you do, including your daily decisions. Knowing your values helps you to understand yourself better and will allow you to live your life with authenticity, integrity and of course, purpose.
9. Start Reading Books That Matter
Read books that inspire you, teach you how to improve your life and live to your full potential. These kind of books have helped me grow and expand my knowledge and creativity. It helps open your mind, broaden your perspectives and spark ideas so you can make a change to your own life and and other people’s lives.
10. Try Meditation
You don’t need to sit and meditate for an hour. Spending as little to 5 to 10 minutes a day to reflect on your life and goals may just be enough to give you the clarity and insight you need to reach your life goals.
11. Take the Time to Travel Often
Traveling, and the new experiences that comes along with it, will open your mind and give you new opportunities, ideas and inspiration that you might not have had otherwise if you stayed within your comfort zone. Trying new things, meeting new people and seeing how others live differently in different place might just give you a new passion for your life, as well as being grateful for what you’ve already accomplished.
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: