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13 Signs You’re Wasting Life But You Can’t Admit It

13 Signs You’re Wasting Life But You Can’t Admit It

When you were a kid, did you want to grow up to be an astronaut, a singer or an engineer? If so, how’s that working out for you? Hopefully, it’s going great and you are living the life of your dreams. But for the rest of you who are not, here are 13 signs that you might be wasting your life… but you don’t want to admit it:

1. You spend too much time doing things you shouldn’t be doing.

Video games. Reality TV. Surfing the ‘net. Stuffing your face with too much food. Drinking too much. And the list goes on. Take a serious look at your life. Where are you spending the majority of your time? And does it serve you well? Is it leading to a better life? Is it laying the foundation for a bright future? If not, then you need to reevaluate your routine activities and make changes.

2. You find yourself complaining a lot.

I know people who are constantly overwhelmed with life, and they never cease to tell me. Are you one of those people? Do you complain about your job, your boss, your salary, your neighbors or your spouse? If you do, then you are doing nothing but exuding negative energy. Negativity doesn’t change things. It keeps you stuck. So change your thoughts and talk about what you appreciate about your life, not what you don’t like.

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3. You don’t feed your mind.

If you’re not continually growing and learning as a person, then you are stagnant – just like a still pond that doesn’t move and grows green gunk on it. That’s what your mind does if you don’t keep it active and learn new things. Positive challenges in your life will expand your mind, not send it backwards.

4. You have a lot of negative self-talk.

Self-talk can make or break your life. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t… either way, you’re right.” If you tell yourself that you’re not smart enough to get that promotion or start a business, then you’re right. If you tell yourself you’re too exhausted to put effort into changing your life, then you’re right. Whatever you tell yourself becomes your reality. So closely monitor what you say to yourself, because you will find that your life matches your thoughts.

5. You feel uninspired.

Do you have a passion for anything? I know a lot of people who think they don’t have a passion. But that’s never the case. There has to be something that you enjoy doing. So you need to rediscover what excites you, and then do more of it.

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6. You don’t plan for your future.

While it’s always great to live in the “now” and “be in the moment,” sometimes you need to look ahead to see where you want to go. If you don’t have a goal or a plan, then you are like a boat that is wandering aimlessly in the ocean hoping to end up somewhere good. But you can’t do that. You have to make a step-by-step guide to get where you want to go. Just like a GPS gets you to a destination, you need your own inner GPS to guide you.

7. You spend too much time with people who don’t contribute to your growth.

It’s easy to get stuck hanging out with people who are not making you feel like a better person. But if you keep doing that, then you will stay stagnant or get pulled down with them. I like to call them “Energy Vampires.” They suck the life out of you and give you nothing positive in return. Instead, go find growth-oriented people to be around.

8. You’re addicted to your phone.

Sure, cell phones are super cool gadgets that can leave us entranced when we use them. While that’s fun, think about all the time you are wasting with your phone. Even worse, think about all the relationships that might be affected. Maybe you’re texting or searching the internet while you’re having dinner with your spouse or kids. If you are, you’re missing out on meaningful time you can spend with your loved ones – or time you could devote to making a plan for your future.

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9. You spend money on things that don’t matter.

There is a difference between a “need” and a “want.” I’m sure we all learned that in kindergarten. However, in today’s society, we have blurred the lines quite a bit (see #8… the cell phone). In fact, I know people who can’t pay their mortgage, but still have the fanciest gadgets on the planet. If you stop to think about it, there is very little that we actually need. Food, water, shelter and love are some of those things. All the rest are just bonuses. So look at what you’re spending your money on and see if you can make adjustments. Maybe you can use the money you save to invest in your future.

10. You don’t get enough sleep.

I’m not a medical doctor, but I have read enough books to know how vitally important sleep is. I could write 20 pages on it. But I obviously don’t have enough room in this short article. Sleep is crucial for good health. If you’re too busy to get enough sleep or if you simply have a bad habit of staying up until the wee hours of the morning, you should re-evaluate your habits.

11. You’re not taking care of your body.

Not only is sleep essential to your health, so is food and exercise. I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. But eating a balanced, healthy diet and moving your body around truly does have more positive effects other than weight loss. It affects your mental attitude and overall well-being. So take a look at your diet and level of activity. You might find that making a few small changes will greatly improve your life.

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12. You don’t leave your comfort zone.

I know how easy it is to live in a comfort zone. In fact, when I go to a familiar restaurant, I always order the same thing. Not because I’m afraid to try something new, but because I like the food I normally order. But that’s not the kind of comfort zone I’m talking about. I’m talking about taking a risk that will improve your life. And keep in mind, there is a difference between a “risk” and a “calculated risk.” Any risk has the possibility to be deadly, but a calculated risk is one in which you’ve weighed all options and thus come up with a good, sensible plan of action.

13. You’re living a life you don’t like.

The way I measure success is by someone’s level of happiness. Are you happy? If not, then you should change something! Even a feeling of contentment or satisfaction doesn’t tell you that you’re living life to the fullest. Life should be exciting! So if you’re not enjoying life, take a look at some of the changes you can make to get you to a better place.

If any of these 13 points sounded like you, don’t despair. You can make changes. But the first change you need to make is getting rid of the idea that you can’t do it. Many times, your biggest obstacle is your own thought process. So start there. Change your thinking – then change your life!

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More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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