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20 Simple But Powerful Changes You Can Make To Simplify Your Life

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20 Simple But Powerful Changes You Can Make To Simplify Your Life

Life is a whirlwind of people to see, places to go, and things to do. Does your life feel like a never-ending To-Do List? If so, I invite you to apply 20 simple but powerful changes you can make to simplify your life today.

1. Eliminate distractions

Disable all text notifications that serve no purpose. Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail notifications are the Big Three that are probably eating up more time than you could ever imagine.

2. Stop judging other people

Does carrying a grudge or being judgmental ever make you feel any better about yourself? It might give you temporary gratification, but is it really worth your time and effort? I don’t think so.

3. Live in the moment

How many times have you walked right past a beautiful thing without even noticing it? Look at the glorious sun, floating clouds, shining stars, and gigantic trees in your backyard. Pay attention to the beauty surrounds you every day.

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4. Spend less time behind the wheel

Stop spinning your wheels without purpose. Make grocery-shopping a weekly occasion and errand-running a monthly event. Most bills can be set-up on automatic payment, so check in with your bank and service providers to automate your financial life.

5. Compliment total strangers

There are few things more wonderful than a random compliment. The next time you go downtown, offer a kind word to a total stranger. Maybe they have a cute purse, stylish hat, or snazzy suit that you think is super neat. You just might make somebody’s day in ten words or less.

6. Cook in bulk

Who says you need to prepare a fresh meal every day? Prepare a week of meals on the least busy day-of-the-week and then all you have to do is zap them when it’s chow-time. You will be more likely to make healthy decisions and you’ll have more time for those other things you tend to put off (working out, anybody?).

7. Wake up an hour early

This simple change could make a world of difference in the quality of your morning. Wake up an hour early and you could perform a quick exercise, read a few chapters in that novel you can’t put down, prepare a delicious breakfast, or a combination of all-of-the-above.

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8. Prepare your gym gear the night before

Do you tend to skip out on your workouts? Go ahead and prepare to hit the gym the night before you do it. If you workout in the morning, lay your workout attire on your dresser so it is the very first thing you will see in the morning. If you workout after work, pack up your stuff and toss it in the car so you’ll be less likely to “run out of time” in the morning.

9. Silence your phone

Please don’t be one of those people who answers their phone when they are in line at the grocery store or out for drinks with friends. It can wait — I promise.

10. Outsource business tasks

Are you a self-employed business owner or blogger? If so, you might want to consider outsourcing certain tasks that you’re not good at. I self-publish books on Amazon, but must confess I’m a lousy graphic designer, so I would never try to produce a cover myself. I also out-source things like logo design, some marketing functions, formatting jobs, and really just about anything I can. Even if you’re operating on a shoe-string budget, you can find affordable freelancers at Fiverr and Upwork who would be happy to do a bang-up job on your project without digging a hole in your wallet.

11. Breathe

Breathing is essential to life, yet it is so easy to forget to do. When is the last time you took a few moments to breathe with intention? Short, rushed breaths will make you feel stressed out while long, deep breaths will help you become calm and cool. Focus on deep breathing while driving to work in the morning. If you’re doing it right, your belly should come forward with each inhale and move backward with each exhale.

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12. Stop complaining

Yes, gas is outrageously expensive, but what can you do about it? Maybe that restaurant meal wasn’t the best thing ever, but why would you fuss at your waiter when it wasn’t his fault? Stepping in dog poop is a bummer, but is pitching a temper tantrum going to make you feel any better? Complaining is often an exercise in futility that just makes you more stressed out, so knock it off.

13. Say “please” and “thank you”

Show appreciation to the people around you for a happier life experience for everyone involved.

14. Ask for help

You are not alone in the world, so why wouldn’t you turn to trusted friends or colleagues if you need help with something? I’m always asking my followers for feedback about book ideas. I seek guidance from mentors when I could use a gentle push in the right direction of my business goals. My friends and family are always here for me if I’m under stress and just need someone to listen. Don’t feel like you’re inconveniencing a person by asking for help, because more often than not, people enjoy offering a helping hand. This gives them an opportunity to be helpful, which will make them feel needed, and they will appreciate the fact that you thought to turn to them.

15. Slow down at the dinner table

Why are you in such a hurry all the time? As Ganhdi said, “there is more to life than increasing its speed.” Don’t shovel your food down your throat without thought process. Eat mindfully while paying attention to the aroma, texture, and taste of your food. Focus while you chew and try to imagine all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish. Slowing down will help you avoid eating past the point of fullness, which will help you lose weight.

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16. Stay positive

If it isn’t positive, don’t say it. There is already enough darkness in the world. Be a source of light.

17. Smile

Feeling down? Smile anyway (even if you don’t feel like it!). The act of smiling, be it genuine or forced, can improve your mood and reduce stress. In addition, it’s quite difficult to remain bummed out when you a beaming smile on your face (I dare you to prove me wrong).

18. Learn to say “no”

It’s wonderful to have tons of friends who are always inviting you to do things, but saying “yes” to every invite that crosses your path could make you feel overwhelmed in a hurry. I know you might be afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, but please understand that alone time is necessary for your mental health. If you’re faced with an invite you don’t want to accept, say something like, “I’m sorry, but I can’t make it. We will catch-up soon.” You also might want to click here to learn the gentle art of saying “no.”

19. Be a kid

Who says adults can’t play board-games, climb trees, blow bubbles, build sandcastles, or have a water-gun fight? You are never too old for fun.

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20. Take action

Devouring all of the personal development articles in the world won’t save you if you’re not willing to take action. I’m happy you’re reading this article because that means you want to simplify your life, but words without action are meaningless. Are you willing to commit to make a positive change? If so, leave a comment telling me what change you are going to make today.

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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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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