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25 Life Lessons I Have Learned Over The Last 25 Years

25 Life Lessons I Have Learned Over The Last 25 Years
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At age 25, you already have a few of life’s biggest milestones behind you: the day you took your first steps; your first “words” (more like adorable baby gurgles, but you catch my drift); your first day at school; graduation; your first drink with your pals on the night you officially become an adult (yeah, right!)… And then comes 25. 25 is the unsung heroes of milestones: while the “Quarter Century” moniker carries a hefty sense of foreboding, it’s also the age at which most people have a little more life experience behind them and start feeling like “adults”. (If you don’t, yet, that’s totally fine, too!)

I feel like I’ve learned a lot over the first 25 years of my life, some of it wonderful, some of it not so much; all of it, I hope, of value to you. Here are my 25 life lessons learned by age 25.

1. Start saving early.

Sorry for raining on your parade and being the boring Uncle at the frat party, but you’ll thank me for this. What people (and by people, I definitely mean myself, too) tend to conveniently forget when starting their first jobs and getting their hands on their freshly-printed paychecks, is that there’s a certain thing called taxes looming over the horizon. And unforeseen medical bills. And LIFE. Make things easy for yourself and put just a little bit of your hard-earned cash away every month. It needn’t be much but it will add up over time and you’ll be so thankful for it in the long run.

2. As unmotivated as you may be, start working out early, too.

Even though it may not feel like it in the aftermath of an epic night out, your late teenage years and your twenties are theoretically the prime of your life. You will never be better equipped to handle the strain of working out. Put your youthful body to use and prep it for the wear and tear of getting older. It’s so worth it.

3. Learning how to cook a simple + delicious meal will save your life.

Because being able to serve something other than cheese on toast when you have company feels so, so rewarding.

4. Spend time with the elderly.

spendtimewithelderly

    I learned this the hard way: both my wonderful grandmothers, whose abundant love I’d been showered with as I was growing up, passed away within a year of each other recently, leaving be bereft and wanting. As we no longer lived in the same country (and hadn’t for a good few years), spending time together was difficult and our relationship, although still loving, became more distant. Looking back now, I really wish I’d made more of an effort to spend some time with my grandmothers. I feel their loss keenly. Don’t do what I did – spend time with your elderly.

    5. Get over your entitlement, stat!

    As Millenials, we grow up being told we’re the bee’s knees. In a sense, this is positive because it bolsters our self-confidence, but it also gives us a sense of entitlement that has no place in the workplace. As harsh as this may sound, being told we are special over and over again doesn’t make us so and wearing your Gold Star on your lapel certainly won’t endear you with future employers. On that note…

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    6. Work hard, stay humble.

    workhardstayhumble

      This quote is a cliché for a reason: it’s true and it’s important! Working your behind off and letting your actions speak for themselves is a surefire way to get ahead. Being full of hot air and slacking isn’t. However…

      7. Learn how to give yourself a break.

      giveyourselfabreak

        It can be hard to be kind to ourselves and give ourselves a time-off when society piles sky-high expectations on us. However, learning to give yourself a break is one of the most important life lessons you’ll ever learn. You don’t have to be Super(wo)man and sometimes, the best thing you can do both for yourself and the task at hand is press pause and recentre yourself.

        8. Some people are toxic. Stay away from them.

        toxicpeople

          It’s easier said than done, but that friend who always leaves you feeling exhausted and unhappy after you spend time with them? Cut them out of your life. Life is too short to waste your time and energy on people who make you feel like crap.

          9. Your body is beautiful. Treasure it.

          loveyourbody

            You may not feel that way now, but your body is a thing of wonder – yes, even with those (imaginary!) lumps and bumps. Your body is capable of greatness. It’s also the only one we have, so making a point of looking after this mortal coil of yours should be on the top of your list of priorities. Feed it good, healthy food. Take it for a run around the bloc. Shower it with love and affection. And remember…

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            10. Your body can only take so much abuse.

            You may be young now, but you won’t always be. (Wow, way to bring the mood down, Grandma!) While those vodka shots and super late nights may seem like a brilliant idea right now, be aware that no matter how invincible you feel, your body can only take so much before it crashes and burns. So, occasionally, trade in the party heels for a pair of slippers and a mug of tea. You’ll thank me later.

            11. Reading is NOT a waste of time.

            When you’re in school, unless you’re one of those people who devours books by the dozen (that’ll be me, then), reading can feel like a kind of cruel and unusual punishment. Often times, if you’re made to do something you don’t want to do, your first instinct when you don’t have to do it anymore is to throw your hands up shouting “F*ck the system!” and just stop. Don’t give up on reading. It’ll help you grow into a better human. Promise.

            12. Hating things isn’t cool, nor does it make you look mysterious and attractive.

            It just makes you look like a hater. And while you’re at it…

            13. Don’t be a Negative Nancy.

            I get it: it’s really, really easy to get caught up in other people’s negativity, often even without realising! But what you don’t know, is how pervasive negativity is and how deeply it impacts your life. What starts out with a little “innocent” gossip at the water cooler and a few unkind comments between friends can quickly transform into a horribly pessimistic outlook on life. As hard as it may be, choosing positivity is so much better for the soul.

            14. Time heals MOST wounds.

            timeheals

              Another cliché, another nugget of wisdom. As crap as you feel now, you will feel better over time. Have patience and have faith.

              15. Being in nature is good for the soul.

              naturegoodforsoul

                Most of us live hyper-connected lifestyles in busy urban environments, without much opportunity to unplug and slow down. However, spending more time in nature is something that we should all strive for, as disconnecting from the frantic world around us for even just a couple of hours is a surefire way to recharge and return to our occupations refreshed and relaxed. Plus, it’s a wonderful way of reconnecting with our natures as human beings! Give it a try.

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                16. It’s not worth hanging on to clothes “just in case they fit”.

                If your clothes don’t fit and all they do is make you feel cramped and uncomfortable, do. Not. Keep. Them! Trust me on this: keeping a pair of “motivation jeans” will not encourage you to lose weight; all they will do is make you miserable and take up space. Do your self-confidence and your closet a favour and give away the clothes you don’t need.

                17. It’s OK not to be OK.

                oknottobeok

                  Like I mentioned before, no one expects you to be a superhero all the time. We are all human; we all have emotions and sometimes, life just gets to us. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to give yourself a break. It’s okay to surrender to your feelings and have a good old cry, if you need to. No one will think any less of you (and if they do, they’re the toxic people I talked about earlier and it’s time to cut them out of your lives). Also…

                  18. You are not alone.

                  youarenotalone

                    No matter how isolated and desperate you may feel, know that everyone around you is fighting their own hard battle. And guess what? More people are experiencing what you’re experiencing than you think! Those problems and snags you keep running into? I’ll bet there’s a Facebook group or a forum or a community that can help with that. Try reaching out; you might be surprised at the outcome!

                    19. Being blind drunk just isn’t classy.

                    It really, really isn’t. Learn your limits early and respect them.

                    20. It really is best to be yourself. (Promise.)

                    beyourself

                      They say that imitation is the best form of flattery but always trying to be someone you’re not is no way to live – no matter how popular, beautiful or successful the person you’re trying to emulate is. Not only is it impossible to be exactly like the object of your admiration; pursuing this unattainable “ideal” will only make you frustrated and blind to your own, unique beauty.

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                      21. Never stop learning.

                      Just because you’re out of school, it doesn’t mean that you should stop educating yourself. Making a point of keeping yourself up to date with what is going on in the world and keeping abreast of the latest developments in your industry will both give you an edge. Plus, learning keeps your brain sharp!

                      22. Work-life balance isn’t really a thing.

                      There will be times when you’ll be working yourself to the bone, and others when you’ll be twiddling your thumb (but trust me, there will be fewer of those until you retire). Chances are, your work-life balance will be totally out of sync most of the time. And guess what? It isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it just means you’ll have to prioritise and manage your time effectively and that, my friend, is an invaluable tool!

                      23. You never get unless you ask.

                      People aren’t mind-readers (unfortunately), so ask for what you want! Only those who ask get what they want. What’s the worst that could happen?

                      24. Keep an open mind (and an open heart).

                      openheart

                        Be open to new experiences. Let new people in (even if you’re scared of getting hurt). Say YES. Live life with open arms, because before you know it, it’ll be too late and you’ll be filled with regrets.

                        25. YOUR opinion of yourself is the one that matters the most.

                        youropinion

                          At the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is what you think of yourself; how you perceive yourself, whether you value yourself. People come and go, but you’re stuck with yourself for the rest of your life. Learn to listen to your intuition and your opinion of yourself before tuning into others’. Everything else is just white noise.

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                          Last Updated on July 20, 2021

                          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                          How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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                          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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