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25 Things You Should Stop Putting Off And Do This Year

25 Things You Should Stop Putting Off And Do This Year
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I know. Your life is busy. You have to take care of your job, your family, your hobbies… 24 hours ain’t just enough in a day. And you need to sleep.

STOP!

Now is time to take a step back, or life will pass you by. Don’t be a mindless zombie… Take control of your life.

Breathe in…

This year is THE year. It’s the year you start doing all those things you’ve been putting off.

Breathe out…

Here’s a list of 25 things you should do this year.

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1. Learn to do something new

Learning is a muscle. If you don’t use it, you’ll become lazy, and soon you’ll become obsolete in a world that has learnt to live without you. But if you start learning something new, a world of opportunities will open and you’ll even realize how pleasurable it is. You can still learn to code if you’re 70!

2. Break one bad habit

Whether it is smoking or eating junk food, there is at least one habit you have always known you should stop. It’s time you consider stopping. Ask your friends and family to support while you’re going through this phase, you will need them… and not disappointing them will be a good motivator.

3. Make plans for a trip you can afford and do

Have you always wanted to visit France? It’s a great country. If you find it too expensive, then plan early in advance and find great tips on online forums and aggressive travel packages. Bon voyage!

4. Try that dish

I never really liked Lebanese food. It comes from that one time I went to a Lebanese restaurant and I could NOT finish my dish. I though it was bad and avoided eating Lebanese cuisine like the plague. Until one day, I went to a business meeting and I had no choice but to try. Guess what? I love it now. It’s such a refined food I blame myself for my stubbornness. Just try that dish you’ve avoided for years.

5. Earn forgiveness

Earning forgiveness is not just asking for it. Make up for it… like Earl would. This TV series character made a list of all the people he’s wronged and works tirelessly until he can cross them off the list. You don’t have to focus on how you can undo what you did, but what you can do to make the other person’s life better. At least, it shows you care.

6. Finish that one book

It’s sitting on your bedside table. It’s calling for you… It’s the book you never finished and sometimes, you still wonder how the story ends! Good news… you can read a book by bites, even spaced by a few years, it will be remembered as a whole experience at the end.

7.  Recognize your toxic thoughts

  • “I don’t deserve to be happy”.
  • “I must not make any mistakes or I’ll be fired”.
  • “I did not graduate from the right college, so I’ll never have a really successful career”

I could go on and on with all the toxic thoughts that could cripple your mind… but only YOU know them. You should first admit they exist, and listen to them carefully. As you write them down, they will look really dumb. Look at them on the paper and treat them like children. Smile,  reassure them, educate them. Then let them go. Tear the paper and let the toxic thoughts go.

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8. Stop contacting space-fillers

For some people, it’s hard to stay alone. If you’re one of them, you have some people you call when you don’t want to be alone. These people are your space-fillers. They are filling the emptiness in your life with their presence. But if you don’t share any true experiences or values, then it all remains shallow… Learn to live with yourself. It’s the only person who will always be there for you. And silence is not such a bad thing after all.

9. Develop a daily practice

Meditation, work-outs, yoga… the compounded interest of a daily practice over the years is huge. If you start a morning practice like Yoga now, imagine how flexible you will be in ten years… and all that for just a few minutes per day.

10. Surprise a loved one

Love is often taken for granted…  as we grow accustomed to the other person. A small gift, a surprise dinner at a fancy restaurant, will show that you still care. A little surprise matters more than you think.

11. Face what terrifies you

There is something that terrifies you. Just seeing the name of it horrifies you. It could be spiders, snakes or heights… and you’ve always been putting off treating your phobia. This year is the year you treat your fear. Face it. Embrace it. Science says that if you confront your fear often enough, it will diminish. It’s called “habituation“. If you really can’t do it by yourself, seek professional help… phobia cure has reached new levels of effectiveness with virtual reality.

12. Plan your retirement – and beyond

What will happen when you retire? Will you have enough money to live? Where will you live? And when you’ll die, who gets your money? There are many questions you’ve put off answering until now. There’s no best moment to answer those questions than now. It’s not easy to visualize those situations, but you have to… for your own sake, and for your family’s.

13. Celebrate your achievements

“When you’re at the top, enjoy the view”. You might not be at the top, but I’m sure there are many achievements you’re proud of, and that you never celebrated. Your brain needs to know you have accomplished something. Reward it by inviting the people that matter to you and throw the party you knew you should have had for a long time. Celebrate that promotion, celebrate those past five birthdays, celebrate life!

14. Ask the older member of your family about their youth

Elders are fantastic living libraries. They have stories about events that shape the world we live in, stories that shaped your family, and also their lives. Suck in all the knowledge you can and ask all the questions you can imagine. I often wish my grandparents were still there so I could ask them about their life in Vietnam.

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15. Revisit your wardrobe

Get rid of that sweater. You’ve had it since you were 18. It’s worn off, and you’re not the student you were any more. In fact you’re not the person you were two years ago. Are you dressing the way you want to be perceived? Throw away those remnants of your old self and buy what your current self deserves to wear.

16. Write letters

It takes time. It’s slow. But it’s so much more precious. In a world of emails, letters will let people know how much you care about them. Buy some stamps, good stationary and a quality pen and write those new years wishes, thank-you letters… You will stand out and people will remember you for that.

17. Meet new interesting people

Your comfort zone is shrinking every day. By meeting new interesting people, you will make your life more interesting and remain open to new experiences. One easy way to do that is to look at meetups near you… you will find many people who share your passions near you.

18. Share your experience

I’ve always taken time to teach Marketing and Influence on my blog or in academic classes. Why? Because teaching and sharing forces you to organize your knowledge. You then realize what you didn’t know you knew, so that you know it better. Knowledge and love are the only things that grow when they are shared.

19. Learn new words

Words shape your world. If you can’t express an idea, it does not exist. So learning new words will allow you to understand more concepts and to have more ideas… as a by-product you will sound smarter. We only need 3000 words to cover 95% of the common texts, so it would be easy to put off learning the half million remaining word of the Oxford English Dictionary. Install a vocabulary app or learn a word everyday.

20. Reunite with the best friend who moved away

Life sometimes puts distance between best friends. Time gives the final blow to friendship… or so you’d think. It’s not over until the fat lady sings or the telephone rings. Pick up your phone and organize that reunion meeting. You’ve been putting this off for too long already. Your friends are just as shy as you are.

21. Remember to say thank you

There are many people you should be grateful to. You could send them a letter, surprise them with a gift or just say “thank you”. It’s a lot better if you can tell them why you thank them.

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“Thank you for being here when I needed you.”

22. Make a list of 25 other things you should stop putting off and do this year

I’m not in your head. I don’t know what you did, or what you want to do. So, follow those instructions:

  • Write your bucket list (minimum 25 items)
  • Do everything on it this year

23. Learn a new language

You can get by nearly anywhere in the world by speaking English. But you don’t really get into the depth of a culture of you don’t speak the native language of the country you visit. As you learn a language, you learn a new way of thinking and reach a new level of understanding… and open yourself to so many new people you can talk to. Surprisingly, I find that I also change personality when I speak another language. A friend of mine said that she feels sexier when she speaks Italian.

24. Buy productive tools

If you’ve kept your phone or your laptop for more than three years, you might be missing new technological improvements that would allow you access to a new world of productivity. Apps, cloud, ergonomics, connectivity can make your life much more productive. You might want to make this investment you’ve been putting off for a while.

25. Do a random act of kindness

Do something good for somebody you don’t know. Help a stranger and expect nothing in return. Just know that you’ve made somebody’s life better.
Leave a big tip
Let tourists sleep on your couch
Give free hugs

What else do you think you should start doing this year?

Featured photo credit: Rear view of beautiful brunette outdoors via shutterstock.com

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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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