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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

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 January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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