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30 Things To Remember To Help You Become Successful In 2015

30 Things To Remember To Help You Become Successful In 2015

A single perspective, a quote, even a statistic, can be all you need to make start your journey to improvement 2015, the year when everything changes. Just one of these insights could point you in a new direction. Read with an open mind and ask yourself, “How can this idea move me closer to success?”

Attitude: Develop The Success Outlook

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor E. Frankl (1905–1997), author of Man’s Search For Meaning.

1. Know that your mind can be your greatest asset but you have to manage it.

It’s been said that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. That’s true. If you have a bad attitude about life, your potential will be limited. Do you need encouragement? I recommend reading and studying John C. Maxwell’s book, The Difference Maker: Making Your Attitude Your Greatest Asset.

2. Remember that choosing a growth mindset – that you can grow and develop yourself – makes a huge impact.

Think about the last time you attempted to learn a new career skills (e.g. a new Excel technique). Did you see it as an opportunity to grow? If so, your growth mindset will help you to keep working longer and reach success. Read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

3. Treat every day as a fresh start.

Yesterday, good or bad, is over. It’s up to you to make the most of today. Set one goal for today – read for 30 minutes, write a list of 10 places you want to visit or three conferences you’re interested in – and achieve it. Achieving goals improves your attitude FAST.

4. Show gratitude all year ’round (Not just Thanksgiving).

Did you know that gratitude improves productivity? This simple action, which requires no money, improves your attitude. Make it a daily habit and you’ll be impressed by the results.

5. Take responsibility for your life.

“Freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.” – Viktor Frankl

From time to time, we suffer setbacks and frustrations. With enough disappointments like that, it is easy to slip into the victim mindset. Fortunately, you can choose the personal responsibility attitude right now.

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Truths about wealth

For many people, obtaining wealth is a key part of success. Given that we live in a market economy, this perspective makes a lot of sense. If you’re interested in attaining wealth, a few key principles make all the difference.

6. Most American millionaires are self-made.

What if your family is not blessed with wealth? Don’t worry. The majority of people on the Forbes 400 billionaire list earned their fortunes from scratch.

7. The immigrant wealth advantage.

You might wonder if starting over in a new country puts you at a disadvantage compared to the native born. Businessweek reports: “Immigrants have started 52% of Silicon Valley’s technology companies and contributed to more than 25% of our global patents.”

8. Own a business to achieve wealth.

Have you ever thought about starting a business? Owning a successful company is one of the best ways to become wealthy. Jaime Tardy interviewed dozens of millionaires to learn how they achieved their success. She found that starting a business is essential.

9. Think twice about that new car.

The way you approach and manage the money you already have makes a great impact on your success. According to The Millionaire Next Door, most millionaires purchase used cars.

10. Manage risk with an emergency fund.

As you work toward your improvement 2015 plan, experts recommend building an emergency fund for unexpected problems like unemployment. Author Dave Ramsey suggests by beginning with a $1,000 starter emergency fund, as described in 9 Ways to Build Your Emergency Fund.

11. The lottery is not a wealth strategy.

Did you know that many lottery winners actually go bankrupt? “The big winners who ended up bankrupt could have paid off all of their debts but chose not to,” explains economist Alex Tabarrok in Lottery Winners Do Not Avoid Bankruptcy.

12. Spend money on experiences and giving.

Researchers have found that spending money on experiences makes a difference. That could mean something like saving up and spending money on a long anticipated trip somewhere. For more insights, read The Atlantic‘s excellent article, Buy Experiences, Not Things.

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Health: The foundation for happiness and success

All the wealth in the world doesn’t mean much if you lose your health. You’ve probably read that idea before. Yet, what are you actually doing to maintain your health? Consider the following ideas to keep your health on track.

13. If the president can make time for exercise, so can you!

Are you one of those people who claim not to have time for exercise? Do you feel that your life is “too busy” for exercise? President Obama, who has one of the most challenging roles in the world, includes several hours of exercise time in his schedule (source: Obama’s Way).

14. Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day.

Sleep is the silent partner in your success. And it doesn’t cost a dime! Learn how to improve your sleep with Gretchen Rubin’s article Fourteen Tips for Getting More Sleep – and Why It Matters.

15. Start one new health habit this year.

Habits are one of the most powerful ways to pursue success in 2015 or any other time. Once an important behavior (e.g. bedtime or daily exercise) becomes a habit, you no longer have to worry about it. Learn how to avoid habit failure from entrepreneur James Clear.

16. Get more energy by taking a nap during the day.

A nap is one of the best ways to improve your energy. Author Michael Hyatt finds that naps of 10-20 minutes make a positive impact on his success: My Secret Weapon for Extra Energy at Work.

17. Maintain your smile for success.

Taking care of your teeth, gums and the rest of your oral health makes life better. According to The Daily Mail, sparkling healthy teeth make you look younger and even improves your employment prospects.

18. Visit your doctor!

When was the last time you visited your doctor? If you can’t remember, you’re probably overdue. A key part of success involves adopting a proactive stance for your life and that includes your health. Don’t be one of those people who only seeks medical care in the emergency room.

Learn the art and science of goal setting

Setting and achieving goals are one of the best ways to seek improvement. 2015 can be a blockbuster year if you implement these ideas and strategies.

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19. Dream big dreams for your life.

One of the most fun and exciting aspects of goal setting is to dream big dreams. Write down a list of 10 things you want to achieve in life. Get inspired with The Ultimate Bucket List: 60 Things You Should Do Before You Die if you’re not sure where to start.

20. Writing down your goals makes a HUGE difference.

Writing down your goals makes a big difference. “Writing down your goals you are 42 percent more likely to achieve them. Why? Because writing it down brings clarity and declares purpose” (Source: What the Science of Goal Setting Tells Us about Accomplishing More of What Matters Most)

21. Meet up with your friends if you miss them!

Learning makes more interesting and enhances your career. Find successful people in your field and ask about their skills. Then, you will know what skills you need to learn for career advancement.

22. Grow your network.

Relationships are a very important part of happiness. Set a goal to have lunch out each week with someone in your network.

23. Decide how much money you want to earn.

Like it or not, having more money makes many aspects of life easier. That’s one of the reasons why it matters so much to set money goals. I suggest by starting with a money goal that can be completed in less than a year (e.g. save $1,000 dollars or earn $5,000 in freelance income).

24. Track your Goals.

To stay on track, review your goals once per week and make notes on your progress.You’ll look forward to recording your progress!

25. Plan to celebrate your goals.

Celebrating your achievements makes success even sweeter. Set a budget (e.g. $50) or choosing a type of activity (e.g. dinner at your favorite restaurant with a bottle of wine) in advance so that you can enjoy the process.

26. Get resources on goal setting.

Goal setting is a skill you can learn. I have personally used resources by Brian Tracy and Michael Hyatt with good results.

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Books To Read For Success in 2015

“The difference between where you are today and where you’ll be five years from now will be found in the quality of books you’ve read.” – Jim Rohn

27. Feed your mind with success books.

Our culture is filled to the brim with negative news. Fortunately, there are great books available to help you. Check out 25 Self-Improvement Books That Will Make You A Better Person for ideas. I’ve read several of the books on the list and consider this to be a good starting point.

28. Get work done with Getting Things Done by David Allen.

David Allen’s classic business book Getting Things Done is one of the most practical and useful productivity books I have ever read. If you are feeling overwhelmed and unfocused, this book will help! If you have read it before, consider reading it again for new insights.

29. Read Fiction To Understand People Better.

Reading fiction is one of the most leisure activities available. Reading fiction also supports your self improvement goals (and business – see The Business Case For Reading Novels from Harvard Business Review). Read non-fiction most of the time? Get ideas – The Top 10 Fiction Books for Non-Fiction Addicts.

30. Read About Successful People Throughout History.

The experiences of successful people throughout history is available to you. You can learn about how athletes trained for challenging competitions, how scientists came up with their discoveries and much more. Reading a well-written biography can inspire you for years to come.  Last year, I read Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr. by Ron Chernow – it was a sweeping, epic biography.

To get started, I have to recommend Ryan Holiday’s article 25 Recommendations For Life Changing Biographies For The Voracious Reader In You: pick a title and get started!

Featured photo credit: Success/Geralt via pixabay.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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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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