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7 Common Mistakes That Stop You From Reaching Your Life Goals

7 Common Mistakes That Stop You From Reaching Your Life Goals

David Foster Wallace once said, “The most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.” That’s the first mistake most of us make with life goals: we don’t talk about them. That’s not to say you don’t have a general idea or even a grand vision for how you see your life unfolding. But so many of us tend to get lost in the daily shuffle of life and wait and hope that things will get better. We choose to rest on our laurels instead of taking action to identify and learn from our missteps.

Here are 7 common mistakes that may be stopping you from reaching your life goals. And more importantly, how to fix it if you find yourself making any of these mistakes.

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You pursue too many goals at once.

Setting your sights high is a good thing in most cases. But when it comes to setting life goals, there is such a thing as “too much.” Having too many life goals can muddle your focus and prevent you from accomplishing what you want to achieve. So here’s some advice. Keep it simple. Create one or two life goals for each area of your life that’s important to you (family, health, career, etc.).

You set unachievable, unrealistic life goals.

Here’s another common mistake people make: setting goals that are completely unrealistic. That’s not to say you shouldn’t set lofty, ambitious goals. But do it within reason. Saying “I want to be a billionaire” will probably result in disappointment down the road. Set goals that you honestly believe you can achieve in your lifetime. And don’t focus so much on material things. What would you rather have: a spouse who is your best friend and children who grow up and make the world a better place… or to be a multi-millionaire with no friends and family? Set your goals based on the people and things you value most in life.

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You only dream about the outcome.

If you only focus on what’s at the end of the road, you’re likely to miss all the amazing things that happen on the way there. In other words, along the path toward achieving each of your goals is a magnificent journey. And it’s often the journey that’s the most fulfilling part. Blink, and you may miss it. So don’t be so focused on the end result. Instead, be consciously aware of those little moments along the way that make you laugh and smile.

You focus too much on the past.

We often get mentally stuck on things and events that happened in the past. But here’s the thing: life becomes infinitely more enjoyable when you realize you have the ability to dream, wonder, create, build, transform and love… right now at this very instant. Leave the past behind you and focus on the present. The fact that you’re alive and breathing is a miracle in itself. So embrace the here and now, and leave yesterday behind. You don’t need it.

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You cultivate negative thoughts instead of positive ones.

Destiny is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice. Every achievement and every failure in your life is the direct result of your thoughts. Belief in yourself is the single most important factor in reaching your life goals and achieving true happiness. So look up at the stars instead of down at your feet.

You keep doing the same things over and over.

Change is the ONLY thing that’s constant in life. If you’re stuck in a rut, it may be because you keep trying things that aren’t working. Yes, you’re probably working hard as hell. But ask yourself the tough question: is this producing the results I’m looking for? If not, it may be time to go in another direction. Reaching your life goals is about constantly testing, adapting, and changing until you find the best way to make your life better.

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You don’t create an action plan to achieve your goals.

Too many of us focus on tactics and tips rather than creating a specific action plan. The truth is, I can give you a list of mistakes and tips, but unless you create an action plan to get you where you want to be, you will find yourself in the same situation time and time again. Here’s how you do it: break down each of your life goals into manageable milestones that you’d like to accomplish each year, each month, and each week. If this sounds like it’s a lot of work, you’re right, it is. But in the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” So set your goals today and start working on your action plan for how you’re going to get there. Then sit back and enjoy the ride.

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Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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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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