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7 Things You’ll Regret Taking The Shortcuts In Life

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7 Things You’ll Regret Taking The Shortcuts In Life

If you’ve ever seen the film The Social Network (the one about the creation of Facebook), you’d be correct in assuming that Mark Zuckerberg’s big idea became an overnight success.  However, in reality this wasn’t the case at all; as Zuckerberg put it during a speech to a group of 8th graders, “it couldn’t be further from the truth.” He also pointed out that it takes years and years of hard work and practice, and that a lot of building a company or product like Facebook is just about determination and believing that you can do it. “There’s no shortcuts.”

If you want to do something worthwhile, whether it is a relationship, a business or life in general, it is so important to see it through and never give up, no matter what obstacles come up. Of course you can look at ways to make it more efficient and create avenues to get you to where you want to be. However, you’ll find that most success stories that appear to have taken off overnight will have taken years of dedication and commitment to get it to that point.  It’s the blood, sweat and tears that make anything of any real importance worth it in the end.

In any area of your life, it’s so important not to sell yourself short, so I’ve put together a few pointers on what shortcuts you’ll want to avoid taking.

Settling for an arranged life.

Who wants a boring, mediocre life?  This is what happens if you settle for just about anything, like your job, your relationship and your life.  We’re all here for a pretty short period of time, so why waste it doing things just because that’s how it is.

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I’m guessing you don’t want to look back at your life and wish you’d done it differently; hopefully you’ll want to glance back in wonder and amazement over what you have achieved.  You’ll realize that the best things in life, the worthwhile things, took guts, determination and hard work.

It’s not about fixing something; it could be about creating something new and starting fresh.  Sadly life can become a bit of a habit, doing the same old thing, day after day and until one day it dawns on you that you’re not really living at all–you’re existing.  As the great man Anthony Robbins once said “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” So grab life NOW and don’t settle.

Are you a Tiger or a Sheep?

At school, you’re taught a certain way in life, to go to college, university, get a job, get married, have kids and live happily ever after.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but try looking at it differently.  Why do what everyone else is doing? Why do what’s expected of you just because there’s some unwritten manual in life that everyone else seems to be following?

Each of us was born unique.  We were all created to be who we were and that’s being YOU.  There’s no one else like you on this planet, so why are you trying to be like everyone else?  Find the courage to be yourself and follow your heart. Don’t be ashamed of how you feel. Go out and do it, and you’ll inspire others to do the same.  And remember, “a tiger doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep”–so what are you, a tiger or a sheep?

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Taking the “easy route.”

Life can be a struggle, but if you are settling because you are afraid of what it might throw at you, then don’t! It’ll throw stuff at you anyway!  If you give up on yourself and your dreams, you are giving up on life, and what a waste that would be.  It’s so easy to take the “easy route,” except aren’t you worth more than that? Don’t you think you’ve got something more powerful inside of you, more capable at beating all the odds if it came to it?

Each struggle is a chance to learn and provide you with a great new experience. If you want an awesome life, adversity will be around every corner, but that’s what makes it so wonderful.  Remember sometimes you’ll have to take a step backwards to take 100 steps forward; it’s that journey that makes it all the more worthwhile. Never give up on yourself.

Forgiving people instead of ignoring their existence.

Forgiveness isn’t about letting the other person “off the hook.” It’s more about ending the suffering for yourself. Forgiveness provides you with peace of mind, a way to move forward and provide yourself the gift of freedom. Without it, happiness can be limited. When you forgive someone else, you are giving yourself permission to forgive yourself, which makes healing your own life that much easier to do.

People come and go in our lives. They each teach us something about ourselves.  Whether someone hurt, betrayed or loved us, each provide a valuable lesson to learn from.

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Putting things off until tomorrow.

This is something most of us can relate to and let’s be honest, when we say, “I’ll do it tomorrow” we usually mean, “I can’t do that” or “I don’t want to do that” and it rarely ever happens. But if you want to make an immediate impact on your life, this is where you need to pull your socks up and take some action.  Choose one thing that you’ve been putting off for months and do it today. Roll those sleeves up and really dive in. You will feel wonderful once you’ve started, and imagine how you’ll feel once it’s completed!

“Actions speak louder than words” which is absolutely true here, if you put things off they’ll only come back to bite you later on, so why not just get it done today.  It’s a choice you have to make, the choice to live by your word, and you’ll be amazed at how those around you will follow suite. If you start each day being intentional, you’ll become a lot more productive and heaps happier!

Leaving everything to chance.

When you get up every morning, what do you dedicate your life to that makes a difference to the world?  If you’ve no idea what that is, then you need to work out what it is you want.  Once you work out your true feelings and desires, and take action in line with that, you’ll end up getting more from life than you ever expected. Opportunities and possibilities will start flowing your way, as long as you’ve known what it is you want.

You’ve got to have some kind of plan for your life or a purpose. Then you’ll know that what you do every day is aimed towards that.   Don’t just wait for life to happen to you; make it count, because once it’s gone it’s gone, and you’ll want to leave some kind of legacy for the world to aspire to.  Make sure every moment counts!

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Keeping quiet instead of speaking up.

If you’ve ever experience unrequited love, you’ll understand why sometimes the fear of rejection will stop you from saying those three important words.  In life, there are no guarantees, and if the fear of saying “I love you” outweighs the fear of not saying it, then you could be in for one of the biggest regrets of your life.

You know people will come and go from your life, some quickly taken from you and some because you realized they were worth your time.   Try not to take important people for granted; you’ll never know how long you have got them here for. The best gift you can give is your full attention. Be present at all times and always say how you feel.  There is nothing worse than wishing you’d said something when you could, so always remember to speak up.

So what shortcuts have you taken in your life so far and are you willing to give them up?

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Paula Lawes

Paula loves people and connecting. She writes about communication and relationships tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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

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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